Somerset Council has transferred assets and services to Bridgwater Town Council in a joint deal that will ensure much-valued facilities continue for residents.

The landmark move sees services from street-cleaning and road-sweeping to the management of parks and open spaces, transfer from Somerset Council into town hall hands.

Also transferring as part of the historic deal with Bridgwater Town Council are responsibilities for fly-tipping, footpath repairs, Market Rights, bedding plant provision and carnival clean-ups.

Somerset Council declared a financial emergency in November 2023. It was following that announcement, the Leader of Somerset Council, Cllr Bill Revans, wrote to all 279 Somerset parishes, highlighting a list of ‘at risk’ functions that could potentially be devolved to those city, towns, and parishes willing to take them on.

As a result of the correspondence, the local authority received dozens of expressions of interest, and conversations are positive and ongoing with many city, town, and parish councils across the county. This includes at Bridgwater, which is the first of many devolution deals anticipated.

Cllr Theo Butt Philip, Lead Member for Transformation and Human Resources at Somerset Council, said:

Transferring assets and services to the most local level has the potential to deliver huge benefits.

Devolution doesn’t just protect some of the services our residents value the most, it also means that these services will be delivered by an organisation which is much closer to the community which uses them. Our city, town and parish councils are better placed to understand and respond to the needs of their local communities.

We also know that devolution will strengthen the role of our parish councils, allowing them to play a greater role in leading, shaping deciding the future of their local areas.

David Mears, CEO and Town Clerk of Bridgwater Town Council, in expressing his confidence in the devolution process, said:

As we transition these vital services from Somerset Council to Bridgwater Town Council, we are committed to maintaining and improving high standards.

Our focus remains on the well-being of our community, ensuring parks and open spaces thrive under local management.

Scott Mason, the newly appointed Director of Amenities at the town council, added:

Taking charge of street cleansing and road sweeping is a significant responsibility. We are dedicated to making Bridgwater a clean, safe, and attractive town for residents and visitors alike.

Highlighting Bridgwater’s role as a local hub for neighbouring parishes and major employment development, the Leader of Bridgwater Town Council, Cllr Brian Smedley, said:

Bridgwater has grown in terms of housing and employment over the last decade and is continuing to grow.

We have had the ambition to take over parks and open spaces and to improve street cleaning and that ambition has been realised. Bridgwater Town Council is now running our own services, and owning our own assets. It naturally follows we are also now accountable for those local services too.

Somerset Council set a balanced budget for 24/25 at its Full Council in February, but not without agreeing to ‘heartbreaking’ service reductions, urgent efficiency savings, increases to fees and charges, and Council Tax rises. Plus a firm pledge to fewer council offices, a significantly reduced workforce, and a devolution roll-out to parishes.

Cllr Bill Revans concluded:

The Local Government finance model is broken. With no help from government forthcoming, despite all the lobbying and stark warnings, we quickly recognised we needed to seek local solutions, here in Somerset.

Working with our city, town and parish councils, and other partners in the public, private and voluntary sectors, we have been finding innovative ways to protect the services our residents value during these financially challenging times. The successful partnership work with Bridgwater Town Council serves to demonstrate this.

Conversations on how we can best support our communities will continue in Bridgwater, and with our many other partners and parishes, across the county.

Local parishes wishing to explore devolution deals with Somerset Council should email:

For Bridgwater enquiries and the latest news and events visit: Bridgwater Town Council – Working with the community for the Community (

A copy of Cllr Bill Revan’s original correspondence to city, town and parish councils (Nov 23) can be found here: SCC – Public – Cllr Revans Asset and Service Devolution letter to Parish Councils – 8 November 2023.pdf – All Documents (

Councillors and key staff gather at the iconic bandstand situated in Bridgwater’s beautiful Blake Gardens

About this article

May 21, 2024

Jade Chant

Press Release