The ‘C’ Word

It’s that time of year when everyone is gearing up for elections. When I say everyone what I really mean is candidates for the Town and District councils and the general election. So it came as no surprise last Wednesday when a Conservative Councillor read out a list of questions that really could have been asked at any point in the past four years (why save them up?). One question however gave us a foretaste of the likely criticism we will face: “How much money has Frome Town Council spent on consultants? Ah consultants, that dread word that speaks of wasteful spending! But wait a minute, let’s pick this apart and identify who these consultants are and why have they been hired? First off Frome Town Council is a tiny public body with a staff of around 11 people including outdoor services and 2 apprentices. We’re really lucky to have extremely skilled, competent and enthusiastic staff, we’re also really lucky to have councillors who bring a range of skills, expertise and experience to their roles which we draw on wherever possible. However there are specific projects that require specific skills and it would be remiss (and in some cases illegal) for us not to use professional advice. Let’s take for example the purchasing of the Town Hall from the County Council. In order to establish a fair price and to realistically begin to cost the project it was necessary to employ a surveyor to assess the condition of the building. I guess you could say that the surveyor is one of the consultants we’ve employed. Now the Neighbourhood Plan...

Frome’s Missing Link

Frome’s Missing Links  – the campaign to continue the traffic-free cycle / multi-user route into Frome. Route 24 of the National Cycle Network passes through Frome, linking Frome to Longleat and Warminster to the south-east and to Great Elm, Radstock and Bath to the north-west. The trouble is that there are gaps where the route is on busy roads and/or up steep hills, which put people off using them – these are the missing links. What is needed is level, safe and attractive routes to wheel, push, walk on, to encourage everyone to get out from Frome to the surrounding countryside and get some fresh air and exercise. There are actually two Missing Links – Great Elm to Frome, and Longleat to Frome. The group is concentrating most on the Great Elm to Frome one at the moment which has 3 phases. Phase 1 was opened on 31 January 2015. This is the bit from Welshmill out towardsWhatcombe Farm, for which the group won the £10,000 People’s Grant, organised by the town council and voted for by all the resident of the town; and were also awarded  a £75,000 Mendip Legacy Grant. Phase 2 is the bit from Great Elm currently being worked on by volunteers so some of us IfF candidate and councillors went to help at the Missing Link group’s latest ‘Chain Gang’ work day on 14 March 2015. This took place at Great Elm where the cycle path, which follows a disused railway line from Radstock, ends – or rather it joins the road for the rest of the route into Frome. This is Phase 2...

Meet the candidates next at…

Candidates Litter pick and chat at 8 March – St Johns Road garage  9.30 am 29 March – Singers Knoll playground  2.00pm 19 April – Badcox at the newsagents 9.00 am

And again…?

I had assumed that it would be an easy decision. After the surprise of getting elected had worn off (and it did take a couple of months) I assumed that I would be thoroughly sick of being a town councillor in four years time and that I be glad to pass the baton on. When the time to make a decision came I wasn’t lacking reasons to give it up: the unsociable hours, apparently endless meetings, the frustration of a district council that appeared to take the polar opposite approach and party politicians who believed their role was to object to whatever any IfF councillor suggested just on principle. And yet here I am throwing my hat in to the ring again. So, how come I’m back here with 16 others fighting for another Independent town council? There are two reasons. Firstly, I’ve really come to believe in the importance of independent politics. Last time it might have been more about replacing a non functioning council. Now, having seen what the parties offer locally, how much more a group of independents can achieve and how important it has become for our town to make our own decisions I’m determined to do all I can to keep our town independent. It turns out that that has meant signing up for another four years. Secondly, if I’m honest I’ve quite enjoyed it. I’ve met so many people and seen so many amazing things that go in this wonderful, strange and diverse town of ours that I wouldn’t have otherwise come across. Also, the process of bringing together a group of people...