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Independence Day support is “phenomenal”

ORGANISERS of Independence Day, Frome’s one-day event about the future of town centres and campaigning against supermarket expansion, which will be held on Saturday 17th November, say the event has attracted lots of national media attention.  

Keep Frome Local, the group behind the event, say they have been overwhelmed with support from local residents and traders, as well as interest from across the UK.

“People from campaign groups and small businesses are coming from all over the place,” said one of Independence Day’s organisers and Frome resident, John Harris.

“Support in the town has been phenomenal, and we’ve got people travelling from as far as Edinburgh, Liskeard, Ulverston in Cumbria, Bristol, Bath, Bridgwater, Cardiff, Penarth, Okehampton, Exeter, Folkestone, High Wycombe, London, Brighton…the list goes on.”

Independence Day is happening at the Wesley Church in Frome from 10.30am to 4.30pm on Saturday November 17th. Tickets cost £11 and can be bought from Frome Wholefoods or via the Cheese and Grain.




Fighting for the

town’s interests



John Harris continued, “This is the first national event of its kind.  It’ll be split between main sessions in which you can debate big issues with our speakers and breakout sessions, focusing on such issues as the future of food, how to campaign against big retail, the future of the High Street, and much more.

“Frome is the perfect place to host the event, because we expect a developer to announce plans for the Saxonvale site this side of Christmas.  It’s essential that we make as big a splash as possible, and amass as much information as we can about how to fight for our town’s interests.”

Key highlights will include a session hosted by Transition Town Totnes, which recently played a key role in the town’s successful campaign against Costa Coffee, and another put together by 38 Degrees, the national campaigners who led opposition to the government’s sell-off of UK forests.

For more details on the event, visit independenceday



Big questions



The event will feature a whole host of speakers, debating some of the big questions in society today such as; What kind of places do we want to live and work in? Is there an alternative to so-called ‘big box’ retailing? How do we ensure that regeneration and redevelopment include a central role for independent business and the interests of local communities?

The line-up of speakers includes campaigners, national newspaper columnists and authors including; Joanna Blythman, the food writer, and author of Shopped, the brilliant exposé of British supermarkets; Neal Lawson, activist and author of All Consuming; Andrew Simms, a fellow of the New Economics Foundation and the author of the acclaimed book Tescopoly; Rob Hopkins, co-founder, Transition Town Totnes and the Transition Network, with more to come; David Babbs,  executive director of 38 Degrees, which with 1.1 million members is the UK’s largest people-powered campaigning community; Graham Jones, the author of Last Shop Standing: Whatever Happened To Record Shops?, which has also spawned a feature-length documentary; Catherine Conway, the founder of Unpackaged, a trailblazing business which asks consumers to bring and refill their own packaging; June Player, an independent councilor on Bath and North East Somerset Council, and led the campaign against a big supermarket at the Bath Press site; Nigel Dowdney, the founder of the Buy Local network, and a director of the Association Of Convenience Stores, as well as being an independent retailer in Norfolk; Richard Hadley, a consultant, trainer, writer and campaigner. Rich Hadley specialises in positive psychology, organisational change and creative communications; Chris Smaje, a market grower and environmental writer. He is a partner in Vallis Veg, which was Frome’s local vegetable box scheme from 2008-12; John Harris, writer and columnist with The Guardian, John is also a resident of Frome, and an activist with the Keep Frome Local group; Dominic Swords, who worked in economic intelligence at the Bank of England during the 1980s and has worked in business schools for 20 years, including the London Business School and Henley Business School; Gus Hoyt, the Green Party councillor for the Ashley ward in Bristol, where he was elected by a landslide; Mel Usher, who was once the CEO of a local authority and ran a government agency whose mission was to improve Local Government; Elizabeth Winkler, a journalist, editor and founder of Winkler Media. She was editor of the Soil Association magazine until 2009. Her blog, Real Food Lover, was short-listed for the 2009 Guild of Food Writers’ Award.