Published: April 3, 2012
Burnham-On-Sea farmers markets threatened as council axes funding

Town councillors have this week axed funding for Burnham-On-Sea's farmers markets, putting the future of the monthly events in jeopardy.

At a meeting on Monday night (April 2nd), councillors voted in favour of removing all grant funding after feedback from High Street shops that the events are adversely impacting their trade.

Somerset Farmers Markets, which organises the events, has received £1,000 each year from the council towards the cost of road closures, equipment and event organisation.

However, councillors say there is insufficient support from traders and not enough evidence that the markets bring new visitors or residents into the town to justify continuing to giving a grant.

Cllr Chris Williams, Chairman of the council's Policy and Finance Committee, told "Many shop owners whom we have spoken to feel the markets are operating in direct competition to their business. And, while the shops pay business rates, the market pays nothing. We have also not seen any evidence of the market expanding or growing in the last two years."

Ironically, a survey of residents carried out last month by the team overseeing Burnham-On-Sea's £99,000 Mary Portas funding bid identified huge support among residents for the monthly farmers markets, as we reported here.

Monday's decision follows after an earlier meeting of the Town Council's Policy and Finance Committee, where Cllr Dennis Davey proposed that no grant be given, which was seconded by Cllr Helen Groves. An amendment put forward by Cllr Martin Cox proposed that £500 - as a mid-way sum - be given and this was seconded by Cllr Pauline Pollard, but the amendment failed. Town councillors considered the proposals on Monday night and voted not to give any funding.

The monthly markets are held on the last Friday of each month in Burnham High Street. Organisers will have to seek alternative funding sources.


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