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Issue 345 – Mendip District Council U-turn on market proposal

MENDIP District Council has halted plans to relocate Frome Market into the Market Place, following heavy criticism over a lack of consultation.

The council planned to move the market on Saturdays, closing the town centre to traffic, for a trial period of three months. But the plans came under fire from Frome councillors, local shoppers and the market traders themselves who said they had not been consulted.
And, at a meeting of Mendip District Council’s Cabinet on Monday night, councillors voted to put the plans on hold. They are to conduct a thorough consultation before any decision is made. 
Mendip District Councillor for Frome College Adam Boyden said, “This is a great victory for the people of Frome. This decision was taken by Mendip because of the concerns from local residents, councillors and all bodies involved. The plan for Frome market will now be formulated after a thorough consultation period. All options can now be explored and put on the table. This goes to show that Frome has an active public who want to get involved with decisions that affect their town and all authorities have to tap into the public as a resource.
“The idea is to make Frome an ideal destination for shopping, and hopefully this is the first step of that process.”
The plans to relocate the market from its existing site in the main car park to the Market Place has sparked controversy with opinion divided. One side claims it will bring more people into the town centre and help regenerate Frome and the other, that the market is fine where it is and closing the town centre to traffic would put shoppers off.
Market trader, Dan Price, of Somerset Delicatessen said, “If plans to shut the town centre and relocate the market went through, then this could have raised a lot of problems. We’re concerned that closing the town centre will put people off coming into Frome and will annoy local residents, and we don’t want it to be the market traders who get the blame. I don’t think there’s enough space, personally, I worry that I won’t be able to take my van up there, which I need for refrigeration.
“Focusing on the market can only be a positive thing. But this needs to be carefully planned, with consultation. The danger is to lose the market altogether and you’ve got to remember Frome is a market town.”
Another market trader, Carl Wall, of Brookside Country Meats said, “A lot of our customers are disabled and we carry their goods to the car for them, which we’re able to do here. We’re not taking trade away from the town centre, I think a lot of our customers come to the market, go on into town, and then back to the car park. And people enjoy the experience of the market, that’s why they come to us and not the supermarket.”
Another market trader said, “There’s been no consultation, the first we heard was from the paper. It’s the worst idea, and will kill the market. There’s nothing wrong with the trade. There’s no advantage to moving the market. There’ll be problems with health and safety, with buses and pedestrians it’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt.”
Paul Hart, fishmonger, already trades from a stall in the town centre. He said, “For me it’s not going to make a huge difference, I’m there anyway. But I can see why the guys in the Market Yard won’t like it – I wouldn’t want to have to move. I’ve been in my place for 30 years and I only have to move my stall a few feet from my spot on the corner and people miss me.”

“Regeneration of
market is central to Frome’s success”

Mel Usher, leader of Frome Town Council said, “The regeneration of the town centre, including the markets, was a central part of the strategy recently adopted by the town council. “There is a lot of work and many consultations to be undertaken before this pilot project can get off the ground. We recognise it will not be universally popular.
“Vibrant markets make a big contribution to the social and economic life of the town. We also want opportunities for local smallholders and new entrepreneurs to get a foothold in the market. The opportunity is there and the principle is proven by the success of the artisans and flea markets. We should grasp this opportunity with both hands!”
• What are your thoughts? Would the new location for the Frome Market help the town economically, or will it cause traffic issues? Should the market move to the Market Place or stay in the Market Yard? Write to


Frome Times spoke to businesses throughout the town who were largely in support of the market relocating into the town centre, welcoming the road closures.
Jonathon Atkinson from The Settle on Cheap Street said, “This will do Frome some good. To have the street closed off could make the market a little different and unique, with people gathering in a central area. 
“We would all benefit from more people in the area. My only concern would be the cost of parking, compared to other towns, this is still quite expensive, I hope the council can address this.”
Julie Hutchinson from Simply Pearls said, “I think it’s a good idea, moving the market. In an ideal world, the town centre would be busy all the time and this could help to bring people into Frome. It could be good to have people walk around the town without fear of being run over. I think it’s good to trial the relocation and see what happens.”
Lisa from Frome Pet and Aquatic commented, “It’s a brilliant idea and will bring people into the town. Anything that brings footfall through the town is a positive thing. I’m very much for this.”
Further views, from councillors and residents who are against a market relocation are expressed in Frome Times’ letters column on page xx.

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