council debate held over new Burnham Town Manager role
exchanged verbal blows during a town council meeting this week
over controversial plans to introduce a new Town Centre Manager
were heated scenes in the council chambers on Monday evening (August
6th) during a debate on plans to spend some of Tesco's £300,000
of community funding on creating the new role.
a new Town Centre Manager is among a list of 20 suggested improvements
Burnham's Town Team to help boost the vitality of the town
was agreed by the council's Town Improvements Committee in July
that the appointment of a Town Centre Manager on a three-year
contract should be considered a priority since the person would
be able to take forward the other 19 recommendations on the list.
was also noted that the Town Council would have to seek Sedgemoor
District Council's approval for the cash to be spent in this way.
it emerged during Monday's meeting that BIARS (Burnham Information
and Rescue Support), the community group that runs the town's
tourist information centre, has made its own separate approach
to Sedgemoor for funding for the role, prompting accusations that
it was 'stealing a march' on the council.
Phil Harvey, Liberal Democrat leader on the Town Council, told
the meeting: "This has come as a shock. I am very concerned
that Sedgemoor should be having these discussions and find the
talks disrepectful to this council."
Cllr Neville Jones hit back at Liberal Democrat councillors, saying:
"Prevarication again. For three years we've known the Tesco
money has been coming our way, yet nothing has been done by the
members opposite. No recommendations have been forthcoming. BIARS
is the only show in town that can take on the responsibility of
the Town Centre Manager."
added: "The Town Council cannot consider employing new staff
for such a role - it would absolutely run against everything the
coalition government has been doing, yet BIARS has the confidence
of businesses and the town itself to take this forward."
Helen Groves - who left the meeting during the debate - questioned
whether the Tesco funding should be spent on such a role and queried
whether the suggested £10,000 salary is enough to fulfill
the job's objectives. "Whether this should happen with Tesco
funding I'm unsure," she said.
Turco from Burnham's Town Team added: "I am not familiar
with the discussions between Sedgemoor and BIARS and cannot comment
on whether the Town Team's vision of a Town Centre Manager is
any way reflected by what BIARS want to do. However, I would question
whether BIARS' conduct has been appropriate."
a narrow vote of eight votes to seven, town councillors voted
to return the matter back to the council's Town Improvements Committee
for fresh consideration.
Phil Harvey told Burnham-On-Sea.com after the meeting: "Earlier
in the year, Sedgemoor District Council asked the Town Council
to advise it on how the Tesco funding could be spent and, as a
result, the Town Team was invited to give its suggestions. One
of its proposals was to introduce a new Town Manager to take forward
a number of improvements in the town centre, which we felt to
be a good idea. Now, however, it has emerged that Sedgemoor and
BIARS have been in negotiations to take forward the role without
any reference or notification to the Town Council or Town Team."
Alex Turco from Burnham Town Team added: "We are unhappy
that BIARS did not approach the Town Team about these discussions."
Ken Smout - who is also a member of BIARS - added: "The town
council and members of the public want to make the town centre
vibrant again and one way to do this is to appoint a new business
and tourism officer. An approach has therefore been made by BIARS
to Sedgemoor District Council as we have an interest in this.
No other organisation has come forward to suggest a person."
added that the role would be advertised and that a "free,
fair and open" competition would be held.
Town Council's Policy and Finance Committee previously recommended
that the council should give a grant of £3,500 per annum
for 3 years for the role, which would be match funding from BIARS
for the day-to-day admin and running expenses. This funding was
to come from £40,500 set aside in earmarked reserves for