Talks could hold key to Frome open-air market future
A critical meeting between the town and Mendip District Council is to be held next week to discuss the way forward for Frome's popular open-air market.
The town council had given the district council a deadline of Monday next week to agree the terms and conditions of a new independent company to run the hugely successful market, but fear they are running out of time to set the wheels in motion for the first scheduled for June.
Town clerk Paul Wynne said unless the district council agrees terms, he feared for the market's future.
Mr Wynne said: "Unless Mendip District Council agrees to the proposals from the Artisan Market Company and ourselves, we fear for the future of the planned Super Market on June 2.
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"Because Mendip owns the Market rights we can not legally go ahead without their involvement.
"The four Super Markets we staged last year were phenomenally successful, our town was buzzing, we welcomed loads of new traders and shoppers to the town as well as providing something rather special for residents. What's not to like?"
Town councillor Peter Macfadyen said everyone involved had hoped for was a quick decision from Mendip, which was proving difficult.
He said: "Let me say from the outset this is not about politics, it's about having a can-do philosophy, taking a calculated risk and getting on with it.
"All the town council and the artisan market organisers needed was a quick decision to provide some level of certainty for a really important project in the town. Sometimes it feels like we are pushing a big rock up a very steep hill.
"The town deserves better, if a small town council like ours can make a firm decision, commit money to it and work with traders and the private sector you wonder why Mendip can't do the same."
A spokesman for the district council said a meeting was planned next week to move the proposal forward.
He said: "Mendip remains fully committed to the Frome Super Market and to working with Frome Town Council to ensure the market continues to be such a success.
"We have moved quickly throughout this process; we received the proposals from Frome Town Council on February 28, considered them at a joint district and town council meeting on March 4 and they were then considered by Mendip's cabinet on March 11, when a resolution was reached.
"We are in the process of setting up a meeting for next week at the district council offices, which Peter Wheelhouse economic redevelopment officer for the town council has been invited to, to look in more detail at the town council's business plan and discuss how we can put the Super Market on a long-term secure footing.
"In the meantime, we are busy putting arrangements in place for the next market on June 2, and are confident it will prove as popular as usual with local residents and visitors to Frome."
Mr Wynne said he welcomed the district council's comments but urged them to come to an agreement over the proposed terms.
He said: "We are pleased to hear that Mendip is willing to talk to us again, but it is critical that at the meeting we receive assurances that they agree to the proposals developed jointly by the Artisan Market, Mendip officers and ourselves."