Agenda and minutes

Venue: St Mary's Church Centre, Nether Stowey

Contact: LCN Team Email:  Email:

No. Item


Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.


Somerset Councillors Lance Duddridge, Hugh Davies and Gill Slocombe. Cllr Chris Morgan (Stogursey PC) substituted by Sue Goss.


Cllr Rosemary Woods attended virtually.


The Chair on behalf of the LCN extended his condolences to Nether Stowey PC on the sad loss of councillor Penny Everett.



Declarations of Interest

To receive and note any declarations of interests in respect of any matters included on the agenda for consideration at this meeting.


(The other registrable interests of Councillors of Somerset Council, arising from membership of City, Town or Parish Councils and other Local Authorities will automatically be recorded in the minutes: City, Town & Parish Twin Hatters - Somerset Councillors 2023 )


None were declared.


Notes from the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 136 KB

To approve the notes from the previous meeting.


The notes from the previous meeting were unanimously agreed by those present.


An update on Somerset Council's Financial Position pdf icon PDF 1 MB


Emma Plummer, Interim LCN Link Officer explained the current timeline and shared a presentation. This can be viewed here.


Public Question Time

The Chair to advise of any questions, statements or petitions received that are not covered by items on the agenda for the meeting on which members of the public have requested to speak.


Cllr Rosemary Woods advised that the Williton Recycling centre was marked for closure. Although outside the Dowsborough LCN area it would impact the nearby communities of Holford and Kilve. It was important that all parishes took part in any consultation that takes place.



An update on the Highway Steward Scheme and formation of a Highways Working Group - Terms of Reference. pdf icon PDF 1 MB


Kate Hellard, LCN Development Lead shared a presentation on the Highway Steward scheme which had been trialled on Exmoor. The presentation can be viewed here.


The annual cost of the Highway Steward including transport is £50k and this could be shared across 2 LCN areas. (This would lessen the cost impact on individual parishes).


In addition it was also proposed that a Highway Working group be established to progress the concerns of the Dowsborough parishes. This would be held bi-monthly between the main LCN meetings and would be made up of parish representatives and staff from the Somerset Council Highways Team. This did not incur a cost to the parishes beyond their time and would be a good opportunity to progress local issues directly with the Highways staff. This meeting would be held during the day at a local venue.


(The Terms of Reference to be circulated and volunteers invited to participate). A show of hands was made in the room, and interested parties were asked to leave their details with the clerk.


Questions from the floor included:-

  • Concern about the cost of the Highway Steward, especially from the smaller parishes. They simply couldn’t afford it!
  • How the work would be fairly distributed on an operational level. Who would be responsible for overseeing the work and ensuring that it was completed to a satisfactory standard?
  • The Exmoor Highways pilot had made use of Parish Online. Had the Somerset Council data sets relating to hedges and verge maintenance been updated in that area, and would this now be rolled out across Somerset? (Sam Murrell advised that the Parish Online trial had finished and did not involve the former SCC uploading their data to the site. Parishes were able to pay a subscription if they wished to continue and could upload their own data, such as the location of defibrillators etc).
  • It was important that all the parishes collaborated to ensure that if the model was adopted the cost was spread proportionately.
  • It was stressed that the Highway subgroup was independent of the Steward and could be progressed whether the Steward scheme was adopted or not.
  • It was requested that a senior highways officer was present at the next meeting to talk about current highway issues. Sue Goss stated that this used to work well at the former West Somerset Area Panel for Watchet, Williton and Quantock Vale.



Developing a way forward for the LCN pdf icon PDF 172 KB


It was agreed by a show of hands for a Highways working group to be set up. Can participants please email the to register their interest. The first face-to-face meeting will be set up shortly, at an accessible venue with representatives from the Highways team.


It was agreed that the Highway Subgroup Terms of Reference (TOR) would be circulated to parishes so that they could have an idea of the time commitment required.


Discussion on Planning. What are our concerns and issues?


The Chair stated that he felt strongly that the LCN should be a consultee on strategic planning issues, especially in respect of Infrastructure.


Concern was expressed about the lack of planning enforcement and general access to planning advice and information. The Chair advised that Planning Enforcement was not a statutory function of the Council, and as such could be subject to further service cuts. It was requested that the Somerset Council website was updated and the relevant outstanding enforcement notices listed for inspection.


It was acknowledged that there was a national problem with recruitment and retention of Development Control staff, which meant access to planning staff at local level was difficult.




Date for the next meeting


Provisional dates proposed:-


  • Monday 18 March 2024


  • Wednesday 12 June 2024


Venues to be confirmed. Cllr Sue Goss suggested the Victory Hall, Stogursey for the March meeting.