SALC Newsletter December 2023

SALC welcomes new board of directors elected at December AGM

The AGM event held on 02/12/23 was attended by 85 council representatives and focused on matters of asset and service devolution, followed by an afternoon session on health and wellbeing.

We heard from guest speakers Cllr Bill Revans, Leader of Somerset Council, with Cllr Liz Leyshon, Lead Member for Resources and Performance, who spoke about Somerset Council’s financial difficulties and how it can work with parish and town councils going forward. Questions were taken from the floor and a comprehensive discussion was held regarding the anticipated impacts on local councils and the need for greater levels of information before 2024/25 precepts are set. Attendees received a presentation by David Mears, Town Clerk to Bridgwater Town Council, who spoke about the experiences of Bridgwater Town Council in taking on devolved assets and services. David offered examples of how local councils might seek out opportunities to work together to keep assets and services operational.

The AGM welcomed the re-election of some existing directors and elected some new faces. We bade farewell to Dave Mitton, the outgoing chairman, and thanked him for his invaluable work over many years supporting parish and town councils. The board of directors will elect the new SALC chairman at its meeting on 15th December, following which the details of the board will be published.

The afternoon AGM health & wellbeing workshop was presented by Ann Diment, SALC Health & Wellbeing Officer, with Jeff Brown, Somerset Council Service Manager – Stronger Communities.

The attendees were invited to reflect on the AGM speakers’ presentations and the current challenging financial situation in Somerset. It was noted that this could be an opportunity to identify key assets that support health and wellbeing, and collectively find ways of communicating their value to our communities so we can work together to keep them going.

Download the Ann’s notes and action points from the Councils Health & Wellbeing workshop.

Download the presentation, “Local Councils Health & Wellbeing Support Programme”  


Resources for asset & service devolution

Member councils can now access a resource of information relating to asset and service devolution on the SALC website, including Cllr Revans’ AGM speech, David Mears & Paul Wynn’s presentation given to clerks groups and the SALC AGM, and links to Somerset Council’s asset lists. We will add to this resource over time as more information is made available. Log in to the Knowledge Hub/ Council Finance (see your clerk for login).

Public consultation: A consultation on Somerset Council’s budget launched yesterday & everyone is encouraged to have their say, public consultation on budget setting

Webinar – How local councils can benefit from the levelling up agenda
31 January 2024 — 12.00 – 13.15
NALC member: £30 – Non-member: £40

This event will explain how local councils can survive and thrive in a devolved environment by taking on assets, liabilities, and services from their principal authority. You will learn about the benefits and challenges of devolution and hear from experts on how to make the most of the opportunities presented by the levelling up agenda


No referendum principles for parish councils in 2024/25

It is confirmed that referendum principles (capping) will not be extended to parish and town councils in 2024/25.

The government has published the Local government finance policy statement 2024 to 2025, which sets out its intentions for the upcoming local government finance settlement. The proposed referendum principles include a core council tax referendum limit for principal local authorities of up to 3% with an adult social care precept of 2%.

This is a particularly significant announcement for Somerset’s parish and town councils considering taking on assets and services from Somerset Council. NALC will be continuing to engage with the government on the financial challenges and cost pressures facing local councils and responding to the finance settlement when it is published in a few weeks’ time.

We know that many councils have already increased, or plan to increase precepts to meet local need. NALC notes that nationally the number of local councils with precepts above £1m is now over 100 as parishes and towns deliver on vital issues such as health and wellbeing, climate change, and the cost-of-living crisis.

On 4th December, Somerset Council joined with 32 other principal councils to write to Michael Gove MP regarding concerns about local government finance. You can read the letter on the County Councils Network website.


UPDATE – HMRC guidance on sports VAT

HMRC has published some additional guidance about VAT reclaims in relation to the non-business treatment of sports facilities.

A revised briefing giving more clarification about the scope of any reclaims and a link to the new guidance, is available for member councils to download from the SALC website Knowledge Hub on the LTNs & Guidance page/ Finance & Audit (login required).

If you have any queries, please contact


Sharing the Good Stuff!

We have made some updates to the health and wellbeing pages on our website.

Remember to check-in with the Resources page for new sources of information, and see the Sharing the Good Stuff page for examples of the work local councils are doing to support projects or groups that make a real difference to people’s lives.

If you have a story to share about the good stuff your council is doing to support health and wellbeing, email . If you would like advice about undertaking a health and wellbeing project in your community, email


FREE webinars to support health & wellbeing

Webinars tackling bullying and harassment

NALC is supporting the Civility and Respect project by organising a series of free online events open to all councillors, clerks, and other council staff about tackling toxic behaviour in local councils.



Webinars for supporting children and young people 

Dr Sarah Temple is accredited by the European Mentoring and Coaching Council and the Personalised Care Institute to train health coaches and social prescribers in primary care as well as staff working with children, young people, and families across education, health and care.

Sarah will host three free webinars in January and February 2024. Each will be 45 minutes long and will be followed by an opportunity to ask Sarah about the training she offers.

One of the sessions hears from councillor Andy Leafe from Street Parish Council who will talk about his work as a parent family support advisor in local schools, reminding us that, in addition to their unpaid work with parish councils, many local councillors’ “day jobs” also focus on supporting health and wellbeing in their communities.


ico has launched a service to make a subject access request

The ico’s “make a subject access request” (SAR) service aims to support both organisations and people making SARs. The service means that people can make and send a SAR request directly to an organisation via its website. Organisations will then receive an ICO branded email with the details of the request and guidance on how to respond.

The ico knows that getting SARs right is an important topic for organisations; over 30% of all the contacts it receives on its advice helpline relate to SARs. The ico says its new service will mean that organisations should receive more specific requests, provide topical guidance when it’s needed, and help manage requesters’ expectations.


App transforms paper trails into multimedia visitor experiences! 

Showcase notable (and less notable) buildings, green spaces, wildlife, and people, with the tried and tested Places and Trails app platform from AT Creative, specialists in helping local councils create engaging, interactive, and accessible self-guided trails.

You have full control over the content in your customised location-aware app that delivers easy-to-follow walking/cycling/vehicular tours. Take a look at the case studies (includes tours in Somerset).

AT Creative is taking expressions of interest for a free one-hour long webinar to be run early in 2024 introducing you to developing self-guided trails. It will cover the following topics:

  • The benefits of self-guided trails
  • What makes a good trail (based on academic research)
  • Storytelling with a purpose (aka Heritage Interpretation)
  • An introduction to the Places and Trails platform
  • Relevant case studies
  • Securing external funding

Contact (07800 799561) to learn more and/or sign up for the webinar.


SALC partners with Parish Online for deal on websites 

In SALC’s August newsletter we touched upon issues of local council websites and email addresses, noting that it’s best practice is for a parish council to have a secure website entirely under its control. We are therefore delighted to be working with Parish Online to bring SALC member councils a 30% discount on new websites.

We all know Parish Online for its respected mapping service, but it’s now good news that Parish Online also provides high quality, secure websites with a domain that are affordable for smaller parishes. 

As well as making your council compliant with the 2023 edition of the Practitioners’ Guide, a modern website gives your council a professional online presence that allows visitors to your site to instantly recognise that you’re an official local authority body.

For more information and to get a quote, visit Parish Online and ask for the Somerset Association of Local Council’s discount (SALC active membership is required).


SALC seeks feedback on member services

As we move towards a new year with new faces on the board of directors and a new SALC CEO, can we please remind councils to respond to the letter from Dave Mitton, former chairman, seeking members’ views on SALC’s services. You can read the letter here.

We wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

The SALC staff and board of directors thank you for your membership over the last year and we look forward to continuing to work with you on new adventures in 2024!
Please note that the SALC team will be taking leave over the festive period, which means there might be a delay in the speed of our responses to the enquiry service.


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