by adamboyden on 2 March, 2018
I am one of the councillors for Frome College ward on Mendip District Council, and want to keep you up to date on local issues:
Well the ‘beast from the east’ certainly arrived in Frome. Please see here the weather warning today, for ice. Please everybody take care and stay safe and avoid unnecessary travel, and have fun. Please see Mendip’s cold weather news pages here, and Somerset County Council’s severe weather page here, for some useful information. Litter picks are being cancelled. Frome’s Saturday Market is cancelled (not the Frome Independent on Sunday). Frome Library and Frome Sports & Fitness should both be open. Please let me know if there are any problems I can help with.
Help for rough sleepers
Emergency accommodation for rough sleepers has been arranged – please see here. if you see anyone in need please call 01749 677097 asap. If you are ever concerned that someone is rough sleeping and want the person to get help, please call 0300 500 0914, or visit the Street Link website. This triggers a referral to Mendip District Council who will co-ordinate a visit from the local outreach team.
Litter picks postponed
The litter picks originally planned for this weekend (including for Stonebridge on Saturday) have been postponed due to the weather – please see Frome Town Council’s update here. Stonebridge’s will be held on Saturday 10th March, so please come along with stout footwear and gloves at 10.30am outside Tesco/Lloyds on Forest Road – please see here for details.
Frome GP appointments system – survey results:
In November, Frome Medical Practice changed their GP appointment system. After we heard some concerns, I and Drew Gardner launched a survey to ask people if they were satisfied or not and why. We had over 250 responses online and several in writing. Please see here for the results and to download the draft report. Thank you to everyone who has contributed their experiences to this survey. Frome FM’s Doc Miller’s Medical Hour radio programme on 22nd February focused on the issues raised by the survey and Dr Miller answered some of the questions we raised – you can hear the programme here. A full response from the Practice is awaited, and we will update the report when it is received. We will be raising the issues of NHS funding not keeping up with demand, and the national and local GP shortage, with our MP in person in March.
Can Frome’s compassionate community save the NHS?
A groundbreaking initiative pioneered by Frome Medical Practice, and supported by Frome Town Council and volunteers, has reduce loneliness, reduced emergency hospital admissions, and saved the NHS money. The ‘Compassionate Frome’ and Health Connections Mendip initiative has been recently highlighted in The Guardian and the Resurgence & Ecologist journal. It aims to tackle loneliness and isolation in patients by offering a free health and wellbeing support to patients, where Health Connectors connect people to free and low-cost local services, such as exercise classes and support groups. This has been led by the Practice with the support of Frome Town Council (see here) and local volunteers including Active and In Touch. To get connected to Health Connections please see here. This should be national policy. See here for local news on this. National TV news also covered it this week.
Mendip Local Plan Part 2 consultation:
The public consultation on Mendip District Council’s ‘Pre-Submission’ Local Plan Part 2 ended on 12th February. Some 300 responses have been added to the council’s website and there are more to be added. There are many objections from residents and other councillors to policy FR6 and the allocation of site FRO061 at Innox Hill/ Packsaddle Way for 100 houses. Please see the next article for news of a planning application. The responses also reveal Lilleys Cider’s plans for two new houses and a new cidery, café and farm shop with the and apple and pear orchards they are planting there (see here for the Frome Times article). I have a meeting shortly to discuss. Several responses have been submitted objecting to the proposed allocation of the old Showfield, cricket club pavilion/office, car park and Collegians pitch as a Local Green Space. Please see here for details.
Selwood Garden Village
It remains to be seen whether the Local Plan timetable will be affected by any reconsideration of housing allocations for Frome, in light of the emerging proposals by developers (with NVB Architects) for 2,000 homes on land south of Frome right up to the A361 bypass (see here for the Somerset Live / Frome Standard report). Local councillors have a briefing on this next week.
NEW – Planning application submitted for 96 homes at Packsaddle Way:
An outline planning application has been submitted for 96 houses at Innox Hill / Packsaddle Way on the site identified in policy FR6 of the Local Plan above, see reference 2018/0256/OTA: Outline application with all matters reserved save for access, for a residential scheme of 96 mixed tenure dwellings, market & affordable, custom market & affordable, co-housing and live work dwellings with work units. – Land At Packsaddle Way, Frome, Somerset
The application documents are found here, including a site layout, and assessments of planning, design and access, transport, flood risk, landscape, wildlife habitats, noise, air quality, and crime. Consultation runs until 28th March, and MDC need to determine the application by 22nd May. There is a lot to read through in a short space of time. The site is in Market ward, but the effects on the Packsaddle area and residents are my concern. I will be in touch with the Packsaddle Community Group, but please let me know if you can help review these documents. I reported on the Local Plan allocation proposal here, and the previous planning application for 107 houses here. More on this next week!
Grange Mast mast appeal dismissed:
A Planning Inspector has dismissed Vodafone’s appeal against Mendip District Council’s refusal of permission to construct a mobile phone mast at the corner of Grange Road and Bath Road, due to the impact on the character and appearance of the area, and because ‘suitable alternative means of providing coverage have not been fully explored and that there remains a possibility that the use of alternative, less harmful locations may merit further discussion’. The refusal has therefore been upheld. Vodafone will now need to explore alternative sites. The campaign by many residents against the proposals has been successful. Please see here for the decision webpages to download the Inspector’s report. Please see here for previous news.
Frome Town Council byelection:
Liberal Democrat candidate Drew Gardner is standing in the byelection for the adjacent Frome Town Council’s Market ward (which covers the town centre) on 15th March (see here). This was triggered by the resignation of councillor Tim O’Connor who moved to Shepton Mallet. Please see candidate statements here, and Drew’s Facebook page here. Drew says: “I’m standing for Frome Town Council because I love Frome! The Town Council has made some really positive improvements to the town and i want to be part of making the difference to the daily lives of the people of Frome. What can i contribute? Well stacks of enthusiasm, energy and a can do approach but most importantly i can lend my communication skills to perhaps help better engage with the people of Frome to make sure their voices are heard. A little about me? Well I am just on the wrong side of 50 married with two children, the youngest one goes to school in Frome. I run my own small production company and have a background in journalism and photography working with some of the biggest names for longer than I care to remember. I have been involved in multiple campaigns nationally and internationally to ensure ordinary people’s voices are heard by power-this is something I intend to continue. My life is very much rooted in the town, I live and work in the town with my office of work in King Street so I will be walking through the ward most days and I will always be available to talk about any issue big or small. Please consider supporting me on March 15th. With Thanks and best wishes, Drew Gardner” If you would like to help Drew, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s Your Big Idea?
Have you got a big, bold, radical idea that will tackle the problems facing Britain today – and empower citizens whilst you do it? Then the Ashdown Prize is for you! Plus, your idea might just win you £500 and become Lib Dem party policy! Please see here to find out more and enter: https://www.libdems.org.uk/2018-ashdown-prize-radical-thought
Frome Sports update:
I recently had a meeting with Fusion’s new General Manager for Frome Sports & Leisure Centre. I understand that the swimming pool boiler is being replaced, and the floodlights on the astroturf have been repaired. Adam will continue to host the Customer Forum at the Centre – please see posters on site for updates. This followed Frome Town Council’s Frome Sports Forum in February, which highlighted issues with sports facilities in the town, and after January’s Mendip Cabinet meeting had a presentation from Fusion on an annual report and future plans. Fusion are considering how best to use the room upstairs, and also plan to put on more holiday activities for children. Please do get in touch with Adam at Adam.Spencer@fusion-lifestyle.com if you have any ideas or issues.
Mendip are at last planning to start to prepare a play and sports strategy in the spring – I hope to help MDC effectively involve sporty people in Frome and use this to start to invest in our facilities. Having said that,…
Selwood Academy wins funding for new sports pitch:
Congratulations go to Selwood Academy which has just been awarded nearly £500,000 from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund towards a new 3G artificial all weather pitch. Planning permission was granted by Mendip last year (see news from 2015 on the planning application). The school worked with the Football Foundation and the Somerset FA, as well as local football clubs in Frome. Please see here for details.
Mendip’s Cabinet meeting on 12th March in Shepton Mallet (see here) will discuss economic development, corporate performance, and Somerset’s homelessness strategy.
Frome Town Council meets at 7pm on Wednesday 7th March at the Town Hall. On the agenda (see here) are: a discussion about recent developments at the Cheese & Grain and progress on the music studio; council will decide on the three projects for the town vote as part of the People’s Budget initiative; a report on economic development strategy and the Town Council’s work; and to consider and allocate Community Grants to local groups.
Community orchard at the Old Showfield:
FTC’s People’s Budget initiative proposes three projects: a dog poo-powered street light, a waterslide event, and a Community Orchard at the Old Showfield. This is described as: ‘Town Orchard: This will be sited on the Old Showfield and comprise a range of local varieties of fruit trees. The location of the orchard will be agreed with local people. An orchard will help relieve some of the drainage issues on the site, improve the local landscape of the Old Showfield and enhance biodiversity. The orchard will be planted by local conservation volunteer groups and the community will be encouraged to reinvigorate the practice of scrumping.’ You will get a chance to vote for the orchard in April!
Also, Frome Town Council’s Environment Manager gave a brief update on works at the Old Showfield at the Council Matters meeting on 21st Feb, and there was also an update on the Millenium Green near Rodden Meadow, and on the People’s Budget process – see here for news, and here for the reports. I am seeking another meeting with FTC soon to discuss progress and future improvements for the playground, paths Parkrun, and tree planting.
Mendip Lib Dems highlight affordable housing and empty homes:
Mendip Lib Dems have questioned Mendip District Council on the effectiveness of council policy on affordable housing. A question I submitted at Full Council in February asked the council: “What are the factors contributing to the sharp fall in the provision and proportion of affordable housing being built in the district since 2014/15? (please see attached data chart summarised from MDC’s Development Monitoring tables for housing and affordable housing – http://www.mendip.gov.uk/housinglandsupply). Is this trend continuing in 2017/18? How has the current Government’s policy of no longer requiring developments of less than 10 dwellings to provide or contribute towards affordable housing affected provision? What was the Government response to Council lobbying for any changes to policy? How have developers’ viability assessments been used to reduce affordable housing requirements? What is the Council doing to encourage the development of affordable / social housing in line with adopted Local Plan policy?”
The (Conservative) Cabinet member for Planning, Growth and Housing denied the recent downward trend in provision was likely to continue, admitted that Government policy has not helped, and the Government have not responded to the Council’s call to change policy on smaller developments, but stated that the council employed consultants to review whether developers’ viability assessments were objective. A cross party motion will be submitted in May to make developers’ viability assessments much more transparent.
Cllr Roy MacKenzie (Lib Dem, Wells St Thomas) raised the problem of the 131 empty homes in the district, and proposed a motion which stated, ‘This council recognises the many reasons for delay in getting empty homes back into use, for the benefit of those seeking a place to live, and for the immediate neighbours. Accordingly we welcome the Chancellor’s proposal in the Autumn Budget that we should have the ability to increase the Council Tax on properties that have been empty for two years or more from 50% to 100% (i.e. a 100% increase)’. The motion was passed unanimously.
Somerset Library Consultation proposals for Frome
Somerset County Council is consulting on the future of its libraries (please see here). The proposals for Frome Library are found here – no changes are proposed to the services offered, and additional outreach services are proposed where necessary. This is good news.
Council Tax increases agreed:
Government cuts to local councils’ Revenue Support Grants, and increasing demand for services, have led Mendip and Somerset councils to increase council tax this year. Mendip District Council’s share of the annual council tax bill will increase by £5 – please see news here from Mendip and details in item 11 here. Frome Town Council also agreed a 59p increase per household per month for an average band D property, as explained here. In December Mendip raised the borrowing limit from £40m to £80-100m to invest in the property market, in order to plug part of the £5m gap left by a reduction in Government support grant. I and other councillors asked that funds be invested in local businesses and green projects, to boost the local economy, affordable housing and reduce carbon emissions, but Cabinet members stated that making a profit was the priority (see item 9 here).
Mendip decides on continued closure of Berkley Lane:
Mendip District Council’s Cabinet meeting in February agreed to continue the road closure at Berkley Lane (just to the east of Gypsy Lane) for another 3 years in order to tackle flytipping. Please see here for details of the proposals.
Gypsy Lane litter complaints:
Before the snow, local residents and I have complained to Mendip District Council that the litter on Gypsy Lane has been building up and contractors do not appear to be clearing as much. This may be due to a local resident who litter picked the lane recently moving away! MDC have told contractors to clear the area weekly as they are contracted to do. If anyone would like to litter pick the area and want a grabber or other equipment, please let me know.
Frome’s Changing Places to open soon:
After funding was secured in October to provide a fully accessible Changing Places facility for severely disabled people in Frome town centre (see here), work to install the facility is nearly finished. An opening event is now being planned. Please contact me for more details or to get involved.
Proposed tree felling at Bath Road:
The developer of the new houses under construction at the former Mendip Lodge Hotel site at the top of Bath Road proposes to fell two trees, including the large poplar, which are protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). I and Frome Town Council have objected to TPO application 2017/3309/TPO as the poplar is a significant landscape feature, and located in a locally valued open space. Further information has been submitted, but the Council is likely to refuse the application. Please see the application details here. Please email email@example.com quoting the above application number if you still wish to object or respond.
Pedestrian island proposed at Bath Road:
The developer of the 7 new houses under construction at the old Mendip Lodge Hotel on Bath Road is submitting revised plans for a pedestrian island across Bath Road, in response to Somerset Highways concerns. Details are required to satisfy a planning condition requirement for a ‘pedestrian crossing’ before the houses are occupied. Last June I met the developer’s agent and their transport consultant, and Mendip’s case office at the time, and we agreed a way forward – please see here. The previous proposals have been withdrawn, and new details will be submitted under a new application in due course. Please let me know if you would like to see the drawings.
Packsaddle roads resurfacing:
I understand that the promised resurfacing of Packsaddle Way, Pedlars Grove, Farmhouse Drive and Chapmans Close, is now taking place but is held up by the winter weather. For further information please contact Somerset County Council on 0300 123 2224.
Frome Town Council will soon take over long term leases from Mendip for Packsaddle park and Chapmans Close games court – we are in the ‘final straight’. I instigated the process in 2015 (against officer recommendation to sell for housing) so that these open spaces can be improved for the local community. When the Town Council has a lease, they will organise a public vote so you will decide how to improve your open spaces. I am seeking an update on this later this week.
It has been announced that the landowners of the derelict factories site at Saxonvale are putting the site on the market, and have tidied up the site and are making more of an effort to keep it secure. This is partly due to action by Mendip and Frome Town Councils. Please see here and here for news.
See below for news from:
Please let me know if there is anything that needs doing.
Thanks for reading,
Liberal Democrat, Mendip District Councillor for Frome College ward
07809 284817, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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