Mayor’s column 14 January 2021

This week, I’ve been working alongside my sixteen Councillor colleagues and the senior staff at the Council to set the workplan and the budget for 2021/2022, which starts in April. As you can imagine, in these days of uncertainty about what might be in front of us, it’s been remarkably difficult to gauge what to set aside for contingency plans for the forthcoming months.

Dealing with Covid has been an enormous expense for all Councils (not just Frome), but so far we’ve chosen to invest heavily in doing whatever it takes to support our community, and to make sure no one is left behind. Many Council staff have been redeployed to other tasks, while still driving their own work forward, and together with many volunteers have helped to make sure information is available to everyone, and that organisations like Active & In Touch, Fair Frome and many others are supported in their work.

Apart from this, key areas like communications, community, resilience, green spaces, and business support have been at the forefront of our work, and there’s also plenty of support for vocational training, neighbourhood networks and community assets such as the fridge and the share shop.

Keeping all these balls in the air has been a real challenge but I’m proud to say, Frome Town Council has stepped up to the plate and delivered some amazing services and support to so many organisations that are making sure people are looked after, kept informed, and not lonely. Not bad, considering all we’re obliged to do is to manage the allotments!

We want to continue to ensure that our community thrives, by supporting businesses and growing neighbourhood networks across the town, but there is also much work to be done to secure a green future for ourselves so that we can achieve our target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030. We want to encourage more walking and cycling and that means creating new areas where people can do this safely. We want to continue to offer participative events like Window Wanderland and the Christmas lanterns, as well as working with the young people of the town. There’s a lot to be done and we need to be flexible so that we can respond quickly if the need arises, but by applying skillful planning and building in contingency options, we’re on course for being able to face the year with confidence.

Living in lockdown results in all of us having to accept restrictions on our movements but at least we can get out to exercise, albeit locally, and we can shop for essential food supplies. Please remember that the markets are still operating with plenty of fresh produce available. The community fridges in town, at the Market Yard and at The Mount, are regularly filled with food which is free to everyone. There are also many businesses offering online deliveries too, so check out https://www.discoverfrome.co.uk/local-food-delivery-services

For any information you need about lockdown support, https://www.frometowncouncil.gov.uk/help-and-support-in-lock-down

For the latest information on the pandemic, please go to our; FAQs : https://www.frometowncouncil.gov.uk/coronavirus-faqs/

If you’re worried or anxious and need help, please check out: https://www.frometowncouncil.gov.uk/look-after-your-mental-health/

Many of our elderly residents in Frome have already received their vaccination and the roll out is continuing. The Frome Medical Practice is overwhelmed with calls from those requesting their jabs but everyone will be called when it’s their time, so please be patient. Your turn will come. We must be eternally grateful to all those on the front line who are working so hard across the board to look after us and to keep us safe, and it’s great to see the return of the Thursday night clapping for them all and all the other heroes who have stepped up during this pandemic. Please try and get out on your doorstep to show how much you value their contribution – I’m sure they’ll appreciate it!

In the meantime, please be extra cautious over the coming weeks, wash your hands, wear your masks and keep your distance if you really have to go out, but wherever possible stay home!

Take care, everyone!

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