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The Retail Group convened by the Chamber and Frome Town Council met on 2nd May at The Cornerhouse.

Retailers identified the main problems as cardboard and plastic waste. There are a plethora of suppliers and solutions, some of which are probably not legal. Storing waste until it can be collected is a problem for some people. There has not been any real progress since the Town Council initiative and the Business Breakfast meeting with JW Waste last year.
We agreed that the Chamber would survey businesses to ask who they used, how long their contract was for, their approximate volumes and the price they were currently paying.

The Town Council will audit the suppliers who we know are operating, including Greenacre, JW Waste, Viridor and Moores to come up with a short list of preferred operators.

We will look at this again in July, and in particular the practicality of traders getting together to use a single supplier, perhaps in each street, and negotiate better terms, and better collection arrangements.

Street Cleaning
Reports were variable, some such as Bath Street thought that they got good cleaning, others didn’t. There was general agreement that “everyone should get a brush”.

Charlie Orr will check what happened with the audit of bins what was being carried out, i.e. how many did we have, were they in the right place, what had happened to the ones which had been taken away, and where could any new bins best be placed.

NB Dog poo in bags can be disposed of in all MDC bins. The one at the bottom of Cheap Street has a sign which is supposed to indicate this, but it isn’t very clear.

We agreed that the Chamber and Town Council would do more to publicize the contract standard between MDC and I D Verde, so that people didn’t waste time complaining about things that weren’t in the contract, and could help MDC ensure that they got “VFM”. Problems can be reported via FixMyStreet or directly to Elizabeth Dawson, the contract manager at MDC ( Frome Town Council Councillors do meet regularly with MDC in Frome to review this. Neil Howlett has contacted Neil Taylor, the Portfolio holder and will meet him but probably not until after the next election.

Information Centre and Visitor Survey
The Town Council want this to be open and running by June. The Black Swan can’t facilitate that because of existing bookings.

Charlie Orr is arranging volunteers to do the visitor survey with Rotary, but probably not until after the General Election. Any volunteers please contact him.

Future events
The Frome Festival is not far away and the programme is now out.

Small Business Saturday will be on Saturday 2nd December. The Chamber will continue to press MDC as to whether there will be any free parking for this or Christmas so that it can be publicised. That will be a busy weekend.

Traders were keen to see the Christmas decorations up and running and on from the earliest time possible and from mid-November.

There was a consensus for opening on Sundays from at least the beginning of December and to open late on Thursdays. It would be good if everyone did this together; that way we can publicise it and get the best footfall.

And more
The Town Council confirmed that new fingerposts were coming, and the existing finger posts were being repainted.

The Independent Market can supply a pdf of the GWR poster for anyone who wants to put that up.

Traders on Catherine Hill were urged to sign up with the St Catherine’s website which got a good level of hits, and was cheap and ranked highly on Google.

We asked if some traders could get together with the Town Council to look at Discover Frome and improve that. We didn’t think that a new website was needed, but that the existing one could be adapted to be much more effective, e.g. there are lots of good photographs but they aren’t on the front page and difficult to find, and the events aren’t necessarily ones which are going to attract visitors.

The Town Council will report back on the BID.

The Chamber will look at setting up a simple mechanism for us to collect and share data with each other, perhaps Dropbox or something more sophisticated. If anyone has any suggestions please contact us.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday 6th June 2017 at 6pm at the Cornerhouse as usual.

We are considering having a special meeting in July and inviting the new County Councillors to discuss with them our priorities for Somerset County Council, once all this election stuff is out of the way.