Green Breather Days saw the Market Place closed to traffic in an effort to encourage the town to rethink habits and explore ways of addressing some of the big environmental issues; encouraging those who are able to choose a more sustainable and/or active form of travel; reduce air pollution in the town centre and provide a boost for local businesses. Last Saturday saw the second of the proposed five Green Breather Days featuring sustainable travel, but Frome Town Council have now decided that it will be the last.
Whilst there was much positive feedback and those experiencing it in the Town Centre felt that it was beneficial, the feedback from some businesses and those journeying around Frome felt it was problematic. Issues raised included accessibility with the loss of the disabled spaces in the Market Place; difficulty moving around the town due to temporary traffic lights; and impact to businesses, including issues with deliveries to some retailers and taxi drivers.
Leader of the Council, Anita Collier said: “Change is difficult, and the Green Breather Days sparked a healthy debate, highlighting both the challenges and the opportunities of making Frome Town Centre a welcoming, more pedestrian-friendly place to be. We certainly need to be brave and be prepared to try new things to tackle the big issues but equally if they don’t work be prepared to acknowledge that.
“Having reviewed the data and the feedback, we have made the decision not to run the remaining three Green Breather Days. We have had a wealth of suggestions which we will use to help inform our next steps. One thing is for certain, we remain committed to tackle the huge problem of climate change and encouraging people to leave their cars behind wherever possible will remain a focus for us if we are to meet our carbon neutral targets by 2030.”
Frome Town Council remain committed to trying to keep walking and cycling top of the agenda. They are working Somerset County Council to produce a Local Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Plan for Frome this year. Using feedback from the Walk Run Frome engagement, this will identify and prioritise the steps needed to help cycling and walking routes in town, with the aim of creating a joined-up network of safe routes between key places.
The experience of Green Breather Days highlights that to make Frome Town Centre a more welcoming pedestrian friendly town in future, a town wide traffic management plan is needed to first address the peripheral routes. Frome Town Council will continue to work with the new Unitary Council as it emerges to help make this happen.
Improvements to a space and ease of movement for pedestrians can often lead to an increased footfall and Frome Town Council welcome the introduction of Mendip District Council’s footfall counters which have been put in place recently. It is hoped that moving forward this will help them work out in future how to support the town centre.
If you would like to keep an eye on air quality where you are, Clean Air Frome is a partnership between Frome Town Council and Tech Shed measuring air quality by capturing the level of particles in the air. You can check the levels near where you live at here on the Clean Air Frome site.