The importance of being ambitious

How is an IfF led town council so different from one lead by national political parties? One word: ambition. In this blog Peter Mcfadyen explains why this one characteristic is important for town councils and essential during this time of austerity.

D is for Debt.

As the election approaches we will be told borrowing – and debt – it is a bad thing (see a potential councillor’s letter in the Frome Standard). But is that always the case? Historically Frome Town lost most of her land and buildings to Mendip when the District was created. This means we have less control as to what happens in the Town where these are concerned. We can’t earn money from rent, or save money for organisations by using our own buildings; and significant areas of land are not maintained as services from the District are reduced. At the moment interest rates are very low and the Town Council can borrow money at a fixed rate. Borrowing money allows quite large sums to be raised for buildings like the Frome Town Hall, and paid back in small amounts over many years. Borrowing can also be used to replace an ongoing cost, a lower loan and interest repayment, as the IfF led Council did with the Cheese and Grain. Here an ever increasing annual subsidy – of around £35,000 a year – was replaced with a loan repayment of £33,000 and the loan used to refurbish the building, creating a significantly improved facilitate for Frome and a viable business – at a lower annual cost to the Town Council. This Council has borrowed money for the Cheese and Grain; land and buildings on Saxonvale which saved youth training and also gives Frome people a stake in the future of that area; and the new Town Hall. Added to significant historic repayments from the purchase of the Cheese and Grain...