The latest from the Council Chamber – Town Matters, 7th October

As usual, the online Town Matters meeting started with a welcome from the Chair, Cllr Andy Palmer who then moved on to questions and comments from the public and Cllrs. Included in these was a concern raised by a member of the public via Cllr Mark Dorrington regarding the speeding through the Market Place now the road has re-opened. Town Clerk, Paul Wynne, will be liaising with local police on how we can remind vehicle users to stick to the 20mph speed limit.

Mendip District Cllr John Clarke joined and asked if Frome Town Council (FTC) would be applying to Somerset County Council’s Climate emergency fund and Deputy Town Clerk, Peter Wheelhouse confirmed that this is well underway.

Peter Wheelhouse confirmed that the St Aldhem shields from the railings in the Market Place are safe and in store and will be re-erected in the town centre next year. The wrought iron tree guards outside the library have been removed by Mendip and Paul agreed to enquire their whereabouts and inform the questioner, Jane Wood.

Paul Mallet, from Willow Vale, was concerned about the possible loss of parking and trees on Willow Vale as a result of the proposed pedestrian bridge linking with Saxonvale. Jane Llewellyn FTC’s Planning Manager was asked to contact Paul to discuss the proposal.

Walbridge RiversideSue Everett, from Friends of the River Frome gave an update on recent events and happenings along the River Frome. Sue explained we need to heal our river as the ecological condition of the river is poor, largely due to pollution from agricultural sources.  Intensive farming and poor nutrient management have led to further pollution and Friends of the River Frome are working with farmers and landowners in a project with Environment Agency to address this.

Sue also highlighted that the town’s Victorian drainage system means that human and livestock sewage regularly overflows into the river. Wessex Water has confirmed that this occurred 50 times in 2019. Sue welcomed FTC’s support and Cllrs asked Paul Wynne to work with Sue to write jointly to David Warburton MP and Wessex Water to discuss solutions to this.

Projects in the pipeline included removing the culvert at the Dippy, enabling open land beside the river to flood to reduce the chances of flooding downstream in built up areas. Sue also highlighted that the planning system needs to take into consideration potential flood risks when assessing future developments.

Next up Viv Whitaker provided an update on the work to improve vocational training opportunities across the town. In September 2019, the Vocational Training Group was formed to focus on upskilling and training opportunities in and around Frome by bringing together local training providers. The group also includes Frome College and Critchill School to represent the needs of the young people preparing to leave school and enter the workforce, as well as Jobcentre Plus to report on labour market needs and initiatives to help people back into employment. Read all the details of all the latest training initiatives and future plans.

Peter Wheelhouse, Economic Development & Regenerations Manager, gave a presentation on the latest from the School Streets Project and the proposal to start the trial in spring 2021. He pointed out that safe walking and cycling are amongst the top priorities for the community and are key objectives within FTC’s work programme. It was agreed by Cllrs to delay the start of the implementation of the School Street project until the beginning of April 2021 subject to Department for Transport funding. In the meantime, FTC will work with the schools to encourage active travel and maximise participation for when the School Street project is trialled in 2021. Read the updated School Street report here.

Rachel Griffin, Marketing & Communications Manager was next to present her report regarding the People’s Budget Events & Town Vote into 2021-2022. She outlined how important it is for the Town Council to continue to engage the community in democracy and that these two participatory projects helped to do just that by giving residents meaningful choices around how a proportion of a budget is to be spent while also gaining appealing community events. Mark Dorrington suggested that due the covid-19 related financial uncertainty it might be better to defer allocating funding for these projects until the council had reviewed the reforecast budget over the next few weeks. Cllrs agreed to defer the decision until the next TM committee.

It was then time to consider how the Resilience work programme will be delivered while the Resilience Manager, Anna Francis, is on sabbatical. Cllrs agreed to recruit a Resilience Officer on a permanent basis to continue to drive the work around sustainable transport, promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy generation, waste reduction and the promotion of share and repair. Find further details of the Resilience Officer report here.

Kate Hellard, Community Development Manager was last up and gave a brief overview of what she and her team had been busy working on over the last six months as well as outlining the next steps. Kate noted that during the lockdown the number of these groups had increased. A lot of the focus has been on helping to grow and support the establishment of neighbourhood and street scale community groups. As these groups develop, the resilience of the community increases. Every street is unique, and every group has different interests, needs, and offers.

Kate’s team supports the groups and has developed a network of them around the town, providing admin and research, support for networking meetings and creating a regular online newsletter, organising events and engagement activities. The team will support street parties, litter picks, gardening projects and playing out as soon as the covid-19 situation improves. You can find Kate’s full report here.

The agenda and details of everything mentioned above can be found at www.frometowncouncil.gov.uk/meeting/town-matters-24/. Dates of future Council and committee meetings can be found on our meetings page.  Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to keep updated on everything we’re up to.

Published 8th October 2020

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