Five councils disappear in Somerset to make way for one unitary authority

A big change has taken place in Somerset as five local councils have been disbanded with one new unitary authority taking over.

Somerset Council replaces the county and four district councils after a decision by the government last year, taking over services including education, housing, highways and licensing.

Initially, residents will not notice many changes, however new customer access points are being introduced in seven locations to increase the reach of the council across the county.

Liberal Democrat leader of Somerset Council, Bill Revans, said: "Whether you're in a Frome, whether you're in Porlock, Cheddar or Chard you should be still seeing a really good offer from your local council services wherever you are.

"On day one, probably not a huge amount of difference, but over the next four or five years, we'll be able to make some real improvements with the way that we deliver all services across the county."

There are big changes ahead for staff too. Chris Hall is just one of many moving from a district council over to the new unitary. He is the new executive director of community services at Somerset Council, having moved from Somerset West and Taunton Council.

He said: "It's fair to say there is some apprehension out there. I think there's some concern about the unknown, but we've been really pushing the message that this is a transformation and transfer into a new authority. Most people will move across on 1 April."

It will be a while before the new logo for the council is seen across Somerset. One has been worded 'Somerset Council Welcomes You' to reflect the fact that the new council only covers part of the historic county.