TOWN and parish councils across the West Somerset and Wellington areas have been warned not to take on responsibility for delivering more local authority services without receiving something in return. 

Bankruptcy-threatened Somerset Council is currently asking parishes to widen their remits by taking on delivery of some of its service provision as the county authority stares at a £100 million budget black hole.

Despite its huge debt burden, the unitary authority’s ability to raise more from taxpayers without a public referendum is constrained by a Government cap.

So, council leader Cllr Bill Revans has suggested some services could be devolved to town and parish councils, whose precepts are not capped.

But MP Ian Liddell-Grainger has warned it should not be a one-way deal.

Mr Liddell-Grainger currently represents West Somerset and will be the Conservative candidate at the next General Election for the new constituency of Tiverton and Minehead, which includes parishes wrapped around Wellington.

He said: “As far as I can see at the moment there is nothing in it for the councils apart from more work.

“At the very least they should be entitled to retain car parking revenues to help mitigate the extra burden on taxpayers.

“If it is all take and no give, then every household in Somerset will end up shouldered with bigger council tax bills purely as a result of the catastrophic outcome of a merger deal that was predicted to deliver £18 million annual savings but which turned out to be no more than an ego trip.”