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Campaigners highlight lack of benches in Frome with chair sit-in

DISAPPOINTED residents took action against Frome and Mendip councils by organising a ‘bring a chair to an empty square’ campaign on Saturday 6th October to highlight their concern at a lack of benches around the town centre. 

The Boyle Cross area in Frome has recently be transformed by the town council, in conjunction with Mendip District Council, to make it more pedestrian-friendly. However, a group of residents are claiming that both councils promised them more seating in the area, but the end result amounted to a flat square, ‘greatly different from what was originally proposed’. 

David Howells, one of the campaigners said, “This campaign ‘Bring a chair to the empty square’ is to put pressure on Mendip District Council (MDC) to provide public seating at Boyle Cross, so as to make it an inclusive space for all to enjoy. Public seating was in the original plans, so the campaign is for MDC to implement what was in the original proposal. When this plan was first mooted, it included benches and more greenery. 

“After appealing the original decision by MDC to refuse the plans to redevelop Boyle Cross, Frome Town Council (FTC) won on appeal and went ahead with the development.

“Unfortunately, the end result has amounted to a flat square with a token seat next to the road, greatly different from what was originally proposed by FTC.

“There are no public seats in the vicinity of the town centre, making it especially difficult for families, people with disabilities and older people, thereby making it a non-inclusive public space.

“Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 it is incumbent on councils to provide access to and use of any public places.

“Unfortunately, at the moment the only place people can sit in the centre of town is in a cafe, which not everyone can afford or wants to do. In the centre of other towns nearby, such as Trowbridge, there is public seating. There are many positive aspects to Frome and the provision of public seating would be a welcome addition.”

The group say they will carry on with the campaign as long as the issue remains unaddressed by the councils. 

“We are not asking for anything expensive, just a few benches,” added David. 

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