It’s been a long hot summer and we hope that everyone has managed to get plenty of walking and cycling in. As the nights draw in again, it seems appropriate to update supporters and members on what’s been happening recently.
Financially FML currently have almost £22,000 in the bank, with a further £14,000 or so held by Sustrans. Another £3,000 is due from Just Giving as a result of the Chair’s summer bike ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats. We thank everyone who has helped to raise this money. There were some great efforts made at the Frome Independent market in July, various fetes and events and of course the brilliant Ceilidh at the Cheese and Grain to name but just a few things that happened over the summer. Our Local Giving campaign was less successful than we had hoped but collection tins have raised over £350 so far this year.
Of course we have had to spend money as well, most notably on a feasibility study and revised planning permission for Phase 2, as well as more surveys and materials for fencing and maintenance of the paths. We also sadly had to say goodbye to our LEADER – LAG funding due to time constraints caused by the delays on Phase 2 (more below).
Practical work continues in two main ways. The Ecology Group, ably led by Andrew and Colin meet on Thursdays and they have been creating wildlife habitats and surveying fauna and flora along stretches of the route. They have also been working with Sustrans Volunteers from Radstock to help keep the Colliers Way clear and to improve the experience for all users of the path. Meanwhile the Friday Group (ably led by Geoff) have been keeping vegetation at bay along the Phase 2 route and installing some fencing along what will form part of Phase 3. Thank you to everyone who has helped out with these essential practical tasks.
The much-delayed Phase 2 remains at an impasse for now. We are meeting with Sustrans who have agreed to negotiate with Network Rail – we would like NR to at least go halves with us regarding the cost of essential palisade fencing works. As usual this is a slow process. We also agreed to let Sustrans negotiaite the land purchase that we need to finish Phase 2. Revised Planning Permission was approved for Phase 2, so we are almost there!
We have much more positive news on Phase 3 from Weylands to Jack’s Lane. This stretch will extend the path from where it presently ends by the river, all the way behind Cooper Hall. Landowners have agreed to let us cross their land, which is great news. As I write this we are preparing Heads of Terms and detailed drawings for Planning Permission as well as for a footpath diversion. It will take time (as these things do) but we really are expecting to start construction work in the next few months.
Meanwhile we are considering further feasibility studies for Phase 4 to look at options for the whole of the gap between the current end of the path at Great Elm and what will be the end of Phase 3. This would be useful to present to potential large funders such as the Lottery or Highways England. We have also met with cycling organisations such as Love to Ride and Cyclescheme to look at possible funding sources.
In other news, the cycle links to the South of Frome continue to develop. The old Southfield Farm site will include a cycle path running through it, linking the Asda end to the Feltham Lane section of the route to Longleat. We’ve also linked up with a group from Chapmanslade who want to complete a path to Warminster and Westbury – they have already secured £70,000 from Wiltshire Council, which is a terrific starting point.
So, we are making slow progress, but we are making progress. This is a long-term project and we’re not giving up! It’s heart warming to know that so many of you agree with us and want to see those Missing Links completed at last. Here’s hoping!
Frome’s Missing Links