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Mendip District Council says ‘Yes’ on River Frome enhancement project and Arts Strategy

by adamboyden on 3 October, 2011

At last Thursday’s full meeting of Mendip District Council (29 Sept), the Conservative-run Council’s Leader and Cabinet member said ‘Yes’ to my 2 questions. Firstly, would the Council support a local bid to fund a project to enhance the River Frome? The answer was ‘Yes’ – Cllr Harvey Siggs, Leader of the Council, said he would love to support the bid as the river through Frome is an opportunity to enhance the town that is being wasted.    Secondly, after its cuts to community arts funding earlier in the year, would the Council see what it can do to promote business development in the creative sector, by participating in the forthcoming Arts Strategy for Frome? Again, the answer was ‘Yes’ – Cllr Nigel Taylor, Cabinet member responsible for business development, agreed to take part in the forthcoming Frome Arts Forum meeting on 15th October at the Merlin Theatre, and to review what the Council could do to help Frome (and other towns) promote their creative sides.

I look forward to helping these local projects further to improve our area.  The Council’s previous cuts to its work on community arts and our environment has effectively stopped much previous good work and left it unable to work on some important issues, so others in the community are trying to step in to fill the void, which deserves our support.

My questions are below:  

“1. Can the Council add its support to a local partnership and project that aims to improve and enhance the river Frome and its wider catchment? A local resident (hydrology consultant Bob Sargent) and a well-respected local environmental group (the Friends of the River Frome), are preparing a bid for Government funding for a local partnership project that aims to lead to a series of enhancements to the natural environment, wildlife habitats and open spaces along and around the River Frome, through the Government’s Nature Improvement Areas (NIA) scheme.  There are various interactions with Council policies, which the bid could help fund and deliver, including the draft Core Strategy policies for a linear park along the river, for enhancements to the river corridor in Frome town centre, and for a Green Infrastructure Strategy for the town.  Organisations that have expressed support for the bid include Frome Town Council, Vision for Frome, Frome Civic Society, Frome Canoe Club and Sustrans.  The bid is being submitted on 30th September.  Can this Council add its support to the bid?  The bid does not need or request any financial support from this Council.
A paper to explain the aims and objectives of the bid is attached.

2. After the substantial cuts in community arts development funding earlier in 2011 from Somerset County Council and the Arts Council for England, and also by the previous administration of this council, representatives of arts organisations and the ‘creative’ sector in Frome are getting together to start work on a comprehensive Strategy for the arts and creative industries, with support from Frome Town Council, at the ‘Creative Frome Arts Forum’  meeting on Saturday 15th October, 1pm-4pm at the Merlin Theatre, Frome. All interested parties are invited to contribute ideas to the strategy; (an invitation is attached). 

The creative industries form one of Somerset’s successful business sectors, the sector offers the potential to promote business development across the district such as through tourism, business start-ups and business growth, as well as community cohesion and quality of life, and Frome is of the Somerset’s ‘creative hubs’.  Frome Chamber of Commerce’s ‘creative business festival’ in 2011-12 has recently received support from Somerset County Council and Frome Town Council.  The participation of this Council in the Creative Frome Arts Forum would therefore provide an ideal opportunity for the Council to help improve business development by re-engaging with the creative sector in Frome, and in other towns (as this is likely to provide a model for other settlements in Mendip district to follow).

Therefore, can the Portfolio Holder for ‘Business development’ work (People and Places), and/or other suitable representatives, attend and participate in the forum meeting, on behalf of Mendip District Council?

After the meeting, can the Portfolio Holder and other representatives of the Council review and report: (1) the types of support that Mendip District Council could provide to the emerging arts strategy project for Frome, (2) how the work could be applied to other settlements in the district and (3) the benefits of this work to the district’s economy and community ?”

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