Published: March 6, 2012
Plans for £40,000 wi-fi Internet zone in Burnham-On-Sea unveiled

Proposals to introduce super-fast wireless Internet access across Burnham-On-Sea's town centre received a cool welcome from town councillors on Monday night (March 5th) when they expressed concern about the £40,000 cost of the project.

The scheme - which has the backing of Burnham Chamber of Trade - would rely on funding from the Town Council to introduce a free super-fast wi-fi Internet area along the High Street to help promote shops and businesses in the town to visitors.

Burnham Chamber of Trade Chairman Rhonda Mills said: "This would be a great, modern addition to Burnham that would help the town attract higher income shoppers and promote our facilities to shoppers."

But Cllr Ken Smout told Monday's meeting in the Town Council Chambers: "It would be a step forward but there are lots of unanswered questions regarding the high cost, security and who it would be aimed at."

Mayor Michael Clarke added: "3G coverage from O2 has greatly improved in the town centre recently, providing fast mobile Internet access. I'm not convinced there's a need to spend £40,500 on this service."

£40,500 from Burnham and Highbridge Town Council has been earmarked for regeneration improvements in the town by Sedgemoor District Council's 'task and finish' group as part of a £186,000 project to modernise Burnham town centre, as first reported by here last week.

Resident Tony Lynham told councillors: "The council is in a dream world if they think this will benefit for a majority of residents in the town."

"This money is there for improvements to the town and should be spent on visible benefits. The public must be given a chance to have their say on this."

Town councillors decided not to proceed with the scheme for the moment, but they have 'ring-fenced' the funding until the project plans are further defined and a final decision can be taken.

Town clerk Eileen Shaw stressed that if the scheme were to be given the go-ahead, no funding would be made available without a proper bidding process to ensure a 'level playing field' with multiple bids being assessed.


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