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July newsletter

by adamboyden on 18 July, 2021

Covid update:

The Government has announced the end of the Covid-19 national restrictions from Monday 19th July – please see here. But with cases now rising again, the message from Somerset County Council’s public health team is ‘Think twice, do the right thing, and don’t let your guard down‘ – see here.

Vaccinations against Covid-19 are now available for everyone aged 18 and above – please see here, including at walk in centres in Mendip and Somerset – see here.

If you have Covid or are showing symptoms, self-isolating is one of the most important things you can do to help stop the spread. There is local support available – call the Somerset helpline 0300 790 6275, 7 days a week, 8am-6pm.

Running the Frome 10k for the NHS:

I (and my son!) ran the Frome 10k this morning, struggling through the heat, but it was wonderful to see amazing support from Frome residents for over 1000 runners in the Half Marathon, 10k, 5k and fun run events. I hope to raise money for the NHS charities, as the NHS is there for all of us but needs our help now more than ever – please visit my fundraising page here – Well done to all the runners! Thanks go to everyone who turned out to support us on the streets (with water sprays galore!), and to all the organisers and marshalls who made it happen.

Fellow Mendip Councillor Helen Sprawson-White’s son Owen also ran the 5k and is raising funds for We Hear You, an amazing local charity that provide counselling for children and adults affected and bereaved by life threatening conditions – please see here

Somerset residents vote for two unitary councils not one:

The local government referendum (local poll) organised by the four District Councils in Somerset in May and June had a clear result. Over 111,000 residents voted (a turnout of 25.6%), some 65.3% voting for Stronger Somerset (two unitary councils, an Eastern Somerset Council and a Western Somerset Council), and 34.7% for the alternative ‘One Somerset’ put forward by Somerset County Council which proposes a new single unitary council for whole of Somerset – see here.

The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government will now make a decision, before the parliamentary summer recess begins in late July, on which (if any) unitary option he will go with to transform local government in Somerset.

NEW: Secretary of State decides – a single unitary council for Somerset: The Secretary of State announced in a ministerial statement on 21st July here that a single unitary council for Somerset will be formed on 1 April 2023 to replace the county’s five existing county and district councils. The next local elections in May 2022 would now be to elect councillors to the new emerging unitary council. Please see here for reaction from the district councils, and here for responses in Frome. Councils and councillors are now considering the way forward.

Somerset Waste Partnership update:

Somerset’s waste collections have been disrupted in recent weeks, with a significant number of missed recycling and refuse collections across the county. This is largely due to a national and local shortage of LGV drivers, which has been recently exacerbated by staff requiring Covid self-isolation. Somerset Waste Partnership are working hard with their collections contractor Suez to get services back on track – please see here. The issues were raised at the recent Somerset Waste Scrutiny Panel (see below under Meetings).

Overgrown vegetation on footpaths:

A number of residents have raised issues with overgrown vegetation on footpaths along Bath Road, and Clink and around Selwood Academy and the Old Showfield. Public footpaths are maintained by Somerset County Council, and you can report overgrown vegetation on their web page here – I understand that this sends reports to the rights of way maintenance team, who can instruct contractors. I hope this helps.

Fair Homes Project withdrawn:

The Fair Homes project and all sites proposed for development within it, including Selwood Crescent green, has been withdrawn in its entirety, following feedback from residents in the public consultation – please see the statement from the project partners here. After two leaflets delivered to hundreds of residents, two meetings on the green and two zoom meetings with residents, my response to the consultation can be found here. Thank you to everyone who responded, on Selwood Crescent green and elsewhere – your local open spaces are safe. We now need to focus on the viable alternative and sustainable ways to increase the supply of social housing that do not involve building on green open spaces that are either valued by the community or for their ecological value (or both). The Save Our Green Alliance residents group and I are now in discussion with Mendip District Council officers about new seating on the green, and a community celebration picnic.

Frome Futures Survey – take part for the chance to win £100:

Frome Town Council and Frome Medical Practice have launched a survey to find out more about the health and priorities of people in Frome. And as a thank you for taking part in the survey all entrants will be entered into a prize draw with the chance to win a £100 voucher to spend on food at Culverhill Co-op in Frome – please see here, before the survey closes on Sunday 1st August.

Climate emergency funding for projects in Mendip:

Mendip District Council is inviting applications for funding for small projects that support climate change and ecological benefits in the community, and has extended the deadline for applications – see here.

News on how Mendip is determined to drive down carbon emissions is here, including a Climate Action Pledge Card for everyone to use.

Meetings attended:

Since the last newsletter I have attended the following meetings:

  • 3rd June: Frome Town Council Planning Committee – see here, included discussion of the Acheson & Acheson application.
  • 7th June: Mendip DC Cabinet – discussed the Creative Mendip project, a future greenhouse gas emissions pathway for 2030 to combat climate change, the Disability Confident employer scheme, and the extension of Public Space Protection Orders on dog fouling, dog leads by order, the exclusion of dogs from play areas, and anti-social consumption of intoxicating substances – see here.
  • 16th June: Mendip DC Planning Board – see below.
  • 23rd June: Joint Scrutiny Panel of Somerset Waste Board – this discussed the current performance issues, the national and local shortage of drivers and what SWP and Suez are doing to rectify the situation; also an update on Recycle More (performance in Mendip and rollout in South Somerset), decarbonising operations, education and behaviour change, please see here.
  • 6th July: Frome Councillor Forum, on social housing alternatives.
  • 6th July: Mendip DC Scrutiny Climate & Ecological Emergency Working Group – briefing on the new programme for Supplementary Planning Documents to strengthen Mendip’s Local Plan policy and guidance on ecological and climate issues.
  • 12th July: Mendip DC Cabinet – discussed the draft budget outturn report, treasury management, Saxonvale – funding for reserved matters applications, Mendip Health and Wellbeing Board update, Corporate Risk and Opportunity Management, Safeguarding policy, and the Forward Plan.
  • 14th July: Mendip DC Planning Board – see below.
  • NEW: 20th July: Mendip DC Leisure Strategic Board – Fusion Leisure’s annual service review for 2020-21, including a review of the three lockdowns and the rebuilding of leisure centre services in future.
  • NEW: 26th July: Mendip DC Planning Board: see below.

Planning Board decisions:

Since May I have been a member of Mendip District Council’s Planning Board, which has 15 members. On 16th June, Planning Board met and determined three planning applications (see the meeting recording and draft minutes here):

  • Windsbatch Lane, Oldford (Application for Outline Planning Permission with all matters reserved for the demolition of existing workshops and erection of 4 no. new dwellings, and conversion of existing dwelling to 1no. live/work unit, with associated highway access – approved);
  • Farley Dell, Coleford (proposed dormer extension – refused); and
  • Cherry Grove, Frome (9 No. units comprising assisted living accommodation (to include staff accommodation) in association with Cherry Trees – approved, with additional planning conditions).

At the 14th July meeting, only one application was determined – see here:

  • Moors Barn, Marsh Lane, Standerwick (change of use of land from equestrian use to a general industrial use (retrospective) and erection of office/storage barn – refused).

NEW: Keyford applications deferred over masterplan concerns:

The three major residential planning applications at sites in Keyford ward at the southern edge of Frome were deferred at the 14th July Planning Board meeting for staffing reasons (see press article here), and were considered at a special meeting on Monday 26th July (see here for the reports, a video recording of the meeting, and links to the application documents and consultation comments). The three applications proposed a total of 325 houses on separate but linked sites either side of the B3092 The Mount and to the east of Little Keyford Lane, within the emerging Local Plan Part 2 policy site FR3A housing land allocation site.

At the meeting I raised concerns in relation to the acceptability of the masterplan (which may have needed to change due to concerns about vehicular access from Little Keyford Lane, and drainage, from one of the sites), sustainability, cumulative traffic impacts, soils, and the lack of safe pedestrian access along the B3092 road (surely a desire line for new residents to walk to the shops at Culverhill or further into town).

Overall, Planning Board members raised issues with the overall comprehensive masterplan, building design, traffic, sustainability and environmental impacts, and decided unanimously to defer all three applications for up to six months, so that the applicants can develop a more robust masterplan approach in relation to access, drainage, ecology, sustainability, connectivity and design, in accordance with policy FR3A – see the press article here.

Other Council news:

  • Frome Town Council news – including on housing, play, active travel, the picnic in the meadow, Saxonvale, and the latest from FTC’s Full Council meeting on 14th July here. The Town Clerk’s latest updates for June and July are all here.
  • Mendip District Council – see news for June, and July here – including site clearance works at Saxonvale (here), a Little Night Market in Frome on 30th July (here), increased capacity in leisure facilities (here), and how the council is driving down carbon emissions (here). See also Mendip leader Ros Wyke’s weekly columns here.
  • Somerset County Council – see here, including Somerset Public Health leaders urge caution and care as Covid restrictions set to ease (here).

Any Questions?

Please let me know what needs doing, or any questions, by email to and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Best wishes,

Adam Boyden

with Cllr Drew Gardner,    
Liberal Democrat Mendip District Councillors for Frome College ward

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