Agenda item

Update and Discussion on Local Asset and Service Devolution

·       What are the concerns of our parishes and communities?

·       What can we do together?


The Chair explained that a copy of suggested savings options (dated 5 January 2024) as circulated to Clerks from Cllr Bill Revans (Leader of the Council) were on tables for discussion. The idea of the letter was to give parishes opportunities to look at where they wish to plug gaps in services at a local level or consider taking over some services in their communities.


Each parish present in the meeting was asked to provide a quick update on what options had or were being consider in their parish. Some of the points made included:

·       still in the dark about what might have to fund – discussed what may get cut. Some confusion what the statutory services to be provided by Somerset Council are. Agreed would increase precept by normal amount but to not allocate to any specific at this stage. Mindful of possible increase to Council Tax. Lack of information makes it difficult to make a decision.

·       Our parish has had a number of meetings. Like others still waiting to hear from Somerset Council about what won’t be done by them in the future.

·       Have agreed to raise parish precept as far as think can go. They had considered about what they may be able to take on but all guesswork.

·       We’ve agreed no increase to precept and to manage our budget as it is as the situation with Somerset Council is unknown. Decided to rely on reserves for this coming year and what might happen. Our parish is small so even if raised precept by a high percentage it would only mean a small amount of money and not enough to make a lot of difference.

·       We’ve increased our precept by a moderate amount for our parish.

·       Our parish has agreed to increase its precept by 10%. Had been intending to take over cutting of verges and had hoped to get the asset transferred but have now been told that won’t happen.

·       We are a very small parish council, our precept is being increased but we are being put in an impossible position. Small parishes cannot bail out the Council. Fear small parishes may fold.

·       Our precept is increasing by 10%. Also looking to take on work regarding verges in the parish as makes a lot of impact in the village.

·       We have set our precept by guesswork as costs are unknown. The precept has been increased.

·       Our parish has increased its precept by 13% and have some reserves. Will be some reliance on local landowners and volunteers to undertake some work in the parish.

·       We have taken the view to wait and see. Our parish is very small and get little assistance from the Council anyway.

·       Again, we are a very small village. Have also taken option not to increase precept, and wait and see. We do a lot of footpath work ourselves anyway.

·       As a Parish Meeting so don’t have a precept. We will carry on doing what we can ourselves on goodwill,

·       We began by looking at the list of services which might be cut and undertook some local consultation. From that we arrived at a list of items and put into a job description for a stewarding type role with some admin support, which has been costed and we will be increasing our precept to cover that – we will offer the stewarding role out to nearby parishes to see if they would like come on board and purchase some of the stewarding time if wished. Will be doing some local communications to explain to residents what we are doing and why.

·       Our parish has increased its precept. No money going into reserves this year.

·       Parishoners feel it’s a double whammy – increases in costs but services reducing.

·       Our parish has a very small precept. We have decided not to increase this year and to wait and see. A key service wanted in our parish is clearing the drains and hoping to get a quote for doing this. Interested in the stewarding role that Ilminster are offering and a local estate owner has also offered some help.

·       We will be upping our precept by 5% which equates to about £725. Worry about sub-contractors and if cause any damage there may be resulting legal issues.


Other points made during discussion included:

·       At the previous LCN meeting parishes had asked for information about costs of services, am appalled that the has not been forthcoming as yet.

·       Parishes are also still awaiting confirmation or further information of which Somerset Council services are statutory services.

·       Highway maintenance is a concern in many parishes, particularly potholes and drain/gully clearing.

·       Some parishes won’t want to do anything as only have a few councillor and limited funding. Concerned that these parishes may be ignored. Most parishes don’t have technical expertise, and there are concerns about liability and insurance.

·       Cllr Steve Ashton referred to liability insurance and work on highways, he understood if persons were trained to the required standard then liability would be covered by Highways.

·       Cllr Adam Dance referred to costings and enhanced services and noted if extra gully clearing was requested in addition to the scheduled programme of works it would likely be chargeable, unless required for statutory reasons.


The Chair noted the comments made and mentioned Somerset Council were also in a difficult position as there had been no confirmation to date about the additional increase in Council Tax or the capitalisation request. He clarified that the suggested savings options circulated were not cast in stone and no final decision would be made until the budget meeting at Full Council on 20 February. It was encouraging that parishes had been considering precepts and local services.


He fully acknowledged the frustrations of parishes still waiting for confirmation on costings and details about statutory services. The Chair clarified the process for the budget going through various committees to being set at Full Council on 20 February. It was hoped once the budget has been set that many things will be become more clear regarding delivery of services.


The Chair commented he would take forward the concerns and frustrations of parishes regarding lack of information, especially about statutory services and functions.


Note – webpage with asset and service devolution useful links / contact:



The LCN Chair commented he would take forward the concerns and frustrations of parishes regarding lack of information, especially about statutory services and functions.