West Somerset

West Somerset was a local government district in the English county of Somerset. The council covered a largely rural area, with a population of 34,900[1] in an area of 740 square kilometres (290 sq mi);[2] it was the least populous non-unitary district in England. According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics in 2009, the population of West Somerset has the oldest average age in the United Kingdom at 52.[3] The largest centres of population are the coastal towns of Minehead (population 10,000) and Watchet (4,400).

West Somerset
Official logo of West Somerset
Shown within Somerset
Shown within Somerset
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionSouth West England
Ceremonial countySomerset
Admin HQWilliton
Created1 April 1974
Government
 • TypeNon-metropolitan district
 • LeaderTim Taylor
 • CouncilConservative
 • MPs:Ian Liddell-Grainger C, Rebecca Pow C
Area
 • Total280.63 sq mi (726.84 km2)
Population
 (mid-2018)
 • Total34,900
 • Density130/sq mi (49/km2)
Time zoneUTC0 (GMT)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (BST)
Post Code
Area code(s)01984
Websitehttp://www.westsomersetonline.gov.uk/
Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML

The council's administrative headquarters were located in the village of Williton, with an additional office in Minehead.

In September 2016, West Somerset and Taunton Deane councils agreed in principle to merge the districts into one (with one council) subject to consultation.[4] The new district would not be a unitary authority: it would still be part of the Somerset County Council area.[5] In March 2018 both councils voted in favour of the merger and it came into effect on 1 April 2019, with the first elections to the new council in May 2019. The new authority is known as Somerset West and Taunton Council.[6][7][8]

HistoryEdit

The district was formed on 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, by a merger of the previous urban districts of Minehead and Watchet, along with Dulverton Rural District and Williton Rural District.

Listed buildingsEdit

There were 33 Grade I listed buildings in West Somerset: the oldest are Culbone Church (one of the smallest churches in England,[9] and pre-Norman in origin)[10] and Tarr Steps, which some say originates in the Bronze Age, although others date them from around 1400.[11] Dunster has the greatest concentration of Grade I listed buildings including Dunster Castle, the Yarn Market, Gallox Bridge and Priory Church of St George. Other sites include manor houses such as Nettlecombe Court and Orchard Wyndham. The most recent buildings included in the list are Crowcombe Court which was completed in 1739[12] and the Church of St John the Baptist in Carhampton which was rebuilt in 1863.[13] There are numerous religious structures in Somerset, with the largest number being Anglican parish churches, dating from Norman or medieval eras. Some of the churches are included in the Somerset towers, a collection of distinctive, mostly spireless Gothic church towers.

 
West Somerset Council Offices in Williton

Recent financial difficultiesEdit

In 2012 financial difficulties at the council, including a £1 million reduction over three years, lead to plans to outsource most of the services provided to the population and make most of the staff redundant.[14] It is proposed that some services may be shared with Taunton Deane council.[15] In December 2012 the grant received from central government was increased by 0.9% meaning the council had £3.8million to spend on the provision of services.[16]

GeographyEdit

West Somerset benefits from one of the most scenic landscapes in England. Nearly two-thirds of the western land area of the district forms part of Exmoor National Park, designated in 1954, while on the eastern edge of the district are the Quantock Hills, which in 1956 became the first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty created in the UK. Large areas of Exmoor and the Quantock Hills are also designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest because of their value for wildlife.

The West Somerset Railway runs through most of the district, from Bishop's Lydeard in the south east to Minehead in the north west. Operated mainly as a tourist attraction, the railway runs mostly steam and some diesel locomotives.

GovernanceEdit

West Somerset District Council is elected every four years, with currently 28 councillors being elected at each election. From the first election to the council in 1973 to the 1995 election the council had a majority of independents. Since then the Conservative Party won a majority at the 2003 election, but independents took a majority back at the 2007 election. Following the election in 2011 the Conservatives regained a majority and following the 2015 election and several subsequent by-elections, the council is composed of the following councillors:-[17]

Party Councillors
Conservative Party 19
Independent 2
UKIP 2
Liberal Democrats 4
Labour Party 1

SettlementsEdit

ParishesEdit

Image Name Status Population Former local authority Coordinates Refs
  Bicknoller Civil parish 371 Williton Rural District 51°09′N 3°16′W / 51.15°N 3.27°W / 51.15; -3.27 (Bicknoller) [18][19]
  Brompton Ralph Civil parish 287 Williton Rural District 51°05′N 3°19′W / 51.08°N 3.31°W / 51.08; -3.31 (Brompton Ralph) [18][19]
  Brompton Regis Civil parish 449 Dulverton Rural District 51°04′N 3°29′W / 51.07°N 3.49°W / 51.07; -3.49 (Brompton Regis) [18][20]
  Brushford Civil parish 519 Dulverton Rural District 51°01′N 3°32′W / 51.02°N 3.53°W / 51.02; -3.53 (Brushford, Somerset) [18][20]
  Carhampton Civil parish 865 Williton Rural District 51°10′N 3°25′W / 51.17°N 3.42°W / 51.17; -3.42 (Carhampton, Somerset) [18][19]
  Clatworthy Civil parish 101 Williton Rural District 51°04′N 3°21′W / 51.07°N 3.35°W / 51.07; -3.35 (Clatworthy) [19]
  Crowcombe Civil parish 489 Williton Rural District 51°07′N 3°14′W / 51.12°N 3.23°W / 51.12; -3.23 (Crowcombe) [18][19]
  Cutcombe Civil parish 361 Williton Rural District 51°08′N 3°32′W / 51.14°N 3.53°W / 51.14; -3.53 (Cutcombe) [18][19]
  Dulverton Town 1,408 Dulverton Rural District 51°03′N 3°33′W / 51.05°N 3.55°W / 51.05; -3.55 (Dulverton) [18][20]
  Dunster Civil parish 817 Williton Rural District 51°11′N 3°27′W / 51.18°N 3.45°W / 51.18; -3.45 (Dunster) [18]
  East Quantoxhead Civil parish 104 Williton Rural District 51°11′N 3°14′W / 51.18°N 3.24°W / 51.18; -3.24 (East Quantoxhead) [18]
  Elworthy Civil parish 103 Williton Rural District 51°07′N 3°19′W / 51.11°N 3.31°W / 51.11; -3.31 (Elworthy) [19]
  Exford Civil parish 405 Dulverton Rural District 51°08′N 3°38′W / 51.13°N 3.64°W / 51.13; -3.64 (Exford, Somerset) [18][20]
  Exmoor Civil parish 251 Dulverton Rural District 51°08′N 3°45′W / 51.14°N 3.75°W / 51.14; -3.75 (Exmoor civil parish) [18][20]
  Exton Civil parish 243 Dulverton Rural District 51°05′N 3°32′W / 51.09°N 3.54°W / 51.09; -3.54 (Exton, Somerset) [18][20]
  Holford Civil parish 392 Williton Rural District 51°10′N 3°13′W / 51.16°N 3.21°W / 51.16; -3.21 (Holford) [18][19]
  Huish Champflower Civil parish 301 Dulverton Rural District 51°04′N 3°22′W / 51.06°N 3.36°W / 51.06; -3.36 (Huish Champflower) [18][20]
  Kilve Civil parish 305 Williton Rural District 51°11′N 3°13′W / 51.18°N 3.22°W / 51.18; -3.22 (Kilve) [18][19]
  Luccombe Civil parish 157 Williton Rural District 51°11′N 3°34′W / 51.19°N 3.56°W / 51.19; -3.56 (Luccombe, Somerset) [18][19]
  Luxborough Civil parish 237 Williton Rural District 51°08′N 3°28′W / 51.13°N 3.46°W / 51.13; -3.46 (Luxborough) [18][19]
  Minehead Town 11,981 Williton Rural District
Minehead Urban District
51°12′N 3°28′W / 51.20°N 3.47°W / 51.20; -3.47 (Minehead) [18][19][21]
  Minehead Without Civil parish 60 Williton Rural District 51°12′N 3°31′W / 51.20°N 3.51°W / 51.20; -3.51 (Minehead Without) [19]
  Monksilver Civil parish 113 Williton Rural District 51°08′N 3°20′W / 51.13°N 3.33°W / 51.13; -3.33 (Monksilver) [18][19]
  Nettlecombe Civil parish 174 Williton Rural District 51°08′N 3°21′W / 51.13°N 3.35°W / 51.13; -3.35 (Nettlecombe, Somerset) [18][19]
  Oare Civil parish 68 Williton Rural District 51°12′N 3°43′W / 51.20°N 3.71°W / 51.20; -3.71 (Oare, Somerset) [19]
  Old Cleeve Civil parish 1,672 Williton Rural District 51°10′N 3°23′W / 51.17°N 3.38°W / 51.17; -3.38 (Old Cleeve) [18][19]
  Porlock Civil parish 1,440 Williton Rural District 51°13′N 3°36′W / 51.21°N 3.60°W / 51.21; -3.60 (Porlock) [18][19]
  Sampford Brett Civil parish 270 Williton Rural District 51°10′N 3°19′W / 51.16°N 3.31°W / 51.16; -3.31 (Sampford Brett) [18][19]
  Selworthy Civil parish 477 Williton Rural District 51°13′N 3°33′W / 51.21°N 3.55°W / 51.21; -3.55 (Selworthy) [18][19]
  Skilgate Civil parish 100 Dulverton Rural District 51°02′N 3°27′W / 51.04°N 3.45°W / 51.04; -3.45 (Skilgate) [20]
  Stogumber Civil parish 702 Williton Rural District 51°08′N 3°17′W / 51.13°N 3.29°W / 51.13; -3.29 (Stogumber) [18][19]
  Stogursey Civil parish 1,385 Williton Rural District 51°11′N 3°08′W / 51.18°N 3.14°W / 51.18; -3.14 (Stogursey) [18][19]
  Stringston Civil parish 116 Williton Rural District 51°11′N 3°11′W / 51.18°N 3.18°W / 51.18; -3.18 (Stringston) [19]
  Timberscombe Civil parish 402 Williton Rural District 51°08′N 3°32′W / 51.13°N 3.54°W / 51.13; -3.54 (Timberscombe) [18][19]
  Treborough Civil parish 51 Williton Rural District 51°07′N 3°25′W / 51.12°N 3.41°W / 51.12; -3.41 (Treborough) [19]
  Upton Civil parish 250 Dulverton Rural District 51°06′N 3°26′W / 51.10°N 3.44°W / 51.10; -3.44 (Upton, Somerset) [18][20]
  Watchet Town 3,785 Watchet Urban District 51°11′N 3°20′W / 51.18°N 3.33°W / 51.18; -3.33 (Watchet) [18][22]
  West Quantoxhead Civil parish 343 Williton Rural District 51°10′N 3°16′W / 51.17°N 3.27°W / 51.17; -3.27 (West Quantoxhead) [18][19]
  Williton Civil parish 2,607 Williton Rural District 51°10′N 3°19′W / 51.16°N 3.31°W / 51.16; -3.31 (Williton) [18][19]
  Winsford Civil parish 321 Dulverton Rural District 51°06′N 3°34′W / 51.10°N 3.57°W / 51.10; -3.57 (Winsford, Somerset) [18][20]
  Withycombe Civil parish 293 Williton Rural District 51°10′N 3°25′W / 51.16°N 3.41°W / 51.16; -3.41 (Withycombe) [18][19]
  Withypool and Hawkridge Civil parish 201 Dulverton Rural District 51°07′N 3°39′W / 51.11°N 3.65°W / 51.11; -3.65 (Withypool and Hawkridge) [18][20]
  Wootton Courtenay Civil parish 264 Williton Rural District 51°11′N 3°31′W / 51.18°N 3.52°W / 51.18; -3.52 (Wootton Courtenay) [18][19]

EducationEdit

County schools (those which are not independent) in the five non-metropolitan districts of the county are operated by Somerset County Council.

For a full list of schools see: List of schools in Somerset

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Statistics & Census Information". West Somerset Council. Retrieved 22 October 2017.
  2. ^ "West Somerset (Local Authority): Key Figures for Physical Environment". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 23 April 2009.
  3. ^ "Maps chart UK's ageing population". BBC News. 1 October 2009. Retrieved 3 October 2009.
  4. ^ West Somerset Online
  5. ^ Your New Council
  6. ^ "Somerset councils merger approved despite criticism". BBC. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  7. ^ Simmons, Alice (19 March 2018). "Taunton Deane and West Somerset vote in favour of council merger". Somerset County Gazette. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  8. ^ Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (24 May 2018). "The Somerset West and Taunton (Local Government Changes) Order 2018". legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  9. ^ "Parish Churches". Somerset County archives. Archived from the original on 5 October 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2007.
  10. ^ "Culbone church". historicengland.org.uk. Retrieved 24 October 2007.
  11. ^ "Tarr Steps". Everything Exmoor. Archived from the original on 14 June 2012. Retrieved 8 June 2012.
  12. ^ "Crowcombe Court". historicengland.org.uk. English Heritage. Retrieved 17 January 2009.
  13. ^ "Church of St John the Baptist, Carhampton". historicengland.org.uk. English Heritage. Retrieved 17 January 2009.
  14. ^ Morris, Steven (12 December 2012). "West Somerset council considers making most of its staff redundant". London: Guardian. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
  15. ^ "West Somerset Council anti-bankruptcy plan approved". BBC. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
  16. ^ "Why West Somerset Council is at risk of going bust". BBC. 19 December 2012. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  17. ^ "Council composition 2018". West Somerset Council. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj "Statistics for Wards, LSOAs and Parishes — SUMMARY Profiles" (Excel). Somerset Intelligence. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac "Williton RD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Dulverton RD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  21. ^ "Minehead UD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  22. ^ "Watchet UD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 5 January 2014.

External linksEdit