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Frome hosts a Somerset Forum

Frome welcomed 36 visitors from Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire on Wednesday 15th October to take part in a Somerset Towns Forum (STF) event in the Cheese and Grain. 

The Forum is now self-supporting and is hosted in rotation by its members. This half year, Vision for Frome (V4F) is the Host and had the responsibility of organising the event.

The discussion themes were important ones for the health and wellbeing of the town,  judging by the attendance, many others too.  The presentations covered: “Community Plans – Are they a successful use of the time, effort and money?”  and “Town Developments – which wins: Jobs and commerce or just housing to feed other towns?”

Charles Wood, V4F chairman, put forward good evidence that the £35k expenditure and over two years of substantial volunteer effort on producing a Community Plan was ultimately well worthwhile, notwithstanding a hesitant implementation start after the May 2009 delivery.

Much of what is happening in the town is reflected in the Plan, having been taken up by the current town council as a template for their programme of work, with it also being a substantial help in successful funding applications.

Peter Wheelhouse, the Town council economic development and regeneration manager, followed with the second theme, beginning with how the town plays host to many successful, interesting and innovative businesses, not least in the sustainability arena that is becoming a feature of the town’s activities. However, the down side is the progressive loss of industrial brown field sites to housing, and how this trend must be countered if these industries are to thrive and the increasing town population is to find work in Frome.

Frome business needs were then further covered by Gavin Eddy, owner of the Old Church School business centre.  He identified Frome as a desirable business location, with the facilities he offers being taken up to capacity very quickly. More of the same is very much needed in the town, and he made an impressive case for Saxonvale to play an essential part in this, rather than being turned over predominantly to a supermarket and housing.

Feedback from the 36 attendees, representing Frome, other towns from Devizes to Watchet, and the district and county councils, was very positive.

V4F are grateful for the town council and Gavin Eddy’s help in achieving this.  Gavin said, “It was encouraging to see how many towns are looking to Frome as an example of what can be achieved with a motivated community and a supportive and pro-active town council.”

The next Forum will probably be in Wells after the May General Election, to be arranged by the next Hosts Aster Communities.

Copies of the presentations made at the event in Frome can be found at www.somersettowns forum.org.uk and www.vision4frome.org.uk