South Hams District Council has released a series of videos to explain why it is looking at controversial proposals to merge with West Devon Borough Council.

Both local authorities are in the middle of a public consultation exercise over the councils’ ”marriage” plans before making a final decision in October.

South Hams leader John Tucker and deputy leader Simon Wright have put together short films which have been uploaded to YouTube and the councils’ website as part of the month long consultation to try to explain the most asked questions about the possible merger.

They include issues about the cost to the councils, how much it will save taxpayers, how much more South Hams’ taxpayers will have to pay in council tax and what it will be spent on.

The unusual decision to take to social media follows a major row over the merger proposals which has split the council along political lines.

Last week, Totnes Liberal Democrats declared their opposition to the proposals and held a public meeting at the Royal Seven Stars in Totnes to enlist support.

On Wednesday next week, August 30, Cllr Tucker and Cllr Wright are inviting the public to turn up at the Cary Room in South Hams’ Foliation House HQ in Totnes between 6.30pm and 8pm to talk about the merger plans, with other events arranged through September.

South Hams and West Devon have been forging ever closer links for years sharing services and top officers to save cash.

Faced with ever-increasing Government cuts in local council cash support – which is due to disappear altogether – alongside stringent caps on council tax increases the district council claims it will run out of money in three years’ time if the merger does not go ahead.

Opponents claim that South Hams taxpayers will be hit with major tax rises to bring the two authorities’ independent tax bills into line and that wealthier South Hams will be bailing the small West Devon council out of a financial mess.

The merger will also leave a question mark over the future of both local authorities current council headquarters – Follaton House in Totnes and Kilworthy park in Tavistock.

The current consultation exercise has involved asking residents, parish and town councils and local MPs what they think about the proposed merger – which will also need Government consent before it will be allowed to go ahead.

Rattery: Tuesday, September 5 / 9.30-11am / Village Hall Market

Holne: Thursday, September 7 / 11am-1pm / Community Shop

Yealmpton: Thursday, September 7 / 4pm-7pm / Parish Rooms

Totnes: Friday, September 8 / 9am-noon / Weekly Market

South Brent: Saturday, September 9 / 10am-noon / The Old School Centre

Salcombe: Saturday, September 9 / 10am-noon / Whitestrand

Ivybridge: Sunday, September 10 / 10am-4pm / Active Ivybridge - The Big Event

Kingsbridge: Monday, September 11 / 3pm-6pm / Kingsbridge Library

Woolwell: Tuesday, September 12 / 3pm-7pm / Woolwell Centre

Ivybridge: Thursday, September 14 / 3pm-6pm / Watermark Library

Modbury: Tuesday, September 19 / 3pm-7pm / Memorial Hall

Dartmouth: Wednesday, September 20 / 4pm-7pm / Flavel Centre

Dartmouth: Tuesday, September 26 / 4pm-7pm / Flavel CentreMore dates and events may be released in the coming weeks. Below is the first in a series of videos released by SHDC, you kind find the rest on their YouTube channel CLICK HERE