Published: January 22, 2014
Fresh concern over timescales for £440k Burnham town centre work

Fresh concerns over the time the Town Council is taking to deliver £440,000 of improvements in Burnham-On-Sea have been expressed this week.

The timeframes were considered at a meeting of the council's Town Projects Committee meeting on Monday.

A raft of improvements to boost the town centre - listed below - is being planned using cash from Tesco to offset the impact of its store expansion, plus the Town Council and former South West Regional Development Agency.

Chairman Cllr Michael Clarke told the meeting that the recruitment of the Town Centre Manager would start this summer, with interviews in August and the appointment taking place by "October at the latest". He explained: "This gives us enough time to find a suitable way forward with all the workstreams."

But amid concern regarding the overall project's timescales from some residents, the committee considered a proposal from Burnham's Chamber of Trade for it to take over the recruitment of the Town Centre Manager and speed up the process.

Alex Turco, on behalf of the Chamber, explained: "The purpose of our letter was to help move the work along. Appointing the Town Centre Manager in October is far too late if the physical work on delivering the town centre improvements is to begin in January 2015."

Lighting improvements in Burnham High Street and Victoria Street
Hanging basket posts

Additional cycle racks in High Street

Highways improvements: Coloured paviers between Adam Street and Cross Street £20k; Coloured road surface £20k & maintenance £20k; Finger post signs £10k, street furniture, including £1k for a central electricity point for events, plus £30k

Roller shutter project £5k shop front grants £25k
New public notice boards (High Street & Victoria Street)
Town Centre Manager and Project Manager

Contingency to cover additional costs as figures are estimates

Cllr Clarke said "out-sourcing the recruitment would break the Town Council's current agreement with Sedgemoor District Council," however he agreed to review the possibility of bringing forward the recruitment dates if possible.

Cllr Kate Lawson told the meeting she is keen to see more co-operation between the council and the trade group.

She said: "I think closer working with the Chamber is the way we should be going, especially as the improvements are aimed at bringing more trade into the town and making it a more vibrant place. We should be welcoming their involvement."

Further concerns were also raised about the overall timing of the improvements. Cllr Neville Jones told the meeting: "Work in the town centre really must start in the second week of January 2015 and be implemented well before May when residents will be voting on what's been delivered."

Local resident Mike Murphy added: "It's high time that the work is taken forward - we need to see some action here."

Asked how much of the overall project funding has been spent so far on the Project Manager, who is currently leading the design activities, Town Clerk Denise Emery said "not more than one third of the £67,000 budget." She added: "He's putting in a lot of hours on this and we're pleased with the progress. Having the local knowledge from him is key here."


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