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In other news…

by adamboyden on 28 September, 2015

Refugees welcome in Mendip

In response to the worst refugee crisis in Europe since the 2nd world war, I asked Mendip District Council to do what it can to help resettle our share of refugees fleeing war so that families and children can live in safety. Although my formal motion was denied a debate, I asked questions and councillors did debate the issue as a result. We are waiting to hear from Government whether our area will receive any refugees, but Mendip has now agreed to coordinate a local response in case we do (see here for the Council’s recent statement and advice on how you can help). A local Refugee Support Group has also formed in Frome to coordinate offers of help. I am encouraging people to work together to help people in desperate need. To help, please see, call MDC on 0300 303 8588, and please contact Dinah Bardgett at Dinah.bardgett@gmail.com to get involved in the Frome group. See here for previous news on this.

Future of Packsaddle parks decided soon

In my time on Frome Town Council, I proposed that Frome Town Council take ownership from Mendip of the open space on Packsaddle Way and the games court at Chapmans Close. This was so that local people can have more involvement in what happens to these parks, and so that facilities can be improved. I am inspired by the work of the Packsaddle Community Group who hold regular events at the park and are leading initiatives to improve the areas. I know Frome Town Council can work well with the community to improve local parks, as we have seen at Welshmill Park. There is a worry that CAMG could decide not to agree to the transfers, and instead sell them to developers, so I sent Mendip a report written by the Community Group to clearly show how valuable these open spaces are to local people. The issue will be decided by Mendip District Council’s Corporate Assets Management Group (CAMG) in November. Please contact me if you would like to help. Please see here for the background to this.

Traffic calming

Concerns have also been raised again with Somerset Highways that the gaps between the speed humps along Stonebridge Drive, where vehicles drive in the middle of the road, are unsafe. Attempts to get a small improvement scheme approved were previously rejected by County Highways. The County Councillor for this area, Frome Town Councillors and I will be consulting residents about action to address this problem. Please contact me for further details on cllr.boyden@mendip.gov.uk.

As traffic coming into Frome past the Community College is often too fast, I have asked for traffic speed monitoring on Bath Road, to assess the problem. If you would also like road safety improvements here or elsewhere, please contact me.

Bus cuts

In August I joined local protests by the Frome & Villages Bus User Group (FAVBUG) against the cuts to local bus routes by First, including to the 267 through Rode, the 161 to Wells, and the 184 to Midsomer Norton and Bath (see http://favbug.blogspot.co.uk/). As a result Somerset County Council stepped in to subsidise some replacement services to Wells and Midsomer Norton until May. When commerce fail a community, then public authorities have a duty to step in. Liberal Democrats support greater investment in bus transport and powers for local councils to improve and better regulate buses in their areas, but Somerset’s ruling Conservatives have warned that they will cut services next year.

Local support for renewable energy

I welcomed the recent installation of 560 solar panels on the roof of Frome Medical Practice by the Frome Renewable Energy Company (Freco, see here). We need to invest in more clean renewable energy projects like this, to reduce our impact on our climate from greenhouse gases, and increase our energy independence, for our children’s future. Freco’s first share offer raised £300,000 in a week. They are looking for more sites with large roofs, and for new investors for the next phase. I am encouraging local people, and Mendip, to support this great green community power scheme. Please contact Freco for details.

Tory cuts threaten renewable energy investment

However, the Government’s sudden cuts to clean renewable energy and energy efficient housing have been sharply criticised by Lib Dems, environmental groups, investors, and community energy groups (see here and here and here). A petition against the Government’s proposed 87% cut to the ‘Feed In Tariff’ needs your support.

Government goes ‘all out for fracking’

Meanwhile the Government has recently consulted on plans to grant licences for unconventional gas exploration – fracking – in areas next to Frome, in and around Rode, Beckington, Trowbridge and Warminster (see here). A Lib Dem-led motion to Mendip District Council in 2013, which stated Mendip did not support fracking due to the local environmental risks, gained unanimous agreement (see here). I have objected to the plans, which would be likely to affect internationally important wildlife sites, including the River Avon in Wiltshire, and am in touch with local groups. To get involved or find out more please contact me.

Merlin Theatre celebrates 40 years and funding success

The Merlin Theatre is celebrating its 40th birthday this year, and was recently awarded over £60,000 by the Arts Council. A year-long programme of events is now underway for the Lights Up! campaign which needs to raise £30,000 for badly needed new lighting and sound equipment, as match funding for the Arts Council grant. Please contact the Merlin Theatre or see www.merlintheatre.co.uk to help.

Community grants available

Mendip District Council’s annual Local Legacy Fund grant scheme is still open for applications from community and voluntary organisations for grants of between £5000 and £30,000, until 16th October. Please see www.mendip.gov.uk/communityfunding or contact me for details.

Mendip helping bring empty homes back into use

Owners of empty homes who want to bring their property back into use could qualify for financial support from Mendip District Council – please see here for advice.

Enforcement strengthened

Mendip District Council has agreed to take on two new officers to tackle planning enforcement and environmental crime across the district, including flytipping. Lib Dems welcomed this move. We asked Mendip to strengthen the over-stretched Enforcement team in this way 2 years ago, so we are pleased that the Council has finally agreed to do so. I hope to see better action against flytipping and unauthorised camps and flygrazing as a result.

Somerset Rivers Authority funding agreed

Mendip and other local authorities recently proposed that the Somerset Rivers Authority, which now manages flood prevention works across the county, is funded by a separate precept-setting body so that it can raise its own Council Tax directly from residents and businesses. The Government has refused to fund the SRA in the long-term, so a Local funding mechanism is required. As the precepting body will take years to set up, I raised questions at Full Council to help understand how much it will cost and who will pay. Councillors agreed that other local funding options were not as good, but Somerset residents will end up paying more because the Government has refused any national funding.

 

   2 Comments

2 Responses

  1. Susan Pearson says:

    Hi Adam, Many thanks for all your hard work on our behalf. With regard to speed bumps on Stonebridge Drive, we did discuss some form of traffic calming further along from Tescos going along Brunel Way. Traffic is far too fast along this residential stretch. Any possibility of this happening?

    • adamboyden says:

      Hi Sue, Thanks. I have passed on the concern on speeding traffic to the area’s county councillor and Frome Town Council, and I’ll get back to you on this shortly as to what can be achieved.

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