In the beginning…
Once upon a time a group of seven people sat in a pub in the Somerset market town of Frome and agreed that they didn’t like what national party politics had done to their town. They formed a group and released an initial statement outlining some principles and calling a public meeting.
That meeting took place in February 2011 and from it there were numerous offers of help and support and more potential candidates than there were seats to be contested. 17 were eventually chosen.
The Battle for Frome
The election campaign took off in March with the 17 candidates and many supporters taking part in market stalls and canvassing. There were three town wide leaflets produced introducing the residents to this new political option.
We wanted people to understand our sense of financial responsibility and released an article to explain how we were running a campaign on very little money.
The initial focus of our campaign was not the town council but increasing participation in the democratic process by increasing voter registration.
We learnt that voter registration was not the only barrier to participation. To help we provided information on where polling stations were, how the wards were laid out and crucially how the local elections worked
It became clear that people were intrigued by the concept of IfF but wanted to know what we stood for and what we planned to do. We put our heads together (not always easy for a group of independents) and agreed some policy areas which were published in summary in our second election leaflet.
There were a small number of people who couldn’t get their heads around the idea of a group of independents. This kicked off a discussion that rumbled along in the background for most of the campaign.
Votes were cast on 5th May 2011 with the results being declared the following day. The full results can be found here. The blogs from the final day of the campaign and from the declaration are also available.
The Brave New World
All was not sweetness and light from 7th May onwards. There were some tricky negotiations with others and amongst ourselves. We copped some stick for dismantling the old committee structure but put up a robust defence of our actions.