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Frome Town Council’s new power to make local decisions

FROME Town Council now has the freedom to make more decisions at a local level, after adopting the ‘Power of General Competence’ under new Government guidelines.

Mel Usher, leader of Frome Town Council said, “There are some hurdles we have had to pass to use the power; they are done and we are probably one of the first town councils in the country to be working with the new power.”

Frome town councillors agreed that the council was eligible to use the power at a meeting of Frome Town Council on Wednesday 27th of June.

Mel Usher explained, “Until the Localism Act was agreed this year, local councils like Frome Town Council were heavily constrained by statute. We could only do what Parliament put into law and for town councils like ours it was things like allotments and grass cutting.

“In one jump we are free from most of the top down control that has hindered local government in this country.

“This freedom is common in the Netherlands and all of the Scandinavian countries and seems to work well.

“Often decisions about local matters are best made at a local level where the issues are understood. Of course there are some constraints – we can’t for example raise our own army nor can we impose new fines or taxes – none of which we were intending to do.

“It now becomes a matter of what local people want and what is affordable, especially in the fields of regeneration and working with businesses and charities. We won’t rush into things; we will see how this develops but at least we can move forward with some certainty that what we are doing is unlikely to be challenged or thwarted by some artificial legal barrier.”

To meet the requirements, an officer at Frome Town Council must have a sector specific qualification, and this was completed by an officer at the council recently.