Up to 145 jobs will be lost because of the merger between West Somerset Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council. Somerset West and Taunton Council are expected to take over management from Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset Council on April 1, 2019.
Currently, 24 people have left the new organisation, and a further 121 will be leaving by the end of February 2019. Existing staff at the councils are asked to apply for new jobs at the new authority or choose to take voluntary redundancy.
In order to meet the cost of redundancies, which was higher than expected, the new council asked for an additional £2.37 million. After two hours of deliberation, the councillors voted to approve the additional funds.
The chief executive of the two current councils defended their requests, saying: “The return on investment or payback remains on track for the three-year period. The redundancy costs have now by and large crystallised. The new baseline costs still deliver you a return of investment within three years, so it remains an attractive business case for you.”
Cllr Rosemary Woods called the situation a mess, commenting, “All the time, this is a council that has to provide services. Did you not realise that? You have to keep the council’s services running even during this transition period. I cannot understand the mess we’ve got into. I am disillusioned.”
An anti-merger banner was raised at a meeting of Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset Council.