November 11, 2014
Council scraps plan to move Burnham-On-Sea's farmers markets

Town councillors last night (Monday) voted to reject a controversial plan to move Burnham-On-Sea's farmers markets out of the High Street.

Councillors debated whether the monthly markets should be moved into nearby Adam Street in a bid to reduce "disruption to the town centre."

As first reported here, Cllr Neville Jones, below, had proposed that the events be moved to help town centre businesses.

Cllr Jones said: "I'm all for keeping the farmers markets, but traders here in Burnham already pay the highest business rates in Sedgemoor and they don't need the markets hurting their trade. Closing the High Street on the last Friday of each month for five hours causes a lot of disruption," he said.

However, Phillip Wookey of Somerset Farmers Markets said at Monday's meeting that the proposed new site for the markets in Adam Street would be "completely unsuitable."

He added: "It is too small, too narrow, has insufficient footfall, and is too exposed to the prevailing weather."

After considering the comments and further debating the issue, Cllr Paul Young proposed that the markets stay where they are in the High Street. A majority of councillors agreed with him in a vote and the motion was therefore carried and there will be no change.

Reacting to the news, Mr Wookey told "I am extremely pleased about this sensible decision. It removes the uncertainty for our traders and for the market's future."

But speaking after last night's meeting, Cllr Jones added: "I've always made it clear that I am not against the farmers market, just that it causes too much disruption in the High Street on 12 days a year and, far from helping local businesses, it hurts them. It's a shame the council is not taking this discussion further - I don't think everyone fully understood what I was proposing."

Councillors had initially deferred their decision last month until February 2015 to allow members time to walk around the market area and see in detail the proposed changes - but now no further meetings will be needed.

Town Centre Manager Bev Milner Simonds told "The farmers market is a vital part of the retail mix of Burnham town centre. At present, we don't have a fresh independent fruit and veg shop and only one butcher so the market does help to bring choice and variety into the town centre."

Video of councillors debating the matter. They considered holding off on a decision until a meeting in the town centre in February, but eventually voted not to move the market.


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