Published: February 1, 2011
Burnham tourist centre appeals for helpers as plans gather pace

Plans to open Burnham-On-Sea's tourist information centre under the management of a new charitable group this Spring are progressing well, with fundraising on track and the date for the handover being confirmed this week.

The newly-formed charity BIARS (Burnham Information And Rescue Support) has also announced that it will hold an open meeting next Thursday (February 10th) when local people who can register their interest in helping to run the seafront centre.

The public meeting will be held at 7pm in the Town Council Chambers in Jaycroft Road and is being aimed at encouraging potential volunteers to come forward and find out how they can be a part of the community group running the facilities.

Members of BIARS met this week and heard how Sedgemoor District Council has confirmed it will be handing over the centre on March 31st.

BIARS Chairman Cllr Neville Jones added: "The district council has given us a helping hand by agreeing it will not ask us for rental charges for two years and it will also leave the existing fixtures and fittings."

He confirmed that local charities BARB and the Coastguard Association will both be providing beach safety advice and tourist information at the centre - in addition to offering charity merchandise.

BIARS Treasurer Tom Aston said that fundraising towards the £5,000 cost of setting up the organisation as a formal charity is going "very well".

He said: "We have received strong support from local tourism companies, including Wookey Hole, Burnham Holiday Village, Unity Farm, the Scott and Harris families at Brean, plus Beachside, The Oaktree, Warren Guesthouse, Walton House and Burnham Swim and Sports Academy."

"Over £4,100 has been raised so far, putting us within touching distance of our £5,000 target, but we do need more local businesses to help us reach the goal."

Sedgemoor District Council's Tim Mander, who also attended this week's BIARS meeting, said it was "incredibly encouraging" to see how the group is progressing. He added that Sedgemoor hopes to conclude the signing of the tourist centre's lease to BIARS later in February.

The future of the seafront centre was plunged into doubt in 2009 when the cash-strapped district council announced it could no longer afford to run it, but BIARS stepped forward to save it and it now aims to turn the centre's fortunes around and make it profitable again.

Pictured are, top, BIARS Chairman Neville Jones and Treasurer Tom Ashton with, centre, the BIARS team and, above, the seafront TIC


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