Councillor Adam Boyden

Somerset County Councillor for Frome North and Mendip District Councillor for Frome College ward (Lib Dem) Learn more

March newsletter (updated)

by adamboyden on 22 March, 2022

Please help Ukrainian refugees:

With the appalling and heartbreaking news of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is difficult to know what any of us can do to help. But there is one way – Frome Town Council has been approached by Frome’s twin town Rabka-Zdrój in Poland, which is 150 miles from the Ukraine border. Rabka has already taken over 500 Ukrainian refugees and is preparing to help more, with over 500,000 refugees already seeking shelter in Poland. Currently it is money they need, not items, to help directly in the commissioning of buses to get refugees out of the Ukraine, get them to a place of safety, and to feed, clothe and house people as they arrive (see here). Frome Town Council has set up an appeal to support Ukrainian refugees as they arrive in Rabka. If you can, please donate at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ukrainianappealftc. This has already raised over £30,000, and Frome Rotary has raised more too.

Mendip District Council also stands with those directly affected by the conflict in Ukraine, stating “Many residents in the district will no doubt be thinking about what they can do to help in terms of supporting the humanitarian response to this crisis and whilst the Council is not collecting donations directly, we have compiled a list of organisations and appeals that residents might consider supporting.” – please see here for the list and more information here. Thank you.

Covid-19 cases increasing in Somerset:

The latest weekly update for Somerset (18th March) states: ‘The legal requirement to self-isolate has been removed in England and replaced with guidance for living safely with the virus. Case numbers have increased significantly in the last week so we should all continue to do all we can to help prevent the transmission of Covid-19, especially to the most vulnerable in our communities. … We still advise basic infection control and voluntary protection measures to stay healthy this spring and to help slow the transmission of Covid-19 and many other illnesses. These include keeping occupied spaces well ventilated, regularly washing your hands and wearing a face covering in crowded or indoor spaces. We go into more detail further in this update. The Covid-19 vaccination remains the best form of defence that we have against the virus. Anyone who has not already booked their jab can do so quickly and easily at Covid-19 vaccinations in Somerset – Somerset CCG.’. The number of cases in Somerset is set out below.

Please see here for further information or to sign up for updates.

Somerset Household Support Fund:

Do you know anyone struggling to pay for essentials because you don’t have enough money to pay for them? Eligible residents can get support through a fund to provide short-term financial support to households struggling with the cost of essentials such as food, energy, water bills etc. during the winter, through a voucher that can be used in all the main supermarkets, with energy companies and to purchase essential items and appliances. The funding (from the Government’s Household Support Fund) is being distributed by the Citizens Advice organisations in Somerset (with Somerset County Council and the Community Resilience Partnership involving Mendip District Council) and is capped at £250. Please visit their website to apply, and see here and here for more information. The fund is open until 31 March 2022. Please do share this with anyone who might benefit.

Government confirms new ‘unitary’ Somerset Council:

Following consideration by both Houses of Parliament, the Secretary of State has made the Somerset Structural Changes Order 2022 which paves the way for the new Somerset Council to be established on 1 April 2023 – see here. Formal notice has now been given for elections to Somerset County Council that will take place on Thursday, 5 May, when 110 councillors will be elected at county level, two in each of the 55 divisions (with voters able to cast two votes in each division), first with responsibility for county council services and the transition to the new council. On 1 April 2023 the 110 councillors will assume responsibility for all county and district council services in Somerset, ranging from adults and children’s social care to highways and housing, and from libraries to planning and licensing.

These are crucial elections for Somerset with the creation of a new, unitary council in April 2023 – the first major change to the way the county is governed in almost 50 years (see here). Do make sure you are registered to vote before the deadline of Thursday 14 April. Those not on the electoral register should visit www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. Would-be councillors still have two weeks to put themselves forward. The deadline for nominations is 4pm on Tuesday, 5 April. I am hoping to stand in Frome North which is a larger area (see here) – so please let me know if you can help or support in any way.

Survey reveals extent of fly nuisance around Frome sewage works:

Over 120 people have responded to our residents survey (see here) into the fly nuisance around Wessex Water’s Frome sewage treatment works over the last few weeks. Some 93% of those responding said they experienced large numbers of flies (midges and gnats) in their home and garden, and over half (55%) said the flies were having a major or severe impact on the use and enjoyment of their home. This indicates that residents have been suffering a major nuisance in the area. The results of the survey are being collated, information from Wessex Water is being reviewed, and I will prepare a report and post a fuller summary on this website shortly.

I also met Wessex Water (with cllrs Janine Nash and Steve Tanner, and local resident Lee), at the end of February to discuss what they are doing to avoid flies being a nuisance; they have now installed netting on half the filter beds as a trial until June, and there will be a further meeting to discuss the results, to which residents will be invited. Wessex agreed to write to residents in the affected areas, so everyone should have had a letter in early March (let me know if you have not). If the netting is not effective in stopping the flies, and flies continue to be a nuisance, further action will be needed by Wessex Water, and in my view, the survey results show that there would be enough evidence of nuisance for residents to legally require Wessex to take further action to abate the nuisance.

In the meantime, residents should: (1) keep a record of any fly nuisance you experience at home, and take photos and videos on any bad days; (2) contact Wessex Water on 0345 600 4 6000 and Mendip District Council on 0300 303 8588 (option 4, then 4 then 2) or email Environmental.Health@mendip.gov.uk if and when fly numbers are high; (3) keep in touch and let me know how it is by emailing cllrboyden@gmail.com.

Somerset County Council disposes of ‘school site’ for potential housing development at Packsaddle Way:

On 9th March Somerset County Council decided to dispose of their land between Packsaddle Way and Leys Lane. The site was obtained in 1973 to build a new school, but the need for a school in this part of Frome never occurred. SCC has now decided that the land is surplus to requirements, and has entered into an options agreement with LiveWest, a housing provider, to generate a capital receipt (subject to planning permission being obtained for a housing development). After the decision, I spoke to a senior representative of LiveWest to get an initial idea of the plans they have for the site – please see here for details.

Speed limits changing at Bath Road, Oldford Hill, Gypsy Lane and Cuckoo Lane junction:

Somerset County Council proposes to make a traffic Order under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 to introduce 30mph speed limit Extensions around the Bath Road, Oldford Hill, Cuckoo Lane and Gypsy Lane junction, and a 40mph speed limit to the north towards Oldford, in place of the current 60mph national speed limits there. This is County Councillor Linda Oliver’s Minor Improvement Scheme which she submitted some time ago, which has the aim of improving the safety and visibility for the Cuckoo Lane and Gypsy Lane junction. This should make the junction safer, and feel safer, to use. It has taken the County Council only 9 years since its previous attempt to reduce speed limits here. Please see here for more.

Industrial units on Gypsy Lane to be replaced by 6 houses and office block:

The industrial units and a bungalow along Gypsy Lane opposite Sutton Close are to be demolished, after a planning application to replace them with six houses and an office block was approved at Mendip’s Planning Board meeting on 16th March. Nearby residents welcomed the decision – please see here.

Conserving and improving open spaces – Frome Town Council’s transfer requests:

As I wrote last month, Frome Town Council is asking Mendip District Council to transfer several open spaces currently owned by MDC into FTC ownership, so that they can be protected and improved for local residents to use, before the formation of a new unitary Somerset Council. I have written supporting statements to outline the community and environmental benefits of transferring the spaces to FTC, for the Selwood Crescent green open space, and the Hawksworth Close play area in Stonebridge, with the support of interested residents and other district and town councillors.

Other open spaces in our area that FTC have applied for include: the Brunel Way open space, the small play areas at Acacia Drive, Cheddar Close and Blackbird Way, land behind Sycamore Drive, the corridors between Leys Lane and Mendip Drive, and Mendip Drive and Fairfield Close/Tankeys Close, and the freehold of Packsaddle Park and Chapmans Close games court. Please see here for more.

Update to Collegians planning application at the Old Showfield:

The Collegians football club’s planning application for a new toilet block and servery building next to their football pitch has been updated, to include a full connection to the mains sewer system, instead of a septic tank. The change was made to respond to Frome Town Council, who required a mains connection as landowner. FTC did not object to the application, but expressed concern about the location and visibility. There are currently three objections, from the FROGS and Frome Civic Society and a local resident. If it is granted planning permission, permission would also be required from FTC as landowner, and FTC have said that their decision would be made after the community engagement exercise described above. Please see here for more.

The Old Showfield – have you say:

Frome Town Council are planning a community engagement exercise at the Old Showfield shortly, before the next review of the management plan, to give people the opportunity to have their say on the space – welcoming opinions, questions and ideas. FTC will be ‘discussing some particular ideas and proposals as part of this: the Collegians’ proposal for a toilet block building next to the football pitch; a Healing Garden project – working with the medical practice; a Tiny Forest at the Showfield; and talking in detail about play at the Showfield – reflecting the findings and recommendations in the Play Strategy. Play opportunities can include creative grass cuts to encourage things like racing, jumping and rolling. This work will happen in Spring – with full information beforehand, including when we’ll be in the Showfield for people to talk to us.’ This was discussed in item 6 (Frome’s parks and green spaces) of FTC’s Council Matters meeting on 9th February – see here. Please also let me know any ideas or concerns you have about the Old Showfield so I can raise these with FTC.

Mendip Communities Fund – successful projects announced:

Nearly 50 local organisations have secured grant funding from Mendip District Council’s Communities Fund, taking a share of the £350,000 fund dedicated to projects that support community resilience, physical and mental wellbeing and access to arts, creativity and heritage. Locally, successful projects include a contribution towards Frome Tennis Club’s community tennis pavilion, Jackdaws Music Trust’s music workshops for children, Frome Edventure’s equipment for training, and Frome Window Wonderland’s artist-led workshops for residents at Black Swan Arts and Frome Town Hall. Successful district-wide recipients include Citizens Advice Mendip, Dance for Parkinsons, Somerset Art Works, and Science Boost – please see here and here for more, and here for the full list of successful projects.

Tourism organisations across Mendip have also secured funding from the Mendip Tourism Grant, including Frome-based The Open Road Experiencesee here.

Keep Frome Tidy with a local litter pick:

Keep Britain Tidy’s Great British Spring Clean runs from March 25th to April 10th, and this year is encouraging people to pick up as much litter in their local area as they can. If your area is in need of a spring clean, please let me know and we can organise a local litter pick. Frome’s Litter Warriors group also do regular group litter picks around Frome – you can email them on fromelitterwarriors@gmail.com to get involved. The Frome HoeDown group also organises keeping local streets clear or weeds (supporting Mendip District Council’s ban on the use of weedkillers) and clears litter at the same time – please see here.

Time is ticking to apply for a road closure for your Platinum Jubilee Street Party:

Neighbours and community groups looking to hold street parties in June to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee are reminded that the clock is ticking, and to check whether they may need a temporary road closure. Mendip District Council needs 6 weeks to process road closure applications for street parties on no-through roads, and 12 weeks for closures for special events, so time is running out for planned celebrations in early June – please see here if you are planning one.

Mendip’s final budget will ‘weather the storm’ of local government cuts and ensure good quality services for residents:

See here about Mendip’s final budget, including how the Council is funded, how Council Tax is changing this year, and the Council Tax Hardship Fund and Support for those struggling to pay). Core central government funding reductions during the past decade, are in the region of 60%. Despite ongoing financial challenges, Mendip’s budget is balanced and the Council has fully-funded spending plans for the year, prioritising and investing in services and supporting spending on key projects such as social and affordable housing delivery, multi-user paths, a cleaner, greener Mendip, creating energy-efficient homes and encouraging economic development.

Mendip in top ten for climate change policy:

Mendip District Council has been recognised as a ‘top ten’ District Council for its progress and performance in tackling climate change, being ranked the 9th best district council in the country – please see here, including a list of climate related projects the council is involved in, including:

  • Launching a £50k Climate Emergency Fund which will provide 14 projects across the district with money to work towards eco initiatives in the community. 
  • Working in partnership with the AONB, Reimagining the Levels and Somerset Wildlife Trust to help plant nearly 7000 trees, restore hedgerows and protect biodiversity.
  • Partnership working with the Centre for Sustainable Energy and the other Somerset Authorities to deliver Green Homes Grants to help improve energy efficiency and decrease the carbon footprint of homes in Mendip.
  • Developing additional planning policies to ensure new housing developments are more sustainable and energy efficient.
  • Working on a project to better understand the emissions from agriculture and how these can be mitigated and reduced.
  • Reporting annually on our own civic emissions as well as monitoring and reporting on emissions across the district.
  • Expanding the Strawberry Line multi-user path, to ensure safe, sustainable travel for residents and visitors to Mendip.

Somerset County Council was also recognised  by Climate Emergency UK as the top county council in the UK when it comes to taking a lead on climate change – see here.

More Mendip news:

More news from Mendip District Council is here, including:

  • The number of empty homes in Mendip is declining, and grants and loans are available from Mendip to support owners in bringing their vacant and derelict properties back into use (see here);
  • Mendip moves forward on social housing ‘based on need’, in Shepton Mallet, Street, Glastonbury and the North Parade car park in Frome (see here).
  • Struggling to pay for your rent? Your Council can help you: Tenants who find themselves struggling to pay for their rent are encouraged to contact Mendip District Council’s Housing Options Team for advice and support, as early as possible, to help prevent them becoming homeless (see here).
  • Mendip households urged to set up council tax direct debit to receive your £150 energy rebate quickly (see here).
  • Air quality in Mendip is good, and your District Council is determined to keep it that way, through investment, partnership working and public awareness, including the campaign against ‘idling’ (see here).
  • Mendip launches project to tackle food waste: Mendip District Council has launched a food waste pilot project to help hospitality businesses reduce their food waste, save money and reduce climate-changing emissions. One business to benefit is The Crown Inn pub in Keyford, Frome – please see here.
  • Chair of Mendip donates £1,200 to local good causes: Chair of Mendip District Council, Cllr Helen Sprawson-White, has donated £1,200 to local charities across the district using money from the Chair’s Fund. Monies have been received by food banks, including Wells Vineyard, Fair Frome, Glastonbury Bridging the Gap, the Street and Shepton Mallet Salvation Army branches, and Elim Connect Centre, a homeless emergency shelter – see here.

Frome Town Council news:

More news from Frome Town Council is here, including:

  • People’s Budget chooses Platinum Jubilee commemoration – a commemorative stone in the blossom circle at the Old Showfield
  • Green Breather Days project moves forward
  • Latest for Frome Town Council chamber and Town Clerk updates
  • Report of Town Council budget setting meeting in January (see here)
  • Join Frome’s community wildlife mapping project here
  • Frome busks
  • Westway Post Office
  • Support for Ukraine

Other news from Somerset County Council is all here.

Catapult attacks:

I have heard from a local resident that a small group of teenagers, one boy in particular, have been walking around town with a catapult threatening to shoot birds and even cats. Attacking birds with a catapult is an offence under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, and carrying a catapult in public with intent to cause injury is an offence under the Prevention of Crime Act 1953.  So if you see someone doing this, please call the Police on 999 immediately so that officers can attend and deal with any offices on site.

Meetings attended:

Since my last newsletter I have attended the following council-related meetings (all were attended online unless stated):

  • 10 January: MDC Cabinet
  • 11 January: MDC Local Government Reorganisation briefing
  • 11 January: Frome Councillor Forum
  • 18 January: MDC Scrutiny Climate & Ecological Emergency Group, including discussion of energy conservation and heritage constraints in listed buildings
  • 19 January: Frome Town Council, including Town Council’s annual budget, open space transfer requests, additional seating and planters around the Boyle Cross, and a presentation from Fair Frome (see report here)
  • 24 January: MDC Scrutiny Board (see here)
  • 27 January: Fair Frome briefing on future plans (in part, at the Assembly Rooms)
  • 1 February: Frome Councillor Forum
  • 9 February: Frome Town Council Council Matters Committee, including an update on the Old Showfield and other open spaces (see here)
  • 15 February: MDC briefing on Electric Vehicle charging points project
  • 21 February: MDC Full Council (at MDC, in part), including Council Tax setting and the Medium Term Financial Strategy (see agenda items here).
  • 1 March: Frome Councillor Forum – discussed support for Ukrainian refugees, Local Government Reorganisation and the pilot Local Community Network
  • 16 March: MDC Planning Board (at MDC, in part), which approved the planning application at Bonneyview, Gypsy Lane without debate (see here) and refused a proposed 5G mast at Manor Road/Grove Road in Frome (I voted in favour) (see agenda here)

Forthcoming meetings:

Due to the local elections in May, there are few MDC meetings in April, with the exception of Licensing, and a Planning Board meeting on 13th April (see here). FTC have a Town Matters committee on 20th April, Planning Committees as usual and a (non-Council) Annual Town Meeting on 6th April – see here.

And finally:

I and Drew have also been in touch with residents and Council/s on:

  • Electric vehicle charging.
  • Energy conservation in listed buildings.
  • Lobbying for the delayed resurfacing of road and pavement at Thomas Bunn Close to start (now ongoing).
  • Tree stumps left at Selwood Crescent Green.
  • Potential sustainabilty and renewable energy investments at MDC / Fusion leisure centres.
  • Berkley Lane pedestrianisation order – there is no timescale as yet from Government for consultation on a draft order. Update: Ha! I wrote too soon – The Draft Order has now been published (email dated 21st March) and I have just received it (23rd) – so I will post it on a separate article.
  • North Hill House school’s playground adjacent to residents’ gardens.
  • Retrospective planning application for a greenhouse at 33 Fromefield.
  • Housing problems in Lower Innox.

Update, 25th March:

A few updates for you just in this week – 

Public consultation on new housing development at Innox Hill – This is the corner field adjacent to Packsaddle Way, and there is a meeting with the development team next week – see here.

Consultation begins on Pedestrianisation Order to tackle flytipping hotspot.

This affects the Berkley Lane and Dark Lane flytipping hotspot, down past Gypsy Lane – see here.

Saxonvale:

Also, the Mayday Saxonvale team are having a community day at the Silk Mill tomorrow, Saturday 26th March 2-6pm to discuss their proposals for the site – see see here.

Street Parties:

And finally, anyone planning to have a Street Party for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee should be interested in Frome Town Council’s ‘Party on your street’ talk with neighbourhood networkers who have done it before to get tips, ideas and inspiration – please register beforehand (see here) and email Hannah at hstopford@frometowncouncil.gov.uk with any questions.

I hope this helps.

I hope you find this newsletter useful, and do share it with friends or family (to subscribe to the email alert, please email me). Please get in touch with any concerns or queries to me at cllrboyden@gmail.com or my official MDC email cllr.boyden@mendip.gov.uk or call me on 07809 284817.

Thanks,

Adam Boyden

Lib Dem Mendip District Councillor for Frome College ward, and prospective Somerset County Council candidate for Frome North division

   Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>