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Issue 337 – Town councillors roll up their sleeves to replace Tarmac with flagstones

frome town councillors, who were fed up with Somerset County Council’s policy of replacing broken flagstones with Tarmac over the last few months, decided to take action into their own hands and lay some aesthetic flagstones themselves.

Somerset County Council’s policy of repairing with Tarmac was described by the town councillors as “a short term solution and one that future generations will rightly criticise. It is doubly wrong in conservation areas containing listed buildings where special limitations are placed on householders, but it seems OK for the county council to commit acts of “institutional vandalism”. In some conservation areas the space around the buildings and the street scene is as important as the buildings themselves.
“The worst example in Frome is Sheppards Barton, a fine example of mid 18th century houses, some of which are also listed of historic and architectural interest. The county council has replaced 17 flagstones with unsightly Tarmac – much to the dismay of local residents. A change of policy seems unlikely at the moment.”
As a result, six local town councillors – Mel Usher, Dickon Moore, Peter McFaddyen, Pippa Goldfinger, Nick White and led by local builder, councillor Dave Anderson, decided to do something about it. With the help of several friends and with flagstones donated by Frome Reclamation, sand and cement from a local building supplier and sandwiches and cakes from the Little Red Café, they took a day off work on Friday 23rd September, dug out all of the Tarmac and cut and laid 17 replacement flagstones.
Councillor Dave Anderson said, “It was a great example of getting off your butt and doing something about a problem. The public response was really heartwarming, describing the work as “awesome”, “brilliant” and “about time”. Dave joked, “We were finished in a day and with all due respect to my fellow councillors, an experienced crew who didn’t talk so much could have done the lot in half that time! It was all worth while however to see the Mayor Nick White break out in a sweat.”
Councillor Mel Usher said, “This is not about criticising the county council, we know they are short of money and we are going to try and identify the areas where they and Mendip District are withdrawing services to a future committee; people of Frome might be surprised at the results.
“The future for public services is bleak, we are going to have to devise new ways of working together and achieving the maximum out of the monies we do have. I hope that this small act of protest will act as a wake up call for all of us – and who knows what we might tackle next! ”