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Issue 330 – Cheese and Grain funding secured

The Cheese and Grain received a major boost last week after striking a new financial deal with Frome Town Council which will secure the centre’s future for the coming year.

The council has agreed to give the Cheese and Grain the remainder of its town council annual funding in one lump sum, rather than as a monthly grant. It means the popular centre will be better able to plan ahead.
Mayor of Frome cllr Nick White said, “The previous council passed a motion that the Cheese and Grain would receive monthly funding.
“The new council decided that this does not have to be the case. The Cheese and Grain has always functioned with a one-off payment.
“Speaking as an Independent for Frome, the Cheese and Grain is an important asset to the town and we must support the venue.
“There have been conversations with the Cheese and Grain about how to move forward and find ways in which the venue can work with less reliance on the town council. But, in going forward, we will work with the trustees to do what’s best for the venue.”
Trustee of the Cheese and Grain and financial director John Birkett-Smith said he was ‘delighted’ with the result. “This is great news,” he said. “The new council is brilliantly receptive to the needs of the Cheese and Grain. We appreciate the town council’s renewed support.
“Finances were becoming hard to manage on a monthly grant. The funding secured for a year is a terrific step forward. Almost a year ago there were talks of no funding at all for the venue.”
In December last year, the council controversially looked to take over the centre itself and eventually agreed to offer the venue a monthly grant of £2,917 for up to 12 months from April of this year, rather than a one-off grant for the whole year.
It was a move that was heavily criticised and led to the formation of the Independents for Frome (ifF) organisation which then won control of the town council in May’s elections.
Now, the new town council has decided that the remainder of the £35,000 annual grant, provided by the current Service Level Agreement (SLA) between the town council and the Cheese and Grain, will be given to the venue in one cash lump sum.
Members of the Cheese and Grain had requested the remaining funds to help out financially as it became apparent that the venue was struggling to cope financially with monthly subsidiaries.
In moving forward John Birkett-Smith is confident that talks with the council and plans for the Cheese and Grain will result in the venue becoming less dependent on the SLA agreement. “There are a few plans and talks in motion” he said. “There are a few plans that the trustees are talking through at the moment. And should these come to fruition, then the venue can become less dependent on the town council grant.
“For example, we are looking into installing solar panels on the roof. These would produce electricity for the building as well as export to the National Grid, under the Feed-In Tariff scheme.

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