Published: August 16, 2012
New working party to oversee Burnham town centre improvements

A new working party is to be formed by the Town Council to oversee improvements in Burnham-On-Sea after councillors decided last night (Wednesday) not to pursue the creation of a new Town Centre Manager.

The Town Improvements Committee decided that the creation of a new, independent working party will replace the need for the Town Centre Manager role.

The council said it supports in principle the appointment of a Town Centre Manager to oversee a list of improvements, but it said it is not in a position to take on responsibility for the role.

The decision comes in the wake of two resignations - Alex Turco, the leader of the Town Team and Cllr Chris Williams as Chairman of the council's policy-making committee - over the past week following a row over the position.

At Wednesday night's meeting, it was proposed by Mayor Cllr Ken Smout that the new working party be created to bring about 'quick' improvements.

"It needs to be a 'doing' party rather a 'working' party and will have a time limit in order to ensure funding is spent on improvements in Burnham as quickly as possible," he said.

Cllr Neville Jones said he supported the formation of the group, noting that it should include members of Burnham Town Team and the Chamber of Trade.

Town Clerk Eileen Shaw that the group would also need to have a "political balance" in order to be as representative as possible.

But Cllr Kate Lawson questioned why a new group is needed. "We seem to be back-tracking by forming another new group. A lot of work has already been done by the Town Team to gather and document suggested improvements that should be taken forward."

But Mrs Shaw said that the former Town Team leader Alex Turco had said at a recent council meeting that consultation with traders and residents had only gathered feedback from a small percentage of the town and therefore the recommendations are "not necessarily representative."

Cllr Dennis Davey said he is "disappointed" that more is not being done to make "positive moves forward". He added: "I don't see why we keep pushing back the work."

Cllr Helen Groves asked for councillors to draw a line underneath what had happened over the past week and put politics aside in order to move forward.

The new working party is likely to work to the Town Improvements Committee with a remit to be set by the Town Council at its next meeting.


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