This week Julian talks to Frome town councillor, former mayor, and long-time friend Sheila Gore about making a difference. Sheila originally worked as a teacher, and in education for the Natural History Museum working with a large community of parents and children up and down the country. As of now, Sheila has been living in Frome for around 20 years and the former owner of the first health-food shop in Frome she has always been at the heart-centre of the town. She describes being a shop owner as being a beacon, being available and seen by residents. After many years of listening to residents, hearing their struggles and their wishes for the town, and one fight against a large supermarket development Sheila became ensconced in the town council, which was the UK’s first fully independent council, and from there she became mayor.
Her ethos, and the aim of the council in general, is that everyone should be listened to, even those that disagree and those that may present conflict. In Sheila’s eyes, the connection between residents and councillors is integral to Frome’s success – the direction of the town is decided by what is best as defined by residents rather than governance far outside of the town’s boundaries.
The story of Frome, and particularly from Sheila’s perspective is one where small things can always make a huge difference; from checking on five neighbours during covid, to sporadically buying a whole food shop.
More information on Flatpack Democracy can be found here (and the book can be bought there too)
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Frome Town Council’s homepage is here