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Issue 337 – Town council sets out “Strategy for Success”

FROME Town Council will be considering a new “Strategy for Success” this week, a plan the Independents for Frome (IfF) describe as “a radical approach that aims to transform Frome.”

The initiative was one of the promises made by the IfF group when ten of their members became town councillors in May this year following local elections.
Starting from where they want the town to be in 2015, the IfF group’s ‘Strategy for Success’ features a retrospective look at the town back from 2015, to identify the steps required to achieve their goals. It also sets out what changes Frome will be seeing in the next 18 months and beyond. The strategy is due to be considered at the meeting of Frome Town Council on 12th October.
The IfF group say, “At a time when market towns across the country are struggling to find a way forward, the IfF group will set out its plans to make decisions which will enable Frome to take advantage of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
“Based on the findings of the Community Plan completed two years ago by ‘Vision for Frome’, the  unique approach looks back from the year 2015 in order to identify the steps required to achieve the town’s ambitions.”
For example the report identifies;
• Improvements to the Market Place, suggesting a “shared space” arrangement which removes all barriers, crossings, and unnecessary signs while putting responsibility for safety back in the hands of drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.
• A review of the role and staffing of the town council
• A rethink of how the town portrays itself to the outside world, with an emphasis on an identity as an innovation town”.
• A plan for the town council to grow and take on more services, as well as introducing a new form of pooled community budget, so that it is easier to see where all the money goes and help co-ordinate services better.
• A desire to buck the trends on employment and create a wealth of opportunities in a diversity of small and medium sized enterprises, with an emphasis on attracting creative industries and carving out a new niche for green technology.

Key focus areas

In keeping with the new council’s ethos of transparency and simplicity, the plan outlines five key focus areas:
• Building a sustainable economy
• A vibrant participatory community
• A thriving town centre
• Efficient and effective public services
• An innovative and supportive town council
The IfF group say, “It isn’t just about clever words and false promises, the strategy also identifies realistic actions for the next 18 months which will be turned into a work programme and priorities for the staff. “
 Convenor for IfF, cllr Mel Usher, who was once a chief executive of a council and ran the Government’s prestigious Improvement and Development Agency for England and Wales says, “It’s a radical approach but we think that is needed in order for the town to stand out from the crowd, to ensure that people feel proud about their home town and to attract new investment that will fit in with the ethos we are trying to create.
“Can we achieve it? Who knows, the new localism bill will give us new powers, but if you don’t have a dream how can you aim for the top? We certainly need the help of all town councillors, the people of Frome and especially the administrations at Mendip and County Hall. We may not always see eye to eye with other tiers of local government but we await their response with interest! I am willing to talk to anyone from the county and district councils in any place and any time.”
Councillor Peter McFadyen says, “This is a big step forward that takes away any doubt about what we as IfF, and we hope the whole council, are attempting to achieve. This will ensure that the council isn’t blown off course by political whims and petty arguments that so often dominate local politics.”
Copies of the full strategy are available in the library and on the Frome Town Council website.

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