August 2, 2011
Burnham-On-Sea pedestrianisation project is axed
to pedestrianise part of Burnham-On-Sea's High Street were dramatically
thrown out by town councillors on Monday evening (August 1st).
controversial proposals to ban traffic during the daytime between
Cross Street and Adam Street in order to encourage shoppers to
visit the town were unanimously rejected amid concern that the
scheme might actually turn shoppers away and hurt tarde.
During Monday's meeting,
town councillors instead voted to proceed with a much smaller
scheme of improvements to smarten up the High Street.
£200,000 of funding which was previously earmarked for pedestrianisation
looks set to be used instead for new paving stones, trees and
new 'street furniture', such as benches.
CHAMBER OF TRADE'S POSITION
Alex Turco, representating Burnham Chamber of Trade, told
Monday's town council meeting: "The decision to proceed
or not is difficult. The Town Centre has been starved of
maintenance over the years in anticipation of an improvement
scheme. There has been little evidence of overwhelming public
demand and with just 24 positive responses to the last public
consultation last November, apathy seems to reign. For Chamber
members, whilst there have been a few supportive voices,
most are against this scheme."
"Since I was Chairman of the Chamber the policy has
been to consider pedestrianisation favourably only if it
addresses concerns relating to parking, loading, signage
for motorists and pedestrians, access for those with sight
and mobility impairment and traffic flow. Does the scheme
before us address these matters? No, it does not."
"Is this scheme right for Burnham-On-Sea? Retail is
changing with Internet and out-of-town shopping, meaning
that traditional Town Centres must become appealing destinations.
Economic conditions are difficult. Will prospects improve
if this scheme is adopted? The main concern is the disruption
to the Town Centre that would be caused by the two month
construction period. Can businesses afford to lose trade
over that period and once shoppers have been put off by
the disruption, will they return? These are big risks to
"With money tight, could the money available be better
spent on improving what we have rather than a shadow of
the grandiose improvement schemes put forward of yesteryear?
In short, is this the right scheme at the right time? The
Chamber is not convinced."
Cllr Neville Jones, Chairman of Burnham's Civic Pride group,
which oversaw the pedestrianisation scheme, told Burnham-On-Sea.com:
"A great deal has changed since 2009 when the original pedestrianisation
scheme was first put forward."
"No-one can now seriously consider cutting the High Street
in half with the economy on a knife-edge and traders in Burnham
finding business so difficult."
"It would not have been sensible to close part of the High
Street at the moment between 6am and 10pm. I fear a lot of potential
shoppers would have simply turned right away from the High Street
to go onto the seafront and then drive off elsewhere."
"But Burnham town centre can still see benefits from Civic
Pride because the money is still there and can be used to smarten
up the High Street."
But Burnham resident Tony Lynham (pictured below), who is in
favour of pedestrianisation, told the meeting: "The town
centre is in chaos at this time of year, with delivery lorries
parking at all times of the day and double yellow lines being
totally ignored by motorists."
"We should be encouraging more pedestrians into the High
Street. It's an outrage that over £40,000 has been spent
on this failed scheme due to the costs of applying for a traffic
order to get the High Street closed off."
Cllr Phil Harvey said at Monday's meeting: "It is very difficult
when so many external factors are in play here. Personally, I
could never understand what benefits Burnham would have gained
by cutting off 60 yards of the High Street."
"Instead, we should now be looking carefully at whether
there are better ways to spend the money. Market Street in Highbridge
badly needs attention, for example."
Cllr Jones was keen to stress at Monday's meeting that the £159,000
received by Sedgemoor District Council in compensation
from the South West Regional Development Agency in 2009 has
been "ring-fenced for use in Burnham."
Two new councillors were co-opted onto the Civic Pride group
during Monday's meeting - Cllr Martin Cox and Cllr Bill Hancock
- and a meeting will be held later in August to further discuss
the next steps forward.
Burnham-On-Sea.com reported last
November that the pedestrianisation plans had been given a
cool reception by many High Street businesses, who fear the scheme
will hurt their trade.