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Frome elects first Green Party county councillors as Tories hold on to Council

HISTORY has been made in Frome as the Green Party won two seats on Somerset County Council in the local council elections last week. But the Conservatives retained control of the council, winning 35 of the 55 seats.

Martin Dimery won in Frome East for the Greens with 983 votes, just four votes ahead of his Conservative opponent Eve Berry on 979 while John Clarke also won for the Greens in Frome West with 987 votes. Linda Oliver for the Conservatives was elected in Frome North with 1,551 votes.

In the by-election for the Frome College Ward on Mendip District Council, Conservative Carole Bullen was elected with 576 votes.

Overall the Conservatives have retained control of Somerset County Council. They won 35 seats (up 7 from 2013), Liberal Democrats 12 (down 6 from 2013), Labour 3 (3 in 2013), Independent 3 (up 1 from 2013) and Green Party 2 (up 2 seats from 2013).

UKIP were big losers of the night, losing all three of its seats in the county.

Martin Dimery, well known in the town as the Frome Festival director said, “It is a great honour to represent Frome East on Somerset County Council. My thanks go out to all those who voted for the Green Party in this historic breakthrough. I will attempt to represent the people of this town with the commitment and energy the position requires.”

John Clarke said, “The election of two county councillors is an historical result and a milestone for the Green Party in Somerset. I feel proud people have chosen me to represent them and I am really looking forward to working on behalf of the people of Frome and Somerset. This result demonstrated how our messages of people having a greater say in what matters to them, standing up for Frome and getting a fair deal for Frome resonated with people.

“I want to promote open, honest and transparent politics. We must move away from tribal politics and form alliances with those who share our values and aspirations. It is only through this approach that we can urgently oppose cuts to services which are threatening all of us but especially the most vulnerable, older people, disabled and those with mental health difficulties. This must be a priority.

“Yes, it will be difficult to work with a Conservative majority but what will make the difference is that we believe strongly in working with others and I am happy to work with any councillors who share our goals. I am particularly keen to work with Frome Town Council and our Mendip district councillors which includes our three Green Party councillors.  Through this collaborative working we can achieve change and make a difference.

“One of my priorities is to start talking with people about what matters to them and taking action with the community to address their concerns. During the campaign people told me of their concerns about traffic in certain areas of Frome, of the need to improve recycling, the need for affordable housing and improve employment opportunities. I want to see a healthier community, a community which benefits from the protection of the environment and open spaces, a community which recognises the urgency of tackling climate change.

“Over the next four years as a county councillor I want to use my position to fight for resources and find ways, with all sections of the community, to address these issues. We need to empower the community to feel they can have an influence in what happens around them and in their town. To be part of the solution and not be done to, and feel powerless. Frome is a special town and has a uniqueness all of its own. I want to see Frome and Somerset thrive and people’s quality of lives improving and benefiting from a Green perspective and approach to politics.”

On behalf of the East Mendip Green Party, Emma Russell said, “It’s really terrific to have the first Green Party councillors elected to Somerset – John, Martin and a big Green team of volunteers worked really hard on the campaign and we’re delighted that voters in Frome have given us the opportunity to take a new approach at county.

“What we think Greens can achieve at Somerset is to work positively and collaboratively with other councillors, groups and the Frome community on really important issues like protecting services, making sure schools have the funding they need and protecting the local environment. During the campaign, many voters said that they thought councillors just disappeared between elections, and they had no idea what was going on at the council.

“We’re hoping to take a more transparent approach – taking news from the county back to the community to keep people informed and involved in the activities of Somerset council.

“John and Martin will also be challenging the lack of attention and resources Frome has had from Somerset and asking for a fairer deal for our town.”

In the Frome East Ward, Martin Dimery (elected) received 983 votes, Eve Berry (Conservative) 979 votes, Alvin Horsfall (Liberal Democrat) 678 votes and David Oakensen (Labour) 271 votes.

In the Frome North Ward, Linda Oliver (elected) received 1551 votes, Adam Boyden (Liberal Democrat) 1085 votes and Pepita Collins (Green Party) 375.

In the Frome West Ward, John Clarke (elected) received 987 votes, Jo Beale (Conservative) 801 votes, Damon Hooton (Liberal Democrat) 680 votes, Theresa Clark (Labour) 243 votes and Derek (The Liberal Party) 76 votes.