by adamboyden on 22 April, 2015
The old Showfield is the most important open space in this part of Frome, for dog walkers, joggers, children, and people walking to and from town. Over the last few years I have been working to raise residents’ issues with Mendip District Council, who lease the area, about improving management, security against encampments, tackling flygrazing, flooding, dog poo, and the need for improvements including to footpaths and a fence around the playground. Over 2 years ago, local people were asked by Frome Town Council and Vision for Frome how the £38,000 improvements fund (from the Frome Health Centre) should be spent. What has happened since?
After the consultation, a report was prepared on what residents wanted, and works were costed and agreed by Frome Town Council which included:
I was heavily involved in the discussions which led to Mendip agreeing to Frome Town Council taking over the leases to carry out the improvements. But in 2014, a legal problem arose and stopped the process, including due to the ‘Village Green’ application submitted by the FROGS group to protect the land from building, which Somerset County Council will not decide for years, as well as Mendip’s finances.
When the problems arose I again talked to Mendip and FTC officers and councillors, the Agricultural Society and FROGS, and took a report to Frome Town Council last May. As a result, FTC agreed to take over to break the impasse and a deal is now being finalised. The Town Council will buy the main part of the site (and have a long lease on the back fields), Mendip will surrender their leases, and FROGS will withdraw the Village Green application to allow the Town Council to take over.
When the deal is done soon, Frome Town Council’s ownership and management will mean the site will be protected, improved and managed better for people and wildlife, with more involvement from local people, and legal problems (which prevented the improvements being progressed) will disappear. I have worked for years to overcome the impasse and residents have waited a long time but we are nearly there, thanks to everyone involved. This is a great outcome for local residents. A major reason for me standing again is to see this through.
Update May 2015:
Somerset County Council are consulting on the proposed withdrawl of the Village Green application, which has to happen to allow the site to be protected through other means and allow the planned improvements to go ahead.
A horse has also appeared in a different place on site this week, and I have notified site managers again. After residents expressed concern about the pond area (a soakaway) next to Selwood Academy’s site being a potential danger to dogs and children using the Showfield, I asked that it be fenced off, and the fencing was installed last week by Somerset County Council.
Update 5th June 2015:
Somerset County Council have recently withdrawn the Village Green application (submitted by FROGS in 2011) as there were no objections. Legal teams for Frome Town Council, Frome & District Agricultural Society and Mendip District Council are now finalising the legal agreements to progress the sale and transfer of the old Showfield to Frome Town Council. This will enable improvements to site management and the improvements plan (using nearly £40,000 funding from Frome Medical Centre) and enable the Town Council to involve local residents much better in managing and enhancing the site in future. Currently Mendip’s contractors plan to cut the grass for the first time this year at the end of June.