July 14, 2017
Free wi-fi service on Burnham-On-Sea beach and town centre proposed

Plans to introduce a free wi-fi Internet network in Burnham-On-Sea town centre and along the seafront are being reconsidered after being raised by a Burnham-On-Sea resident this week.

The £20,000 scheme - which was first considered last autumn - would see free internet access being delivered along the seafront and beach in an effort to make the town more 'mobile-friendly'.

Last year, the Town Council considered earmarking around £8,000 of Tesco regeneration funds towards the £20,000 scheme with the remaining funding coming from Sedgemoor District Council. There would also be £2,500/year costs for a licence, maintenance, and equipment.

Paul Young, a former town councillor, said during this week's Town Council meeting that the service would help to "drive business, and encourage people around the town."

He added: "Mobile phone networks work very well for towns in the middle of the land, but we are a seaside town with sea on one side. As there are no mobile phone customers in the sea, we are on the edge of the network and never get a strong signal. Coverage is patchy at best in Burnham."

"Sedgemoor District Council picked three towns in the district to give wi-fi and we were very fortunate that our former town centre manager got us a fabulous deal to put in free wi-fi."

"With the '106 funding' so far we have got new street lights, cycle racks, coloured tarmac and flower polls for hanging baskets, but wi-fi would knock them all into a cocked hat. It would drive business and encourage people around the town."

He added: "People use their mobiles to navigate which is why it's so important. Wi-fi is quintessential - if you have money for something else in the budget and can swap it over, I suggest you do it."

Mr Young says he'd heard that plans for the service had been scrapped in Burnham and that's why he's keen to follow it up.

Cllr Janet Keen added: "During one of the latest reports from the Town Centre Manager before her contract expired, we were told that there were technical difficulties with it and until they were resolved it was in abeyance."

Cllr Michael Clarke, Chairman of the Town Projects Committee, said the council would further examine the proposal and the costs for a discussion at an upcoming meeting.


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