One Team – lots of elections!

From parish councils to Parliamentary – the joint elections team for Taunton Deane and West Somerset has safely delivered the democratic process over the last three years.

The team – just two full-time staff and two part-time officers – was the first joint officer team set up by Taunton Deane Borough and West Somerset councils when they embarked on their partnership.

Now all staff work for the One Team of officers for the authorities – the first councils in Somerset to join up. The initiative has delivered annual savings of £1.8m – and this would increase by £3.1m with the creation of a single council coupled with changing and modernising ways of working.

The elections team has just completed administering the Parliamentary General Election for the Taunton Deane constituency that swiftly followed elections for 15 of the 55 seats on Somerset County Council plus a district council by election in Minehead in early May.

8 June 2017 also saw an election for a vacancy on Wellington Town Council plus the Trull and Staplehay Neighbourhood Plan referendum.

Since 2014, the team has tackled every type of election: Parliamentary, Borough, district, town and parish; a Neighbourhood Plan referendum in Bishops Lydeard; the election of the Police and Crime Commissioner in partnership with other councils in the Avon and Somerset police area; the EU referendum; plus playing its role in elections for the European Parliament.

In addition, the team was responsible for local delivery of the new registration system – one of the biggest changes nationally in years.

The team had to adjust quickly from administering elections separately to covering both geographical areas – and achieved this seamlessly.

The councils’ Chief Executive Penny James is also the electoral Returning Officer for Taunton Deane so has worked closely with the team since the joint arrangement came into effect.

She said: "I am delighted with the way the joint elections team has come together and worked as one to support a raft of successful elections at both West Somerset Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council. This way of working has delivered over £1.8million of savings to the Councils with more to come as we improve further."