Agenda item

Discussion on the Executive Committee agenda

To discuss the Somerset Council Executive Committee agenda for 15th January 2024. The agenda pack can be viewed here




The Chair, Cllr WilkinsExecutive Lead member for Transport and Digital at Somerset Council gave a verbal summary of the discussions that had taken place duringthe Somerset Council Executiveagendaand advised that the Executive had noted a first draft of the savings proposals that would be brought back to the Executive for approval onthe 7th February 2024, before going on to Full Council for approval at the Councils Budget Setting meeting on 20th February 2024.  

Kate Hellard,LCN Development Lead added thata summary document had been sent to all Parish and TownCouncils, andinvited comments and questions from the LCN.    

There were several questions, comments and concerns raised from members of the LCN including: -  

·         Some members felt disappointed in the lack of communication regarding the impact of the savings proposals on parish and town councils. 

·         The information regardingall of the direct and indirect costs of the Somerset Council savings proposals for Parish and Town Councils is coming through very late. Many parish councils will have already set their precepts for the year, others have delayed their meetings. This is unhelpful. considering Parish and Town Councilswill likely be expected to fund more services from April ‘24 onwards. 

·         Most Parish and Town councils do not have the knowledge or expertise to start delivering services that may be cut under the Somerset Council savings proposals.   

·         The reduction of Highways Services downto statutory duties onlyis very concerning, particularly for the most rural and flood risk areas.  

·         Is there any scope to increase CIL (community infrastructure levy) to help Parish and Town Councils fund extra services. 

·         Further clarification was sought regarding any potential devolution of decision making in services such as licensing andplanning. 

Members were invited to take part in the Council’s budget consultation which runs until 22 January, the result of which will help influence councillors as they seek to set a balanced budget.   

During the debate, Ally Laing, Senior Media and Communications officer, via the Teams Chat function,gave two examples of potential cuts to services; -  

·         Public Toilets:Indicative costs to run a block of toilets are estimated between £30K-40K. 

·         Grass Cutting: Somerset Council charges £40-£70 per hour for a grass cut. A typical parish recreation ground would take up to two hours. 


Regarding item 8 of the Executive agenda, draft Asset and Service Devolution Framework,the Senior Media and Communications officer shared links to the Somerset Council land and property assets lists and invited members to email the Asset and Devolution team with any questions: - 


·         Somerset County Council: Land and Property Transparency List 

·         Mendip District Council: Land and Property Transparency List 

·         South Somerset District Council: South Somerset Land and Property Transparency List 

·         Somerset West and Taunton Council: Land Transparency List and Property Transparency List 

·         Sedgemoor District Council: Sedgemoor Building Asset Transparency List – 8 February 2016 

·         HM Land Registry website: Search for land and property information 


Following on from the discussions regarding asset and service devolution, the LCN Development Leadgave a presentation on a new scheme entitled Highway Steward.Members considered the presentation and, in terms of next steps, the LCN Development Lead asked members to consider forming a Highway Steward working group to explore the scheme further. 

At the end of this item,the Chair paid tribute to Somerset Councillor, Executive Lead Member for Adult Social Care and member of this LCN Cllr Dean Ruddle who passed away suddenly on 5th January 2024.He invited Cllr Tim Kerley to speak, who expressed his deep sadness at the loss of a close friend and colleague for many years.He advised thata Book of Condolences is available in Edgar Hall, Somerton, and at the Church in Somerton town centre. 


The LCN Development Lead invited members to raise a hand if they would be interested in forming a working group to explore the Highway Steward Scheme and there were 8 expressions of interest from members in attendance.