LOCAL Government should mean government by local people, not Westminster, not Secretaries of State. 

How come then that the Jenrick-Fothergill, Tory collaborative partnership, assume that they have the right to overrule the ballot poll declared wish of Somerset residents, and impose their ONE unitary Somerset Council upon us all, with maximum expected Tory cuts in council officers and spending?

Equally, devolutionists like me reckon decisions should be taken at the lowest level feasible, certainly not in London just because this government, largely via emotive slogans and stretching the truth, achieved an 87-seat overall majority in Dec 2019’s sham General Election: really a Cummings inspired ‘get it done’ Brexit election.

Leaders of our doomed four district councils, closer to the ground than county council could ever be, responded: “This Jenrick decision follows a government-run consultation from 22 Feb to 19 April, with a reported 5,500 responses, and a local poll organised by district councils from 18 May to 4 June, that saw more than 111,000 people voting, with 65% preferring the Stronger Somerset, two unitary councils, proposal.     

“We believe the Secretary of State’s decision is riding roughshod over the people of Somerset who voted 65% to 35% in favour of the Stronger Somerset plan. That vote was the third time in recent history that the people of Somerset have decisively rejected proposal for a single unitary – following the referendum in 2007 and the Ipsos MORI survey in 2020.

“By ignoring the will of the people, Jenrick is breaking the bond of trust between elected representatives and those they represent. The opportunities to address the real challenges our county faces – how to reduce demand on expensive crisis services, to break the cycle of inequality and under-achievement, to invest in local solutions to local issues – risk being squandered by foisting a manifestly unpopular new local government on our residents.” 

What with new Bills for Boundaries Review, elections, planning reform, judicial reviews, immigration, policing protests - all slanted for even bigger Tory majority - have vital actions for ‘build back better’ democracy and real tackling climate change apocalypse gone forever?