February’s Town Matters meeting began with a welcome from Chair, Cllr Nick Dove.
First up to present was Bill Palmer, Chair of Homeshare Mendip. The organisation provides a matching service for those struggling to live independently in their own home by matching with someone who needs somewhere affordable to live. As part of the Homeshare network across the UK, home sharing is an unused resource that can be used to help with the housing crisis. Homeshare Mendip thanked Frome Town Council (FTC) for the funding in 2021 which has helped with setting up the organisation and gave an overview of the services they offered and how to access them. Further details can be found on the Homeshare Mendip website.
FTC’s Town Clerk, Paul Wynne, presented on behalf of the Grants Advisory Panel to ratify the decisions made on the recent applications for both the Substantial Grants and Community Grants. The report details out the applications and the amount agreed, plus also highlights the Mayor’s Grant awarded since October 2021. Read the full list and information about grants awarded here.
Next up Nikki Brain, FTC’s Resilience Manager, gave an update on the Green and Healthy Future programme a year on since its launch. The programme is a 2-year development project led by Edventure, Frome Town Council and Frome Medical Practice and funded through the National Lottery’s Climate Action Fund. The programme explores the significant links between positive action on climate and health.
Frome Town Council leads three of seven strands of work in the programme: Healthy Homes, Cycle Together and the evaluation of the programme in partnership with the University of Plymouth. Since the launch, Nikki explained that the project is saving nearly 200 tonnes of CO2e per year (equivalent to taking 95 cars off the road for a year) the ambition is to scale this up in year 2. She also added:
- Over 40 participants have taken part in the Cycle Together E-bike trial scheme; this has included 42 hours of cycle confidence classes to date. Participants have cycled 1283 miles so far
- 150 people have received energy advice from the Centre for Sustainable Energy through the Healthy Homes project via monthly drop-ins in the town centre & ASDA
- There have been 130 referrals to the Centre for Sustainable Energy in Frome since the project began in July – double during the same period in the previous year
- 120 Green Community Connectors have been trained via in-person and online training sessions to date
- As part of the evaluation project a baseline town-wide survey had 300 participants giving a good sample size for follow up on social and environmental factors.
The focus for the forthcoming year will include supporting a bid for continuation funding and to develop the strands in the programme. You can read the full report here.
Nikki continued with her next report which tackles the recent energy prices and how we can support those in Frome. Nikki laid out what help is available via rebates from Government schemes and grants on a local level. The Somerset Household Support fund is open until the end of March to help households struggling with the cost of essentials this winter. Heat Somerset have grants available to households with an EPC rating of D or below and are on a low income. Mendip District Council have the Safer Home Grants, and Energy grants. There are also other schemes such as Lendology and Solar Streets.
FTC is raising awareness of help available through their communication channels, in the press, website and social channels. Continued promotion of Centre for Sustainable Energy services through Healthy Homes project, plus Winter Warmth packs available at Frome Town Hall (funded by FRECO). There’s also monthly energy advice drop-ins with CSE and an Energy café planned for March 19th at the Town Hall, which will provide an informal space for people to have a cup of tea and a chat about their concerns and find out what support is available. You can read the full report here.
Resilience Officer Jo Morris joined FTC in November and gave an update on the work she has carried out so far in her role. She’s launched a new community wildlife map in partnership with Somerset Environmental Record Centre to establish a town-wide baseline for biodiversity in our green spaces and in private gardens, in line with Frome Town Council’s ecological emergency declaration. This not only encourages people to get outdoors, connect with nature and take positive actions for wildlife but the data gathered will inform our management plans for FTC’s parks and green spaces, as well as FTC’s climate & ecological emergency strategy and action plan.
Jo has also been a Plastic Free Communities Ambassador for Frome, working with businesses, schools and other community allies to retain our Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) Plastic Free Community Status. She has recruited 2 new businesses so far this year and looks to expand this. Jo has also been running the Plastic Free.Period campaign in collaboration with Frome Medical Practice, which will see a community workshop on Wednesday 9th March and working with the middle schools in Frome reaching over 1000 students. You can read Jo’s report here.
Last on the agenda, Alex Nettle, FTC’s Resilience Communications Officer, gave a verbal update on the Green Breather Day project following a meeting held on 10th February with residents and businesses to hear their ideas and concerns around the proposals. Alex confirmed that the application for the road closures had been submitted for a series of Saturdays over the summer starting in May when the road in the Market Place (from Cork Street to the bridge) will be closed. All other surrounding roads will remain open, and access will be given to buses and closed to all other traffic. For further information, visit the Green Breather Day page.
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.