Burnham-On-Sea, Somerset

October 13, 2005
Traders give cautious backing to Garden World's joint promotion proposal

Traders in Burnham-On-Sea have this week offered a cautious hand of friendship to Sanders Garden World by voting to work with the controversial store rather than against it in the coming years.

Burnham-On-Sea Chamber Of Trade members with Burnham's Town Centre Manager, Mayor and Carnival Chairman at their meeting on October 11thAt a packed meeting of Burnham's Chamber Of Trade on Tuesday October 11, the vote came after a lively discussion about the company's planned extension of its Brent Knoll store.

Although Peter Burks, the manager of Garden World, had been due to address the meeting, he cancelled due to illness.

But Chamber committee member Alex Turco had a "frank and open" discussion with Mr Burks by telephone earlier in the day and relayed his conversation to members.

Mr Turco told the audience of 40 traders from across Burnham, which included Mayor Eric Gill and Town Centre Manager Anne-Marie Spalding: "The Chamber of Trade committee has been grappling with how to deal with this issue for some time."

"We feel, though, that we all have two common objectives. Firstly, we want people to spend money in our shops and businesses and secondly we want people to shop locally here in Burnham. We want the area to be economically vibrant."

"When I told this to Peter Burks, he said 'hallelujah, we have common ground. I am sure we can work together.'"

With this in mind, Mr Turco said Garden World had proposed to distribute a soon-to-be launched leaflet about shopping in the town inside its store "as a token of friendship."

Sanders Garden WorldHe also added that would also be happy to install a new sign promoting shopping in Burnham-On-Sea on a roundabout outside the store, once this has been completed.

The Garden World boss also revealed that its newly enlarged store would not open until 2007 at the earliest.

Mr Turco said: "Peter Burks says he feels there are only two months a year - January and February - when building can be carried out at the store."

"And as the roundabout has to be built before the rest of the work on the site goes ahead, the opening of the extended store would not come until 2007 at the very earliest."

Mr Turco said: "We therefore have until 2007 to create 'Brand Burnham' and encourage people to come and shop in Burnham after visiting Garden World."

He added that he believed the Chamber Of Trade should work together with Garden World, rather than against it.

Burnham shoe retailer Jeff Shickle offered his backing, saying: "Sanders is in a prime position on junction 22 of the motorway. We should capitalise on this and work together. The committee has my full backing."

Asked how the Chamber Of Trade would create 'Brand Burnham' before 2007 by a member of the audience, Mr Turco said the committee was already developing a leaflet about the town's shops, was boosting its online presence, had participated in a street survey with town centre manager Anne-Marie Spalding to identify strengths and weaknesses along the High Street, and is also investigating proposals to improve car parking in the town.

One trader, a Burnham art shop owner, voiced his concerns over the plans, saying: "I'm very sceptical about the plans - Sanders is only interested in getting people into its own store. It has no interest in Burnham whatsoever."

And Sheila Leigh, a Burnham resident who has recently moved into the town, cautioned that: "Sanders seems to be setting itself up as a gateway to the town."

A vote by those in attendance revealed that the vast majority of traders are in favour of working together with the store, and pursuing joint promotion plans.

RELATED LINKS:

Burnham-On-Sea Chamber of Trade

'Use it or lose it' warning to Burnham shoppers

Sanders Garden World expansion gets the green light

Town Council statement on Garden World go-ahead

Sanders Garden World

 


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