Latest from the Council Chamber – Council Meeting, 24th June

While still following Government guidelines, Frome Town Council (FTC) held a Council Meeting last Wednesday night on Zoom and streamed live over YouTube.  Cllrs attended the virtual meeting and many members of the public registered to attend and were able to ask questions.  The meeting started with a welcome from Chair, Cllr Anita Collier and quickly moved onto questions and comments from the public and Cllrs.

Cllr Rich Ackroyd followed with an update on the Missing Links cycle path project, highlighting a new path that is being created in the Whatcombe area, which is to the north of the town near Spring Gardens. The work included replacing gates, creating a culvert to enable a stream crossing, a removal of a kissing gate and a lot of trees being planted. All work has been carried out by Missing Link volunteers and materials have also been kindly donated.  He also outlined the costs associated with phase 3 and the funding they are looking for. Rich finished with a plea to dsitrcit Cllrs in the meeting to speed up the planning permissions required to proceed to the next step. For more information you can find the AGM report on their website.

Following this Mel Usher presented his report on the Local Government Reorganisation (LGR) that was commissioned by the Somerset Association of Local Councils, Frome Town Council and others. If LGR goes ahead in Somerset, it will have a significant impact on the way public services are delivered for years to come. He proposes that there is an opportunity to influence this process now to create a crucial role for town and parish councils and thereby help to shape these services for the future. Mel’s report says that whatever form LGR takes, the role of the parish sector and local communities should be embedded into new structures.

The report was borne out of detailed conversations with those involved in unitary debates around the south west and led to a conference at Frome Town Hall to build a set of recommendations on LGR in Somerset from the parish perspective. The report is the product of these discussions.

To be clear, the report does not favour any particular type of unitary arrangement. Instead, it makes seven recommendations that any new arrangement in Somerset should adopt. These would apply to a unitary based on the current county boundary, a unitary based on one or more current district boundaries or a model with deeper collaboration at its heart.

The next step would be to build a base of support across the county and promote the findings to decision makers (possibly including those at national level), other parishes and stakeholders.

Mel’s presentation raised many questions with attendees and Cllrs unanimously endorsed the report and agreed next steps to take this forward.  The full report can be found here.

Next up, Kate Hellard, Community Development Manager presented FTC’s Management Group update to the Council on the delivery of the 2019-20 Work Programme. The team’s report gave an overview of the work that was undertaken during 2019-20, it highlights some of the challenges that were faced and an overview of all the positive progress the team delivered.  You can read the full report here.

With the Market Place improvements now underway, the next item on the agenda looks towards the landscape improvements to the Boyle Cross area in the town.  Arguably, this is the most visible area in town and the space could attract visitors to the town who will then explore our great mix of shops, restaurants and bars. This work has always been part of the overall improvement plan and Cllrs agreed to revisit and build upon the original plans. You can read the full report here.

Following this, FTC’s Resilience Manager, Anna Francis, ran us through her report which covered progress and plans to improve  environmental resilience. Anna focused on green transport and renewable energy.
She highlighted  the plans for  develop a new permanent cycle route which will link the town centre with Frome College, the Medical Practice, Stonebridge area of town and the Commerce Park industrial estate.

Other areas Anna will explore include developing detailed costed proposals for at least four other cycle routes and temporary “playing out” road closures outside schools.  It is hoped that this in turn will feed into a Local Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Plan which would develop a comprehensive network of safe walking and cycling routes around Frome.

In addition to this, Cllrs agreed to support the Walking and Cycling Manifesto and to sign the letter of introduction to link Frome Renewable Energy Co-op with local landowners to explore wind opportunities.

You can read Anna’s full report here.

Chris Stringer, FTC’s Environment Manager, presented next.   His first report recommended using Section 106 funds (currently held by Mendip District Council) for a natural flood management project upstream of Wallbridge.

Cllrs agreed, and you can read the report here.

Chris’ next report went on to propose to adopt the Friends of the River Frome 2020-30 strategy, as was presented by Simon Keyes at last month’s Annual Town Meeting.  Again, Cllrs approved the report, all the details can be found here.

To round up the meeting Cllrs agreed to resume the calendar of meetings for 2020/21, and a Health & Safety update was presented.

The agenda and details of everything mentioned above can be found at: https://www.frometowncouncil.gov.uk/meeting/june-council-meeting/.  Dates of future Council and committee meetings can be found here. Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to keep updated on everything we’re up to.

Published 29th June 2020.

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