AT a time when our country is engulfed in the worst health crisis in living memory, David Fothergill, (Somerset County) council leader, chairs a Full Council meeting of four hours about reforming local government in Somerset - known as unitary, a one-tier system of local politics.

That such an important issue as this should be discussed now, of all time, is obscene and out of touch with reality.

All the meetings and debates to get this done are happening very fast.

What a waste of time, money and the council's depleted finances.

That this should be an on-going agenda, giving it such momentum and priority, is disgraceful.

It's claimed by the council leader to be the best way of operating local government, with massive financial savings.

However, three different consultants, engaged by the council at huge costs, have come out with wildly differing accounts as to what the actual savings will be.

The 132-page document entitled 'Somerset's Business Case', seemingly sent to the Secretary of State for discussion and approval, is very vague about what the benefits would be.

When Taunton Deane council bailed out the bankrupt West Somerset Council, we were told it would solve many financial problems for both councils.

This is not happening. And Taunton ratepayers are paying a high price for this council to be known as Somerset West and Taunton.

No lessons seemingly learnt on this blunder of amalgamation.

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It's not rocket science to comprehend the reasons for SCC wanting a change. It's because the Tories are frightened of losing the 2021 county council elections.

It's also another device whereby the council leader is conning us into believing you can get all public services and the NHS on the cheap, backed up by a band of volunteers to plug the financial holes.

Public services and the NHS are a very uncomfortable agenda for any Tory administration to implement, as it goes against their natural instincts and ideology - that everything works best when it is privatised.

The worst-case scenario, as I see it, would be for the Secretary of State to approve a unitary form of local government, thus postponing the council elections for a year.

Were this to happen, it would suit the Tories very well.

Surely this unitary ethos is the last throw of the dice, a saving grace for a very unpopular county council, not fit for purpose.

The only way to improve local government is mooted by the district councils - namely closer cooperation and working together.

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Everybody in public life should only have one thing to think about, namely to eradicate this world health crisis.

If the council is so certain that this is what the people of Somerset want, then let's have a referendum on the issue.

Better still, cast this unitary nonsense to the dustbin of history.

The council leader calls those who oppose unitary operation 'frightened'.

Deep down, we all know who the frightened ones are.