Published: November 3, 2010
Burnham shop owners give thumbs-down to pedestrianisation

Shop owners in Burnham-On-Sea have this week given a thumbs-down to controversial proposals to pedestrianise part of the town's High Street.

The plans to pedestrianise the High Street between Adam Street and Cross Street - which are on show to the public this week at a three-day exhibition - were attacked by businesses at Wednesday night's Chamber of Trade meeting.

Businesses are concerned that the pedestrianisation scheme will hurt trade in the town centre, instead of encouraging more shoppers into Burnham as intended.

David Bull, from Bull's Opticians, told the meeting: "My main concern is that this scheme is not universal. Only one part of the High Street will be pedestrianised, which makes it inequitable - certain businesses will be impacted and others won't. It's not equal. No-one wants this scheme to go ahead in its present form, but we all want to see Burnham improved."

Alex Turco, Chairman of the Burnham Civic Pride group, which has been working on the proposals, said that he had voted against the Civic Pride group adopting this scheme in the wake of the County Council's decision not to allow a one-way system in neighbouring Adam Street and Cross Street and also to request the scheme is in place 24 hours a day.

"I don't believe the scheme will provide any economic benefit to Burnham. You cannot just close part of the High Street and expect the town to continue functioning as normal," he said.

Hairdresser Peter Noad told the meeting: "I can't see any need or benefit for pedestrianisation. Burnham is just a small town - we don't want it. There is no support from businesses here."

And Juliette Farnese from the Mr Beans cafe on the High Street voiced her concerns. "It's ridiculous that only a small part of the High Street is being pedestrianised when we need to help the whole High Street. It should be left as it is, the identity of Burnham will be hurt."

Ollie Farnese added: "I can see this causing traffic congestion problems in the summer months, putting off shoppers coming here."

John Edwards from Material Needs added that he believes the pedestrianisation money would be better spent along the whole high street.

Indeed, those present at Wednesday's meeting agreed they would prefer a tidy up of street furniture, such as lights and signs, through the whole Town Centre to improve the shopping environment as an alternative. It was agreed that the Chamber would continue to engage with Civic Pride to achieve this.

Burnham Chamber of Trade members took a vote at the end of the meeting and all bar two of the 20 people present voted against the pedestrianisation scheme.

Residents and businesses in the town centre have been urged to send their feedback on the proposals to Somerset County Council by the deadline of November 17th.

A public exhibition showing the plans in detail is being held at the former Thresher's off licence shop in College Street on Thursday 4th November, Friday 5th November and Saturday 6th November from 10am until 5pm each day.

Last month, Sedgemoor District Council's Executive unanimously agreed that over £158,000 of funding can be spent on creating the pedestrian-only zone.

Pictured are (top) some of the shop owners who attended Wednesday's meeting in Burnham's Somerset and Dorset pub; (centre) how the scheme could have looked; and (above) county council surveyors at work in Burnham High Street last month


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