October 21, 2014
Decision on whether to move Burnham's farmers markets is delayed

Town councillors have delayed a controversial decision on whether to move Burnham-On-Sea's farmers markets out of the town's High Street.

Councillors last night (Monday) debated whether the "disruptive" monthly markets should be moved into nearby Adam Street.

But after hearing from the market organisers and businesses, they decided to postpone their decision until February 2015 to allow more time for discussions and to attend an upcoming market.

As first reported here, Cllr Neville Jones (right) has proposed the monthly farmers markets are moved into Adam Street to "reduce disruption on businesses."

Cllr Neville 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. We also lose six car parking spaces in the town centre during the markets on 12 very valuable Fridays."

"Closing the High Street on 12 days a year - on the last Friday of each month for five hours - causes a lot of disruption. I want to keep farmers markets in Burnham, but they should not be hurting trade," he said.

Cllr Michael Clarke said the High Street had originally been chosen after a lengthy debate because of its sheltered position, ease of access for disabled users and overall safety.

The proposals were debated at Monday's Town Council Policy and Finance Committee meeting.

Tourism Information Centre Manager Ian Jefferies said in a letter that he supports the market, which an "integral part of the business mix."

Gaynor Brown, who runs a regular community stall at the markets, added that the event is important for the town. "There have been no problems with traffic management and nobody has complained about the markets," she said.

The markets' organisers said they have "tried to embed ourselves in the local community and we want to pursue the markets further. We are willing to consider any proposal that gives the same visibility and footfall."

Councillors discussed other possible locations with less disturbance for the market, including Lynton Road Car Park and Victoria Street, but neither was deemed to be suitable.

Janice Webber, manager of the markets, said: "We like the snugness of the High Street. There is a real community atmosphere there. Many shoppers and traders are pleased to see us for six hours a month on the last Friday of the month."

Councillors agreed that the matter would be discussed again at the February 2015 meeting to allow members to walk around the market area and look in detail at the plans on a market day and also discuss the proposals with the county council's highways team.

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 for one day a month. It also brings a different feel and energy to the High Street."


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