Packed Council meeting shows that Trees & the River Frome matter to local people

The town’s trees and the River Frome took centre-stage at last night’s (27 July) Town Matters Committee meeting– which saw a packed room and plenty of excitement about how the town council can promote and enjoy our natural landscape.

The main discussion point was Frome’s treescape. In advance of the meeting, Councillors and the public were led on a fascinating guided walk by Duncan Scene, a local tree enthusiast, that viewed Frome’s oldest trees; this included a little known and rare, mature Elm. The discussion at the meeting included the cultural & environmental importance of town trees and the need to plant many more.

The Ancient Copper Beech recently felled in St John’s Churchyard was a hot topic and the meeting discussed how to celebrate what was believed to be Frome’s oldest tree.

“I’d like to thank everyone who came along to the meeting” said Cllr Peter Macfadyen, Chair of the Town Matters committee. “We’ve changed the format and structure of our meetings to encourage better discussions and – hopefully – to encourage more people to come to our meetings. There’s no question that both of these things happened at last night’s meeting.”

“In fact, the passion and enthusiasm for the town’s trees meant that there really wasn’t enough time to cover everything. As a result, the Town Council is going to set up a distribution list dedicated to the town’s trees that will keep people up-to-date with news, projects, events and planting opportunities. To receive these emails all you need to do is contact by emailing Chris Stringer here.”

Just as interesting, was a discussion about the legal Rights of Nature. Specifically, whether the River Frome could be granted legal protection by way of a bye-law.

“Similar legislation has been enacted in other countries, including the USA, but Frome is the first place in the UK considering this status – meaning that we’re in brave but uncharted waters” explained Peter.

In theory, a bye-law would create the river as a legal entity, granting it legal protection and rights in the same way that a company can have rights. How this could and would work has yet to be defined, but at the meeting, there was near-unanimous support for exploring this idea and to work with Sustainable Frome to take it forward.

Finally, the meeting saw a discussion about the proposed self-build scheme off Lower Keyford Lane. A number of nearby residents offered their thoughts and concerns about the project including potential traffic congestion and poor access arrangements. It was agreed that a feasibility study would be commissioned, which would look at the concerns of local people and the scheme. Cllrs also agreed to establish a steering group for the project. It’s expected that grant funding can be secured to pay for this.

To find our more please contact Chris Stringer on 01373 475573 or email stringerc@frometowncouncil.gov.uk

Below you can find the video about The Last Tree Dreaming project: