Councillors Corner, Frome Times

by adamboyden on 15 October, 2023

Article published in the Frome Times, Thursday 12th October 2023, p24:

As Oscar Wilde probably didn’t say, the problem with liberal democracy is it can take too many evenings. But it is important. Last week, at the Prosper Frome meeting I was happy to offer support to the potential for a OneBanx kiosk in Frome, to provide a banking service for customers of recently closed banks, and others, which could help bring people into the town centre, helping other shops.

At a Frome Town Council meeting I gave an update on council issues. I’m trying to help residents of Mill Close and Lower Innox get some sleep by asking Hanson and Network Rail to stop the quarry train engines idling next to houses there, as they make a horrendous noise in the middle of the night. I’m also asking Somerset Council to remove cows grazing Packsaddle fields, as they have ‘done their job’, but have kept escaping, and are now trying to eat some neighbours’ back gardens. [Note: the cows were removed from the site on Friday 6th October].

There is a public inquiry next month into the proposal to pedestrianise Dark Lane and part of Berkley Lane to the north of Frome, which I suggested to help stop flytipping there – residents have until 12th October to have a say [Note: the inquiry has now been postponed, and no date has yet been set].

It has been very frustrating to see the EV chargers in car parks still not operational after 18 months (the chargers by the Station are working), but the Council has complained to the electricity company and I hope to see this sorted soon.

On 18th October there is a rare chance to put questions to Wessex Water and the Environment Agency on what they are doing to reduce river pollution, at Somerset Council’s next Climate & Place Scrutiny Committee meeting. [Note: the meeting has now been postponed, due to uncertainties surrounding the Government’s proposals to deal with phosphate pollution, until 2024].

A local nature strategy, and renewable energy plan are also being prepared, as Somerset’s climate and ecological emergency remains a priority, despite Government backtracking.

There is also a cost of living crisis, and a local housing crisis due to a lack of local affordable and rented housing. Somerset Council now has to allocate new sites for 505 houses across the former Mendip district, and we will know which of the 140 sites submitted by landowners are considered sustainable, suitable and available, in a consultation before the end of the year. Work has also started on a Somerset-wide Local Plan, but to take back control on local development, I recommend the Town Council uses its revision of the Neighbourhood Plan to allocates suitable sites for affordable housing, rather than leave it to the higher council.

The Government’s under-funding of local government, and the care system for adults and children, plus inflation and high interest rates, are taking Somerset Council over budget by 5% this year, and will put the council finances at risk in a couple of years. We await the Government’s response to councils’ clear messaging about care costs, and a change in Government next year could help.

Finally, last week’s Frome area Local Community Network meeting in Buckland Dinham was well attended and constructive. We talked about road safety, to scope up issues for detailed discussion, and had an update on education, including on the need to improve outcomes for children, and the complexities around school structures. A questionnaire will be sent out before the next meeting in December to inform our priorities and a community plan.

But what are your priorities to improve life here? Please let me know by completing my residents survey here. You can see and sign up to local newsletters, and find details of everything I talk about here, and please get in touch at

Adam Boyden, Somerset Councillor for Frome North (Lib Dem)

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