NEXT steps have been taken towards creating a unitary authority in Somerset - and a name for the new council has been decided.

The Local Government Reorganisation (LGR) joint committee met last week to discuss the plans for a single unitary authority in Somerset.

The two-hour public meeting was held at Mendip District Council offices in Shepton Mallet on November 5.

Committee members include the five Somerset council leaders, and four county councillors.

Cllr David Fothergill, leader of Somerset County Council (SCC), chaired the meeting and Cllr Val Keitch, leader of South Somerset District Council (SSDC), was elected as vice-chair.

Cllr David Fothergill, said: “This was an historic day for public services in Somerset and I’m both honoured and proud to be a part of it along with my county and district colleagues.

“Collectively we can now focus our efforts on developing a new council that will deliver first rate services for our communities.

“The new Somerset Council will be more responsive, effective and accountable to our council tax payers, our partners and our service users. It will free-up millions of pounds that we can invest into improving lives across the county.

“The new council will see decisions made by, and in communities, wherever possible. This will be a very different sort of council.”

At the meeting, it was decided that the name of the new unitary authority would be Somerset Council, as proposed by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).

This will come into effect from April 1 2023.

The committee also discussed: terms of references; programme governance; budget; future meetings and agreed a work programme.

Matters regarding the draft Structural Changes Order, the basic operating principles for transition, were deferred so individual councils could consult before a decision is made.

These matters included the date of the next elections (either May 2022 or 2023), plus the proposal that SCC will be the continuing authority for the new council.

Cllr Val Keitch, said: “The joint committee demonstrates co-ordinated local leadership, and enables us as a group to adopt clear, common positions.

“As a single-point of resolution, we’ll also be well-placed to make prompt decisions and ensure we are best prepared locally for the transition, and the volume of work ahead.”

In July of this year the then Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, confirmed that Somerset would move to a single unitary council from April 1 2023.

READ MORE: Somerset gets Government backing for ONE countywide council from 2023

READ MORE: WHAT NEXT as Somerset prepares for new authority to replace its five councils?

Since that announcement, the five existing councils in the county, Mendip, Sedgemoor, Somerset West and Taunton, SSDC and SCC, have been working together on plans for the new council.

You can view the papers for the meeting, or see the recording of the meeting by visiting