Statement by Councillor Val Keitch, Somerset County Council Executive Lead for Local Government Reorganisation and Prosperity
Cllr Val Keitch has been confirmed as Executive Lead for Local Government Reorganisation (LGR) and Prosperity, a key role in the Somerset County Council Executive. As part of the new administration, formed following the May 5 elections, Cllr Keitch will oversee the work to create a single new council for Somerset, which will replace the current county and four district councils (Mendip, Sedgemoor, Somerset West and Taunton and South Somerset) on 1 April 2023.
Cllr Keitch is a well-known public figure in her Ilminster community, where she remains a serving member of the town council and Leader of South Somerset District Council. Cllr Keitch previously represented district councils as a Vice-Chair of the LGR decision making bodies and has a detailed knowledge of the programme to deliver and new unitary council for Somerset.
In her first statement, Cllr Val Keitch, Somerset County Council Executive Lead for Local Government Reorganisation and Prosperity, said: “People in Somerset didn’t ask for a new council; they asked for better jobs, better care, better infrastructure and action to protect our environment – that’s what we’re focused on.
“Communities in Somerset didn’t ask for centralised control; they want support for their own aspirations, and they deserve clarity about how that will work.
“People want honesty too. A new council is not a silver bullet. It will take years of hard work, a willingness to listen and adapt, but I believe we can build a fairer, greener and prosperous future for Somerset.”
Biography Cllr Val Keitch
Val was elected to Somerset County Council on 5 May 2022 and is Executive Lead for Local Government Reorganisation and Prosperity. Val remains Leader of South Somerset District Council and a member of Ilminster Town Council.
Val had a prominent career in the probation service and is a passionate proponent of restorative justice. She has been working as a trainer and consultant for the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP). Val has spoken and presented at many National and International conferences on the subject and managed the award-winning Chard and Ilminster Community Justice Panel for eight years before retiring in 2013.
Previously, Val worked for the Surrey Probation Service in a variety of roles in the community and within the Prison Service. Her last posting was advising the Home Office on the resettlement of women leaving custody.
Val grew up in Curry Rivel. Her family have long connections with Ilminster. Val attended Grammar school in Taunton and qualified as a Probation Officer at Kingston University.
News item added: 20 June, 2022