Taunton Deane vote narrowly in favour of exploring joint working with West Somerset (From Chard & Ilminster News)
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Taunton Deane vote narrowly in favour of exploring joint working with West Somerset
Following a two-hour discussion at a special full council meeting, councillors voted 25 to 23 for exploring the options on sharing services and staff with their struggling neighbouring authority.
The 'non-negotiables' are that Taunton Deane and West Somerset remain democratically independent and that taxpayers in both authority don't suffer as a result.
Both councils are keen to apply for government funding for the project from the Transformation Challenge Award fund set up by local government minister Brandon Lewis for this purpose.
Taunton Deane leader Cllr John Williams said: "Taunton Deane has a very good record of working in partnership with other organisations and this decision now enables us to explore the business case for working more closely with our neighbours in West Somerset.
"The hard work begins now but it is a challenge we must rise to as we have ever-increasing demands for services and a reducing income.
"We have to examine shared management of services and clearly establish what it can deliver in savings or resilience of resources."
Cllr Tim Taylor, leader of West Somerset Council, said: "I am delighted that both councils have now formally agreed to work together on this exciting project.
"The hard work can now start to draft a business case for closer working and I know that my fellow members and officers here at West Somerset see this as a great opportunity to develop a sustainable template for providing affordable local government services that will be of mutual benefit to the communities of both areas."
The business case is due to be prepared by October this year; if both councils consider it is suitable, the sharing of services and staff is expected to begin next April.