KEEPING Somerset’s streets and public toilets clean could become the responsibility of town and parish councils as Somerset Council seeks to cut costs.

Somerset Council currently has a number of contracts with IDVerde for street cleaning and grounds maintenance, which were inherited from the four district councils upon their abolition in April 2023.

Rather than extending these agreements, the council plan to bring these services in-house as the contracts expire, saving between £200,000 and £300,000 a year.

But the council believes it could save even more if the services are devolved down to town and parish councils – something which could lead to further rises in local council tax bills.

The proposals were published ahead of a meeting of the council’s executive committee in Taunton on Wednesday, March 6.

There are three legacy street cleaning contracts currently held by IDVerde, which currently cost the council £3,326,730 a year.

The contract for the former West Somerset area will be expiring on November 30, with the contract for the former Taunton Deane area following on January 31, 2025 and the contract for the former Mendip area ending on June 30, 2025.

By bringing these contracts in house when they expire, the cost of the service would be reduced down to £3,008,317 a year – a saving of just over £300,000.

Several town and parish councils have already expressed an interest in taking over responsibility for street cleaning as the relevant contracts expire.

But the council will have to bring these in house for a short period before any devolution down to a local level can occur.

Jonathan Stevens, head of operations for the council’s regulatory and operational services department, said in his written report: “As part of our devolution programme, major towns covered by these contracts have expressed an interest in taking on services currently provided via the contractors, either now or at the expiration of the contract.

“Devolution of services support our devolution agenda and delivers savings for the council.

“To be able to devolve services, the council needs control of its services. Outsourced arrangements are a barrier to delivering devolution.”