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Secretary of State for Local Government applauds Frome

The Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government visited Frome on Friday 27th February to celebrate the town’s success as a pioneer in Localism.

The MP joined Mayor Peter Macfadyen; economic development & regeneration manager for the town council Peter Wheelhouse; Charles Wood, chairman of Vision 4 Frome; and Conservative parliamentary candidate for Frome David Warburton to talk about Frome’s pioneering work in local government by local people.

At the Cheese and Grain, one of Frome’s Independent council’s flagship projects, they discussed the Neighbourhood and Local Plans, how to empower towns, building relationships between local authorities and the responsibility that comes with local power.

The Secretary of State emphasised the importance of local authorities being ambitious and aiming high, saying, “Local democracy is not about management, it’s about local determination.” He said that priority should always be given to issues, rather than just governance.

Mayor Peter Macfadyen said, “I’m slightly surprised to have greatly enjoyed a very frank and open lunch meeting with Eric Pickles, set up by David Warburton.  My having no agenda except the improvement of Frome is a fantastic help in moments like these.  Who knows where things will go, but he certainly listened and has gone back to Westminster with plenty of ideas and potential ways to help.”

Localism has been a key part of the Government’s effort to transfer power from central government to individuals, communities and local councils, enabling them to control their own environment.

Introduced in 2011 by Eric Pickles, the Localism Act covers a range of issues including community rights, neighbourhood planning and housing.  The four principal measures of the Localism Act are:

• new freedoms and flexibilities for local government

• new rights and powers for communities and individuals

• reform to make the planning system more democratic

• effective and reform to ensure decisions on housing are taken locally