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Frome gets ‘raw deal’ from Somerset spending

A FROME town councillor has raised questions over an ‘apparent unfairness in spending,’ as figures published by Somerset County Council appear to show that Frome has drawn the short straw when it comes to funding for building projects.   

Figures published in ‘Your Somerset’, the council’s newsletter, shows where £115m of the capital budget has been spent over the last four years. While Frome has received £1.8million, it’s a drop in the ocean compared the £32.9m spent on Bridgwater and £48.8m spent on Taunton.

The capital budget is money the council receives from government and the sale of land and buildings. The money can only be spent on building projects, such as superfast broadband, school buildings, children’s centres, new roads, and bridges.

Town councillor Nick White, who contacted the Frome Times when he saw the figures, said, “Frome has received just £1.8m compared to Bridgwater’s £33m and Taunton’s £49m. Taunton has a population of just over twice the size of Frome, yet it has received funding that is 26 times greater than that of Frome’s. I think it is reasonable to question this apparent unfairness in spending?”

Frome Mayor Pippa Goldfinger said, “Bravo to Nick White for drawing our attention to this. We are constantly being told that there is no money available for large scale projects – in fact some candidates for County elections make great play of not spending any money on Frome. The Somerset County Council figures show that this is not universal. Large sums of money are being spent near County Hall in Taunton (£49M) and in Bridgwater (£33M) while Frome (receiving just £1.8M) is denied its fair share.”

Somerset County Council has defended its spending, saying that the map they have published only shows around half of what has been spent in the county. It says that the figures published only cover £115m of the £271m spent since 2009.

A Somerset County Council spokesman told Frome Times, “Only about half of what has either been spent or is in the process of being spent is shown on the map, and the amounts for Yeovil, Taunton and Bridgwater have been vastly inflated by the granting of large sums by the Government for new schools, bridges and roads.

“The map shows just some of the places where Somerset County Council has either spent, or planned to spend, more than £300 million on the county’s infrastructure. It is indicative of the sort of sums of money that is spent improving schools, roads, rights of way and so on.”