Published: June 17, 2010
New Chamber of Trade boss hopes to boost business in Burnham

The new chairwoman of Burnham-On-Sea's Chamber of Trade has this week unveiled plans to launch a fresh bid to save the future of the town's Christmas lighting display and also produce 100,000 copies of a new shopping guide to the town.

Geoff Shickle, the group's outgoing Chairman, welcomed Rhonda Mills, who runs Burnham's Sea Breeze art gallery, to the role during the Chamber of Trade's AGM on Wednesday evening (June 16th).

During his closing speech at the meeting, Mr Shickle criticised the district council for neglecting parts of the town and not coming forward with more financial help.

He said: "The past year has been been one of mixed fortunes. The disappointment in removal of funds for the long awaited regeneration scheme has been a clear example of not relying on outside money to drive the town forward."

"The slow process in improving Marine Cove and the removal of the paddling pool demonstrated the neglect of Sedgemoor District Council since its inception in the mid seventies. I am not alone in thinking they just do not understand a seaside resort, do they?"

"On the contrary, the town council's encouragement and help - albeit within their limited budget - has been appreciated and we very much hope this co-operation will continue to our mutual benefit."

He added: "During the year, some businesses have closed, some have opened and many have been revamped. However, we are fortunate in that for a town of our size, there are very few empty properties in the main shopping areas. Compared with other parts of Somerset, the town gives an impression of vibrancy, which is the envy of other centres such as Bridgwater and Weston."

"Burnham's Christmas lighting scheme is a project of which we should be justly proud. Over the years, this has evolved under the guidance of Mike Ham into one of the best spectacles in the county."

Mr Shickle continued: "It has long been a bone of contention how the district council has looked after Bridgwater and given a minimal grant to other towns to provide a festive display. Now, even that funding is being cut again."

"The Chamber cannot carry the burden of financing, or the physical effort of many volunteers indefinitely, and a question mark remains over this year's event."

"The other focus of the chamber has been the Shoppers Guide booklet, which is about to evolve into a third edition under the guidance of Rhonda Mills. It is anticipated up to 100,000 copies will be produced and distributed."

"I wish the new committee and officers of the chamber my very vest wishes for the future and for the prosperity of the town."

Rhonda Mills told the audience at the meeting in Alfie Blus in Pier Street that she is a firm supporter of Burnham's Christmas lights and would like to see them continue.

Burnham-On-Sea Chamber Of Trade committee members Mark Newman, Geoff Shickle, Jonathan Walter, Rhona Mills (Chair), Steve Spaven, Christine Redman and Jermone Andrew. Not pictured: Tom Ashton (Deputy Chair) and Mike Ham


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