SOMERSET Council has transferred several assets and services to Bridgwater Town Council in what it describes as a 'historic devolution deal'.

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

Bridgwater Town Council is also now responsible for fly-tipping, footpath repairs, Market Rights, bedding plant provision and carnival clean-ups.

The news comes after Somerset Council declared a financial emergency in November 2023, prompting Cllr Bill Revans to highlight services at risk to all of the 279 Somerset parishes, with the hope that those cities, towns, and parishes would be willing to take some of them on.

Following many 'positive conversations' with local councils across the county, Bridgwater's agreement is the first of several devolution deals anticipated to be agreed upon.

Cllr Revans, leader of Somerset Council, said: "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.”

He added: "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."

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.”

Cllr Brian Smedley, leader of Bridgwater Town Council, added: "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.”