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April newsletter

by adamboyden on 21 April, 2021

Covid-19 update – lockdown easing:

The Government is now easing the national restrictions – please see here. People are allowed to meet outside, with one other household or up to six in private gardens. The stay at home rule has ended but the government urged people to stay local. Outdoor sport facilities have reopened, including golf courses and tennis courts, and formally organised outdoor sports restarted. All shops are allowed to open, along with close-contact services like hairdressers and beauty salons (including in people’s homes). Restaurants and pubs are allowed to serve food and alcohol outdoors. Gyms can reopen, as can theme parks, libraries and community centres. Members of the same household can also take a holiday in the UK in self-contained accommodation.

The full roadmap of lockdown easing can be found here. Mendip’s markets are now fully open with a wider range of goods (see here).

The latest Covid-19 updates for Somerset are here. In the week up to 17 April, approximately 70,302 tests were carried out across the county and there have been 71 new confirmed cases. Somerset’s rate is now equal the South West rate of 12.6 per 100,000.

Support is available here, and at the end of a phone – the Somerset-wide Coronavirus Helpline 0300 790 6275 and Citizens Advice’ Somerset Advice Line 0808 278 7842.

Over 45 year olds can book a vaccination:

Anyone over 45, or who is clinically vulnerable, or has a learning disability, or is an eligible frontline health or social care worker, or is a carer, can now book your vaccination against Covid-19 online – please see here – or by calling 119. Frome Medical Practice have also issued an update about its vaccination rollout here.

More than 30,000 local people have been contacted and invited for a Covid-19 vaccination so far by staff from Somerset’s five councils, including Mendip – see here.

Chair of Mendip District Council, councillor and vaccinator Helen Sprawson-White has her Covid vaccine, so that she can administer the vaccine to others. Helen has personally vaccinated 1,500 residents so far!

Local council reorganisation – vote due on referendum:

The Government’s official consultation on the reorganisation of local councils in Somerset has ended. The vast majority of councillors from the four districts endorsed Stronger Somerset, including because it offers more ‘local’ government and should be more locally accountable and responsive than a large single council based in Taunton, and last week Mendip endorsed a critical examination of One Somerset.

Next week the four District Councils are planning to vote to offer all local residents in Somerset a local poll (referendum) in May/June on which of the two proposals people prefer. This was delayed from last week due to a response from Secretary of State Robert Jenrick. Mendip’s virtual meeting is on Friday 30th April at 5.00pm and will be live streamed (see here).

Plans for referendum on future of local government in Somerset on hold  following angry letter from secretary of state - Somerset Live
District councils agree to negotiate unitary plans for Somerset in 'u-turn'  | Somerset County Gazette

Bath Road roadworks:

Roadworks in Bath Road are currently being undertaken by Somerset Highways to repair road drainage, and should last until Monday 26th April. Please see the road closure order here.

Have your say on traffic and road safety in Fromefield:

Local residents are worried about traffic speeds and road safety in the Fromefield area. This is a main route into the town centre for a lot of traffic, and it’s also an important space for pedestrians (particularly school and college students), a lively community and home to many of Frome’s services and sports facilities. We have set up an online survey so that we can hear from people who travel through this area. What have you experienced as a pedestrian, cyclist, driver or passenger?

You can find the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Fromefield.
It has been developed by Fromefield residents with Frome Town Councillor Lizzie Boyle, should take about 5 minutes to complete, and is anonymous. The results will be shared with Somerset County Council, the police, Mendip District Council and Frome Town Council to help them understand more about our neighbourhood. So please do have your say here.

Have your say on waste and recycling:

Somerset Waste Partnership are doing a survey to understand how people are finding the Recycle More kerbside service, which was introduced in Mendip district last October. This is to help improve the service and inform future roll-outs in other districts. Everyone in Mendip can access and take part in the survey at www.somersetwaste.gov.uk/tellus until the end of April. You can also order more or replacement waste boxes, bins and bags or report a missed collection under ‘My Waste Services’ here.

At the last MDC Scrutiny Board meeting in March, Somerset Waste Partnership and their contractors Suez were questioned about the recent recycling service disruption. The meeting is reported in the press here. Please let me know if you have had any related issues I need to report.

Have your say on how to improve bus services:

Frome has battled over many years to protect and improve bus services, especially to Bath, Trowbridge and our neighbouring villages. The Frome and Villages Bus User Group (FAVBUG) has spearheaded those campaigns and I’ve been a strong supporter. Bus funding in Somerset has been cut over the past decade, but as part of the Government’s new bus strategy, £3 billion is to be given to boost bus services. We’d like some of that to come here, but it would be really useful to hear what people’s priorities are for buses. Is it a better service to the hospital? to the station? improved evening services from Bath or Trowbridge? better links to Westbury? multi operator tickets for the Frome Flat Fare? or realtime information in the Market Place?

You can let me know by email to cllrboyden@gmail.com or better still post direct on the FAVBUG Facebook page. Bus campaigners in FAVBUG and the new Somerset Bus Partnership need to hear from you – hopefully Somerset County Council will be preparing a Bus Service Improvement Plan by the autumn, so your inputs will be vital. Please see here for more.

With FAVBUG in 2016 campaigning to save the Frome-Bath evening buses

Electric vehicle charging points are coming to Frome:

Electric vehicle (EV) charging points are due to be installed in Mendip District Council-owned car parks over the summer, including ‘rapid’ and ‘fast’ chargers, with 8 bays coming to the Cattle Market car park in Frome town centre. Your Councillor Drew Gardner has been instrumental in campaigning to ensure ‘rapid’ chargers are included in the package. Please see here for more, and here for a press article.

EV charging (Photo: Drew Gardner)

Switch, go green and save money on your energy bills:

Residents can save money and reduce their carbon footprint this spring by switching energy suppliers through the Big Community Switch in Mendip. The spring auction launches on the 6th April and residents have until the 18th May to register an interest. 100% renewable electricity tariffs are also now available at competitive market prices. For information and to register please see here.

Interested in installing solar power?

If you are interested in renewable energy for your home, but not sure where to start, Frome Town Council and Frome Renewable Energy Co-op are working with local solar installer IDDEA on the Frome Solar Streets project, which offers significantly discounted solar PV panels for Frome residents when 10 or more households sign up. There is an online information session on Tuesday 11th May 7pm – 8pm where you can find out more – see here to book a place.

Funding available for home energy efficiency:

Funding of over £1.3m has been won by Mendip and the other district councils in Somerset to improve the energy efficiency of social housing and owner-occupied homes, to target lower income households whose properties will benefit from the energy improvements. If you are an owner occupier living in a poorly insulated home and on a low income, you are invited to contact the Centre for Sustainable Energy on 0800 082 2234 to see what advice and support can be offered – please see here for more.

Interested in planting trees?

Mendip DC is working with the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership to plant over 500 trees, in support of our climate and ecological commitment – see here – and can offer guidance, finance and support to help plant trees. Please email any suggestions to neighbourhoodservices@mendip.gov.uk

Frome Town Council has planted some more trees in the Old Showfield and Rodden Meadow – see here, and is also asking where residents want to plant blossom trees – please submit your ideas here by 30th April.

“Let’s build a green and healthy future for Frome”:

Edventure Frome, Frome Medical Practice and Frome Town Council are starting a new partnership, funded by the National Lottery, to build a greener, healthier future for Frome, and are starting by asking “What can we do locally to improve our wellbeing, whilst also improving the health of the planet?”. The online launch event is on April 29th at 12.45pm, and there is an online ideas platform for anyone to ‘add new ideas and existing projects that seek to make Frome a green and healthy place to be’. Please see here for more.

Berkley Lane update:

Since the reopening of Berkley Lane to traffic in February (see previous news), several meetings have been held between Mendip District, Somerset County and Berkley Parish councils and councillors and other organisations to find a way to permanently remove the problem of flytipping in the area. I raised the idea of applying to the Government to pedestrianise the road under section 249 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, which would retain access for walkers and cyclists, and this has been well received, but other options remain and discussions are continuing. I am encouraging the three levels of councils (parish, district and county) to exert themselves on this important local issue.

Objections to Commerce Park development:

A planning application (ref. 2021/0138/FUL) was submitted in January for 61 small business units (B2/B8 units with ancillary office space, in nine buildings) and a single large industrial building in two 15,000 sq.ft. units, covering all but one of the vacant plots on the southern edge of the Commerce Park. Some 27 objections have been received, including from Berkley Parish Council, the MDC ward councillor (Shannon Brooke), and Frome Civic Society. Frome Town Council also discussed the application at a recent committee meeting and their response raised several issues. Please see here for an update.

Easthill update:

Following a review of land at Easthill, Frome, the Liberal Democrat group on Mendip District Council have issued a statement – please see here.

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Have your say on the Hawksworth Close play area:

I have been alerted by local residents that the Hawksworth Close children’s play area (along the footpath from Brunel Way to Forest Road) looks in need of a refresh. Only two sets of swings remain, one for toddlers and one for older children. It may be possible that Mendip will be able to install some new equipment, and perhaps we need more seating, but what do local residents who use it want to see here, for what ages of children? Please let me know by email cllrboyden@gmail.com. Thanks.

At the other end of town, MDC is working to transfer Egford Lane Park to FTC, and the local community is being consulted on a draft plan of improvements to the park – see here.

Old Showfield management plan approved:

At FTC’s Council Matters meeting in late February (see here), the Environment Manager Chris Stringer gave a presentation on the Management & Improvement plans for the Old Showfield (and New Road park). In the last year, Parkrun has come to the Showfield, a hedge has been planted around the outdoor gym, and a temporary fence and gates installed around the children’s play area (protected by fencing while the plants establish), ‘keeping little people in and dogs out’. A grass spiral was mowed into the grass for fun, and some more trees have been planted (see here). Next steps include both sites being part of the town’s upcoming Play Strategy, developing relationships with residents and groups using the Showfield. Grass cutting this year will be carried out by FTC staff rather than contractors. Please find out more here.

No idling in Mendip – action to reduce air pollution:

Mendip District Council’s anti-idling campaign has progressed with the installation of No Idling signs in council car parks. “Idling” is when a vehicle’s engine is left running while it is parked or stationary for a period of time, contributing further to air pollution. Please see here for more on this issue.

Closure of Westway Co-op and Post Office:

News on the Westway Co-op and Post Office, which are due to close in June – see here.

Next Council meetings:

  • Mendip District Council’s next Full Council meeting (when all councillor must attend), is on Monday 26th April at 6.30pm. The meeting will be live streamed via a link is here. On the agenda is the election of the chair, deputy chair and committee members, and annual reviews of the work of the Scrutiny Board, Planning Board and Licensing Board.
  • FTC’s Planning Committee is on 22nd April. This and other meetings can be found here.
  • MDC will have an Extraordinary Full Council meeting to consider a referendum on local government reorganisation (previously on the agenda on 15th April) on Friday 30th April at 5.30pm (see here).To speak or ask questions at the meeting please do register here.

Reporting back:

Since the last newsletter I have attended several meetings, including the following (please get in touch to find out more):

  • 23rd February: MDC councillor briefing on Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) and the current phosphates issue affecting the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar site, currently an environmental constraint on development across much of the west of the district (explained here).
  • 24th February: Frome Town Council (FTC) Council Matters committee (here and here), which approved an updated management plan for the Old Showfield (please see above).
  • 1st March: MDC Cabinet (see here), including discussions on the multi-user paths project, the extension of the groundcare contract, and a confidential item on the reopening of Berkley Lane to traffic, in which I and others raised the risks of flytipping and to the local community and sought reassurances that MDC will pursue an alternative way of closing the road and enforce against flytipping. Please see the update above.
  • 11th March: Frome Town Council’s Planning Committee, which included a discussion of the new development proposed at the Commerce Park (application 2021/0137/FUL – see here). The draft minutes of the meeting, including FTC’s response to the application, are at the end here.
  • 17th March: FTC’s Full Council meeting (see the report here) discussed Community grants, the recent town centre road and pavement works, the transfer of the Boyle Cross from MDC, and FTC’s response to the Government’s consultation on the proposals to establish a unitary council in Somerset.
  • 18th March: MDC Scrutiny Board (see here), with discussions on Electric Vehicle charging points on MDC land, and the recent waste and recycling service disruption – see above on both of these issues.
  • 30th March: progress update meeting about Berkley Lane, with MDC officers, the Portfolio Holder and other ward councillors.
  • 6th April: Frome Councillors Forum (town, district and county councillors for Frome wards).
  • 12th April: MDC briefing on local government reorganisation.
  • 13th April: Frome Councillors Forum briefing on housing issues.
  • 15th April: FTC-MDC leadership meeting on cross council issues.
  • 15th April: Extraordinary Mendip Full Council meeting to approve the council’s response to the One Somerset unitary proposal (see here).
  • 20th April: FAVBUG/Somerset Bus Partnership meeting: about the opportunities arising from the Government’s new bus strategy for England ‘Bus Back Better’.

Vote Shearer! for Police and Crime Commissioner:

Heather Shearer is the Lib Dem candidate for Avon & Somerset’s Police & Crime Commissioner election on 6th May 2021.

Heather is currently Vice Chair of Somerset’s Police & Crime Panel, the Mendip District Councillor with special responsibility for Community Health & Safety, a member of the Safer Somerset Partnership, a Parish Councillor and an active member of her local community in Street. Please take a look here and see Heather’s priorities for policing here here. You can also see the debate between all the candidates on the recent BBC Politics West programme here.

If you would like to help deliver leaflets for Heather in Frome, please email heather4betterpolicing@gmail.com or me at cllrboyden@gmail.com. Thanks.

Other Council news:

Other Council news can also be found here:

  • Somerset County Council news
  • Mendip District Council – see news and Leader cllr Ros Wyke’s weekly columns here.
  • Frome Town Council news, and the Town Clerk’s latest roundup here.

Any Questions?

Please let me know what needs doing, and any questions, by email to cllr.boyden@mendip.gov.uk and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Best wishes,

Adam Boyden with Cllr Drew Gardner,    
Mendip District Councillors for Frome College ward

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Adam – email aomboyden@gmail.com cllr.boyden@mendip.gov.uk
Drew – email drewgardner@me.com / cllr.gardner@mendip.gov.uk
https://adamboyden.mycouncillor.org.uk/
https://www.somertonandfromelibdems.org.uk/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/somertonandfromeLD/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/CllrAdamBoyden

   1 Comment

One Response

  1. Bridget Marian May says:

    I would like to sign up for your regular updates but cannot find the place I need to do this?
    Except for pressing on the link to get here I did say I was rubbish at technology

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