Hi, it’s Deputy Mayor Andy here again, looking after this week’s column for Mayor Collier, I hope you all been keeping well since I last wrote to y’all? The weather has been beautiful and the first signs of spring, with all the fresh beginnings it signifies, brings joy and in these times, some hope and optimism to many of us.
Now for something a little less optimistic. The Co-op in the Westway shopping precinct, part of the Radstock Cooperative society announced to its staff (myself included) and the public on Tuesday 23rd February that they would not be renewing their lease on the unit due to overheads being too high to ever make a profit. Radco have also resigned as post office operators and the Post Office will shortly be advertising for a new retail partner. The store is sadly set to cease trading on June 24th. At Frome Town Council we’re in contact with Radco and their landlord, Maybrook Properties, to explore whether there is a way of retaining the Co-op store in this location. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that this is disappointing news for Frome town centre as both the Co-op store and post office are an important part of the town centre’s offer. We want to reassure the community that we are doing everything in our power to try to retain the Co-op and a post office operation in the town centre. Not only this but this news means that all current employees will need to find new stores to work in or alternatively find a new job. This Co-op and the Post Office are invaluable community assets; over the 8-9 years I’ve worked there I have seen just how many people in this community rely on this store for so much more than groceries, sending parcels and paying bills. This issue leads me to ask the question: Why a thriving, busy Co-op cannot make enough money to continue trading in a town centre? This is a symptom I believe of a much bigger conversation, one on a national level – The death of the high street.
On a lighter note, though, I want to praise Frome and their community spirit and say well done to Window Wanderland and all the talented artists of the town who wooed us with their windows this week. The Town Hall windows have also been “wanderlanded” with the ‘10 Daily Mental Health Check-ins’ and will stay up for March – if you need a reminder of what they are take a walk up there, it’s an important part of staying healthy particularly at the moment.