A personal blog/website from Cllr John Hunt

A point that appears not to have been raised about the ‘proposed’ merger of WSDC and TDBC.

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As most of you know, I am an Independent Politician. My comments below may appear that I’m attacking the Conservative party, however that is simply not the case. If the LibDems, Labour, UKIP, etc were in the same overwhelming position of power as the local Conservatives find themselves in, then I would be saying the same of them.
Clearly our local electoral system is at fault here, not any particular political party. My concern, as you’ll read below, is that the proposed merger will significantly favour one party above all others and that cannot be democratically correct or fair.

Without Prejudice.

It is my opinion that the merger looks like more of a bail out for the ailing West Somerset Council (WSC), and that the Council tax payers of Bishop’s Hull and Taunton West will be subsidising those living in the WSC area.

Below is a point I made on the TDBC website YourNewCouncil.org

A point that appears not to have been raised, is that the one obvious beneficiary from this merger will be the Conservative party. If both Conservative led Councils were ‘One’ today, the newly merged council would look like this:

Conservative 57 seats – 68% of the seats.
Liberal Democrats 14 seats
Independent 6 seats
UKIP 4 seats
Labour 3 seats
Total 84 seats

This would give the Conservative party a staggering 27 seat majority, enabling it do more or less as it wishes.
Even if you’re a Conservative voter, you’ll still want there to be an effective opposition.

Clearly the number of Councillors would be reduced to approximately 65 by the Boundary Commission. However, it will still see a Council that would be likely to remain Conservative for many years to come.

Of course I’m not suggesting that there is anything untoward with this Conservative led merger, however with the rural pro-Tory wards dominating the merged councils, it’s clear that the interests of the residents of our county town, would not be proportionately represented and if they’re not Conservative voters, they will have little chance of ever seeing their preferred party in power, even if the majority of the Taunton ward’s vote their way.

One could ask that if the situation were different and the LibDems had the 21 seats currently held by the Conservatives on WSDC, would either political party have been so keen on the merger?
Call me a cynic, but I strongly doubt it.

WSC currently has 21 Conservative councillors who are opposed by a fragmented group of only 7. That may work for West Somerset, but it most certainly won’t work for Taunton. How will those 21 mostly rural councillors have any concept of what is required in Taunton.

For democracy to work effectively, Councils need to be held to account and that can’t happen if there is little or no opposition.

Again, I must stress that my comments above may appear that I’m attacking the Conservative party, however that is simply not the case. If the LibDems, Labour, UKIP, etc were in the same overwhelming position of power as the local Conservatives find themselves in, then I would be saying the same of them.

John Hunt

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