NORTH Petherton Town Council spent £14,500 on by-elections in the last year - nearly 10 per cent of its precept.

During the full council meeting held at Moorland Village Hall on Monday, February 5, Cllr Phillip Spencer recommended setting aside £6,500 in case another by-election was required in the 2018/19 financial year.

The by-elections were called in September and saw the elections of Conservative councillors Luke Parchment and Anne Fraser respectively, following resignations by councillors.

The town council also proposed putting up its precept by seven per cent - this will see a Band D household pay £43.57 per year as opposed to the current rate of £40.74.

Cllr Spencer said: "With cuts from central government, the town council is being asked to take on more and more responsibilities whether that is funding toilets, car parks or youth services. This budget will help us to try and keep vital services like the library in the face of cuts."

Cllr Bill Revans said Somerset County Council's finances were in 'disarray' and that North Petherton Town Council needed to support services as much as it can.

Somerset County Council has already proposed increasing its share of council tax by £67 a year to try and bridge a £13 million budget gap.

A lot was covered at Monday night's town council meeting as the town council formally agreed to suspend work on a Neighbourhood Plan.

A Neighbourhood Plan is a specific local planning document which gives the town some say over future development - but its powers are limited - Stogursey Parish Council recently saw its Neighbourhood Plan ratified described the process as 'frustrating'.

"Councillors have discussed the matter and believe time would be better spent concentrating on infrastructure issues," said town clerk Rod Latham.

"This is not a decision we have taken lightly," said mayor Cllr Alan Bradford. "But we believe it is in the interests of our community to focus on specific local problems whether that is traffic and highways issues or pushing for a secondary school."