The meeting started with a welcome from Chair Cllr Anita Collier. Anita let the meeting know that she was unwell and was handing over the reins to Deputy Mayor Andy Wrintmore, who continued to open the meeting.
First on the agenda was questions and comments from Cllrs. Cllr Nick Dove opened with a comment on the need for Somerset Highways to improve communication channels with the public, following a concern raised by residents regarding a footpath at Packsaddle that had been raised with the authority and not dealt with satisfactorily.
Nick continued with his note for support for Palmer Street businesses and to ensure they are included in the heart of activities in the town, he also noted that as many businesses are suffering through closure and lack of income due the covid, he asked that Mendip District Council be more active and regular in their communications to assist those affected. Nick closed on praising the Town Rangers for their work in installing the planters on Catherine Hill, following receiving a host of positive feedback.
Cllr Lizzie Boyle raised the concern on recent traffic and speeding, particularly in the Fromefield area where residents are interested in seeing what can be done to calm the traffic. Many Cllrs are keen to take action and when lockdown eases and Community Speed Watch can take place, they will take part to gather hard evidence so they can engage with Somerset Highways.
Cllr Sara Butler next raised the issue of the proposed footpath closure at Pilly Vale railway bridge on the entrance to Rodden Meadow from Willow Vale. Network Rail will be carrying out work and are closing the footpath from 1st February for 7 weeks. A concern has been raised by local residents and those that use the path that there is not a viable, accessible alternative route. Mayor Anita Collier has written to Network Rail and requested alternatives solutions which she will share when she receives a response.
Cllr Rich Ackroyd followed raising the concerns of many on Mendip District Council’s (MDC) decision to temporarily halt the Saturday market in Frome. FTC is currently in dialogue with Mendip and following comments from MDC Cllrs present (Cllr John Clarke, Cllr Adam Boyden, Cllr Janine Nash & Cllr Shane Collins) hope to collectively find a solution to reinstate the Saturday market.
Moving to questions from the public, Emma-Jane King spoke to raise awareness about her campaign to stop or delay the closure of St Andrew’s ward in Wells. It is the last mental health ward in Mendip and Emma-Jane asked that the town council support this campaign. Town Clerk, Paul Wynne, agreed to send a letter on the Council’s behalf to the Clinical Commissioning Group and to share the petition: http://chng.it/zf6Yd6g2
For the next item on the agenda, Jill Loader the 2021 Census Engagement Manager for Somerset, gave an overview of the 2021 census.
The census will be taking place on the 21st of March and it’s a once in a decade opportunity to take a snapshot of the population of Somerset and its characteristics. Jill noted that it is crucial that all residents take part as there is a risk that the needs of different groups may not be met if they are not present in the data.
The 2021 census will be the first to run online, and the provision of a paper-based format will still be available upon request. Households will receive a letter at the beginning of March with a unique access code which will allow them to go online and complete the census. Support centres and helplines will be available in March to help complete the census.
They are hoping that by moving the census online will provide better response rates, quality data and quicker processing – they anticipate 75% of responses will be online.
The issue of digital exclusion was raised, and Jill reiterated that paper formats will be available, there will be help from telephone support centres and they are hoping that field staff and a network of local community organisations can be mobilised to help those who are not currently digitally enabled.
The work programme, budget and precept for 2021/22 was detailed out in the next agenda item (the full report can be found here). Paul Wynne, Town Clerk, opened with an explanation of the process taken. Peter Wheelhouse, Economic Development & Regeneration Manager, then presented an overview of the work programme. Paul returned to explain the staff structure needed to deliver the work programme. Finally, Sarah Williams, Business Manager, detailed the budget requirements needed to pay for the ambitious work programme, which when broken down, means that over three quarters of council taxpayers in Frome will pay £1.26 extra per month or less. Cllrs approved and adopted the all recommendations and further details can be found here.
Next Jane Llewellyn, Planning and Development Manager, and Cllr Nick Dove brought their report to Council for the further improvements to the area around the Boyle Cross, Market Place. The improvements consist of providing additional planters and seating. Following previous meetings (24th June & 9th September) it was agreed to approach further local manufacturers to provide proposals and quotes, 3 companies came forward and the details can be found in the report.
Mendip District Council have been approached for their permission as current owners; they will not be able to confirm until the negotiations regarding the transfer of Boyle Cross to FTC is finalised. The drawings have also been sent to the Conservation Officer for comment, they are keen to have a local reference in the design, which could include reference to a loom or the St Aldhem’s head and this will slightly increase the proposed costs.
Once final plans have been approved FTC will need to apply for a Certificate of Lawful Development to establish whether planning permission is required.
Jane confirmed that sponsorship or additional funding for the project had not been secured, therefore the funds will come from the Saxonvale Ear Marked Reserves.
After much discussion on the design, Cllrs thanked Nick Dove and Jane Llewellyn for all his efforts so far and approved the recommendations with a budget of £19,000.
The final item discussed on the agenda was the future meeting calendar for 2021/22. This again was approved and adopted by all Cllrs.
The agenda and details of everything mentioned above can be found at https://www.frometowncouncil.gov.uk/meeting/council-24/. Dates of future Council and committee meetings can be found here. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep updated on everything we’re up to.