Easthill site in Frome saved
The LibDem administration At Mendip District Council (MDC) have taken note of the opposition to developing Easthill. The Easthill site next to Frome cemetery had been earmarked for the development of social housing. Over the last three months we have reported on growing opposition from residents in Frome. We noted the protests which led to the forming of Friends of Easthill Field and the creation of a Change.org petition. That petition had gathered 1,600 signatures against the development of Easthill Field
Now the Friends of Easthill Field have received a statement from Leader of MDC, Cllr Ros Wyke. It states: “Following a review of land at Easthill, Frome, the Liberal Democrat group of MDC are committed to retaining the site in Council ownership for use as cemetery extension land. The Group are therefore minded to withdraw support for any further development of the exploratory plans to develop the land as a potential site for the social and affordable housing programme. This position was taken in recognition of strong local concerns about the site’s ecological importance. We are grateful to the residents of Frome who shared their concerns with us and we want to make it clear that we’ve listened to all views.
For clarity, as things stand, this position is not one of a temporary nature, but one that will be maintained for the entire duration of this current administration. However, the Group acknowledges that any formal decision is one for Cabinet to take via the Council’s democratic process following the presentation of all the relevant considerations and debate. The Liberal Democrat group will continue to work to improve the supply of much needed social and affordable housing for the people of Mendip.”
While residents will be please, the battle is not yet won. MDC need to pass a resolution to this effect at the next Cabinet meeting. That should be straightforward. MDC have not agreed to transfer the land to Frome Town Council. And finally, but crucially, this only applies to MDC. The reorganisation of local government means that in 2/3 years time MDC will not exist. Whether it is replace by one or two new unitary authorities, there is no guarantee they will take the same view.
But for now, it looks as if on this issue at least, people power has won through.
Jacqui Simpson of the Friends group told us “We want to say a huge thank you to everyone for their letter writing, emailing to councillors, speaking on our behalf at council meetings, writing lists of wildlife seen at Easthill, completing questionnaires, posting on the facebook group, visiting Easthill and taking photographs that highlight the beauty of the landscape, the trees and the creatures.”