Yet another outrageous example of this government imposing its will and rejigging local gorvernment in a way which it thinks will advantage the Conservative Party is the proposed unitary authority in Somerset. Somerset is a very large, predominantly rural county and all of the District Councils backed having two unitary authorities covering manageable areas, whereas the Tory run County Council wanted one single authority. An advisory referendum resulted in a resounding 65% in favour of the "Stronger Somerset" scheme proposed by all of the District Councils.
Guess what? Robert Jenrick has over-ruled the result, backing the defeated proposal.
"The countywide unitary council is the preferred option for the future of Somerset, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government has announced today (Wednesday, July 21).
That system was the one backed by Somerset County Council.
Mr Jenrick, in a written statement released this evening, rejected a rival suggestion from the county's four district council to set up two separate councils - one in charge of the east of the county, the other covering the western half.
His proposals are expected to be accepted in a vote by MPs and would come into effect in 2023."
"In a joint statement, the leaders of Somerset’s four district councils said: “The Secretary of State is riding roughshod over the people of Somerset who voted 65% to 35% in favour of the Stronger Somerset plan over the other scheme chosen by the Secretary of State.
“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, the Secretary of State 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.
“We are duty bound to represent the interests of our constituents to our fullest ability. We will continue to seek to ensure that their voices are heard. There is still chance for Parliament to see sense and force a rethink. We just cannot understand why the wishes of the people of Somerset are being ignored.”