Published: February 3, 2010
Town Council split on £50,000 lifeline for Burnham Tourist Centre

Town councillors have this week voted in favour of spending £50,000 on keeping Burnham-On-Sea's cash-strapped Tourist Information Centre open over the summer - but several have expressed their 'deep concern' and proposed a smaller funding package.

As first reported last week by Burnham-On-Sea.com, proposals for the 'lifeline funding' were unveiled by Cllr Neville Jones during a public meeting where the future of the cash-strapped seafront centre was considered.

Under the plan approved at Monday's Town Council meeting - pictured above - the council will dig into its financial reserves to spend £50,000 on keeping the Tourist Information Centre (TIC) on Burnham seafront open between April 1st and November, while a newly-formed working party seeks long-term funding.

"This is a mere lifeline to ensure the doors of the TIC stay open while the working party seeks a longer solution," Cllr Jones told Monday's meeting. "We are very proud of our TIC, it is very dear to our town, and this money is urgently needed or the centre will close on March 31st."

Cllr Chris Williams, however, put forward a separate motion and called on town councillors to only "provide partial financial support to the tune of £30,000".

He said Sedgemoor should be asked to provide a further £15,000 and local tourist organisations £5,000.

Cllr Williams explained: "We will be running at great risk if other bodies are not putting money in too. I just hope we're not pouring money down the drain."

"My proposal would give the working party adequate time to develop a permanent plan to maintain the TIC and would allow this council to retain a somewhat larger proportion of our contingency funds should Sedgemoor impose other 'budget contributions', such as they have mentioned in respect to other services."

Cllr Ken Smout agreed that spending £50,000 is a "a whole lot of money" and he warned: "There are no guarantees that this money will secure the long-term future of the centre. The working party will still have to find the money for the centre to stay open beyond next autumn."

Cllr Joe Leach said he too was unsure whether £50,000 should be allocated. "For the first time ever, I'm stuck on which way to make my decision," he said at Monday's meeting.

"I agree with Cllr Jones that the TIC should stay open but I also agree with Cllr Williams to some extent. We should be getting more time from SDC to consider all this and I feel we're being pushed into making a decision," said Cllr Leach.

But Cllr Jones described Cllr Williams' proposal as "a wrecking motion" and said that if such a plan were adopted, it would require "councillors to knock on the doors of many local businesses, asking for money."

A vote of councillors took pace and Cllr Jones' proposal won the majority backing with several voitng against.

 


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