Adam Boyden

Liberal Democrat councillor on Mendip District Council for Frome College ward Learn more

February 2017 Newsletter

by adamboyden on 28 February, 2017

Dear All,  please see below a roundup of news from the ward and local area, and updates on what your councils are doing. This has taken some time, so apologies it has been a long time since the last one.
Old Showfield improvements to continue

Frome Town Council is planning further improvements to the Old Showfield in the next few months, in line with the Management and Improvements Plan it adopted last year, including more footpath resurfacing, tree planting and seating. The footpath improvements need to be provided so that Parkrun can come here later this year – see here for the latest. It’s quite exciting. None of this would be happening if FTC had not taken over the Old Showfield in 2015, which I was pleased to have helped bring about.

Campaign success on ‘Changing Places’

Recently I was made aware by local residents Alison and Neil Douthwaite that many disabled children and adults cannot use the standard disabled toilets we have in the district, as they need a changing table, a hoist to bear their weight, and more space for carers to help them. ‘Changing Places’ is a national campaign and has defined standards for these more accessible facilities. Without any Changing Places in Frome or Mendip (Wiltshire has 7), the most vulnerable people either have to be changed on the toilet floor, which is unhygienic and risks injury to their carers, or they go home or cannot stay out long, meaning not everyone can enjoy what our town and district has to offer. This is not dignified or fair. With Alison and other campaigners, and other councillors’ support, we proposed a cross-party motion for debate at a ‘Full Council’ meeting on Monday 20th February, seconded by cllrs Helen Sprawson-White and Des Harris, to ask the council to investigate and adopt a strategy for providing Changing Places. I was very pleased that Mendip District councillors unanimously approved a new motion (see Updating for Full Council 20.02.17) (which Cabinet member cllr Phil Ham and I proposed), endorsing the Changing Places campaign and requiring the council to investigate, cost and facilitate (and work with others to provide) Changing Places in the district. This was the result of months of work with Alison and other campaigners to get their voices heard, and I am very pleased that they were heard (and applauded). A big thanks to Alison and the other campaigners and councillors who support this campaign, people who came to the meeting and those that spoke and other councillors who spoke in support and to every councillor present who voted for the motion. It was an overwhelmingly positive meeting. Mendip DC will now take this forward through the Equalities Group who next meet in early March, and a report will be prepared for full council in May. I am determined to help make this happen. Please see here for the council’s official press release and here for Frome Standard’s article about the decision. As I said at the meeting, this motion is about Changing Places, but really it is about changing lives. Please see here for details.

Temporary reprieve for Bath-Frome weekday evening bus service – can you help?

I have been helping the campaign by the Frome & Villages Bus User Group (FAVBUG) and other councillors to save the 267 Bath/Frome weekday evening bus services, so that people in Frome, Beckington, Rode and Norton St Philip can continue to get home from work, hospital and college in Bath.  On Wednesday 22nd February, Frome Town Council’s Town Matters Committee approved the necessary funding to retain the service for a 4 month trial period up to the end of August.  This sealed a deal which I and other councillors proposed last summer (after B&NES started to review the subsidy) and which was agreed in principle at a meeting in January, involving a new partnership (‘the 267 Group’) of Somerset County Council, B&NES Council, Frome Town Council, and Norton St Philip, Rode and Beckington Parish Councils, with First Buses.  A deal was needed after B&NES funding cuts which left the Monday-Thursday services in need of public funding to continue (as First agreed to run Friday and Saturday evenings commercially). Over 70 people and many councils and councllors responded to the B&NES consultation in August, in favour of retaining the service – see Consultation Responses for their responses. The 267 Group now has until June 2017 to find a more long-term solution to saving the service, and are now considering various options as well as how to increase passenger numbers. I am determined that our councils work together to sustain a bus service so that the north of Frome and the villages are not cut off in the evenings. See here for details and here for FAVBUG’s news blog.

Can you help? Do you rely on or ever use the evening buses? The 267 Group propose to carry out an on-board survey of passengers through interviewer-conducted questionnaires, on the evenings of March 6th-9th (Monday to Thursday) between 8pm and midnight – if you can help take part in this with other members of the 267 Gruop and FAVBUGm please contact Peter Travis at plustravis@hotmail.com.

Litter Picks on Saturday 4th March – Stonebridge, Gypsy Lane and Frome town centre – can you help?

The Great British Spring Clean is a national campaign that weekend and is also backed by Mendip District Council. A big litter pick is now being organised in Stonebridge on Saturday 4th March from 10.30am to 12 noon, meeting outside the shops at Forest Road as usual. People will need to wear suitable outdoor clothing, footwear and gloves, but all other equipment will be provided. The event is open to everyone, and children are welcome. Last year 20 people came to help – please see here for last year’s report.  I am again publicising and helping organise it with Phil & Annabel Macey this year.

Another litter pick is also being held on Saturday at the corner of Gypsy Lane and Beaconsfield Way to clean up Gypsy Lane, from 9am to 12.

The Friends of the River Frome are also holding litter picks on the Saturday before the Frome Independent Market, starting on 4th March at the Market Yard car park, from 10-12 –  see here for that and more FORF news.

One is also being held in Beckington on Friday 1.00-3.00pm, and in Berkley on Sunday 11am-1pm – please see here for info on the other events.  If anyone would like to help organise a litter pick anywhere else, please let me know or contact Chris Stringer at Frome Town Council (phone 01373 465757, email stringerc@frometowncouncil.gov.uk) or Mendip District Council at NeighbourhoodServices@mendip.gov.uk or 0300 303 8588.

Your local Community Credit Union needs help

Mendip Community Credit Union helps people in financial need by offering affordable loans at competitive prices, and opportunities to save ethically.  It is run entirely by volunteers, based at two service points – the Library on Saturday mornings and Key Centre on Thursday mornings (see here). In Frome, the MCCU is asking for a couple more volunteers to help run the current service and to help expand the service to meet the unmet need. You would need a few hours on a couple of days a month to help at the service points, to help people fill in forms, handle and record money into people’s accounts, and generally help and listen to people. There are also backroom admin jobs that could be done such as data entry and answering the ‘phone. If you can help or want to find out more, please contact Barbara Bacon on 01373 473673 and barbara.l.bacon@gmail.com or call free on 0800 6226036.

Frome Independent Market cancelled on 5th March due to bad weather forecast

The monthly Sunday market which sees Frome town centre packed with market stalls, shoppers, music and food, has been cancelled on 5th March due to a bad weather forecast, but will be back on 2nd April and every first Sunday of the month this year. Please see here for more.  Support the market by becoming a Market Maker – see here. This was set up in 2012 after we helped secure a consultation on the initial proposals (to do it on Saturdays) and the involvement of Foreground’s Gavin Eddy, which was vital (see here and here).

Planning permission secures pedestrian crossing

In December, planning permission was finally granted for 7 houses at the remainder of the Mendip Lodge Hotel site (‘Bath Road Heights’) at the end of Bath Road. This will complete the redevelopment of the site, remove the eyesores, and means that the access road will be fully resurfaced after construction. It also secures a pedestrian crossing here, which I campaigned for, so residents can cross the busy road safely, as traffic regularly exceeds the 30mph speed limit here…  read more about it here.

Youth Centres under threat

Last summer it was revealed (see here and here) that the future of Frome Youth & Community Centre on Vallis Road was in doubt as a lack of essential repairs to the roof and heating were making the building dangerous to use. Somerset County Council own the building but were not taking responsibility. Mendip YMCA have had to make temporary repairs to both roof and heating out of their own funds, and some youth clubs have returned.  I and other councillors were appalled and have lobbied Somerset CC not only to take responsibility but to also see the benefit of the Youth & Community Centre in meeting community needs. This led to the county council’s Communities team getting involved. We hope the County Council will see sense and offer funding and a better lease deal that secures the future of the Centre and allows the approved plans to expand and refurbish the building to be progressed. Mendip District Council and Frome Town Council have promised funding to support the centre. Saving the centre’s sports field at the rear for children, instead of being built on, is a battle for another day.

The YMCA’s ‘Routes’ drop-in centre and youth cafe on Palmer Street is also now under threat from a loss of funding – see press stories here and here. Several Frome organisations have written in support. Mendip YMCA are currently awaiting the outcome of a major grant application in March for about half the required funds, and are actively seeking donations, fundraising and support. Both centres are important in ensuring children and young people have good social lives and can get help with any problems.  To support the Routes appeal contact Sarah Stobbart at sstobbart@mendipymca.org.uk or 01749 679553 extension 5020. A donation of £10 can be made by texting MEND41 £10 to 70070. To donate to Mendip YMCA please click here – £46,000 is still needed. To support Mendip YMCA including by volunteering, please see here, call Glenda or Karen Collins on 01749 679553, email gcollier@mendipymca.org.uk or kcollins@mendipymca.org.uk. I hope to meet Mendip YMCA to discuss soon. Our councils need to support our young people. If elected to County Council in May I can pursue this further.

Public vote on park improvements at PacksaddleFrome Town Council will take over the management of the park at Packsaddle Way and the games court at Chapmans Close under a lease being arranged with Mendip District Council, so that they can be improved in line with local residents’ priorities. The Town Council has already allocated £7500 to fund improvements, and will arrange a public vote (in the ‘Participatory Budget’ process) on how to spend that later this year. The PB vote will ask residents if the £7,500 should be spent on new play equipment, play workers, or a combination. FTC is now currently working on plans for each option. You can get involved now and shape these plans by filling in their Play questionnaires (if you have not already done so) – click here to have your say now.  Other public votes are being organised on improvements to Victoria Park and the Tower View play area opposite the Key Centre at the Mount, and on what public events should take place in Frome (on 11th March).

This is after Frome Town Council agreed my request to ask Mendip to transfer the parks to them in 2014, and I successfully lobbied Mendip’s Corporate Assets Management Group in 2015 to agree (instead of selling them for housing as officers recommended – see here).  The Packsaddle Community Group have been campaigning to improve the local parks for years, but Mendip was unable to, so transferring responsibility to FTC seemed like a good idea. Currently I am hoping to help address some anti-social behaviour at the park, with residents, the Community Group and Town Council, before improvements are taken forward.

Nearby at The Roundhouse Garden at The Other Side (alongside the river opposite Welshmill Park), the Frome Recreation and Open Ground Supporters are having sessions to improve the open spaces there on Saturdays 11 and 25 March 10.30am to 12.30pm – involving mulching, weeding, etc. Please bring a rake and/or hand tools, and gardening gloves if possible. See http://www.fromefrogs.org.uk/ for details and more FROGS activities.

Frome Town Hall update

Frome Town Council have moved out of Palmer Street into the refurbished new Town Hall at the bottom of Park Road on Christchurch Street. This will give Frome a new civic centre and will also provide a home for local charities, businesses and other organisations. I voted for this to proceed when I was a town councillor in 2014/15. Please see here for more info on the Town Hall, and here for the latest news and here with photos. Officers have now moved in, and the public opening event is in early April.

I was concerned about the Tourist Information Centre moving out of the Library into the Town Hall. As this is outside the town centre I’ve asked that a presence be retained in the town centre for visitors seeking information there. I now understand that the Town Council are having discussions with the Cheese & Grain about a temporary information centre there and should also be consulting local businesses on the matter.

Local NHS under pressure

From the start of February, Frome Community Hospital’s Minor Injuries Unit has shorter opening hours, from 8am to 8.30pm (reduced from 10.30pm) due to a shortage of qualified nurse practitioners (see here). This is a concern, and the Government’s cuts to nursing training bursaries will only make the shortage worse.

I understand there is still no news yet from NHS England on their decision on whether Frome Medical Practice can keep Locks Hill surgery closed. In meetings last autumn with Frome Medical Practice, Fair Frome and Frome Town Council, I argued for better bus services from the south and east of Frome to the main Medical Centre and for support for the Frome Community Cars scheme, to help get patients to surgery more easily, and for some local health services to be provided in place of Locks Hill, e.g. at the Key Centre.  I was concerned about the loss of health services there as well as the increased pressure on parking at Frome Medical Centre, which occasionally spills out onto the main road. I also asked FMP to review who uses the car park (as there was talk of car park charges), and put a letter in the papers to ask people not to park there if they were not patients. Since then the half hourly Frome Minibuses 30 bus service (serving the Mount, Locks Hill and town centre) has been diverted to outside the Medical Centre and Hospital from early January, and I helped arrange the bus stop with the County Council (and consulted residents, although county officers refused to meet). FMP agreed to support the Frome Community Cars service – see here for how to book it – and they are looking for more volunteer drivers to help so please get in touch if you can.  A car parking survey was undertaken (by Friends of Frome Community Hospital and the Patient Participation Group volunteers) and I understand staff parking arrangements have been improved. I have asked for more prominent signs to tell people not to park there if they are not patients or visiting the surgeries and hospital.  I am keeping an eye on the parking situation and remain in touch with both the Medical Centre and Hospital on these issues. See here for previous news on this. There are also discussions around providing a new bus shelter at the hospital to help patients and visitors keep dry while waiting for a bus.

Meanwhile the NHS’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for Somerset has been published (see here).  This is a strategic five-year plan that aims “to create services that work better for residents, are financially sustainable and have much greater emphasis on prevention” by delivering services differently. It states that more NHS care will need to be provided out of hospital settings and near people’s homes, with more coordinated support from community and primary (GP) care services, allowing the NHS to move away from bed-based care, with acute hospitals “only providing the care that cannot be provided elsewhere”. I hope that the additional community and primary care will be put in place before bedspaces are reduced. Although Somerset County Council’s Cabinet has endorsed the STP, no specific proposals are available yet which describe the implications for our area. The problem is that the NHS in Somerset is being underfunded – the STP reports (on page 4) “…services are not keeping pace with the changing needs of an ageing population and people with multiple long term conditions. It is becoming increasingly difficult to ensure local people have access to consistently high quality care that is affordable and sustainable. Local health and social care services are under severe financial pressure and are likely to have an in year gap of £175 million by 2020/21 if nothing changes.”.  I am trying to find out what this means for our local NHS services – there is no detailed plan as yet.   Nationally, the Lib Dems are campaigning for a better funded NHS, and a cross-party commission to sort out long-term funding – please see here for details.

There are also discussions ongoing about the potential for an ‘out of hours’ doctor service to be stationed in Frome – this is even more important now as ‘out of hours’ just got longer, but nothing is confirmed. The Out of Hours and 111 services are run by Vocare (Somerset Doctors Urgent Care), who are keen to locate an Out of Hours doctor in Frome. A meeting is being held at 8pm tonight at Christchurch School to discuss local NHS issues. I will update you when more is known.

School cuts

I am concerned at reports by unions (see here and here) that local schools funds are being cut by the Government in future years. Our MP has stated that Somerset schools are getting fairer funding, so I have asked for clarification.

Highways update

I am aware of damage to residents cars at Fromefield as a result of speeding traffic. One resident has had 4 cars written off over 10 years, and a car flipped onto its roof last year. I am doing a leaflet drop in the area soon and am asking all residents to come forward with details of any damage and problems, so that we can approach the Town and County Councils to request a traffic calming scheme is implemented to try and reduce speed and improve road safety here. I mentioned this to the Town Council also.

At Bath Road traffic speeds have been monitored three times now in the last 2 years and each time speeds are found to be high, above the ‘action level’, but no action has been taken. I have asked the county councillor and Town Council what can be done. I have previously asked that the 30mph speed limit should be moved northwards to slow drivers down earlier before they come into Frome. This was actually proposed in 2013 but was withdrawn by the County Council (because for some reason the Draft Order it was in was combined with a proposal to increase the speed limit for a stretch in Oldford village, which led to objections).

As I reported in September, residents remain concerned about the 2m gap between speed humps along Stonebridge Drive, as vehicles drive through the middle, but Somerset County Council will not progress any traffic calming as monitored traffic speeds here (and along Brunel Way) remain below the ‘action level’, there have been no road injury accidents recently, and budgets are tight. However, the road will need resurfacing some time in future. There is a road safety issue here. In my opinion the humps should be replaced with a modern solution as part of a resurfacing scheme in a new 20mph zone. I believe 20mph zones and traffic calming measures should be pursued wherever residents are in favour and where a council is prepared to take responsibility. Currently, Somerset County Council do not promote 20mph limits anywhere, and insist that parish councils pay for the process. Ideally I would like to see a Traffic Action Group for Frome to ensure better working and a set of priorities to be agreed between Town and County councils, as a district councillor I am ‘piggy in the middle’. If elected to County Council in May I will pursue this further.

Our local Community Speedwatch teams continue to monitor traffic speeds with the Police and PCSOs, including at Bath Road and in Berkley (see here). If you want to help, do get in touch and I can pass you on to coordinator Ashley.

A local resident (thanks Jill) drew my attention to the broken state of the road bridge over the stream at Ashtree Road, so I contacted Somerset County Council’s highways and bridge teams and Mendip’s building control team. I heard from SCC that the bridge has been cordoned off (of a sort) and is being monitored, and should hopefully be repaired soon.

Last year after complaints from local resident (thanks John) SCC Highways cleared (or asked owners to clear) bushes and branches off the main footpath along Bath Road which was reducing the footpath width for pedestrians along this busy road.

After complaints, I have reported the poor road surfaces and many potholes in Packsaddle Way and Pedlars Grove (thanks Vic, and Lyn), to Somerset County Council for action – Highways officers say they are inspecting and programming in works in the next financial year if budgets allow. I also reported the uneven footpath between Lavender Court and Larchfield Close. I will keep on asking.

After complaints from hospital patients and Frome Community Hospital, I have again reported the sign outside Fromefield House to Somerset County Council as it is supposed to point in the direction of the Hospital but there is a large white sticker on it which obscures the arrow. Our previous complaint about the tree branches obscuring the sign was acted on and vegetation was cut back.

Stopping lorries reversing into Fromefield Co-op

Following complaints in September, I complained to Radstock Co-operative (Radco), Mendip District and Somerset County Councils about the Co-op delivery lorries blocking traffic and causing a safety hazard while they park outside the Fromefield Co-op and reverse in. I witnessed the chaos myself. One of the store’s planning conditions requires compliance with a Service Management Statement which states that lorries will always go in forwards as there is room to manoeuvre around to load/unload after the car park has been cordoned off in advance.
Radco agreed to correct their delivery procedures, and put up new signs to instruct drivers, and agreed a new procedure with Mendip’s planners. So, reversing large lorries in should be a thing of the past. If you see any lorries reversing in, please let me know as this is a breach of planning conditions.  Residents are still complaining about the design and appearance of the Co-op store and its impact it on the setting of neighbouring listed buildings and the Conservation Area within which it sits. Once things progress I will again ask for changes to be made to improve the look of the store to blend it in more with its surroundings to enhance rather than detract from the area. Radco have always refused to make any changes, stating that the costs of replacing the metal panels are prohibitive. Please see here for previous news, including how it got permission.

Litter, flytipping and badfires

The 18 month temporary road closure along Gypsy Lane, installed by Somerset County and Mendip District Councils last Spring to combat flytipping, remains in force. Since then local residents have occasionally alerted me to flytipping incidents on the western stretch of Gypsy Lane towards Bath Road, Cuckoo Lane and elsewhere locally, which I have reported to Mendip, and contractors have generally cleared up soon after.  The flytipping by the bend by the Commerce Park footpath was cleared after several complaints and reminders. Litter along the western stretch of Gypsy Lane near Bath Road has also not been cleared in a long time. I am hoping to meet Mendip’s contracts managers soon to sort the problem out. Litter and rubbish is also building up on the old Mendip Lodge Hotel site, and I have asked the council to take action.

In September and November I had complaints about antisocial ‘bonfires’ at the farm at Gypsy Lane and passed the complaints to Mendip DC and the Environment Agency to deal with. I hope this does not re-occur.

Recycle More with 3-weekly bin collections

Rubbish bins will be emptied every three weeks from this autumn, in a bid to increase recycling. In December, Mendip District, Somerset County and all other Councils in the Somerset Waste Partnership approved a plan called ‘Recycle More’ to introduce kerbside recycling of new materials including plastic tubs and pots, and batteries, and at the same time reduce the frequency of household waste collections from every fortnight to every 3 weeks (see press coverage here and SWP news here).  Mendip’s Cabinet approved this in December (see item 16 and the approved minutes here) and I raised concerns that there had been no public consultation so far, and that the option of increasing recycling without reducing bin collection frequency had not been fully studied. Further information will be disseminated from SWP in future. Questions and answers can be found on the the dedicated website for Recycle More page here.

Icy roads cut off villages

In January I complained to Somerset County Council that icy roads were being untreated in Beckington and Rode, leading to dangerous road conditions and to bus operators cancelling buses. This made the Frome Standard here. Somerset County Council treats a primary network of 1412 km as a precaution when temperatures are predicted to drop below freezing. They will currently only treat additional routes including the bus route through Beckington and Rode when snow has settled for days. Grit bins are available and the parish councils and volunteers can treat small stretches of road. However, long stretches need SCC or an alternative contractor to grit. Why can’t SCC add 5km of roads to its 1412km network where this is a priority for parish councils and village residents? Why can’t SCC at least identify the additional cost this would incur, and do a deal with the parishes to pay for it to ensure they are not cut off. If elected to county council in May I can pursue this further.

Green cabinets

After complaints from a local resident (thanks Jason) I reported graffiti and flyposting on the green telecomms cabinets along Stonebridge Drive and Brunel Way and asked the telecomms companies to clean them up. These are not councils’ responsibility – some are owned by BT Openreach – you can report these on 0800 0232023. The rest are Virgin Media – phone 0330 3330444. Please do report any that you see in need of a clean up, as there are rather alot of them.

Planning policy update

Frome’s Neighbourhood Plan, approved in the referendum in November (see here) has been officially ‘made’ by Mendip District Council and is officially part of the Development Plan for our town. This gives the policies in it more weight when Mendip make planning decisions. The Neighbourhood Plan hopes to protect the town’s current employment sites for jobs, and increase the quality of housing in Frome – see here for more info and here for previous news.

Mendip District Council’s Local Plan part 2, which will allocate and include policies for housing and economic development sites, and the protection of open space areas, has been further delayed, largely due to new data on housing need that the council need to take account of. The initial consultation on this document identified potential two development sites at Packsaddle Way, which I know many residents have objected to and I have raised concerns about.   Now the Government’s White Paper on Housing proposes to change the method councils need to use to calculate housing demand again.  People have raised concerns about the recent increases in house prices in Frome and the ability of local people to afford homes here, and further delays in establishing the suitable development sites may not help.

Action on climate change

Mendip DC has also agreed to form a working group to take action on Climate Change, following a report being prepared in March of its work on home energy efficiency, after I asked at full council in December (see page 10). I hope to persuade the council to join other councils in the ‘Climate Local’ campaign. I have also asked MDC’s officers to progress Frome Town Council’s proposal to improve home energy conservation and keep people warm and healthy by targeting improvements to home heating for people with respiratory or other illnesses. Lib Dem leader Tim Farron has also called for a green energy revolution in a recent speech.

Repairs at Frome Sports & Fitness

The showers and temperature controls have been fixed at Frome Leisure Centre – please see here for more. I will be taking up sports clubs’ complaints about the high temperature in the sports hall with Mendip and Fusion.

Frome Town Council news

Recent news from FTC includes the move into the new Frome Town Hall, the launch of a Volunteer Frome database, a new Crowdfund Frome scheme, participatory budgeting (‘let the people decide’ (see above)), the Frome Co-Wheels car share scheme, a self-build register, Frome Community Cars, Parkrun (see above), energy efficiency (a thermal imaging camera is available), the Community Fridge, the Recycle More scheme (see above), and Boyle Cross appeal decision. Agendas and minutes of FTC Meetings can be found here.

Community groups, sports clubs and other organisations across Frome are all invited to attend an information session on “Volunteer Frome: What’s in it for you, how to sign up to the database and what the project can offer in terms of increasing the number of people able to volunteer and support your projects” at the Assembly Rooms at 2pm and 5pm on 14th March – see here for details.

The latest update from Frome’s Town Clerk, including on the Community Cars, Car Share, the Discuss & Do session on Crowdfunding (Tuesday 28th, 6pm), Frome Business Breakfast on micro-enterprises (7th March), governance training for Trustees, and update on open spaces, can be seen here.

The next Frome Town Council meeting is on Wednesday 8th March – see here http://www.frometowncouncil.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Summons-and-agenda-Council-8-March.pdf for the agenda – which will discuss progress on traffic calming and improvements to the town centre and work on the redevelopment of Saxonvale.

Mendip District Council news

News from MDC recently includes:

  • the launch of the Shape Mendip Lottery (which is open for local community organisations to apply to receive funding from – if you are a good cause please see how to sign up here – there are 21 organisations listed so far);
  • helping business Grow with Digital;
  • Council tax (see above);
  • support for the Changing Places campaign;
  • the Mendip Business Awards
  • In December, Council agreed that Councillor Mike Rideout (also College ward) can be excused from duties for a further 6 months to allow him to recover from illness. I remain the point of contact for Mike’s ward duties.

Council Tax update

The Government is cutting Mendip District Council’s Revenue Support Grant so it completely disappears by 2019/20. Closer working arrangements with other local authorities have continued to save money and avoided cuts to services. Mendip District Council has decided to raise council tax by 1.99%. The rise means that the annual council tax charge for a Band D property will rise to £146.61 for the year – an increase of less than 6p per week. Council also approved the continuation of the additional Council Tax Precept equivalent to 1.25% of Mendip’s 2015/16 Council Tax charge for the Somerset Rivers Authority. This represents an annual charge of £1.84 for a Band D property per year. See here for details.

Frome Town Council also increased its precept for 2017/18 in January, to increase the amount paid by a Band D household by £5 to £143.65 per year (equivalent to just under 10p a week), although most households will pay less.  This is to deliver the proposed work programme and budget approved in December – see here.

Somerset County Council has also increased Council Tax by 3.99% (including a 2% rise to pay for adult social care after falls in government funding) but also proposes to cut services by £18.3 million – see news here. Somerset Lib Dems’ are calling for information on which services will be affected, as it is not yet clear. More on that next time.

Action on Council Tax bailiffs

Mendip’s Cabinet member for Finance was invited to speak to Parliament in November about the improvements made to how the Council collects Council Tax, including as a result of the motion I took to Mendip in October 2015 (and the subsequent review) which called for the council to reduce and improve its use of bailiffs and to better support people in financial distress. The improvements we made were well received by MPs. Thanks go to the Mendip Community Credit Union for raising the issue with me in the first place. An update has been provided by the council after I asked at full council in December (see pages 8-9). Please see here for Mendip’s Council Tax Arrears Update report, and let me know if you know of any problems in this area.

Community Funding

In addition to the Shape Mendip Lottery, and Frome Crowdfund scheme, Mendip’s latest Parish Bulletin (see here) includes news on Community Funding with 2 new schemes – a new fund to help charities and local organisations increase their social impact, and the ‘Growing a Greener Britain’ funding programme offering grants up to £1,000 for constituted community groups to help transform green spaces.

Brexit campaign

On Brexit, the Liberal Democrats are campaigning for Britain to remain close to the EU, to remain a member of the Single Market, to allow EU nationals resident in the UK a right to stay, and  we are also calling for the government to give the British people a vote on the final deal that they negotiate with Europe. “In the referendum last year the British people voted for departure from the EU, but not for a destination,… The terms of Brexit will have a huge impact on jobs, security and the opportunity to travel and live abroad, and the Tory Brexit government should therefore be made to put their deal to the British people before it is finalised”. Please see here for more. My previous thoughts (including calling for a referendum on the Brexit deal) are here. To find out more about the Lib Dems visit www.libdems.org.uk and more news can be found here. Please let me know yours!

Why I am standing for Somerset County Council in May – and can you help?

Local elections are being held on 4th May to elect a new Somerset County Council. I am standing for the County Council division of Frome North, which includes College ward as well Innox town ward (Park Hill Drive and Welshmill areas), and the villages of Norton St Philip, Farleigh Hungerford, Rode, Beckington, Rudge and Lower Rudge, Berkley, Berkley Marsh, Woolverton, Tellisford, Lullington and Laverton, Oldford, and Standerwick. At previous elections people elected Sam Phripp (Lib Dem) in 2013 and Linda Oliver (Conservative) in the byelection in 2014. I have tried to make a difference as your councillor in Frome and at Mendip, and want to make a difference at Somerset too, including on issues such as highways, public transport, minerals planning, and services affecting children, young people, and people who need adult social care or support with disabilities or homelessness. Please let me know if you can help by delivering (or helping write) leaflets, keeping me up to date with local issues you are aware of, putting a poster in your window or in your garden, helping with canvassing or admin tasks, or simply making a cup of tea and providing moral support. We have no big business or union backers so rely on our members and supporters.  To donate to our local campaign please visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/somerton-frome-lib-dems-council-elections-appeal.

Thank you for reading,
Adam

Adam Boyden
Mendip District Councillor for Frome College ward (Liberal Democrat) www.adamboyden.mycouncillor.org.uk

I am sending you this email as you are on my contacts list and an email newsletter is a good way of keeping residents informed about local council–related news and my work as a local councillor. You can opt out and ‘unsubscribe’ from this email from any time, please just reply to this email to let me know. Thanks.

Useful Contacts:

Frome Town Council – 01373 465757, http://www.frometowncouncil.gov.uk/news/

Mendip District Council – 0300 303 8588, http://www.mendip.gov.uk/resident

Somerset County Council – 0300 123 2224, https://somersetnewsroom.com/

Lib Dem news: http://www.libdems.org.uk/news

 

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