A ‘HISTORICALLY important’ tradition is set to continue in Taunton, despite huge political changes taking place.

It was feared Taunton would be left without a mayor come May this year, as the borough council will cease to exist when it ‘transforms’ into Somerset West and Taunton Council - taking with it the Deane mayor.

But, in a council compromise, the town will continue to have a mayor but it will be slightly different than before.

It has been agreed the ‘unparished’ area of the town, encompassing much of the town centre and other areas not represented by a parish council, will be brought together by another local democracy tool.

‘Charter trustees’ were enabled in the Local Government Act to allow the charter of a town or city to be maintained after a district has its ‘borough’ status abolished.

During a meeting of TDBC’s unparished committee, plans were put in motion for Taunton to create its own after the borough council no longer exists.

Labour councillor Libby Lisgo has been campaigning for Taunton to have its own town council, and says the county town is one of the largest towns in the area to not have its own local government.

She said: “I organised meetings to talk about Taunton being the only town without a town council.

“During this time, someone from Somerset Association of Local Councils mentioned investigating charter trustees.

“It’s used in a number of places, including Bath.

“How it would work is after May elections, the 16 councillors are going to be designated as charter trustees, looking after the ‘charter’ of the town.

“They can elect a mayor of Taunton, but not Taunton Deane.

“We had another meeting at TDBC and I said ‘How about it?’ I wasn’t sure if we could do it.

“Now we are being told it can be done and it will be part of the new council.

“It’s an interim until a town council is created.”

Ms Lisgo says she’s happy to compromise on her quest for a town council - for now.

She added: “At least Taunton will have a mayor, a civic head.

“At remembrance services there will be someone in Taunton to lead the ceremony.”

“It’s not a party-political issue, it needs to be cross-party.

“I’m really pleased, it’s about listening to what people want.

“A lot of people will be relieved Taunton will still have a mayor.

“It’s historically important.”

Liberal Democrat Hazel Prior-Sankey also worked with Hazel to bring the plans forward.

She said: “I absolutely support the initiative and have worked with Libby to achieve this.”

The new role of mayor will be largely the same, with two main functions: being chairman of the charter trustees, and being Taunton’s ambassador, in a non-political capacity.

TDBC has confirmed final details of the new system are still being worked out.

In order for plans to be finalised, an Order needs be obtained from the Secretary of State as part of the process of creating the new council.