Town Team leader quits after stormy meeting
leader of Burnham-On-Sea's Town Team quit his role during a heated
meeting on Thursday night (August 9th).
Turco, pictured, announced he is stepping down from the position
with immediate effect.
have been considering my schedule for the autumn and, in light
of all that's gone on, I'm leaving you, " he told members
at the end of the Town Team meeting in The Princess Theatre. "I
will also be giving up my work on forming a Neighbourhood Plan,
the business plans for The Princess and my role on the Town Team
in order to focus on other things."
was thanked by the group for his work during recent months, which
included a major role in compiling Burnham's two bids for Mary
Portas funding. Both were turned down by Local Government Minister
Grant Shapps despite being acknowledged as strong bids.
of the Town Team, Bev Milner Simonds, told Burnham-On-Sea.com:
"We are very sorry to see Alex go - he has brought a lot
of energy and ideas to the group which will be missed. The work
of the Town Team goes on, though."
Thursday's meeting, there was further debate about the discussions
held between community group BIARS (Burnham Information And Rescue
Support) and Sedgemoor District Council regarding funding for
a proposed new
Town Centre Manager.
representative Ken Smout defended the group's position and explained
that the organisation was seeking to appoint a new tourism manager
and town centre manager, based at the seafront centre, following
its success in generating visitors and business over the past
year. "I am shocked that we have been criticised this week
when all we were trying to do was the right thing for Burnham,"
But Mr Turco said: "The Town Team was asked to support the
Town Council in gathering 20
recommendations to improve Burnham for Sedgemoor District
Council to allocate some of the £320,000 of Tesco funding.
Those suggestions now seem to be in abeyance. The recommendations
were taken back to the full Town Council last Monday and, while
not exactly spat back in our face, no decision was taken on how
they should be taken forward."
with Sedgemoor established that there was no process in place
to allocate the Tesco money and take forward the recommendation
to recruit a Town Centre Manager, yet it later emerged that a
small window of opportunity existed for BIARS to step in and declare
its interest in taking on the role. It's unclear how BIARS knew
about this opportunity if it wasn't through the town councillors
who sit on its management committee."
why BIARS had not discussed the matter with the Town Team, Mr
Smout said "the negotiations had been very sensitive and
not for the public arena", but he added "we are willing
to apologise if needed. We were just trying to do the right thing
for Burnham by taking forward the role."
Phil Harvey said he had not wished to cast any negative aspersions
on BIARS or the way it is run with his comments on the matter
town council meeting, adding that the reason he proposed the
matter be re-considered by the Council's Town Improvements Committee
is to allow members to properly assess the BIARS proposal.
Cllr Helen Groves told Thursday's meeting: "I have nothing
against BIARS at all, however it was absolutely unreasonable for
one town councillor to say that no other groups had come forward
to express an interest in taking on the Town Centre Manager role
when the matter had not been publicly discussed or the opportunity
given to others to come forward."
Team member Sylvia Young said she was "sick and tired"
of the politics around the Town Centre Manager role. "Everything
seems to be about point scoring, which is not why I am here,"
she said before walking out of the meeting.
Team member Tony Lynham said he is "absolutely against"
the idea of creating a Town Centre Manager, but added that if
one were to be appointed it must be via a free and open recruitment
process with no candidate pre-selected.
were asked whether they felt there is still a role for the Town
Team after the disappointment of the Portas funding bids and this
week's discussions. Members felt there does remain a role, with
Sarah Milner Simonds quoting some of the group's successes so
far - around consultation surveys and the formation of several
sub-teams to take forward improvements in Burnham.
Town Team will next meet on August 28th at 6.30pm - location to