September’s Council meeting began with a warm welcome from Chair Cllr Sara Butler.
First on the agenda Cllr Carla Collenette introduced her report and subsequent discussion regarding the current closure of Frome Birthing Centre. The centre is located in Frome Hospital and normally offers ante natal care, births at the centre (community births), home births and post-natal care. There have been a series of disruptions to these services and the centre has been closed since December 2021. Currently women are advised to go to RUH Bath to give birth as only ante natal and post-natal appointments available currently.
Sarah Merritt from NHS Maternity Services provided background to the situation, she mentioned since covid many midwives have left or retired from the service which has led to a national shortage in midwives. Sarah recognised the frustration in the closure but explained that in order to maintain the safety of everybody, certain services need to be put on hold until recruitment and experience is at the appropriate level. Sarah hopes to be able to offer some community births in Frome (a mixture of unit or home births will still need to be confirmed) in October with a full service resuming in November.
Amber Strong a local doula and is also the Vice Chair of Somerset Maternity Voices Partnership discussed the rights of women and the impact on the local community.
Charlotte Pidgeon who’s involved with Frome’s NCT group (National Childbirth Trust), spoke about the petition that’s been created to raise the profile of the issue and allow people to be engaged and be used as a tool to escalate the issue. Representatives of Friends of Frome Hospital and Frome Birth Talk were also at the meeting.
Following a break out discussion, Cllr Collenette confirmed that the discussion points will be collated and FTC will look at which points they can act on and also be shared with NHS Maternity Services. Cllr Collenette recommended that Frome Town Council (FTC) support NCT’s campaign and help to promote this further via FTC’s communication channels, plus write to the NHS decision makers inviting them to discuss possible solutions and how FTC and the Frome community might be able to help – all of which Cllrs unanimously agreed. You can read Carla’s report here.And to sign the petition, visit here.
Next up, Rachel Griffin, FTC’s Marketing and Communications Manager, provided an update on Frome Town Hall. Rachel confirmed that bookings have now exceeded the budget set for 2022/23 with new bookings being added every day. Working with the Somerset Registration Services, new dates added to the website for weddings for 2023/24, and FTC have now trained up support team to take care of these joyous events at the Town Hall.
All of the windows on the ground floor are now draft proofed, with 2 sessions needed to complete building. The Community Fridge has temporarily moved into the brick shed while work is being completed on its original home. You can read Rachel’s report here.
Following this Rachel then provided a review of FTC’s Communications Strategy and an update on marketing and communications over the past few months. Rachel explained that the team have been communicating FTC’s work through media channels, delivering the team’s own projects, highlighting Frome as a visitor destination, and marketing the Town Hall as well. Since last presenting at the May Council meeting there have been 82 press releases, 57 events (incorporating pop up play) which all need to be marketed and communicated. The team have delivered Jubilee, Green Breather Days, Playday, plus preparations for Great Big Green Week (over 30 events in itself), Remembrance Day parade and Christmas. The team have supported events that fit with FTC’s strategic objectives such as the Climate Film Festival and the Photo Frome Festival. The team have been working with a Communications Strategy which was last reviewed in 2020 and it is proposed that this is relooked at by a panel of Cllrs, staff and external advisors and brought back to council in November. You can read Rachel’s full report detailing all the recent extensive work completed by the team here.
The agenda and details of everything mentioned above can be found on the meetings page. For dates of future meetings visit the Council Committee and Meetings page. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep updated on everything we’re up to.