Agenda and minutes

Venue: Tatworth Memorial Hall, Kents Road, South Chard TA20 2QA

Contact: LCN Team  Email:

No. Item


Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.


An apology for absence was received from Sheila Read and Councillor Jenny Kenton.



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 )


There were no declarations of interest from Somerset Council Councillors present at the meeting.



Notes from the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 148 KB

To approve the notes from the previous meeting.


The notes of the previous meeting held on 23 October 2023 were agreed as correct record by those present.



Update on Somerset Council's current financial position - Q & A


Cllr Theo Butt-Philip (Lead Member for Transformation and Human Resources) introduced himself and provided a brief overview and update on the financial position of Somerset Council.


He noted the authority needed to reduce spending as there was a projected overspend in the current year and pressure to close a forecast £100million budget gap for the coming financial year. He noted the Leader had asked parishes to look at some of the non-statutory services which may get reduced or cease and for parishes to consider if they may wish to take on some of those services at a local level if valued in their parish. Somerset Council would need to seriously look at what services it could continue to provide into the future, and there were some difficult decisions to be made.


In more recent weeks the Council had been able to publish some savings options, but there would be no decisions made until the meeting of Full Council on 20 February 2024. He explained the Council legally has to set a balanced budget each year and it also legally had to provide a certain level of care. However there were many existing services which the authority was not under obligation to provide and some of these may need to stop in the future.


During a question and answer session, Cllr Theo Butt Philip (Lead Member for Transformation and Human Resources), Kate Hellard (Service Manager LCNs) and Cllr Sarah Wakefield (Associate Lead Member for Commercial Investment & Risk) provided some responses to points of detail. A summary of some of the points and responses are provided below:


·         Understand that restructuring is underway – what’s happening and how will this affect the LCNs?


Internal consultation on the restructuring of the Partnerships and Localities service was currently taking place and due to close shortly. As a service we are looking at how can deliver savings, and going forwards it was possible that the LCNs may be funded under the role of Public Health. The role of the LCNs was unlikely to fundamentally change in the near future and a good lead in time would be needed before doing a major review of their purpose and geography.


·         Regarding the budget savings – what timeframes are we working to in the near future?


The 2024-25 budget will be considered, agreed and set at the meeting of Full Council on 20 February 2024, but assurances were also needed from central government regarding the raised Council Tax Increase and capitalisation direction no later than March.


·         What is the plan if government don’t agree to the 10% increase in Council Tax or the capitalisation direction request?


Need government to agree to at least one of the options if not both, but in theory if they don’t agree then a Section 114 notice would be declared. The government would then likely put in Commissioners who well tell us what to do to make the budget balance, and its likely we would be told to sell more assets.


·         My parish,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.


Actions from last meeting


There were no actions noted from the last meeting.



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.


There were no questions raised at Public Question Time.



Discussion pdf icon PDF 2 MB

What can we do / want to do locally regarding asset and service devolution?

a.     What are the opportunities and risks?

b.     What information do we have and what do we need?

c.      How can we work together to achieve agreed actions?


Kate Hellard (Service Manager LCNs) provided a brief presentation to give an overview of the concept and work that could be undertaken by a Highway Steward from April if parishes were interested in buying into the scheme. The steward would be employed by the Highways contractor (Kier) – sick pay, risk assessments, equipment and insurance etc would be the responsibility of Kier. She advised the cost for a single full-time steward was approximately £50k per year – a parish doesn’t have to have a whole steward and the steward could be split between a cluster of parishes but this would need to be a geographical cluster to reduce costs.


Note – the presentation slides for this meeting can be viewed at the end of the printed minutes pack or online at:


There was then a short breakout session regarding what can we do / want to do locally regarding asset and service devolution. The Chair referred to the savings options (dated 5 January 2024) as circulated to Clerks from Cllr Bill Revans (Leader of the Council). Each table was asked to briefly look at the options and to consider the discussion points:

(a)   What are the opportunities and risks?

(b)   What information do we have and what do we need?

(c)   How can we work together to achieve agreed actions?


Following the breakout session, each group was asked to briefly feedback key comments for each of the discussion points, and comments included (including additional comments made on flipcharts):


Group 1


·         Easier access to decision makers at Somerset Council

·         Speed limits on local roads - extensions to 30mph and 40mph limits

·         Clearance of roads (flood debris)


·       Costs of purchasing a service or signposting to activities

·       What are Somerset Council actually going to continue to do? Need this information as soon as possible.

Working Together

·       With other parishes e.g to have a Highway Steward.

·       With other organisations including Somerset Council


Group 2


·         Highway stewards


·         Similar comments to group 1 – need information.

Working Together

·         Need confirmation of what Somerset Council will continue to do. Timeframes for budgets and precepts is very short.


Group 3

General comments

·         Generally very disappointed with lack of useful intel on costs / precept requirements.

·         Lengthsman / Highway Steward

o  Insufficient scope (no pothole work), often the work required would be ootside the remit of a steward.

o  No allowance for delivery / management / capacity within Parish Council (part time clerk)

o  Insufficient local knowledge by contractors

·         Flytipping / street cleansing

o  How will recycling centre closures be handles?

o  Flytipping is already a problem – will parish councils be expected to manage?


Group 4

General comments

·         Not keen on the Highways Steward idea – would rather employ own person and get trained to the required standard. Major problems are with potholes rather than general tidying up.


The Chairman noted that as this had only been a brief discussion item – all points noted on the flip charts would also be included  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.


Formation of workgroups


The Chair noted that following discussion at the previous meeting about initial priorities and the formation of working groups – there were two clear areas proposed for working groups:

1)      Transport and Highways

2)     Environment and Conservation


The Chair invited anyone in the room who wished to be on the working groups to put their names forward to officers or for any other volunteers to email the LCN team at


Several of those present volunteered to be on the Environment and Conservation Working Group.


ACTION:     Volunteers to be on the Transport and Highways Working Group and / or the Environment and Conservation Working Group of the Chard & Blackdowns LCN, please make contact with the LCN team at



Dates of future meetings


The date of the next meeting of the Chard and Blackdowns LCN was noted as Wednesday 13 March 2024 at a venue to be confirmed.


Provisional future dates beyond March are:

·       Wednesday 1 May 2024

·       Wednesday 3 July 2024


The Chairman reminded everyone about suggesting venues for future meetings, noting that good wifi was essential.


Contact officer for the meeting – LCN team: