Posted: 18.11.20 at 19:50 by The Editor
Frome Town Council has been discussing the latest update to the budget, with councillors expressing surprise to learn that they may have to pay more for their decision to close off the centre of the town for the Market Place works earlier this year.
Several councillors responded to news that costs were higher for the roadworks than they would have been if they had only agreed to partial closures and a traffic light system.
The online meeting discussed the town budget with Clerk Paul Wynne beginning by telling councillors: " It has been an unusual year ...and it has been a bumpy year, so far, we are about half way through."
Councillors discussed the additional costs of coronavirus, estimated at £149,000, partially due to the extra safety measures needed due to the pandemic, but also due to loss of income.
This has been partially offset by grants and for the remainder councillors were told it would be met by reserves, something welcomed by the meeting.
Less well received was the news that the Market Place works, which led to over 12 weeks of the centre of Frome being closed completely to traffic, were expected to cost more than the estimates. In particular several councillors expressed surprise that Frome Town Council is expected to face an additional financial burden for that decision to close the roads.
Councillors were advised that: "It is likely that there will be additional costs incurred on the Market Place II project as we wait for the final invoices. If these invoices exceed our allocated budget and we agree that they are reasonable, I suggest that the extra would need to be sourced from the Saxonvale Legacy."
Frome Town Council will get a report on why and how the Market Place overspend happened in early 2021.
But at the meeting on November 18 they were told that when they took the decision to close the centre of town completely, rather than work around a two way light system, that meant there were significant additional costs.
Cllr Sheila Gore said: " This is an obvious lesson to learn, I certainly wasn't aware that closing the market place completely was going to incur lots of costs to us. We were totally unaware of this."
Cllr Nick Dove said: " I know we had a discussion about closing the road and the benefit it would have and the safety .. and how it would allow contractors to work without having to stop. But I don't remember the additional cost factor being raised. I don't remember it being said that it would potentially cost more?"
In the overall budget update, councillors were told that Frome Town Council has received £35k from Mendip to cover some of the additional costs and that budgets have been cut where possible by a further £65k.
All the details of the financial breakdown were given with the rider that no one knows how long this second lockdown will last and the financial impact on the local and national economy.
Details of the document put before the council meeting click HERE : the Frome Town Council site