by adamboyden on 21 May, 2018
I am one of the councillors for Frome College ward on Mendip District Council, and want to keep you up to date, please see below for my latest news on local issues:
As the law is changing, if you have not already done so, and you would like to keep receiving my email news you need to let me know by replying to me to say ‘Yes please continue to contact me’ – as under new legislation I will not be able to email anyone after 25th May unless they have opted in to receive my emails. Thanks.
Opposition to Mendip’s Sunday parking charges in Frome
I and other Lib Dems and Frome councillors are united in opposition to Mendip District Council’s proposed imposition of Sunday car parking charges, and asked Cabinet to reject or defer the charges. Mendip’s Cabinet decided on this, as well as increases in car park charges, at a meeting on Monday 21st May. Please see here for a report on the decision and the concessions won, and see here for further details. Frome Town Council’s petition has over 5800 signatures (see here).
Frome Town Council is holding a public meeting on Car Parking in Frome on Monday 4th June – residents and businesses are invited to discuss parking and road safety issues, to get an overview of the issues so that the Town Council can make recommendations to lobby Mendip and Somerset councils as necessary (see here). So if you are having parking problems please go along and let me know any issues you have.
Somerset County Council calls for conversation on Unitary Council
On 2nd May, Somerset County Council’s Conservative leadership surprised the county’s 5 district councils by announcing it was starting a conversation about the future of local government in Somerset, including the option of replacing all the county and 5 district councils with one or more unitary authorities. What does this mean? Please see here for details. Please let me know what you think.
Changing Places puts Frome on the map
After funding was secured last year to provide a fully accessible Changing Places facility for severely disabled people in Frome town centre (see here), work to install the facility culminated in a wonderful opening ceremony on Saturday 24th March. This is the first Changing Places toilet facility in the district, at the main Cattle Market car park toilet block. Alison Douthwaite and her daughter Ettie cut the ribbon with the Mayor of Frome, the leader of Mendip, Cllr Phil Ham, and a large crowd of campaigners, councillors and other supporters. Frome is now on the national Changing Places map (see here) and will now be an attractive accessible destination. With Mendip’s backing, there will also be Changing Places facilities in Wells and hopefully Street and Glastonbury later this year. This means that people with profound and multiple disabilities who need a toilet with more space and the right equipment, including a height adjustable changing bench and a hoist, now have somewhere to go in town. People just need a Radar key to use it, or can borrow one from the library, Black Swan and Cheese & Grain. That this facility now exists is down to the determination of Alison Douthwaite, and we worked with a long list of others to make this happen – please see here for details.
Frome GP appointments system reviewed
Frome Medical Practice have announced some improvements to their GP appointment system, after I and Drew Gardner met the Practice and passed a report of our survey highlighting a range of problems people were having with the system introduced last November. Please see here for details.
Thank you to everyone who contributed their experiences to this survey – the point of it was to find out what people were experiencing and feed that back to the Practice so they could take notice and work to improve access. I hope it will do just that.
Things happening at the Old Showfield
There is a lot planned for the Old Showfield this year. The final repairs to the lower part of the childrens playground at the Old Showfield are at last taking place. Frome Town Council are encouraging people to use the Outdoor Gym at the Old Showfield, and are running introduction sessions from 4th June on Mondays to help people feel confident using the equipment. Further resurfacing of footpaths is planned, and a ‘Parkrun’ is being organised. A Community Orchard will be planted in the autumn or next spring. Sections of a fallen Copper Beech tree will be brought to the play area in early June, shaped into playable features. There is also a Frome Fireworks display to look forward to in November. One local resident is also asking if people want the grass cut shorter. Please see here for more info on all this. All this is happening since Frome Town Council took over the Old Showfield a few years ago which I was pleased to help make happen.
The postponed Stonebridge litter pick took place on Saturday 10th March. We had about 10 people, and cleared a big load of litter from the stream and footpaths around Forest Road and the Showfield, and some of Gypsy Lane. Thank you to everyone who came and made the area a bit cleaner. Friends of the River Frome organise monthly litter picks in the river in town, please see here how to join in.
I have had a few reports from people of litter being a problem on the stretch of Gypsy Lane between Bath Road and Beaconsfield Way, which I have reported to Mendip several times. Manure has been dumped at the corner of the Coalway Lane footpath at Gypsy Lane again in the same place as last year, and flytipping has appeared once again to the east outside Frome along Gypsy Lane/ Berkley Lane Dark Lane. All these have been reported to Mendip’s Neighbourhood Services and Enforcement teams, so I hope to see an improvement.
Graffiti has also been sprayed on several local walls, and I am trying to get Mendip to act and contact landowners. Their current policy is that Mendip will only intervene and remove ‘offensive’ graffiti under a 1998 planning regulation. Please let me know what else needs doing.
Planning application for 96 homes at Packsaddle Way
There have been over 130 public comments, including 107 objections and 28 in support, on the outline planning application for 96 houses at Innox Hill / Packsaddle Way on the site identified in policy FR6 of the Local Plan above (ref 2018/0256/OTA). Details of the proposals and my objection can be found here. Official objections have been submitted the Mendip council’s Environmental Protection team, Frome Town Council, and Wessex Water. I and cllr Des Harris (Frome Market ward) await the Council officer’s response on when the application will be determined shortly. I understand some further information had been requested. I reported on the Local Plan allocation proposal here, and the previous planning application for 107 houses here.
Revised plans for pedestrian island for Bath Road
The developer of the 7 new houses under construction at the old Mendip Lodge Hotel on Bath Road has just resubmitted revised plans for a pedestrian island across Bath Road, to respond to Somerset Highways’ comments on the previous version. 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 new application and details can be viewed here. Please let me know any comments you have, and / or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org quoting the planning reference number 2018/1113/APP (Application for the approval of details reserverd by conditions 7 (estate roads) and 8 (off-site crossing) of planning permission 2018/0092/VRC | Former Mendip Lodge Hotel Bath Road Frome BA11 2HP).
Council meetings update
Mendip’s Cabinet meeting on Monday 21st May (see here) will discuss car park pricing (see above) as well as policies on corporate and planning enforcement, environmental crime and anti-social behaviour, corporate strategy, transformation, budget, performance management, and investigatory powers.
Frome Town Council’s Annual Council Meeting will be at 7pm at the Town Hall on Wednesday 23rd March and will decide on the next Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Frome, and a vision for the future development of Frome (see here)
A briefing is being held this week for district councillors to update us on Mendip’s plans for the Boxworks development (shipping containers for startup businesses) originally proposed next to the Cheese & Grain, which I and many others raised concerns about.
A meeting of the three tiers of councillors in Frome – Town, District and County – is being held on 30th May, to discuss cross-council issues.
I will be attending a Mendip DC Climate Change Working Group meeting on 4th June, to progress the council’s plans to reduce emissions in line with their membership of the LGA Climate Local group. The working group was created after I asked a formal question on the issue at Full Council in December 2016, so this has taken a long time.
Frome Town Council’s public meeting on Car Parking in Frome is on Monday 4th June at 7-9pm at the Town Hall (see above and here).
Reporting back from Mendip Full Council, 14th May
There are a few things to report back on from Mendip DC’s Full Council meeting of 14th May:
After my question at February’s full council on the effectiveness of council policy on affordable housing (see the last newsletter (16th item), reported under item 16 in the draft minutes here), a motion was submitted by cllrs Des Harris (Frome Market ward, Green Party), seconded by Damon Hooton (Frome Park, Lib Dem) to make the process for reporting housing developers’ viability assessments (whereby they may seek to reduce the % contributions of affordable housing below Council policy) much more transparent. It was agreed that the Council should be enabled to hold developers fully to account for the number of affordable homes they provide, and that the current viability reporting process needs a significant overhaul to make it fit for purpose and democratically accountable. As a result the Council resolved: ‘In the case of schemes which do not comply with the Council’s objectives on affordable homes: to instruct planning officers to make all information (including financial) used in the viability process, whether it arises from a council appointed surveyor or a third party, available to the Planning Board and ward member/s in good time before a planning application is to be considered.’
I also submitted a motion, seconded by Ros Wyke (Lib Dem group leader), to make all council proposals that are considered likely to have significant implications for the local economy, local communities or the environment, subject to a proportionate Impact Assessment and a Communications Plan (which would include appropriate consultation) before decisions could be made. This is to improve policy development and make major decisions more informed and more transparent. There was a bit of a ‘heated debate’ with some members of the (Conservative) Cabinet who objected vociferously to their decisions being scrutinised or assessed any further. Others were more considered however, and saw the point, and it was eventually agreed that the proposal would be discussed at an officer/member working group which will hopefully agree details of an improved policy.
The new Chair of the Council is cllr Dick Skidmore (Con, Postlebury), and the new Vice Chair is cllr Bryan Beha, Lib Dem councillor for Street South.
There was a brief discussion on our thoughts on the Unitary Council conversation (see above). I asked for the feasible options, and the way the options will be assessed and judged, to be set out as soon as possible so that everyone can join in the conversation.
On the buses
The First 267 bus service between Bath & Frome was replaced by a new D2 ‘Discovery’ service at the end of April, with a new fleet of buses with wifi, phone charging points and the ability to pay by mobile phone. During the day (Monday to Saturday) the D2 runs half hourly as opposed to the previous hourly 267 service.
The D2 evening and Sunday services will be similar to the previous 267 – this is important as the First 267 services were under threat from budget cuts at B&NES Council but the FAVBUG group led a campaign to save it with contributions from Somerset, B&NES, Frome and other parish councils, which I helped with (see here) and a campaign to increase bus passenger numbers, to ‘use it or lose it’, including printing bus timetables for village residents, which seems to have worked.
The D2 route is changed also. Although the frequency of daytime buses has doubled, alternate services are routed through either Stonebridge or Critchill estates, so for residents there, there is still an hourly service. Please let me know if you are having problems with this as a result, and I will contact First.
The D2 bus also no longer stops at Frome Community Hospital – the nearest stops are now Berkley Road or Fromefield, a short walk, and the Frome Minibus 30 service stops outside the health park on the main road. I have raised this with Frome Medical Practice, Frome Community Hospital and Frome Town Council. Anyone needing transport to hospital or the health centre is advised to call Frome Community Cars, now run by Mendip Community Transport – lifts can be booked directly on 01749 880140 (see here).
Frome Town Council is promoting a potential new weekday bus service to the Commerce Park from Frome town centre and the Railway Station, and is asking Commerce Park businesses to sponsor the service to get it off the ground. This is after a survey of businesses there found there was a demand for a bus from these locations. There are bus stops but no service there as yet, so the idea has been talked about for some time and it is good to see progress.
Fair Housing meeting
I also attended the recent Fair Housing for Frome meeting on 30th April (see here), and hope to work with the group and others at Mendip, and the Town Council, on a range of issues. One issue we hope to progress is the provision of an emergency winter cold weather night shelter for homeless people in Frome, which I hope to help arrange a meeting for in June.
Mendip Local Plan Part 2 consultation
The public consultation on Mendip District Council’s ‘Pre-Submission’ Local Plan Part 2 ended on 12th February. There are now hundreds of responses on the council’s website. Please see here for details.
Fromefield post box
I have asked the Post Office and Royal Mail to reopen or relocate the post box at Fromefield outside the old Post Office which closed last year. They have responded that, it will not be reopened there due to the closure of the Post Office, that a search is still on for new people to run a post office in this area, and that Royal Mail may be able to relocate it after removing it from its current location. I will ‘keep you posted’.
I understand that a resident of the ward, the former Supergrass drummer, musician Danny Goffey, is holding a party, ‘Goffstonbury festival’ for about 300 invited guests at the end of June, at the edge of this part of Frome, as explained here – http://www.clashmusic.com/news/danny-goffey-launches-new-album-alongside-his-own-festival. I was contacted by some residents who are concerned about the potential for noise late at night, guest parking, etc. I have been in touch with Mendip’s Licensing team, who are awaiting details this week of how the organisers propose to manage and minimise disturbance from guests’ cars/ parking, the sale of alcohol, and noise late at night, which the Police would be consulted on. It is likely the event will require a Temporary Event Notice. I hope it will be Alright. If there are outstanding issues arising from the event plans, I hope to help arrange a meeting with the organisers and residents.
Frome Town Council await the lease documents so they can soon take over long term leases from Mendip DC for Packsaddle park and Chapmans Close games court. This is taking a long time, as I instigated the process in 2015 (and got MDC to agree, against an officer recommendation to sell the park for housing) so that these open spaces can be improved for the community. When the Town Council has a lease, they will organise a public vote so you will decide how to improve your open spaces.
Frome Sports & Fitness Centre Customer Forum
Frome Sports & Fitness Centre has a customer forum every last Wednesday of the month at 6.30-7.30pm upstairs in the social area. The next is Wednesday 30th May. Please see the notice board in the centre for any changes and notes from the last meeting. Issues addressed recently include: replacing the swimming pool boiler and improving the pool pump system, an improved class timetable, and fixing the ATP pitch floodlights. Issues also raised at the last meeting include sports hall ventilation, the need for a baby changing facility upstairs, and more.
I hope to attend the Mendip DC Leisure Strategy Board meeting in late June, which will review Fusion’s annual report on its lease for and management of the district’s leisure centres. I also understand that Fusion will be proposing some price rises shortly. If you have any issues for me to raise there please let me know.
Other Council news:
Please let me know if there is anything that needs doing.
Thanks for reading,
Adam Boyden, Mendip District Councillor for Frome College ward (Liberal Democrat)
07809 284817, email email@example.com
GDPR – As the law is changing, if you have not already done so, and you would like to keep receiving my email news you need to let me know by replying to me to say ‘Yes please continue to contact me’ – as under new legislation I will not be able to email anyone after 25th May unless they have opted in to receive my emails. Thanks.2 Comments