We are feeling particularly Christmassy this weekend after kick starting the Festive Season by bearing witness to the big Turn On in Frome. Standing in the cold, wet and windy market square in Frome Town has become as much a tradition as putting up the Christmas tree, or eating turkey. This year was particularly impressive as building projections played a part of the seasonal illumination.
Forget the UK General Election, the local elections are far more interesting and can result in outcomes that are just as shocking. As a consequence of these elections, Frome, a small market town in Somerset, has declared itself an Independent State. The Independents for Frome (IfF) party swept the board and won every seat on the council.
Usually town councils are made up of out of touch Victor Meldrew types in their early years of retirement with nothing better to do but enjoy the long lunches and personal expenses that come with local government, safe in the knowledge that no one really expects that they will achieve anything (red-tape and beauracracy being the official reasons). However, the people of Frome have recognised that local politics is best handled by local people, and that those local people should be people who want to make a difference. People who want the town they live in to be a vibrant, positive, entrepreneurial environment. In short, people like them. The Guardian recently wrote an article about Frome’s Flatpack Democracy calling the IfF’s win as revolutionary. It has not only revolutionised local politics but halso the town itself.
Frome is a vibrant, eclectic town with much to commend it. These latest local election results are just the latest in a line of inspirational events that began five years ago with the conception of the IfF. The Party began, thanks to disillusionment with the existing way of conducting local politics and as their share of the town council has grown so has the bonhomie of Frome itself. The monthly Frome Independent, a wonderful street market selling the best from the West’s food producers, artisan crafters and vintage traders, gives the town a wonderfully cosmopolitan feel. The Cheese & Grain‘s revamped facilities allow the town to boast one of the best live music venues in the country whilst making its environmental credentials felt way beyond the four walls that it powers. The purchase and conservation, that IfF oversaw, of several local green spaces ensures the town planners don’t destroy the countryside that is at the heart of Frome life. The annual Frome Festival, a two week cultural celebration not to be missed, with a programme of events that reflects the character of the town perfectly.
Frome – a bustling, market town packed with independent retailers, lifelong Fromies, ex-London creatives and the odd rock star or two, all coming together to create a generously spirited town packed with charisma, charm and just a touch of quirkiness. How does your town compare?