So what is Vision for Frome?
Vision for Frome (V4F) is a voluntary group of Frome residents, working with local government and other community groups, to produce, maintain and promote a Frome Community Plan identifying the aspirations for the town over a twenty year time span. Its aims have been first to reach out to the local community through a wide consultation, to get their ideas and suggestions for shaping Frome over the period 2008 to 2028. These views have been turned into the Community Plan for Frome, issued and presented to the Town Council in May 2009, and containing a series of aims, objectives and projects resulting from the consultation. It has become a ‘material consideration’ in planning matters and is also used as an evidence base for the local authorities. All partners involved in it, including community groups such as V4F, the Town, District and County councils, have a role to play in implementing the Plan so that the opinions of Frome residents are delivered as actions ‘on the ground’.
The seeds of V4F were sown at a residents’ public meeting held in November 2006. Originally called ‘Frome 26, a vision for the next 20 years’ it re-formed and changed its name to ‘Vision for Frome’ as the result of a bid to be part of the Market and Coastal Towns Initiative (MCTi), and receiving £20,000 from the associated Agency (MCTA).
MCTA’s mission for their ‘Initiative’ was to provide for the development of vibrant, healthy and sustainable towns via a community-led process; it was government-funded through SWRDA (the South-West Regional Development Agency). The MCTA contribution was match-funded with £30,000 from Mendip District Council, which enabled joint consultation activities also in support of their work on their Local Development Framework. There was therefore £50,000 to spend on undertaking a full consultation, encouraging as much participation as possible with people in Frome, and the neighbouring villages that depend on the town, and subsequently producing the Plan and promoting its realization.
Who is running it?
V4F is an unincorporated association governed by a constitution, with a formal membership and a management team appointed from and by the membership (see the link above). The membership aim is to reflect all elements of the community covering the Frome area, with different skills and experience and a wide range of interests – such as youth, education, business, planning, ecological, leisure activities and voluntary groups, including local councillors and a town council observer. It seeks to bring all those involved together with the aim of working to achieve the best for the people of Frome.
Basically, anything about Frome as it is now can become an issue in the future, both near and long term. Some global trends will also affect the town and there may be a local response. Many issues are known and are reflected in the Plan, others may not yet be well identified and need highlighting, or may arise in the future. It is up to the people of Frome, of all ages and backgrounds, to identify any problems they see and to share their ideas and aspirations for the town, including using V4F contact so that the Plan and its underpinning projects can be kept current.
The Community Plan is now a point of reference for the town and those involved in its development and facilities. It has not been put on a shelf and forgotten about! Instead, it is a living document which will continue to be used in a variety of ways, it will be maintained to be as current as possible, and regularly reviewed to assess when a full refreshment is needed (circa 5 to 8 years) to cover the subsequent 20 years.
Councils have funding for projects which is unavailable to community groups. Similarly, community groups have access to funding which is unavailable to local authorities. The MCTi process encouraged good partnership working between communities and local authorities, and although this initiative has ended V4F have a strong mission to carry this prinicple forward for Frome. This is seen as the means to get maximum benefit for the town through funding for projects from different sources, using the Plan as valuable evidence to enhance the likelihood of bid success.
At Mendip District Council, it has been incorporated into its Local Plan [previously known as the Local Development Framework (LDF)] on the same basis as Parish Plans, and it can be used as a reference document for future planning applications. The Town Council, Mendip District Council and Somerset County Council are able to use it as an ‘evidence base’ for anything they plan to do which affects Frome,and indeed many if not most of its Objectives now form the basis for the current Town Council's Strategic Plan of work.
V4F, as the Plan's custodian, is now focused on helping to take the projects forward, networking within the town and with external community based groups, assisting in applications for funding, acting as an information source, and continuing to use consultation methods to determine and present community views on a number of issues to assist in achieving what the people of Frome want to be delivered. This will be its on-going community role, and a summary of our Mission and current Role can be found on the Links & Publications page under V4F Admin.