2014 proved to be a spectacular success for The Frome Independent with the visitor numbers regularly exceeding 5000 at each market. At the Christmas market in December, the visitor numbers reached 12,000!
As the re-start of the event in March gets closer, attention is turning to how the growing demand from car-borne visitors can be better managed. On Monday 12 January, Frome Town Council chaired a meeting to explore potential solutions. The meeting was also attended by directors of the market company, police, fire service, Mendip District Council and Somerset County Council.
A number of initiatives are being investigated including:
- Better signage and promotion for the existing park and ride service that operates out of the Frome Medical Centre, the Cricket Club and Leisure Centre
- Additional car parking elsewhere
- Improved public transport services for those travelling from further afield
- Better enforcement of existing parking restrictions and the possible introduction of new restrictions on Sunday market days to deal with on-street parking problems – Somerset County Council and Mendip District Council are doing their best to help on these issues
Gavin Eddy, Non-Executive Director of The Frome Independent market said, ‘It is fantastic that the market is proving to be so popular – through 2014 it was clear that the number of visitors grew dramatically and this can only be good for the local economy. But we have a responsibility to ensure that the experience for residents and visitors alike is positive. For that reason, we have already put in place a park and ride service and we would encourage those arriving from outside Frome to use it when the market restarts. We are also exploring how this could be expanded.’
Cllr Nick White of Frome Town Council added, ‘Working closely with the market company, partners at the District Council, County Council and the emergency services, we are investigating all possible ways in which the town can better cope with the volume of visitors. No stone will be left unturned. In addition to addressing car park capacity and the profile of the park and ride service, we are investigating the possible introduction of new parking restrictions on Sunday market days that will ensure that important access routes are kept clear. But we are also in touch with bus and rail operators to see if there is a commercial case for improving services so that people coming from Bath, Bristol and other locations have an alternative to driving to the event. Finally, we would make a plea that if you can, please walk to the event so that we minimise the pressure on car parks in the town centre.’