January news

by adamboyden on 19 December, 2023

Waste and recycling collections:

We have had an update from the Somerset Council waste team on waste and recycling collections:

‘A brief update on waste collections: as ever, the festive period has been really busy, with extra-heavy loads of recycling and refuse. On top of this, we have had the added complication of changed collection days (due to the Christmas and New Year bank holidays), some difficult weather conditions and some vehicle breakdowns.

‘Crews have managed to keep on top of refuse collections, but not quite complete all recycling collections as planned – despite working Saturday and Sunday. This coming week’s collections are a day later than normal due to the New Year’s Day bank holidays, and it may take a couple of days before everything is caught up and back on track. Throughout this period, missed collections have been prioritised the following day so the message for residents is: if your collection is missed, leave your boxes and bags out and crews will get to you as soon as they can.

‘Crews will be returning tomorrow (2 January) for collections that were due on Sunday in parts of South Somerset and Mendip (including villages around Frome & Radstock). We apologise for any inconvenience caused and ask for your patience.’

Please see here for more information on waste and recycling.

Have your say on Council budget setting:

Somerset Council wants to hear from residents and local businesses about priorities for its budget, as the authority faces a financial emergency. The consultation is open to everyone to have a say until 22nd January. The results will help councillors as we look to set a balanced budget in February 2024. Please see here for more and to take part.

Earlier in December Bill Revans, Leader of Somerset Council, said that many possible savings proposals will need to be considered as the latest report highlights a ‘stark and challenging’ financial position (see here). Somerset Council is in discussions with city, parish and town councils about the challenges and opportunities of identifying some local place-based services that could be run and funded more locally. This was discussed at the last Vale of Frome LCN meeting on 7th December. In October, the Leader of Somerset Council wrote an open letter to residents setting out the challenges ahead (see here).

Update: As part of the Local Government Finance Settlement issued in late December, the Government announced a 6.5% increase in Core Spending Power for councils nationally, but only 6.1% for Somerset Council. This below national average increase in funding for Somerset Council has been described as ‘bitterly disappointing’ by Leader Bill Revans (see here).

Have your say on Police budget:

Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Avon and Somerset Mark Shelford has launched a survey asking if local people support his proposal to increase the precept – the policing part of the council tax – by at least £10 a year for the average band D household. The PCC is responsible for setting the amount of money residents contribute to local policing through the precept, and the Government determines how much PCCs can increase the precept by. The covering email states that even with this assumed increase, savings will still need to be made, likely resulting in about 250 staff roles being cut across the next few years, which will have an impact on front line services such as visible policing and the ability to investigate crime. The PCC wants to hear what you think about this – the survey and information can be found here. The survey closes on 22 January. As the survey does not allow freehand responses, you will need to contact the office of the Police & Crime Commissioner about issues of concern in other ways – please see here.

New playground at the Old Showfield:

The new and improved children’s playground being built at the Old Showfield by contractors for Frome Town Council is nearly finished, but winter weather now means it will open next year, probably in the Spring – see here. This should be well worth the wait.

You can see a video of the spectacular Frome Drone show on fireworks night, by Celestial at the Old Showfield, here on Youtube, with a link to Rotary’s fundraising site too.

Selwood Crescent green bench:

Thanks go to Frome Town Council for organising the new park bench at the green at Selwood Crescent and Mendip Drive. I had asked Mendip District Council and then Somerset Council to allow this, so it is good to see it finally in place, to give everyone a chance to sit and watch their children play, or just sit and pass the time with friends.

Traffic lights at Bath Road, Frome:

It is also good to see the work to replace the three-way traffic lights at Bath Road and Princess Anne Road finished before Christmas by contractors for Somerset Council. I had to report the temporary traffic lights being stuck on red a couple of times in the last few weeks, and that the callout number went to voicemail, but the work was needed so it is good to see it done.

Packsaddle fields update:

The planning application submitted by LiveWest for 74 homes and a respite home for disabled children at the Somerset Council owned fields off Packsaddle Way (see here) will take more time before it comes to the Planning Committee for a decision. Many new documents and plans were submitted in October, and there were some more in early December, after comments and queries from Somerset Council’s Ecologist in November. I expect further comments on the ecological impacts and recent documents from the Ecologist as well as Natural England. The Somerset Highways team has accepted the traffic impact, parking provision and junction capacity, and National Highways have no objection subject to a contribution to A36 roundabout capacity improvements being agreed.

The planning department also commissioned an independent review of the Viability Appraisal submitted by the applicants. The review concluded the development is not viable if it is required to provide a full planning policy requirement of 30% affordable housing, but a partially planning compliant scheme with 18% Affordable housing (13 units) would be viable. Objections have been submitted by 272 residents, Frome Town Council, Frome Civic Society and Somerset CPRE. I will keep you updated as this gets closer to a committee date.

Rode solar farm update:

Consultation has officially closed on the planning application for the proposed ‘Bluebell Wood’ solar farm with battery storage and associated infrastructure, on 74 hectares of land (184 acres) to the east of Rode (see here), but comments can still be submitted. The applicants estimate that the solar panels would generate up to 49.9 Megawatts (MW) of electricity and would include 50MW of battery storage, enough to power over 16,000 homes annually. The planning application (ref. 2023/2183/FUL) has attracted 39 objections from members of the public, and Rode Parish Council also agreed to object at its December meeting (see here) for reasons set out in the official response (listed here).

Delay to new Local Plan housing development site allocations:

The Local Plan for the former Mendip District is also being updated, after a call for sites was required to replace the sites previously allocated for housing but which were removed from the plan in Norton St Philip Parish Council’s successful High Court challenge. Having a site allocated for development in a Local Plan really helps get planning permission. Somerset Council officers are still assessing over 140 sites that were submitted into the process by landowners, including several sites around Frome and elsewhere. There will be a verbal update at the Planning and Transport Policy Subcommittee on Tuesday 19th December (see here) but the consultation report and Sustainability Appraisal of the sites will not be ready until before the next meeting on 14th February 2024. We will then know which sites have been judged by the planning policy team to be suitable, sustainable, available and deliverable by 2029, before a 6 week public consultation begins.

Nuisance from flies or railway noise?

Please do not forget that if you are finding flies around the sewage works (please see here) or noise (from trains at night or any source) a problem, please let me know and do not suffer in silence.

I am also awaiting a meeting to be arranged with Network Rail and Hanson (Heidelberg Materials) about the overnight train idling at Lower Innox.

Network Rail and their contractors are continuing work to strengthen the railway bridge between the Cheese & Grain and Welshmill Park, and are now working 24 hours a day until 2nd January (see below notice in the Cheese & Grain car park). Some of this work is noisy and has already disturbed some residents at night. For more information or to get in touch with Network Rail, please call the 24 hour helpline on 03457 11 41 41, visit https://www.networkrail.co.uk/communities/contact-us/ or email CRwest@networkrail.co.uk.

End to Recycling Centre charges for some DIY waste:

Following a change in the law, Somerset residents will soon be able to dispose of some DIY waste free of charge at Somerset recycling sites, but will need to book ahead. From 1 January 2024, current charges for disposing of construction and demolition materials including: asbestos, plasterboard, hardcore and rubble from household DIY projects will be removed – please see here.

How to recycle your Christmas tree:

Somerset Council is encouraging everyone who has a Christmas tree to recycle it after Christmas. The best option is to compost it at home or turn it into a wildlife habitat, and Garden Waste Service subscribers can leave their decoration-free tree out with their first collection of the year (restarting Monday 8th January), if it is smaller than 2 metres (6ft). Trees can also be taken to the Frome household waste recycling centre and put it in the garden waste skip – please see here. Somerset Council is also asking residents to reduce the amount of cardboard put out for kerbside recycling after Christmas (see here).

Somerset Council rated as a climate leader:

Somerset Council has been recognised as a leader in its work this year to respond to the climate emergency, by receiving a score of A- (“Leadership”) from environmental disclosure charity CDP. The rating compares to a regional average of B and a Global average of C. The score is based on the Council’s climate-related projects, strategies and activities, such as its plans for expanding the electric vehicle charging network, Tree Strategy and work to encourage the uptake of ‘retrofit’ home heat efficiency (see here).

Frome Town Council wins national football award:

Frome Town Council has won the Non-League Club Award at the Football Supporters Association Awards, for its work to save Frome Town Football Club and its Badgers Hill Stadium. The award was presented by journalist Victoria Derbyshire (see here). The new Frome Town Community Benefit Society is inviting everyone with a connection to Frome to become a member and influence the direction and decisions made by the society, including to help guide future plans for the stadium (see here).

Frome swimming pool receives funding:

Somerset Council has been awarded over £211,000 from Phase 1 of the government’s Swimming Pool Support Fund. The money will be divided across five swimming pools – Frome Leisure Centre, Shepton Mallet Lido, Wells Leisure Centre, Brean Splash and Burnham-on-Sea Swim and Sports Academy and is to help swimming pool operators (including Fusion in Frome) with the costs of utility bills and swimming pool chemicals (see here).

Council secures phosphate mitigation funding:

Somerset Council has secured £9.6m of Government funding to deliver phosphate mitigation measures, to ‘unlock’ the delivery of new homes and provide for long term nature recovery (see here).

Sarah Dyke MP proposes law to improve rural bus services:

Somerton & Frome’s Lib Dem MP Sarah Dyke presented a bill in Parliament earlier this week, to ensure rural residents can access major employment and education hubs by public transport. The Public Transport (Rural Areas) Bill, which is due to have its second reading on January 26th, would set minimum service levels for public transport in rural areas (see here). Sarah has also set up another petition to save bus routes that could be under threat, including the evening services of the D2 (see here).

Somerset parents and schools looking for support – can you help?

Somerset Council is looking for new volunteers to become Independent Panel Members for School Appeals. Independent Panels hear and decide on admission, exclusion and transport issues for maintained schools and Academy schools in Somerset, and meet whenever a parent or school lodges an appeal against a decision related to a child’s education. The Panels meet online, no qualifications are needed and full training is provided. Please see here for details.

Changes to Somerset Council Executive:

There are two changes to the Council’s Executive at the end of the year, when Mike Rigby and Tessa Munt are stepping back – please see here.

Residents survey:

My residents survey is still open for your input so please have your say on local issues here.

Boundary changes – Frome & East Somerset:

Our local parliamentary constituency boundaries are changing, with the current Somerton & Frome constituency being abolished at the next election. Frome and the surrounding area will join with the Midsomer Norton and Radstock area (from the current NE Somerset constituency in the Bath & North East Somerset Council area) in the new Frome & East Somerset constituency (see here, and map below), and Somerton, Wincanton, Langport, Castle Cary, and Martock will join with Glastonbury, Street and Ilchester in the new Glastonbury & Somerton constituency. Somerton & Frome Lib Dem MP Sarah Dyke has been selected to stand for the new Glastonbury & Somerton constituency at the next election, promising to make fixing local health services her main focus if re-elected (see here).

The Lib Dem local party for the new Frome & East Somerset constituency is (after 1/1/24) now run within an expanded B&NES Lib Dem party (new name TBC) which will include three constituencies – Bath (where Lib Dem Wera Hobhouse is MP), North East Somerset & Hanham, and Frome and East Somerset. We had a Christmas drinks in Norton St Philip just before Christmas, with local members and party activists. Please see https://www.bathneslibdems.org.uk/ and contact me or email theoffice@bathneslibdems.org.uk or phone 01225 316316 to find out more and get involved.


In the last couple of months I have attended:

  • The latest meeting of the Vale of Frome Local Community Network (see here) on 7th December. This was online only due to the threat of flooding. We discussed the potential for service devolution from Somerset Council to parishes, what is being done about road safety (with a presentation from Highways officers and Police), and a questionnaire for parish councils to identify priorities for action. Please get in touch if you want to know more.
  • Frome Town Council’s full council meetings on 15th November (see here) and December (see here) (online). The November meeting focused on potential implications of Somerset Council’s financial situation for Frome and what Frome could do to take on more services locally. The recent accident in Rodden Road, and potential speed limit reductions at Fromefield and elsewhere were discussed, and it was agreed that additional speed indicator device locations there would be set up.
  • Norton St Philip Parish Council in November (see here for all meetings)
  • Beckington Parish Council in November (see here)
  • Rode Parish Council in November and December (see here), the December meeting discussed the solar farm at length, and resulted in an objection from the parish council (see here)
  • Somerset Council Planning (East) Committee, on 5th December (see here), where we gave Santa’s Grotto planning permission (see here), and on 7th November (here) when most of the decisions were unanimous in favour.
  • Somerset Council’s Climate & Place Scrutiny Committee, 22nd November (see here): I chaired the meeting and we went through several items concerning economic development funding, the Taunton Park & Ride, budgets and future plans. Further briefings were called for on the development funds, as there are gaps between what the Government allows the council to bid for.
  • Somerset Council briefings on finance, the Mendip Local Plan, biodiversity and nature recovery.

Full Council: Somerset Council’s Full Council meeting was on Weds 20th December, see here. This included annual reports, a report of the leader and Executive (including council finances, the Council Tax Reduction & Exceptional Hardship Scheme for 2024/25), a report of some staff redundancies, and a motion calling for an immediate bilateral ceasefire in the war in Israel-Gaza, which was passed.

Meetings planned in January so far include:

We will remember them:

It was a great honour to present the local official Somerset Council remembrance wreath on Remembrance Sunday at the Memorial Theatre in Frome, and it was a very moving occasion. The World War Two plaque in the Memorial Theatre foyer was also rededicated with the addition of the name of Corporal R.W. Smith, Royal Corps of Signals, who died in 1946, as a result of his service, and members of his family were present to lay wreaths. We must always remember the sacrifices made by everyone who serves and has served our great country, for our future and our freedoms. “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.”.

Lastly can I just wish you all a very Happy New Year.

Do get in touch if there is anything I can help with.

Adam Boyden
Somerset Councillor for Frome North division
Vice Chair of Somerset Council’s Climate & Place Scrutiny Committee and the Vale of Frome Local Community Network
Mobile: 07809 284817
Email: adam.boyden@somerset.gov.uk
Web: https://adamboyden.mycouncillor.org.uk/


2 Responses

  1. Marilyn Vernon says:

    Thank you Adam, for all the work you do to support Frome & the community. Keeping up to date with events, future plans, & important council decisions in our town is much appreciated.

  2. Having experienced firsthand the challenges posed by the festive season, I can truly appreciate the diligent efforts of the Somerset Council waste team in managing waste and recycling collections. The holiday period always brings about a surge in recycling and refuse, and this year, it seems like Somerset has faced even more hurdles with altered collection days, unpredictable weather, and a few unexpected vehicle breakdowns.

    I found myself navigating through the maze of changed schedules during the Christmas and New Year bank holidays, realizing just how much coordination and adaptability are required to keep our waste management system running smoothly. The resilience displayed by the waste team in the face of these challenges deserves commendation.

    The mention of extra-heavy loads adds another layer to the behind-the-scenes efforts. It’s not just about routine collections but also about managing the increased volume of waste generated during the festive period. As someone who actively participates in recycling, it’s heartening to see the commitment of the waste team in handling this surge responsibly. Despite the inevitable disruptions, it’s essential to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the Somerset Council waste team. Their ability to navigate through changed circumstances, unfavorable weather, and unexpected breakdowns ensures that our community’s waste is managed efficiently, contributing to a cleaner and more sustainable environment. Kudos to the team for their unwavering commitment to keeping Somerset clean and green!

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