Published: August 19, 2011
Town Council boosts hopes of saving Burnham's Christmas lights

Hopes of saving Burnham's annual Christmas lights display from the axe were given a major boost last night (Thursday, August 18th) when the town council pledged £3,500 to help the display.

Rhonda Mills, Chairman of Burnham Chamber of Trade, told councillors at a meeting of the council's Policy and Finance Committee that a cut in district council grant funding means the Christmas lights display has been in jeopardy this year - as recently reported here.

"With grant funding being cut, we are in a particularly difficult position and need to decide whether the lights display - which costs us £7,000 to install and insure - can go ahead in the same way as previous years," she said.

After a lengthy debate at Thursday's meeting, councillors voted in favour of giving the Chamber of Trade a one-off grant of £3,500 towards the cost of holding the display.

Cllr Peter Burridge-Clayton said: "It would be a great shame if we didn't have this display. It is a wonderful attraction for Burnham over the Christmas period."

He proposed that the council matches the funding raised by the Chamber, up to a maximum of £3,500, and this was seconded by Cllr Pauline Pollard.

Cllr Phil Harvey questioned whether the costs of the display could be reduced by sharing the town council's existing public liability insurance, but this was not considered possible.

Cllr Chris Williams asked whether the Chamber had considered scaling back the display to reduce costs. Mrs Mills said this had been investigated, but she said it was difficult to know which parts of the display could be removed without harming the overall quality.

Cllr Ken Smout asked whether Highbridge Chamber of Trade would now expect a similar grant donation, to which Cllr Chris Williams, who chairs the committee, said they would be welcome to apply.

After the meeting, Mrs Mills told "I am grateful to the councillors concerned for reading my submission, listening to my presentation and my answers."

"I am delighted we agree that the atmosphere and Christmas spirit engendered by the presence of Christmas lights in the town provides positive benefits to people of all ages, but particularly young people."

"If the full council gives backing to the proposal put forward tonight the Chamber has a fighting chance of raising the rest of the money required for a lights display as stunning as last year, plus an enjoyable switch-on event."

The Town Council will consider the £3,500 grant at its meeting in September, when it is likely to be given final approval.

A number of fundraising events are to be held in coming months to help fund the display and a lighting-up ceremony. The first takes place this Sunday (August 21st) when six local bands will be playing from 2-8pm at the Railway Inn. Tickets cost £3 each, and the bands will be Kastro, Tri-Sexual-Winkers, Moloney's, Infatuated, Two Kings and Scratch. The evening will finish with a karaoke from 9pm.

Pictured: Burnham-On-Sea's dazzling Christmas lights display


Official Burnham Chamber of Trade official website


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