November’s Council Matters began with a warm welcome from the Chair, Cllr Lizzie Boyle, followed by questions and comments from those attending.
Gill Fone joined the meeting to follow up on a previous issue raised to councillors about weeds and street cleaning in the town, and relating to Mendip District Council trialling a community-focused way of weeding instead of using Roundup weed killer which contains glysophate. Environment Manager Chris Stringer responded, explaining that councillors from all three councils have met to discuss the issues and continue to work towards solutions which include working with the Frome Hoedown group.
Gill also raised traffic issues at The Butts, primarily lorries using a narrow road with cars parked at the side. Cllr Lizzie Boyle explained that Cllr Scott Ward has been working with residents of the area to discuss potential solutions. Town Clerk Paul Wynne said he would get an update from Scott and Somerset County Councillor John Clarke on their progress.
The first point on the agenda was an update to the Frome Town Council (FTC) Safeguarding policy. Laura Flaherty, Executive Assistant to the Town Clerk, explained that these additions bring the policy up to date.. Laura also pointed staff towards training that is available for them to increase their knowledge and confidence in safeguarding. This training will now also be available to councillors.
Next up was a financial update from FTC’s Business Manager, Sarah Williams. Halfway through the financial year there are no major overspends or underspends, except that very little of the Covid-19 emergency budget has been used. Ideas for the use of these funds will be discussed with councillors in the 2022/23 budget preparations. Sarah also reported that Unity Bank now offer the facility to make bulk BACS payments. The finance team will trial this with Unity Bank and report back to councillors. Sarah and councillorsllrs congratulated Asst Finance Officer Hannah Paniccia on her excellent bookkeeping this year.
In addition Cllr Anne Hills told the meeting that she has applied to be an Employers Member of the Somerset County Council Pension Board, which provides oversight for the SCC Pensions Committee. As part of this role, Anne is encouraging the Pensions Committee to move towards the less carbon-intensive investments at their disposal.
Town Clerk Paul Wynne provided an update on the Town Hall. Despite a challenging year, FTC are anticipating that the budgeted income for the Town Hall will be met. Tenants We Hear You (WHY) are moving to their own building in the town centre. The café is now being promoted as a cafe/bar and waiting area when weddings are taking place and has proved very popular, and it will also host the Registry Service for 6 weeks from January while Frome Library is refurbished. As well as general maintenance to the building, the lighting is being converted to LED and all downstairs windows have been draft-proofed to support energy efficiency.
Chris Stringer, FTC’s Environment Manager, provided an update on the town’s parks and green spaces. Chris started by thanking all staff, councillors and members of the community who helped deliver the busy, vibrant and well-received Glow in the Park event, which included the planting of a blossom circle celebrating the community’s resilience over the last 2 years. Other work by the Environment Team includes installing bag dispensers in our parks and open spaces for dog walkers, new bins around the town and benches at North Parade, and this month the Tiny Forest being planted at Egford Lane Park.
Also this month the Town Rangers will be putting up the Christmas tree and lights. Hedge and tree planting season is here, and the team will be supporting community groups who have received trees from Woodland Trust – an estimated 2000-3000 trees will be planted in Frome in the coming months with FTC supporting the planting to ensure trees have a good chance of success.
Chris also mentioned the planned refurbishment of the toilets at Victoria Park. In November there will be meetings to discuss CCTV options and obtain quotes for asbestos surveys of the current building. FTC are also planning to talk to Reclaim the Streets Frome to inform the design and ensure that the refurbished toilets feel safe, comfortable and welcoming.
Next up was an overview of the recent work of the Marketing & Communications team. Their work has been focussed on events including Great Big Green Week, Glow in the Park, Frome Walking Festival and the Christmas Light Switch On. They have also continued to support the wide range of smaller events taking place in the Town Hall and beyond. The Frome Town Council and Discover Frome websites saw increased traffic during September and October, in large part down to posts about the Glow in the Park event. FIND was also accessed a lot during the summer holidays especially around activities for 0-5- year-olds and, notably in October, for its advice on bullying. The Discover Frome social channels promoted FiverFest from 22nd-24th October, driving awareness of what local businesses have to offer.
The meeting ended with updates on staff matters and health & safety. Joanna Morris will be joining FTC as Resilience Officer from early November, and recruitment is ongoing for casual event stewards. Frome Town Council also thanked Phoebe Jade Mollison whose apprenticeship has come to an end and Imogen Thomson who joined us for a work placement. We wish them both the very best for their future endeavours. In Health & Safety news, Covid-19 risk assessments for working and attending Council meetings in the Town Hall have been updated. Risk assessments for this year’s Remembrance Parade and Christmas event are well underway, working closely with the Royal British Legion and the Police respectively.
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.