April 15, 2015
Tourist centre shuts down at M5 Sedgemoor Services near Burnham

A popular M5 motorway tourist information centre near Burnham-On-Sea has closed down this week due to council funding cuts.

The Somerset Visitor Centre at Sedgemoor Services on the southbound motorway shut for the final time on Friday (10th April), confirmed Somerset County Council.

A council spokeswoman told "Rising pressures on the Council's budget, along with visitors seeking their tourism information elsewhere, has meant the business case for continuing to run the service is no longer viable."

"We are recommending that tourists visit Burnham-On-Sea and other Somerset information centres, or go online. Arrangements have been made with other Somerset tourist information centres to accept any enquiries to the SVC telephone number or email address following the closure."

The decision has disappointed BIARS (Burnham Information and Rescue Support), the group that runs Burnham's seafront Tourist Information Centre.

Ian Jefferies, BIARS Tourism Manager, told "It is dreadful news that the Sedgemoor Services tourist centre has closed down - it's been a valuable service."

"It will be a missed opportunity to promote our area to vistors travelling through the Burnham area. It's also very disappointing to see experienced tourism staff being lost. That said, though, we are grateful to the County Council for letting us have some of the surplus stock for our centre in Burnham which will help us keep going."

And Tom Ashton, Chairman of BIARS and a director at Visit Somerset, told "This TIC was situated at the gateway to Somerset and its closure will, I believe, have a big negative impact on tourism in the area. Many visitors to the West Country will in future be unaware of the many attractions that Somerset has to offer and at the same time accommodation providers will lose customers."

"Visit Somerset has had a number of meetings with Somerset County Council, who ran the centre, to try to come up with an acceptable plan to save the facility, including the opportunity of seeing whether a community volunteer operation could be put in place, similar to BIARS, which operates the TIC in Burnham."

"Sedgemoor District Council Chairman Peter Downing acknowledged two weeks ago that Burnham's TIC has been run very successfully by volunteers for the last four years and provides a fantastic service."

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