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Independent council is national news

FROME’S new town council – formed entirely of independent candidates – gained national exposure last month following a major spotlight in The Guardian.

Guardian journalist John Harris, a resident of Frome, wrote a detailed account of the driving forces behind Independents for Frome (IfF), and how its successful ‘flatpack democracy’ is being seen across the country.

Dated 22nd May, the piece titled ‘How Flatpack Democracy beat the old parties in the People’s Republic of Frome’ explained that taking the power from national parties is becoming more popular – and Frome is leading the way.

John Harris writes, “The IfF idea seems to be spreading, as people add their voices to a quiet rebellion that is materialising in some very unlikely places – from small commuter towns in Bedfordshire to the political home of George Osborne.

“There are two key elements to this very English revolt: a quest to revive the often moribund town and parish authorities long squashed by county, borough and district councils, and give them a new energy and purpose; and in the places where party politics has dominated even this lowly tier of government, the shoving aside of the big parties in pursuit of new ways of doing things.”

The article shows dissatisfaction with party politics in Frome, as well as local councillors’ desire to make government work realistically at a local level.

A comment given by Peter Macfadyen, Frome’s mayor until last month, said, “You can’t change things if you only put up a few people. It has to be total revolution or nothing: that was our stance.

“[Town council meetings are] infinitely friendlier now, more open. We get crowds sometimes. There are other town councils where the clerk walks in first, and the members stand, the mayor comes in behind, and they then say a prayer. The public have to write in beforehand, saying they want to speak. And it’s all just lost in some sort of Victorian past. It’s just insane. And of course, it means that if you know all the rules, you’re in control. That’s the problem.”

John Harris’s article explains how the story of Frome’s independent-run council continues to spread outside of the town. Cllr Macfadyen’s book ‘Flatpack Democracy’, in which he details the IfF story, has sold nearly 1,000 copies.

There will also be a spokesperson for the Independents for Frome taking to the stage at Glastonbury Festival this month, in a talk about radical movements alongside speakers from new alternative parties in Greece, Syria, and Spain.

To read John Harris’s full article, search ‘flatpack democracy’ on www.theguardian.com.

The new Frome Town Council was formed after this year’s local election on 7th May, when independent candidates took an unprecedented victory, winning all 17 seats.

To find out more about the council, head to www.frometowncouncil.gov.uk or www.iffrome.org.uk.

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