Embrace Saxonvale plans
OH DEAR, a hornets' nest has been stirred.
I chose Frome to live in nearly 36 years ago now because every shop was different and I do not remember any derelict shops, this plus the supermarkets.
As to time spent in other places, I spend at least 95 per cent of my time living and spending in Frome. Those times spent out of Frome are holidays or trips. As I love Frome, I naturally compare, but I always return to Frome.
Those large supermarkets, Lidl, Cayfords and Williams are all away from the town centre, and without a car they are not ideal for a large part of the community.
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However, all this banter masks one thing, Saxonvale and the continued discussion about only one aspect of it, the size of a proposed supermarket.
Even though this would open up the town centre and bring people away from the edge of town sites, and help those nice little shops (which I have never criticised). Logic suggests more people in the centre, more potential customers.
This site has been ready for development for years now, and I expect arguing over the size (or owner) of a proposed supermarket will see it still waiting development when I cast off this mortal coil.
One final (and I do mean final) point – when I have to come to the town centre, to go to the bank, post office or doctor, I do usually spend quite a sum in a variety of the shops, such as the charity, food and gift shops.
Although I now live near Sainsbury's, I would much rather do the lot in the centre, as the bus connection is better, and don't say I can, because I know I cannot.
Stourton View, Frome
THERE has been much debate in these pages recently about the Saxonvale development proposals, some of it lengthy and rehearsing well-worn arguments about why people should oppose the plans.
I will not take up too many column inches with my contribution.
Firstly, I would say that I do believe that everyone who is a resident in the town has a right to express a view on this important issue whether they have lived here for 30 years, three years or three months. I do not think anyone is really suggesting otherwise.
It is inevitable, though, that someone who has lived in Frome for 30 years is going to have far greater knowledge of the context and background against which this debate is taking place than someone who has recently moved to the town from outside the area.
There are three good reasons why I support the current proposals from Frontier Estates for the site.
Firstly, the plans will bring more and wider shopping choice to the town. Secondly, this wider choice of shops will attract new shoppers to Frome which must benefit new and existing traders. Finally, there is the prospect of the creation of around 300 new jobs. What, I ask, is wrong with that?
At last we have a realistic and practical proposal for this derelict site – let's take it with both hands for the benefit of all the town's residents, rather than spend another 25 years just talking about what to do.
I HAVE been wanting to write in about the Saxonvale debate for some time now – I was keen to see if the key issue that needs addressing here was mentioned by another reader.
I know a letter to a local paper can't change anything, nor does it represent the whole town and the fact that I was born here in 1971 does not make my point superior to the next persons, but it's a viewpoint no one has covered and I feel should at least be heard.
In the 1980s and some of the early 1990s Frome went through some dire times, we had many boarded shops in Catherine Hill, many independent and large retailers came and then went, it was to say the least a very bleak place employment wise at times back then. Someone even painted across the Westway Shopping Centre "Will the last person to leave Frome please turn the light off". This may also surprise some of the anti-Saxonvale campaigners, a fair few independent shops closed after national stores closed and left Frome.
During this period we also we lost many of the very large employers in Frome and thousands of people faced unemployment. Many still have not recovered from this era.
This was the cause of many shop closures – Frome people no longer had cash to spend. Luckily later on the town's small streets like Catherine Hill started to recover due to various initiatives in place, the boards came down and the shops went up and slowly some streets come back to life. This was good news for some smaller independent businesses in the town and for a few people unemployment was no longer an issue.
Frome independent shops are well established. They have a loyal customer base and I for one would not change my loyalty to those particular shops I use once we have new large retailers in town that fill the many gaps in the market we have for certain products, shopping requirements and more important employment.
I want Saxonvale to come and the quicker the better. No matter what size your shop is, if the people of the town run out of money, like many are now with increased living costs or no work, independent or large your shop will go down fast with no customers.
Saxonvale will not bring back job numbers on the scale of the factories we used to have but it's a start. The town can recover and we can create an economy and shopping area the town can enjoy.
If Saxonvale is not your kind of thing then fair enough, treat it like bad show on your television, turn it off, turn over and don't watch it. But please stop being stubborn and killing the opportunities for the people who so desperately need work and those who want more shopping choices.
Those who feel this way may not be speaking out at public meetings or form representative groups to campaign for or against the development, but I can assure you as someone who has lived here all my life we know each other, we do speak to each other and some residents are fed up with hearing and being told the Saxonvale development is not what the town wants.
Jason Lee Rowe