The Mayor of Frome Cllr Sara Butler extended a warm welcome to attendees at January’s Council meeting.
The evening kicked off with a presentation for Neighbourhood Police Inspector Matthew Read. He provided an overview of where Avon & Somerset is as a force and that of the local Neighbourhood Policing Team. He explained that there’s an even spread among the 6 pillars of neighbourhood policing: problem solving, investigation, response, engagement, safeguarding and manage offender – but there’s a greater focus on problem solving and engagement. Crime trends have been fairly stable in Frome over a long period and is comparable to other similarly sized towns and in proportion to the population. Matthew reminded the public that the best route to reporting anti-social behaviour etc was through online reporting at https://www.police.uk/pu/contact-the-police/report-a-crime-incident/
Question and comments came from: Cllr Nick Dove regarding response times from other councils to requests, and a comment on Frome receiving funding in place of unsuitable bike racks being rolled out through Mendip. Martin Dimery gave an update from Somerset District Council re new planning arrangements from Somerset Council which will remain as Area Planning Boards, set up around the existing structures; Cllr Mark Dorrington asked whether there would be promotion around the coronation; and Cllr Philip Campagna wanted to draw councillors attention to the new promotion around busses.
Cllr’s allowances were discussed and unanimously approved despite the expectation that only a few councillors will draw on it. The councillor allowances will be used by those that need it to have their voice heard and can be used in whichever way they choose, including to support childcare. A strong argument was put forward to support Frome Town Council to make one smaller step toward being a more equitable and inclusive council.
Cllr Mel Usher provided an update regarding the football club and informed the meeting that since November the project’s volunteers have formed working groups focussing on the establishment of the Community Benefit Society (CBS), fundraising, improving facilities and community engagement and they’ve now reached a point where the necessary application is ready to be submitted to the Financial Conduct Authority. As most of the running is still being done by the Council and the upswell of “let’s save the club” has not yet materialised, some capacity is needed to get the CBS to a point where it can start operating and fully engage and involve the community. The proposal is to recruit a consultant with a background in the start-up of not-for-profit organisations that can guide this work over the next 6 months. Cllrs agreed this, plus the further expenditure for legal and other professional work that needs to be completed ahead of the Council exercising its option to acquire the football ground and further protect this important community asset. The full report can be read here.
Community Development Manager, Kate Hellard presented the next report. Back in August 2022 Councillors agreed that the Substantial Grant fund for 22/23 would be deployed specifically to projects which would have a positive impact for residents in respect of the Cost-of-Living crisis. In order to enable new and existing projects to meet significantly increasing demand it is proposed that staff will work with identified organisations to address current need and demand.
The identified organisations will need to provide the completed application form and commit to the revised terms and conditions. The application will be reviewed by the GAG and the Town Clerk will approve successful applications which will be ratified at Council every other month.
The work programme, budget and precept for 2023/24 followed as the next agenda item. The full report can be found here. Leader of the Council, Anita Collier introduced the report and Frome Town Council’s (FTC) Town Clerk Paul Wynne, provided an explanation of the process taken and how it fits in with the Council’s strategy plus an overview of the work programme and the staff structure needed to deliver it. Sarah Williams, FTC’s Business Manager, detailed the budget requirements needed to pay for the work programme, which when broken down, means that a Band D household will pay less than £1 extra per month. The majority of Frome households, over three quarters, are in Bands A to C so will pay less than this. Cllrs approved unanimously all the recommendations.
Sarah followed with the next agenda item – the approval of the Risk Register. FTC are required to actively manage risk. To assist with this there is a Risk Strategy (Constitution – Chapter 12) describing how FTC go about doing this and a Risk Register with control measures detailing risks FTC face and how to will manage them. Every year Council has to review and approve the Strategy and the Register to be confident that it is managing risk competently – this was approved and the full report can be found here.
Council then agreed to formally support the new river bridge linking Edmund Park to the town. And to delegate to the Business Manager to apply to Mendip District Council to draw down sufficient funds from the Edmund Park 106 budget to progress and pay for design plus the initial costs and to work closely with Friends of the River Frome to achieve this. The full report can be found here.
Finally, the calendar of meetings for 2023/24 was approved, full details are here.
And the film of the meeting can be found on our YouTube channel. And the agenda and details of everything mentioned above, along with dates for future meetings can be found on the Council Committee and Meetings page. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep updated on everything we’re up to.