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Below is the letter Frome Chamber wrote to Mendip District Council Scrutiny board members about the plans for social housing on North Parade car park.

Dear Members of the Scrutiny Board

Frome & District Chamber of Commerce has always attempted to take a positive attitude towards decision-making by Mendip District Council. Sometimes, that has come as a surprise to councillors, and sometimes it has been appreciated when we have helped MDC make better decisions.

We appreciate that councillors, and council officers, have a difficult task, and must balance conflicting considerations. Those decisions need to be made through coherent processes, openly, and in a way that gives people in Mendip confidence.

We are commenting on this decision because it appears to us that it is not, at least so far as the proposals for the North Parade car park are concerned.

We are particularly surprised that having been asked recently by a councillor to contribute to a review of car parking, that no mention was made of this proposal to reduce car parking capacity. We are unsure of the nature or process proposed for that review, and have again tried to help by referring to guidance on good practice for that process.

MDC is almost a monopoly supplier of off-street parking in Frome; the council controls about 80% of the public off-street parking. Parking capacity has been a significant issue in recent years, and resulted in complaints that when MDC’s car parks are full the excess capacity spills over into on street parking in inappropriate places. That is, of course, SCC’s responsibility, which is why both should always be reviewed together.

Whether or not MDC may legally be entitled to do something without discussing it with anyone else, MDC should always consult with town councils, and with local chambers and business groups, and season-ticket holders, if it is proposing to make any significant change to car parking capacity, charging or other arrangements.

Therefore, we ask you to support the proposal that this decision is referred back to Cabinet.

Yours faithfully

Neil Howlett

For Frome & District Chamber of Commerce