SOUTH Somerset's MP has written a letter declaring his support for the One Somerset campaign.

Marcus Fysh has addressed the letter to town and parish councils, seeking to assure them that the bid to turn Somerset's county and district councils into one large Unitary authority is good for all.

The One Somerset campaign is being led by the county council and spearheaded by SCC leader Cllr David Fothergill.

The leaders of Somerset's district councils - Taunton and West Somerset, Sedgemoor, South Somerset and Mendip - have an alternative proposal, titled Stronger Somerset.

This would still see the existing sytem abolished, but instead of the single council proposed by SCC, Stronger Somerset would see a unitary authority represent East Somerset, and a seperate Unitary council for the county's western area.

In July, Bridgwater and West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger (Conservative) criticised the county council's efforts to get the One Somerset bid 'steamrollered through'.

Now, South Somerset MP Marcus Fysh (Conservative) has sided with the SCC 'single unitary authority' plan.

Here is his letter to town and parish councils in full:

I am writing regarding the plans for the creation of a Unitary Authority for Somerset.

This is something that has already been carrried out with success in other parts of the country including some of our neighbours in the South West.

Although research shows that across the country billions of pounds can be saved through driving efficiences in the organisation of local services, the plan is not just about that.

Simplified processes and allocations of responsiblilities, with better, pooled resourcing, can lead to a better epxerience for residents.

It is clear that local District Councils have not in the past been capable of working together effectively to save money, and local performance has not always been what residents might have hoped for, for example planning and enforcement in our local area has left a lot to be desired.

It therefore makes sense to look very seriously at a structure which can take on dedicated and experienced local personnel, but not the council entities.

My main reason for writing however is to reassure Town and Parish Councils as to their place in any new structure.

I have discussed the issue directly with the Secretary of State and will continue to do so as the plan develops. Firstly, it is not the case that everything will be run from Taunton.

Clear channels for for local input will be created and the influence and standing of Town and Parish Councils will increase.

This will come with greater resourcing from the authority including in terms of direct officer support and guidance.

This is important to me as the MP; as you know I have been campaigning for a long time for more meaningful community engagement particularly within the planning process and will continue to make the case for local input and accountability.

Details of the Unitary Authority plan are available on the Somerset County Council website, but please do let me know if there is anything you would like me to feed into the Government on this issue.

With best wishes, Marcus Fysh.