THE joining of West Somerset and Taunton Deane Borough Councils could bring new opportunities for local democracy across the town. 

Taunton has been an “unparished area” for more than 40 years – since the last major shake-up of councils nationally in 1974.

This means the town has been served by Taunton Deane Borough Council since it was created.

The leaders of both existing councils are willing to review this and implement change if the community supports it.

Cllr John Williams, leader of Taunton Deane Borough Council, said work would start in earnest on grass roots democracy with the aim of giving Taunton a voice in its own right.

“Taunton has grown and changed over the past 40 years and the creation of the new council is a golden opportunity to address what many may perceive as a democratic deficit,” said Borough Council Leader John Williams.

“There’s a huge amount of detailed work to be done and I hope this can be achieved to the point where there are firm recommendations to the new district council that will be established. This is the opportunity to review the principle of parishing the Taunton unparished area as part of the overall process and I am sure fellow councillors will support this approach.”

Parish and town councils, such as Comeytrowe Parish Council or Wellington Town Council, deliver a range of services to their communities - from maintaining closed churchyards and allotments, to managing parks and green spaces and in some cases, facilities for young people.

The role can range from taking full responsibility for a service, managing it on another organisation’s behalf, or monitoring its provision in the area. Some town councils start new services, while others take over existing ones.

The parish and town councils also act as the voice of their residents, taking concerns and problems to Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset Council for solutions and plans. 

As demonstrated in the Ordnance Survey map above, a large portion of Taunton's town centre is not covered by a parish or town council.