The process of creating a unitary council for Somerset took a step this week.
Correspondence from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, confirmed that elections to the new Somerset Council will take place in May 2022.
Local Government Minister, Kemi Badenoch MP, also confirmed as part of the proposed Structural Changes Order (a mechanism that sets the legal basis for the new council), that the new council would be a ‘continuing authority’.
It means residents will be able to vote for a total of 110 councillors in six months’ time.
For the first ‘transition’ year (May 2022 to end of March 2023), those elected will sit as county councillors and will oversee the process to unitary.
On 1st April 2023, the county council and four district councils will be disbanded and will become a new Somerset Council. Those councillors who were voted-in at the May 2022 elections will then sit on the new council as unitary councillors, where they will serve for the normal term of four years (having overseen the transition year).
Leader of Mendip District Council, Cllr Ros Wyke, said: “Whilst disappointed the Government has gone with a continuing authority as opposed to a shadow authority for Somerset, I do welcome the clarity on elections.
“It will be a busy few months ahead as we go into political battle, but the electorate will at least have their say in the development and direction of the new unitary council at the ballot box next May – which is how it should be.”
Leader of Frome Town Council, Andy Palmer, said of the news: “Frome Town Council also welcomes the clarity regarding the elections; it means that the work of delivering for Somerset and the people of Frome can commence without the uncertainty over the next steps.”