Independents for Frome beyond Frome
Independents for Frome is a group of independent people determined to do what is best for their local area. Founded in 2011, we come from all walks of life and shades of opinion, and collaborate and co-operate to serve our communities, answering to no-one other than local people.
Our activity has in the past, as our name suggests, been solely within the boundaries of Frome Town – where we have held the Town Council since our inception. We thought long and hard about standing at County level. The upcoming changes to local government in Somerset represent a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create change for the better, but also carry a danger of making things worse. We feel that right now there is a real need for a strong, politically-independent voice to help the new Somerset Council.
So in that spirit we are not standing “against” anyone in this election, but instead for five clear reasons:
- To promote localism.
We want to be a strong voice for the positive potential of localism across the county to help build a better Somerset. Town and parish councils need a clear and practical role, and local people must be able to shape their own places. A centralisation of resources and decision making in Taunton will help no one. The planning system is a major example of this, and we need to shape a better arrangement from the start.
2. To encourage responsible devolution.
The new council is pledged to consider the devolution of assets and services to town and parish councils. We have ambitions with this agenda for Frome Town Council, but are also equally clear that one size does not fit all, and that this should not mean responsibilities are dumped on town and parishes, but rather they should be based on local choice and mutual benefit.
3. To form useful Local Community Networks.
We know very little about the specific geography, budgets or powers of these proposed new bodies. They could be powerful gatherings that make a real difference – focusing the resources of the public sector bodies (including the County Council, Police, NHS, and third sector) or simply talking shops with no real value. Frome Town is one of the pilots of this programme, and, along with the parishes, we need to shape a positive role for them going forward.
4. To strengthen rational decision making.
The foundation of the way we work as IfF is to allow ourselves to be swayed by evidence and learning, and not fixed by dogma or ideology. The challenges Somerset faces are considerable and need serious consideration. Strong independent representation at County level, and clear proposals based on what works will help to create a new Council where people listen to what is being said, rather than be preoccupied by who is saying it.
5. To create a better council, not just a bigger council.
The challenges the new council will face are huge, but there is so much innovation at a local level across Somerset. We believe the new council needs to harness this innovation, be ambitious and take advantage of new programmes being piloted. This will help secure the funds and powers necessary to do something about broadband connectivity, rural transport, and the inclusion of our most vulnerable and isolated citizens.
As you can see we might have been born in Frome, but we are ready for Somerset. We are keen to work just as hard for those of you living beyond Frome town, as we have done and continue to do for those within Frome.
So whether you live in Frome or not, vote IfF on May the 5th!