/ Parish Council / Minutes / 23rd May 2020


Minutes of the additional Meeting of the CSM PC held on Tuesday 23rd June 2020

Held virtually using Zoom at 7pm.

Present; PCllrs S Hutchings (Chair), S Greenhalgh (Vice Chair), B Brighton, P Brown, C Cudlip, N Davidson, J Pengelley and P Tucker. (Parish Councillors). SCCllr and Leader D Fothergill. SWTC Cllr and Leader F Smith-Roberts and SWTC Cllr M Rigby (Portfolio Holder – Planning and Transportation). The Clerk. No members of the Public attended.

20/87. Chairman’s Welcome. SH welcomed all and thanked the invited speakers for agreeing to briefing the PC on their respective views on the proposal to create a single Unitary Council for Somerset.

20/88. Apologies. PCllrs Y Guest and A Gunstone.

20/89. Declarations of Interest. (1) Declarations of Individual Members. No disclosures.

20/90. SCCllr and Leader D Fothergill - The case for a Unitary Somerset. DF gave a power point presentation (copy attached) to clarify why a Unitary Council was required for Somerset in order to address the many increasing challenges facing Somerset. He explained that in previous discussions with District Councils that there had been agreement change was needed but there is a difference on how; with the Districts wanting to have closer working whilst the County preferred a single unitary authority to replace all the Councils. DF advised that the former had been tried previously (Pioneer Somerset) but hadn’t worked. DF highlighted that many Council Areas were now represented by Unitary Authority giving Cornwall, Dorset and Wilts as examples. He outlined a timetable which indicated that SCC would make its decision on whether to support on 29 July before submitting to the Secretary of State its case at the end July with a new Unitary Authority effective from April 2022. DF then answered Cllrs questions. DF explained that there would be Local Community Networks in place with delegated budget responsibility for spending in each area and a transfer of assets and services on an agreed basis to those of the 300 Parish and Town Councils that wish to grab and fly with them. The issue is how do we get the maximum out of what Somerset residents are given each year. There would also be fewer Cllrs with approx. 1 Councillor representing 4500 electors.

20/91. Councillor Federica Smith-Roberts, Leader and Cllr Mike Rigby (Portfolio Holder – Planning and Transportation) of SWTC to outline their position on the local Government debate.

FSR explained that all 5 Councils had been working together until last year and agreed that change was required. The 4 Districts had then parted with SCC. The Districts were looking at Options when the Covid outbreak had struck. As a result, they had decided to focus on helping the most vulnerable during the pandemic and whilst the need for change is accepted collaboration had been halted; the business case will now not be ready until the end of July. MR explained he was a long-time supporter of Unitary Councils but he is concerned about SCC’s budget; whilst better than it was it is still subject to Adult and Children Care Services which are demand led so its likley that these will absorb all the resources. Social Care Needs to be resolved by National Govt ahead first and at present there is a need now post Covid to regenerate Taunton and Wellington Town centres. FSR and MR then answered Cllrs questions. JP suggested now was the time for change. CC highlighted the isolation PC’s have at present; FSR said she would take back.

At this point DF, FSR and MR were thanked by the Chair and they left the Zoom meeting.

20/92. Parish Councillors deliberation

PB reflected on previous attempts to move to a Unitary authority which had failed due to under representation and a political divide. CC highlighted the need for PC to have a voice and to be listened to. PB highlighted the need for quality representatives able to advocate for the Parish. It was then decided to make a decision at the next full PC meeting on 6th July.

Action. Clerk to talk to some Dorset Authorities to establish their perspective post Unitary.

The meeting ended at 9pm.

Steve Altria, Clerk to Creech St Michael Parish Council 01823 666295. Email clerk@creechstmichael.net

Future Meetings;

The next CSM PC mtgs are on 6th July and 7th September 2020 at 7pm in the Cartwright Room, Village Hall if permitted or virtually using Zoom if not.

A Planning mtg will be held on 3rd August if applications are received.