Council Meeting, Wednesday 22nd February
Chair Cllr Sara Butler welcomed attendees to February’s Council meeting.
The first item on the agenda brought to Council by Cllr Fiona Barrows and Cllr Mel Usher; a vote of no-confidence in David Warburton, MP for Somerton and Frome. Cllr Barrows told the meeting that the Town Council very rarely comments on national matters, or those outside Frome but Cllrs have grown increasingly concerned about the lack of representation Frome has in Westminster. Following the report (which can be found here), Paul Wynne, Town Clerk then read a statement from David Warburton which can be found here. All who spoke, and subsequently voted unanimously for a vote of no confidence in David Warburton.
Questions and comments from the Cllrs and public followed, Leader of the Council Cllr Anita Collier asked for an update on Cllr allowances. Cllr Butler informed the meeting that “We have been contacted by the Monitoring Officer at Mendip and can confirm that Cllr allowances are currently on hold until a new remuneration panel has been set up by the new Somerset authority…. Currently all town councillors fulfil their roles voluntarily, often on top of full-time work, because they care about the town and its future. This very small token amount would mean that the opportunity to work for the benefit of the town is not only open to wealthy, older or retired people, and we hope to be able to introduce this once having regard to the advice of the Somerset Council Remuneration Panel once it is established.”
Frome Town Council’s (FTC) Business Manager, Sarah Williams, provided a financial update for the period 1st November 2022 to 31st January 2023. The report included the Internal Audit letter, Income and Expenditure and Balance Sheet reports, a list of spending on items over £500. Sarah had also advised the council on a card processing payment update, following moving from Zettle to process payments at Discover Frome Information Point and Frome Town Hall, transactions will now take place using Sum Up, which has the same stock and inventory system and stock levels will now be more accurate for each location. The full report can be found here. It was agreed that further support for councillors around how to decipher what reports meant, would be provided but the report was approved.
Councillor Tracey Ashford asked Council whether to decide whether to support the use of s106 for play equipment at two Mendip District Council’s (MDC) open spaces – Blackbird Way and Hawksworth Close at Stonebridge. Following the extensive Play Strategy, which is currently being implemented, details were discussed of placing equipment already purchased by MDC in areas which don’t meet criteria or are accessible. The report also highlights that the equipment chosen by MDC has limited play value and is aimed at a small target audience of younger children, which is not representative of the local Stonebridge population. There was discussion around equipment chosen by Mendip that is inaccessible and compromises equality for all children and does not offer intergenerational community use. However following a heated debate councillors have decided to unanimously support the proposal to secure the funding. You can read the full report here.
Rob Holden, FTC Environment Manager then continued with his report for minuting, regarding the application to use S106 funds to refresh the Old Showfield play area. It is estimated that a budget of £178k will be needed to undertake both the play refresh and drainage works. To fund this project, we would like to access a s.106 fund that has been designated specifically for improvements to FTC land – you can read the report here.
Finally, the Town Clerk asked Cllrs to approve the review of the Volunteer Policy.
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.