We’ve been committed to opening up the Town Council allowing the decisions made in the town to be scrutinised and influenced by everyone who wants to take part.
Where specific issues arise we have created Working Parties, utilising community expertise. For example, the Working Parties have been key in informing the Open Spaces Strategy and an Ethical Decision Making Policy – drawing on expertise on specific issues.
We’ve organised alternative ways of looking at key issues including the arrival of the Steiner School and the proposed Saxonvale development. These events help inform the decisions made by the full council.
‘Participate Frome’ is run from within the council and helps to attract people who might shy away from a town council meeting to have their say. The work toward an ‘active democracy’ remains ongoing.
We have increased the communication coming out of the Town Council, with a new website, Facebook postings and twitter because we believe this is what people want, and it will draw people into genuine participation.
Internally, we have made some really significant changes to how the Council is run using fewer committees and very good staff who are empowered to make things happen. There are more staff, we acknowledge that, but that’s a reflection of our ambition for the town and the need to replace projects and functions that are unlikely to be met by wider government.
We’ve tried hard to ensure the first answer council staff give is “yes” rather than finding a reason not to do something… and to cultivate a lightness and positive attitude.
Public meetings are very dIfFerent affairs now and anyone can ask to speak at any time on any of the issues under discussion. We have consistently seen more of the public at meetings and the Annual Meetings have been packed.
The amount of national and international press attention that Frome has gained has not been by accident. We feel that it has helped to bring in new investors and improved the image of the town for the better.