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334 – Concerns raised over town centre market day closure

A Mendip District Councillor has raised concern over an application to close Frome’s town centre to traffic in order to host market days.

Cllr Sharon Snook, who represents the Frome Market ward on Mendip District Council, claims that decisions are moving ahead with councillors being “kept in the dark.” She also raises concerns over the economic validity of closing the town centre to traffic for two days of the week.
The idea for a town centre market, which would be held on Wednesdays and Saturdays, was part of a town council Vision for Frome initiative.
However, cllr Snook says she was unaware that an application had been made to Mendip District Council for road closures in Frome town centre.
In a letter to Frome Times she writes, “I have only just found out that it’s a done deal to close Frome town centre on Saturday and Wednesday to install market stalls. The police and highways have been consulted; however the two Mendip district ward councillors for Frome Market and the people of Frome have been kept in the dark.
“In the short time I have had to ask for opinions, here are some of the comments; Another reason to go to Trowbridge to do my shopping; Tourism will be deterred; Adverse effect on town business as many will see it as a no-go area.
“I know two of the county councillors are not in favour, a simple solution would be to expand the market into the Westway precinct down both sides and that will encourage a footfall into the town centre. People driving through the town centre will see how vibrant Frome has become if it works and will be tempted to stop and shop here, instead of going out of town.”

No decision
has been made

Leader of Frome Town Council, cllr Mel Usher, says that no decision about the town centre markets has yet been made. He said the council had discussed the idea of a closed off market day as part of their strategy for success. “There are discussions taking place, but it is not a done deal yet,” he said. “There are reports to prepare and decisions to be made that have to go to Mendip District Council’s cabinet.
“There’s a belief that the markets were once prosperous and bring more footfall into the town.
“This is part of the town’s strategy and was taken from the Vision for Frome, one of the most comprehensive public consultations to have taken place in the town.
“We’re still very much at the discussion stage and if this goes ahead it would be implemented around Easter time.”
A spokesperson from Mendip District Council said, “This is a result of a partnership between us and Frome Town Council. At the moment, road closure notices have gone up as early as possible so if this idea was to go ahead, then it can kick in right after Easter. There are no definite plans, but they’re there as a fail-safe.”
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