The 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.
Mendip District Cllr Shane Collins informed the meeting that Leader of Mendip, Ros Wyke, will be releasing a statement on Monday 14th December regarding the pause in the Easthill social housing proposal following Cabinet deliberation. Cllr Collins also mentioned the Hoedown in Frome which he coordinates, and that Cllrs will be receiving an email regarding planting bramley apple trees on vacant Mendip land around Frome and he would welcome feedback.
Kate Hellard, FTC’s Community Development Manager, presented first, looking at the future of the Community Grants process. At the August Town Matters meeting, Cllrs agreed to work with Public Square to initiate a co-design of a new grants process for Frome. Over several sessions a clear consensus evolved on how FTC’s funding could be administered and distributed through grants – this is split between the Community Grants Scheme and the multi-year /large grants.
It was proposed that the Community Grants Scheme, with up to £3k available per grant, should be opened as soon as possible, using the remaining £60k from this year’s grants budget. The criteria and how applications can be made are detailed out in Kate’s report.
The multiyear and large grants were also discussed in the working group who will continue to meet and bring their recommendations to Council in February. Cllrs then unanimously agreed the recommendations in the report. You can read Kate’s full report below.
Following from this Peter Wheelhouse, FTC’s Economic Development & Regeneration Manager, presented his report on the outcome of the consultation undertaken for the proposal to make King Street access only.
During the summer, King Street was closed during the Market Place improvements with the aim to encourage active travel and social distancing. Kings Street reopened once the Market Place project was completed. Some Cllrs became concerned about safety and social distancing in the King and Church Street area and discussed whether to reinstate the road closure when the second lockdown ended and consulted with residents and businesses in the area. 60% of respondents were against another closure. Residents of the area were mainly in favour for safety reasons. Businesses in the area were mainly against due to the impact on passing trade as witnessed when the road was closed in the summer.
Cllrs decided that the number of responses was too low to be representative and questioned whether the result was a true reflection of the town’s views. After much discussion, they decided to postpone the decision and carry out wider consultation. You can the full report and the original recommendation below.
Cllr Scott Ward was up next proposing that FTC formally support the call for a single yellow line along part of The Butts to help alleviate traffic congestion and dangerous driving practices along this road.
Somerset Highways need FTC’s support before they consult residents.
Scott said the yellow line would help to improve traffic flow and open up the full width of the road thereby removing the temptation for motorists to mount the pavement.
Cllrs agreed to support the introduction of the yellow line in this area, they also supported the ongoing campaign for monitoring traffic issues and improvements along The Butts.
It was highlighted that Somerset Highways were considering commissioning a Transport Strategy for Frome. FTC will continue to engage with residents and help enable them to establish community led campaigns with the aim of creating safer streets for all. Cllrs unanimously supported Scott’s proposal which you can read below.
Project Officer, Emma Parker, was next on the agenda to introduce “Slow Ways” to the Council. Slow Ways is a project to create a network of walking routes that connect all of Great Britain’s towns and cities as well as thousands of villages. Following a mapping exercise earlier in the year they are now looking for 10,000 volunteers to help walk, review, record and improve the Slow Ways routes.
As Frome Town Council already promotes guided walks through Discover Frome and works closely with Mendip Ramblers Association and Walkers are Welcome, this initiative sits well with FTC objectives of supporting outdoor activities which has many benefits for the individual and for the economy of the town and Cllrs unanimously supported the initiative.
For more information you can also visit the Slow Ways website.
Last on the agenda was an update on the ongoing support for the business community in Frome, presented by Project Officer, Viv Whitaker and Marketing and Tourism Officer, George Tomlinson.
Viv highlighted some of the activity that had been carried out in recent months. The business bulletin going out to over 900 subscribers has been a popular and useful resource as have the web pages which signpost businesses during Covid and ensure timely information regarding grants was readily available. Even though business events could not take place physically, these have moved online, and take up has proven popular.
George went onto explain how Discover Frome has been repurposed during the first and second lockdown, to showcase the different ways that residents can continue to support local shops through promoting retailers offering click and collect, vouchers and online shopping.
Additionally, a three-day Fiver Fest campaign was run in October to encourage shoppers to come out and shop locally and proved very successful again this year.
To assist local traders in the run up to festive season a virtual Christmas Market has been launched to identify local ‘hidden’ makers and creators who do not have a shop front, many of whom would have made sales through Christmas Markets such as the Bath Christmas Market. Through launching the market on FTC’s Facebook site and offering a virtual stall to traders joining the group, connections have been made with a new business sector (independent makers) and there is a plan to continue to forge connections with this group beyond the Christmas period as part of FTC’s aim to reach out further to micro-businesses and enterprises in the town.
Additionally, a new page on the Discover Frome site has also been developed to promote individuals who make and sell their own products in town. To also help encourage shoppers to go out and visit the shops when they opened on 2 December, FTC is running a “Spot the Elf on the Shop Shelf” campaign throughout December in the run up to Christmas.