November 30, 2010
the new group taking over Burnham-On-Sea tourist centre
a dozen volunteers have this week come forward to offer their
help in running Burnham-On-Sea's tourist information centre from
A public meeting was held in the town on Monday
evening (November 29th) when the newly-created BIARS (Burnham
Information And Rescue Support group) formed its volunteer management
team and unveiled how it will operate the closure-threatened TIC
from April 2011.
future of the seafront centre was plunged into doubt a year ago
the cash-strapped district council announced
it could no longer afford to run it, but we reported earlier
this month that BIARS had signed a letter of agreement with
Sedgemoor to save it.
The group's Cllr Neville Jones and Tom Ashton explained to an
audience of 20 people at Monday's meeting in the Town Council
Chambers in Jaycroft Road how BIARS aims to turn the centre's
fortunes around and make it profitable.
"The centre's running costs will be in the region of £40,000
- £45,000 per year, which we are confident of meeting through
commission from accommodation bookings, advertising, tickets to
tourist attractions, travel serices, and the sale of books, guides,
postcards, calendars and local produce," explained Mr Ashton.
It was also confirmed that BARB and the Coastguard Association
will both have key roles in providing beach safety advice and
information to visitors at the centre - in addition to offering
their own charity merchandise.
"Having the two charities involved at no cost to them provide
us with volunteers, allows beach safety advice to be handed out,
and also helps these essential charities raise their own funds,"
explained Mr Ashton.
Cllr Jones cautioned that to form BIARS, £5,000 of funding
is needed. "We do need the support of local people to get
the charity up and running. Funding is being sought from various
tourism groups and businesses who benefit from holidaymakers in
Jones was chosen as the first Chairman of BIARS, while Mr Ashton
became its treasurer.
The BIARS mangement committee will comprise Bob Nicholson, Mark
Newman, Ian Jefferies, Paul Barnett and Hilary Dolman.
And a six-strong finance team will consist of Mr Ashton, Cllr
Jones, Cllr Ken Smout, Louise Parkin, Graham Plant and Les Barber.
Separate groups were also set up to handle publicity, education/training
and constitutional matters.
After the meeting, Cllr Jones told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "It's
been a good evening - I'm very satisfied with the position we're
in given that it's a year after Sedgemoor said it could no longer
afford to keep the centre running. I am full of optimism - this
is a goer!"
Cllr Ken Smout praised Cllr Jones and Mr Ashton for their work,
adding: "They've both worked very hard to get us into this
position - their commitment has been superb. We have a good group
to help take this forward."
Town Council came to the rescue of the TIC in
February when it provided a £50,000 lifeline to keep
it open until 31 March 2011, alongside £28,000 from the
district council, however a long-term solution was required to
keep it open beyond spring 2011.