SALC Newsletter January 2024

A message from the chair of SALC, Loretta Whetlor.

Following the election of new directors and the retirement of Dave Mitton, former chair, at the December AGM, the SALC board of directors has elected Loretta Whetlor as chair of SALC, with Ewan Jones as vice chair.

Loretta says, “I am delighted to have been elected chair to SALC. I am grateful that that the board has put its trust in me to proactively lead the team as we work for the benefit of Somerset’s parish and town councils.

I want to welcome the new directors and thank them for agreeing to help drive SALC forward as it rises to new challenges in 2024.

My heartfelt thanks go to the former chair, Dave Mitton, for soundly leading the association over the years, and my thanks also go to Jean Allgrove whose extensive years of service exceeds everyone’s!

To help SALC plan how to best help you, please can I encourage all member councils to respond to our appeals for feedback about SALC’s services.” 

Loretta has a long and active history of service with SALC as the former vice chair and representative to the National Assembly. Loretta is also the vice chair and former mayor on Watchet Town Council, and she has extensive experience as an elected member of the former Somerset West & Taunton district, where she held seats on committees and outside bodies.


Updates to legal topic notes & guidance

Member councils can download new briefing notes and legal topic notes from SALC website Knowledge Hub, LTS & Guidance (login required).

  • A change to the law relating to funding church property.

Through section 82 of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023, the government amended the Local Government Act 1894. 

A new section 19A has been inserted into the 1894 Act, which the government’ says clarifies that councils can use their discretionary powers to fund church property, including that of non-Christian faiths.

A new briefing note L02-23 has been issued and replaces briefing L01-18, which is withdrawn.

LTN 31E (local council general powers) has also been re-issued to remove refences to the prohibitions that no longer apply. 

  • Changes to procurement thresholds

LTN 87 has been updated to reflect changes to the procurement thresholds, as previously notified.    

  • Update to VAT Notice 749

HM Revenue and Customs has updated VAT Notice 749, paragraph 12.5, with a new address to which unregistered local authorities should send their VAT refund claims. The new address is:
HM Revenue and Customs
Payments VAT126

A practical guide to devolution 

Nalc has published A Practical Guide to Devolution, which has been written to share the experiences of local councils that have taken on assets or services devolved from a principal authority. The document addresses some common questions and includes contact details of clerks who have been through the process.  


New model contract of employment for local council staff

A new model employment contract is available for use by local councils when recruiting new staff.

The model contract, published by NALC and endorsed by the SLCC, incorporates Green Book terms, which we recommend all councils to offer so as to align with the best practices within the local government sector. Offering good terms of employment supports the recruitment and retention of a high-quality workforce and demonstrates that the council is a good employer that values its staff.

Member councils can download the new model contract from the SALC website Knowledge Hub, Council as Employer page (login required).

Please note: the new contract is recommended for new staff and does not replace contracts of employment for existing staff. Any council seeking to change existing contractual terms should seek specialist HR support or contact SALC in the first instance.


New flexible working laws

From 6th April 2024, employees across the UK will have more control over where and when they work under the day-one right to request flexible working.

The Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023, laid before parliament on 11 December, will apply to applications made on or after 6 April 2024. and will cover rights to request flexibility over part time, term time, flexi-time, compressed hours, and adjustable start and finish times. 

To prepare for these changes, councils with flexible working policies should start by reviewing them to ensure they align with the new regulations and have in place effective processes to review and respond promptly to applications. Not all roles are going to be suitable for every requested working pattern and there’s no guarantee that these requests for flexible working will be granted, but council employers should be open-minded about requests.


Homeworking guidance & resources

As an employer, councils have the same health and safety responsibilities for people working at home as for any other worker.

HSE’s home working guidance has been redesigned and expanded to provide more detail on straightforward actions to manage home workers’ health and safety. This includes the risks of stress and poor mental health as well as working with display screen equipment (DSE).

HSE also provides advice for home workers and a video and practical tips on good posture when working with display screen equipment.


Is the biodiversity duty on your agenda?

As we reported in our June newsletter, the Environment Act 2021 requires parish and town councils to consider what they can do to conserve and enhance biodiversity.

Government guidance states that by 1st January 2024, councils should have first considered what action to take for biodiversity. If your council has not already done so, it must now agree its policies and objectives. 

You can find resources to assist with this duty on the Resources page of the SALC website under Health & Wellbeing.


Civility and Respect Newsletter 

The December edition of the Civility and Respect Newsletter is available on the SALC website.

The newsletter highlights some of the key work that is being undertaken in Phase 2 of the project. It also includes information about how to register for free webinar about tackling toxic behaviour in the workplace, personal safety, and stalking awareness.

Member councils can download the newsletter from the SALC website Knowledge Hub, Civility and Respect page (login required).


Free Somerset Emotional Wellbeing podcast, Assertiveness, is out now!

In this episode, Assertiveness, hosts Dr. Peter Bagshaw and Dr. Andrew Tresidder discuss how we can put our point of view across without causing offence, what transactional analysis is and how it can be applied, and what not to do when trying to be assertive.

Listen free now on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts & more (or through your non-Internet Explorer browser at the link below). Please like and subscribe for free, new weekly episodes the moment that they’re released!

The Somerset Emotional Wellbeing Podcast (


FREE training event about council insurance

SALC member councils are invited to a free training event with Zurich Insurance. 

The session, run by Steve Gettings from Zurich Insurance, will cover the basics of insurance for your council, including: 

  • How does insurance help protect a council and its key personnel?
  • What lines of cover should you consider?
  • What should be considered before buying insurance?
  • Current themes in insurance to be aware of

One registration per council only – councils that register but do not attend will be charged £25. To make a booking, you must register in advance through the clerk.

For more info about this session and SALC’s training schedule, contact

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