October news

by adamboyden on 15 October, 2023

Residents Survey:

How satisfied are you with our area? What are your priorities? Please let me know by completing my Residents Survey. I want to hear from everyone, it will only take 5 minutes, and I will publish the results, keeping individual responses completely confidential.

Saxonvale planning permission quashed:

In quite big news, Acorn Property Group’s outline planning permission for a mixed use development at the Saxonvale site in Frome has been quashed in the High Court – see here. Sarah Dyke MP is urging swift action (see here).

Berkley Lane inquiry postponed:

The Planning Inspectorate has decided that the public inquiry regarding the Section 249 Vehicle Rights Extinguishment Order (proposed pedestrianisation) of part of Berkley Lane, and Dark Lane, north of Frome, will be postponed. The inquiry was planned to be on 24-27 October, and no new date has been set. The proposed pedestrianisation aims to tackle a flytipping hotspot by reducing opportunities for through traffic to flytip (see here).

Could you be a school community governor?

Hayesdown First School in Frome is looking for a new Community Governor, someone who would contribute to the educational wellbeing of children at the school, and take an interest in the school and their local community, including through attending governing body meetings, school events and governor visits. If you would like to find out more or are interested, please contact Head Teacher Julia Battersby at jbattersby@hayesdownschool.com or see here. It will be really worthwhile.

Night-time train idling noise:

I hope to be meeting Hanson and Network Rail soon, to discuss the issue of residents of Mill Close and Lower Innox who are being disturbed at night by quarry train engines idling at the red light next to houses there, as they make a horrendous noise in the middle of the night (see here).

Rodden Road accident:

There was a nasty accident this morning on Rodden Road when a car crashed into a skip lorry. Police, fire crews and air ambulances attended the scene and the road is still closed at the time of writing. Somerset County Gazette covers it well here. The Police are appealing for witnesses so if you can help at all please call 101, referring to log 214. There is a residents petition on speeding here, and if you share residents’ concerns here do get in touch.

20 is plenty?

I know residents in Fromefield are also still hoping for a 20mph speed limit. Somerset Council issued a ‘call for interest’ earlier this year and it currently lies with Frome Town Council to respond, including an initial application fee. Frome Town Council did adopt its Local Cycle and Walking Infrastructure Plan this Spring. This had recommendations to expand the town centre 20mph speed limit to Rodden Road, and along Fromefield and Bath Road, and elsewhere, and to improve walking and cycling infrastructure throughout the town (see here), and Somerset Council is currently progressing its adoption, so the LCWIP will soon have full status in terms of planning and the ability to be used for funding applications to Active Travel England / Department for Transport. None of the LCWIP recommendations are currently funded, but I and others are helping discussions continue between Somerset Council and FTC as to how this can be progressed. Somerset Council’s current advice on speed limits is also here.

Beckington Parish Council has applied to Somerset Council to express an interest in a village wide 20mph limit, in response to the ‘call for interest’ by Somerset Council earlier this year, and an assessment will now follow. The parish council is also publishing its own LCWIP soon. Rode Parish Council are also waiting in eager anticipation for Somerset Council’s official consultation on changes to speed limits in and around the village to begin soon, including an extension to the 30mph along the A361 approaching Rode, and a 20mph limit for the main village itself.

Somerset Council recently installed sets of ’20 when lights show’ flashing lights either side of Frome Community College on Bath Road, and around Selwood Academy on Berkley Road, and other schools in Frome. These indicate when drivers should slow down to take more care when pupils are walking to school, and are advisory. I helped make sure the signs around the College were in the right place, in discussion with the College and Council highways team.

Work to begin on Frome Safer School Streets:

Residents in the Frome Safer School Streets area (which covers the Avanti, Oakfield, Critchill and Trinity schools) are being informed that the installation of highway improvements will take place from the end of October to December 2023, and that the trial Safer School Streets scheme itself will start in Spring 2024 (see here). This includes an expanded 20mph zone.

Bath Road/Princess Anne Road traffic lights:

I asked for a progress update on the Bath Road/Princess Anne Road traffic light project, which is causing delays. The work is part of a county-wide programme of works to upgrade traffic signals. The signalised junction equipment and pedestrian crossings here needed to be replaced urgently, before they fail, which would result in further disruption and a potentially lengthier works. ‘The new signals will be better co-ordinated, more efficient, and should improve traffic flow plus provide much better connectivity and safety for pedestrians and cyclists’. The work here is on programme and due to complete in January 2024. You can find out more about the project here.

This junction will be subject to a temporary road closure to enable road resurfacing, with works expected to start on 13th November 2023, lasting for 5 days, between the hours of 18:30 and 23:30. Access for Emergency Services through the site is permitted. For further information please contact Somerset Council on 0300 123 2444, quoting reference: ttro066638E. Please see the road closure here and the link for the Notice here (pdf).

Frome drone show at the Old Showfield:

The spectacular Frome Drone Show returns to the Old Showfield on Saturday 4th November with Celestial’s Close Encounters of the Frome kind (see here). Please note that there will be no parking on site, the road between the health centre/hospital and the Vine Tree crossroads will be closed that evening for safety reasons, and Frome Town Council’s tickets have now sold out for the event, but more tickets are being released to the waiting list (see here).

Norton St Philip fireworks:

If you prefer a traditional local community fireworks display, Norton St Philip’s Bonfire and Fireworks night is on Saturday 4th November at Churchmead, from 6pm:

Old Showfield play area to reopen in November:

Work on Frome Town Council’s major refresh of the children’s playground at the Old Showfield is coming along well, with the park due to reopen at the end of November – please see here.

Rodden Road Post Office:

I recently asked Post Office Ltd about the status of the application by the new management of the Spar (formerly McColls) at the Rodden Road/Vine Tree junction to reopen the Post Office there. Currently Frome has one Post Office at Portway, which can get very busy. The local Network team have confirmed that the application for the branch is still progressing through their recruitment process, and that ‘Application timescales for post office branches do vary in length, as this is dependent on the due diligence required and the timely receipt of the information required from the applicant. I appreciate the importance of Post Office services in communities such as Frome and I can assure you that as soon as we have further information, we will update the community.’ So I hope this reopens soon.

Packsaddle fields:

For a few weeks I have raised concerns with Somerset Council’s Estates team and asked them to remove the 20 cows grazing Packsaddle fields, as they kept escaping, some were ‘on the thin side’ and starting to push into neighbours’ back gardens to eat. Officers visited site to inspect, and had the cattle removed on Friday 6th October. The escapes, as well as their presence, has caused concern to many local residents. The Estates team will consider whether to reintroduce grazing in the future, and I will continue to raise residents’ legitimate concerns.

Meanwhile, several more documents have been added to the planning application for 74 houses on the site (see here), including on ecology, landscape, highways, parking, drainage, and detailed layouts. These may require additional consultation. Additional responses have also been received from Somerset Council’s environmental health, and Natural England. Currently there are 272 objections from residents.

Local Plan housing development site allocations:

Somerset Council now has to allocate new sites for 505 houses across the former Mendip district, to fill the void left by an earlier High Court decision. We will know which of the 140 sites submitted by landowners are considered sustainable, suitable and available, (and where they are, some of which could be around Frome) in a public consultation before the end of the year. Councillors will be briefed on progress at the end of October. Work has also started on a Somerset-wide Local Plan which will take shape in 2024/25 and will include new climate planning policy.

Education review:

Somerset Council’s Children & Families Scrutiny Committee meeting on 13th September included a presentation on the potential for a reorganisation of schools in the Frome area into a two tier system, at item 7 (see here), which has been covered in local news. There are potential opportunities to make education work better for children, and nothing will be imposed from above, as any changes will be agreed in partnership with schools and local councillors before being taken forward. A Steering Group has been formed to continue the discussions, and cllr Dawn Denton is our local Somerset Councillor rep. I also asked for a local discussion at the recent Local Community Network meeting (see below).

Education funding consultation:

Somerset Council is undertaking a new consultation, asking for the public’s views on some of the ways education is funded. The consultation focuses on funding for early years settings, which includes day nurseries, pre-schools and nursery schools; early help services that help children and families when they have problems, aiming to prevent the situation from getting worse; and funding that helps children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) from their early years to age 25. Please see here to take part until 10th November.

National Parenting Week – helping families stay together:

Alongside National Parenting Week, a retired foster carer is sharing the importance of parent and child carers in Somerset, a role which provides care and support for not only a young child, but their parents also (see here).

Arguing better: new free support sessions for parents to help reduce relationship conflicts:

A new series of free online sessions has been launched to help parents in Somerset lessen the stress and communicate better in every aspect of their lives – please see here. This should help new parents who may be struggling with tiredness and stress, help any parent learn how to argue in a constructive way and improve communication in relationships, and help parents who are separated to learn to parent children cooperatively.

Local Community Network:

Last week’s Frome area Local Community Network meeting in Buckland Dinham (5th October) was constructive and well attended by parish councils and representatives from a range of statutory and voluntary, community, faith, and social enterprise organisations. 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 (see above). A questionnaire will be sent out before the next meeting in December to inform our priorities and a community plan. The name of the LCN was agreed as the ‘Vale of Frome’ LCN. The next meeting will be Thursday 7th December, 7pm at Beckington Memorial Hall. Please see here for more.

Water quality meeting postponed:

The Somerset Council Climate & Place Scrutiny Committee meeting on Water Quality in Somerset planned for Weds 18th October has been cancelled, because the agencies involved are currently awaiting further information from the Government and there is also a possibility of an announcement being made in the King’s Speech. A new date will be set early in the new year for the Committee to publicly scrutinise the subject of water quality. Councillors have had an informal briefing from academic experts, Natural England, Wessex Water and the Environment Agency instead, principally about the phosphate pollution in the Somerset Levels and Moors.

Free home energy assessments:

Part of the Lottery-funded Green and Healthy Frome initiative is the Community Retrofit project, which aims to help residents understand how their homes lose heat and energy, and plans to make homes more energy efficient, healthier and comfortable to live in, to reduce both energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions (see here). Frome’s Community Retrofit project is offering free ‘whole house assessments’, involving a survey of your home, and a plan showing what work is recommended, with a rough estimate of likely savings and costs (see here), but due to a high amount of interest, is now not accepting new enquiries ‘so please check back in a few weeks if you’d like to book a free retrofit assessment’.

In the meantime, the dedicated Healthy Homes team in Frome can provide free advice on how to improve your home energy conditions, in collaboration with the Centre for Sustainable Energy. There are free Energy Advice sessions at Frome Library (next are Weds 15th and 22nd November at 10am-4pm), and pop in sessions at Fair Frome on Marston Trading Estate on the last Wednesday of each month, 11pm-1pm. Home energy improvement grants are also available through Somerset Council for low-income households (see here).

Somerset’s electric vehicle network:

Somerset’s EV charging network continues to expand (see here), but it has been very frustrating to see the EV chargers in three of Frome’s car parks still not operational after 18 months (the chargers by the Station are working). The Council has complained to the electricity company and I hope to see this sorted soon. I have also been in discussion with the Cheese & Grain and Somerset Council officers to resolve an issue with the charging point at the C&G.

Cheese & Grain 25th Anniversary:

Talking of the Cheeser, it was lovely to attend the 25th birthday party at the Cheese & Grain in September. Somerset Council Lib Dem leader Bill Revans gave a nice speech and cut the cake. It has gone from strength to strength in recent years, due to its great direction and management, and the support of the community and our local councils.

Highest ever recycling rate in Somerset:

Somerset has achieved its highest ever recycling rate, with 56.6% of all household waste being recycled in 2022/23, and 96.6% staying in the UK for processing (see here).

However, there is still more to do as nearly half the content of the average Somerset bin could have been recycled (see here).

Somerset Council budgets:

The papers for the Council’s Executive meeting in September described Somerset Council’s financial position as ‘stark and challenging’. Like many county or unitary councils with adult and children’s care responsibilities who are raising concerns that their budgets are unsustainable, Somerset’s budgets are under pressure, due to inflation and increased care costs, as well as inadequate and ever-reducing income from Government funding, and previous Council Tax freezes. Please see here, and the Executive meeting reports from September in items 6 and 7 here.

The current spending forecast for 2023/24 is now over budget by 5.5% (£27m of the £493.4m general budget). Adults and children’s care services (which cost over 60% of the budget) are responsible for 80% of this, and have seen a huge rise in demand since the Covid pandemic. The Council will draw to some degree on its £154m reserves, but the current level of care spending could put the council finances at risk next year. Councillors and parish councils are being briefed monthly, and the Council is working with all partners to find ways to reduce costs this year and in future. We await the Government’s response to the very clear messaging from County and Unitary authorities about inflationary pressures on social care costs. A change in Government next year will hopefully help.

Become an Ambassador for Somerset:

Invest Somerset is looking for people who are passionate about living and working in Somerset and willing to champion the county as a top business location by becoming Ambassadors for Somerset. Ambassadors will champion Somerset by sharing your views and experiences of growing up, being educated, working or relocating businesses here, to help spread the positive message about the county. To find out more please see here.

Recent meetings:

  • At the Prosper Frome meeting on 3rd October 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. Frome needs something like this to help bring people into the town centre, helping other shops.
  • At the Frome Town Council meeting on Wednesday 4th I gave an update on council issues and agreed to help on a couple of matters.
  • The Local Community Network meeting on Thursday 5th talked about education and road safety (see above).
  • At the Rode Parish Council meeting on Monday 10th, the recent Mill at Rode license, street lights, highways, and the footpath to Church Farm were discussed, and the parish council set next year’s precept (the parish’s take from our Council Tax) at £27,000 (an 8% increase in line with inflation). I gave an update on the Local Plan, planning notifications, the Scrutiny meeting, EV charging, and the LCN. It was good to hear the effort that parish councillors make to go ‘above and beyond’ to inform local residents of planning applications in their areas.
  • Beckington Parish Council, Tuesday 11th October (see here) – I gave a brief update particularly on the LCN and Local Plan. The parish council are starting to work on their new Neighbourhood Plan, and welcomed Rory as a new parish councillor who was co-opted on to the council. Funding has been agreed for new bus shelters on the main Frome Road near Castle Corner, which is great. The Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan is also nearly ready, and an application has been made to start work on a 20mph speed limit for the village
  • At Norton St Philip Parish Council’s meeting on 12th October (see here) I gave an update as for others above, and we discussed planning notifications and the Statement of Community Involvement, and the potential need to raise their precept to be able to take over some services from Somerset Council next year (a paper is now being prepared for all parish councils).

In the press:

I wrote for the Frome Times last week (the 6 Somerset Councillors for the 3 Frome divisions have a rotating slot), please see here, which includes relevant updates, as some things move quickly. My article for The Link, the magazine for Rode, Tellisford, Woolverton and Farleigh Hungerford, can be seen here and in print (available at Rode Post Office and by subscription).

Sarah Dyke MP:

Our new Somerton & Frome MP Sarah Dyke made her maiden speech on 17th October (you can read the speech here, or see coverage on BBC iPlayer from about 2.30pm). The best way to contact Sarah is by email to sarah.dyke.mp@parliament.uk, and please see her news on her website here.

More council news and meetings:

Please see more local news at:

I hope this is useful but please get in touch if you have any concerns or questions. If you would like to see me in person please let me know.

Best wishes,


Adam Boyden

Somerset Councillor for Frome North (Lib Dem)

07809284817, email aomboyden@gmail.com adam.boyden@somerset.gov.uk


   1 Comment

One Response

  1. John Warman says:

    Hi Adam,

    Thanks for your usual informative newsletter. Really pleased to read the maiden speech by Sarah Dyke, excellent.

    Disappointed to see that the Safer School streets scheme is still closing Gare Hill for parents travelling from Nunney. This surely means a longer journey and even more congestion along The Butts.

    Appreciate drivers should travel at appropriate speeds in built up areas however a blanket 20 mph across Frome is detrimental in many ways. As we know Frome is a hilly area and many people need to use their cars to get about, unfortunately an anti-car brigade does not seem to recognise the importance of a car in a country town.

    Appreciate the heads up about the closure of the Bath Road/Stonebridge Drive junction.



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