Somerset councils merger leads to job cuts

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Two councils in Somerset have agreed to merge staff and services in a bid to save money.

Councillors from West Somerset Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council voted for the move which will lead to the equivalent of 37 job losses.

It will begin with senior managers merging on 1 January 2014. All staff will be merged by March 2016.

The change will cost £2.7m including redundancy payments and changes to IT, but is hoped to save £1.9m annually.

West Somerset has been losing £100,000 a year and has been warned it is not financially viable in the long term.

Taunton Deane's chief executive Penny James was appointed as joint chief executive for the two Conservative-run authorities last October.

Opposition Liberal Democrat councillors in Taunton Deane argued the merger should be put on hold while an idea for Sedgemoor District Council to also merge was looked at, but the chair of Taunton Deane ruled it could not be voted on.

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