Councillor Kate Bielby
In the face of ever-diminishing central government funding, how should parish and town councils react? Do we curb our ambition and cut our cloth accordingly or do we look for other revenue streams and continue to build resilient local communities? Frome Town Council has opted for the latter route. We have:
Raised the precept
We have raised the precept every year for the past seven years, generating almost £500,000 extra revenue in total. There has been very little public objection and, if anything, Frome residents seem to be willing to pay a little extra for the only tax raised in Frome and guaranteed to be spent here.
Employed a fundraiser to support community organisations
Over a three year period, a £10,000 pa contract with one fundraiser resulted in around £400,000 of grants to local organisations.
We’ve taken advantage of relatively low interest rates to borrow invest in assets for the town – most notably the Town Hall and the Cheese and Grain. The town council had been paying an annual grant of £35,000 to this local venue. We took out a loan to refurbish and modernise the facilities, the interest payments for this loan being less than the previous grant. The council now has a significant asset in the heart of Frome and the venue goes from strength to strength.
Raised income from renewable energy
Solar panels installed on the roof of the Cheese and Grain generate an annual income of between £7,000-£8,000.
In 2017 we set aside £25k to match fund local inititiatives that met our strategic objectives. So far eight projects have been successfully funded this way, with a total of just under £46,000. Frome Town Council has provided £22,400 in match funding, with the remaining £23,600 raised from the community. In some cases, money raised through Crowdfund Frome enabled projects to unlock significant funding from elsewhere. Frome Town FC raised £10,000 for new floodlights from crowdfunding, which secured a £30,000 grant from the Football Association.
Set up and funded voluntary organisations
eg Fair Frome
The town council created and gives an annual grant of £15,000 to the organisation that runs Frome’s foodbank. That enables them to attract just under £20,000 pa in donations and around £50,000 pa in grants from elsewhere. In addition, Fair Frome estimates they receive around £25,000 pa worth of volunteer time.