calls for rethink on council funding for Burnham Food Festival
petition signed by dozens of businesses and residents has been
presented to Burnham and Highbridge Town Council calling for a
re-think on whether grant funding should be given to the town's
Food and Drink Festival.
businesses and 55 members of the public have signed the petition,
calling for a halt to the £1,000 grant funding - but the
festival's organisers have rigorously defended their event.
business petition states "we strongly object to the council
grant funding the Food Festival and to the timing of the event,
as it robs us of our valuable income by trading during school
holidays when we expect to earn more than usual to make up for
the slack time when we are open all year round."
second petition, signed by 55 residents, also "strongly objects"
to the grant and states that the festival "should be self-funding
and not rely on hand-outs."
businesswoman Ann Popham presented the petitions to the council
at its latest meeting and said it is "wrong" that ratepayers'
money is being given to a "commercial venture" and that
"it should be paying its way by now."
the Food Festival's Beverley Milner Simonds told Burnham-On-Sea.com
this week: "The festival is run on a not-for-profit basis.
We take feedback from traders, stallholders, visitors and local
residents very seriously. We conducted a survey with our stallholders,
local businesses and residents immediately after the festival;
the feedback was overwhelmingly positive."
are very grateful for the support from our Town Council, their
backing makes it a more fun event for all the visitors. A lot
of people come to the festival in Burnham town centre on that
day - people we know wouldn't have been coming anyway. We would
love our local businesses to maximise the opportunity to gain
new customers and we want to hear from any business who wants
to be a part of making the seventh festival even better for Burnham."
grant we applied to the Town Council for helps to pay for the
free events and activities that we build into the festival, like
the entertainment, competitions, demonstrations and workshops."
food festival is not just another shopping opportunity; it is
a free, fun day out for the whole family. Both the Town Council
and Sedgemoor District Council have been happy to support the
festival, so that it can provide for local visitors. We believe
that there is nowhere better than where we live to choose local
food for good health and a thriving community."
went on to add: "We were surprised by Mrs Popham's presentation
to the council, in the pre-meeting residents' allocated time.
She had not raised her points with us previously although we have
worked quite closely with her on other voluntary projects in Burnham.
We didn't have a chance to respond but her points made us reflect
on how we can better let people know how much of the festival
is free. We pour our heart and soul into the festival and want
to provide an event that benefits the whole community - if you
live or work in Burnham-On-Sea and want to be involved in the
festival please do get in touch with us."
Councillor Martin Cox told the meeting he backs the event: "I
spoke to lots of people who were all very supportive of the Food
Festival at May's event. There was a very good atmosphere. As
a council we cannot please all the people all the time and therefore
the criteria is 'what is best for our town?' Well the feedback
I have received is that clearly the Food Festival is very much
supported by the majority."
local traders have also voiced their support. Heidi Leigh from
Chatterbox cafe said: "The festival was a great opportunity
to showcase my business. We were prepared for a slight
decrease in takings due to the vast amount of delicious foods
available at the festival but this wasn't the case - in fact it
was our best trading day so far this year. Also, from a business
point of view it was lovely to get out and meet the traders. We
use as many local suppliers as possible - something I feel strongly
about - so it was great to be speaking to them about their products."
voted in favour of a £1,000 grant being awarded to the festival.
Top - the town council, centre - the busy scenes at the May festival,
and above - Burnham's MP and local VIPs with the organisers