Agenda and minutes

Venue: Hatch Beauchamp Village Hall, Hatch Beauchamp, Taunton TA3 6SG. View directions

Contact: LCN Team Email: 

No. Item


Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Jason Baker, Martin Wale, John Harrison (Chair of Corfe PC) and a representative from Combe St Nicholas PC.



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 )


Councillor Ross Henley advised that he was Chair of the Wellington & Wiveliscombe LCN.


Councillor Sarah Wakefield noted that she was Vice-Chair of the Chard & Blackdowns LCN.



Notes from the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 164 KB

To approve the notes from the previous meeting.


The notes of the previous meeting held on 02 August 2023 were approved as a correct record by those present.



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.


In response to questions, the Chair and Locality Manager confirmed that Somerset Council had their own Communications Team who would publicise the work of the LCNs and any parish who wished to request a particular item for discussion at an LCN meeting could contact the LCN team at:


Mark Palmer of Neroche Parish Council asked that social media links be shared as local residents felt they were not being informed about the work of the LCNs.


Highlights of themes discussed at the last meeting


The Chairman drew attention to the 12 areas of priority which had been identified at the first LCN meeting on 02 August as:-


Transport – local transport solutions & Active Travel

Access to medical services

Planning Policy

Anti-social behaviour

Rural Isolation


Youth provision


Climate & Environment

Highways – road maintenance & A358

Road Safety – speed of traffic

Communication & connectivity


Colin Fisher of Stoke St Mary PC said that all of the priority areas had been identified and he did not feel that it was for the LCN to now say they were not interested in any of them.


Later in the discussion, it was noted that the LCN working groups could join together across the County to progress common projects and priorities.


An introduction to data


Beth Poole, Locality Officer, introduced a slide of statistics which related directly to the Chard and Blackdowns LCN area.  She advised that the data gave an indication of what was available and to give an understanding of the area. She noted that some of the data could be misleading and the Census 2021 data would now be 2 years old.  The school census data was updated twice a year and the Somerset Intelligence Network could provide data on a parish by parish basis:


There were ongoing opportunities to build data for the LCN working groups to gain further information which could help towards funding bids for projects.


During discussion, it was noted that:


  • Parish Councils who required more information could contact the LCN team at
  • Some of the data could be skewed by Chard town statistics.
  • It would be possible to benchmark the data across all of the LCNs.




Discussion: To agree initial priorities and the formation of working groups


The Chair invited the LCN members present and on-line to join break-out groups to identify 3 priority areas from the 12 identified at their initial meeting in August.  He noted that the LCN discussions would be as informal and inclusive as possible and Parish Clerks were welcome to join in the debate.  After the discussions, the groups feedback was:


Group 1

Social Services and rural isolation.

Lengthsman Scheme for drainage and highway maintenance issues.

Youth Provision – explore Youth Councils in the area.


Group 2

Access to medical services - no NHS Dentist in Chard and only one Doctors Surgery.

Transport – the Somerset Bus Partnership had trialled a service in Hatch Beauchamp which had recently ended but there was an excellent local car sharing service.  The Slinky Bus service needed to be looked at.

Services for young people – Chard paid £10,000 towards its youth service provision.  Hatch Beauchamp had lots of services for the elderly but not many for the youth.


Group 3

Considered the rurality of the area and felt that many of the priorities identified were interconnected like climate & environment / flooding/ road safety as they covered speeding, road maintenance, Lengthsman Scheme and the impact of flooding.


Group 4

Planning Policy – the Somerset Local Plan / policy / health.

Connectivity and Communication – support for older people.

Climate & Environment – economic support and energy.


On-line group:

Planning enforcement is weak and there is a perception that nothing is happening.

Highways – there was support for a Lengthsman Scheme and to learn from the experiences of other parishes.


In response to questions, the Locality Manager replied:


·       Highway issues had been raised at many of the LCN meetings and Highway Officers had subsequently attended some LCN meetings.

·       There was the potential for lobbying on issues like access to medical services by combining the voices of the LCNs.

·       There were still some Parish Rangers in existence but only two or three schemes remained.  The Exmoor pilot LCN had looked at providing low level maintenance for highways.


The Chair asked for people who would be willing to put themselves forward to join a sub-working group and the following people agreed:


Peter Cordier – Youth

Mark Palmer – Connectivity and

Sheila Read – Environment

Spud Middleton – Highways

Andy Grant – Transport & Connectivity

Ken Pearson – Environment


During discussion it was noted that:


·       Parishioners should be encouraged to join the working groups.

·       The Unitary Council should repair potholes etc in roads early to prevent insurance claims by motorists for damage to their vehicles.

·       The working groups could decide their own terms of reference

·       The recent Local Plan consultation had not felt very open but more leading questions.

·       Neighbourhood Plans were out of date within 2 years.  The new Somerset Local Plan should be more local.



Dates of future meetings


The provisional dates for future meetings were noted as:


·       Wednesday 17 January 2024– venue to be confirmed

·       Wednesday 13 March 2024 – venue to be confirmed.


Please note that the LCN team work hard to minimise diary clashes but asked that they be contacted on if there are any issues.