On 30 November 2017, I told the House that I was minded to implement, subject to parliamentary approval, the locally led proposal I had received from West Somerset District Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council to merge, and I invited representations before I took my final decision on this proposal.
Having carefully considered all the representations I have received and all the relevant information available to me, I am today announcing that I have decided to implement, subject to parliamentary approval, the proposal to merge West Somerset District Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council to become a new single district council named Somerset West and Taunton District Council.
I have reached my decision having regard to the criteria for district council mergers that I announced to the House on 7 November 2017. I am satisfied that these criteria are met and that the new district council is likely to improve local government and service delivery in the area, commands a good deal of local support, and that the new council area is a credible geography.
I now intend to prepare and lay before Parliament drafts of the necessary secondary legislation to give effect to my decision. My intention is that if Parliament approves this legislation the new council will be established on 1 April 2019 with the first election to the council held on 2 May 2019.