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Frome fights plans to withdraw funding for regional rail partnership

FROME Town Council has agreed to fight a proposal that Somerset County Council withdraws funding from the Heart of Wessex Community Rail Partnership.

The partnership is a joint venture between the train operating company (First Great Western) and local authorities along the Bristol to Weymouth line.

At the council’s external affairs committee, members learned that the proposal is due to come before Somerset County Council’s Cabinet in November.

The partnership has played a key role in coordinating volunteer activity, promotional work and securing service and station improvements over its 10 year history.  This has included improvements to Frome station.

Speaking about the proposal, cllr Peter Macfadyen, Chair of external affairs said, “Our worry is that the withdrawal of funding by Somerset County Council would result in other partners dropping out because Somerset is located in the middle of the route.

“Not only would this impact on promotion of the Bristol to Weymouth line and volunteer work along its route, but also it would weaken the region’s voice in influencing future investment by the train operating company, Network Rail and the Department for Transport.  Whilst the partnership is currently focused on the Bristol to Weymouth line, it has the potential to provide a strong voice for the region in relation to rail investment.

“This is a classic example of where saving a tiny amount of money will cascade into long term loss of volunteers, investment and regional income and a more thought through approach is required.”

In addition to writing to the county council, the town council is contacting other communities along the Bristol to Weymouth line to encourage them to take action.