Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge town councillors have this week approved over £14,000 of grants to community groups in the two towns.

Members of the council’s Finance & Resources Committee considered eight applications for grants from public funds during their meeting on Monday (May 20th), scrutinising each bid in turn.

  • Somewhere House Somerset is to receive £5,000 towards mental health support work in the Burnham and Highbridge area.
  • Citizens Advice Sedgemoor is getting £2,700 for its weekly outreach sessions in Burnham and Highbridge.
  • BOSfest will get £2,500 towards the £14,000 costs of running its annual music and arts festival taking place on August 31st and September 1st in Burnham this year.
  • BOS Events received £1,100 towards the costs of running the Burnham-On-Sea Beach Kite Festival on September 14th and 15th in Burnham.
  • Burnham and Highbridge Mens Sheds received £1,050 towards the £7,000 cost of running its service for men and women in the towns.
  • Burnham-On-Sea Sailing Club also received £1,000 towards the costs of a planned new defibrillator at the southern end of The Esplanade.
  • BARB Search & Rescue received £495 towards the costs of a PA system at Burnham’s annual emergency services day on Burnham seafront which takes place on 25th August.
  • Burnham and Highbridge Army Cadets received £415 towards the cost of new waterproof clothing and hi-visibility clothing for the cadets to ‘protect and safeguard cadets’.

During the meeting, each of the groups requesting over £1,000 was asked to give a presentation on their grant bid and then to answer questions from councillors.

Rob Jones, a trustee from Somewhere House Somerset, said: “We are a local charity that was founded to fill a gap in mental health. We work on a donation-only basis and are seeing more and more local people requesting help, even down to 7 and 8 years of age. The service is growing and demand is high, but resources are low.”

Cllr Helen Groves said she was confused about the link between Somewhere House, which offers drugs and alcohol support, and Somewhere House Somerset. “I recognise you do incredibly excellent work but are you supporting drugs and alcohol problems too?” 

Will Human, a charity trustee, explained that Somewhere House is a different organisation with a different focus to the Somerset charity.

Cllr Pete Clayton asked how much of the funding would stay in Burnham and Highbridge, to which Mr Human said “our main hub is here in Burnham in the Tesco car park, we also have a counsellor at King Alfred School each week, and we also operate out of Cheddar.”

Mayor and Cllr Andy Brewer added: “Having heard what the charity does and what the money will be used for, I understand that the grant is part of a project costing £25,000 a year so £5,000 is a small proportion. On the basis of helping health and wellbeing for our residents, I’m happy to support this application.”

Councillors voted in favour of the application.

Amy Jones of Citizens Advice Sedgemoor received £2,700 towards the group’s weekly outreach sessions in Burnham and Highbridge. 

Drop-ins are held at Burnham Methodist Church between 9.30am and 2pm on Tuesdays, and on Thursdays there is a drop-in between 9.30am and 2.30pm at Hope Baptist Church in Highbridge.

Cllr Groves described the service as “brilliant work that is desperately needed.”

Councillors approved the application unanimously.

BOSFest‘s Tanya Dayer explained to the committee that it would no longer be getting funding from Sedgemoor District Council due to a two year funding agreement running out, but “out bills have gone up year on year and it now costs us £14,000 to run the festival each year.”

Cllr Louise Parkin said: “This event brings in new people to the town centre and it’s great that they see what we offer and hopefully come back again.”

Cllr Richard Gardiner White asked whether more could be done to “stretch the event further along the High Street to benefit more of the town centre.”

Tanya responded that “some traders in the High Street complained when we looked to hold it in the High Street – some don’t want it to be closed.”

Cllr Brewer added: “This event is only its third year and it’s a growing event – it brings a lot of people into our town. The total cost of putting on the event is “14,000 and this grant is a small part of its so I support it.”

Cllr Nick Tolley agreed, adding: “They are asking for less than 20 per cent of the running costs, and the event does a great job in bringing people into the town.”

Cllr Mike Facey gave the organisers a word of caution: “I would give you one bit of advice – please be tasteful.” Tanya responded: “Yes, we have taken onboard the comments from residents last year.”

Councillors voted in favour of the grant application – £2,500 towards the £14,000 costs of running the BOSFest music and arts festival on August 31st and September 1st this year.

Gaynor Brown of BOS Events explained that the Burnham-On-Sea Beach Kite Festival started seven years ago and has rapidly grown. “It is an amazing sight and has been a tremendous success,” she said.

“We have fought to keep costs down, but our insurance costs have doubled this year.”

The application was approved by councillors. The group receives £1,100 towards the costs of running the Burnham-On-Sea Beach Kite Festival on September 14th and 15th.

Men’s Sheds organiser Tony Cradock said his group had started in 2017 and now has a growing number of members, both men and women in Burnham and Highbridge.

“People meet and play around with various activities while having a natter to bring local people together who might otherwise be lonely. We have also started a ‘she shed’ over the past year too which has taken off. We are struggling to keep up with the overall member numbers.”

Cllr Mike Facey said “please carry on the great work you do” and welcomed that the group had applied for £1,000 of its total £7,000 project costs.

The application was unanimously approved.

Graham Wills of Burnham-On-Sea Sailing Club received £1,000 towards the costs of a proposed new heart defibrillator at the southern end of The Esplanade.

“Many of our members are 65 years old or above and we also have the Parkrun runners coming past each weekend and lots of walkers, some of whom are 70 plus, so a defib is really needed here – the nearest ones are at the BARB station and Apex Park,” he said.

The club is hoping to get the new equipment in place for the end of July. The bid was unanimously approved.

Two further small bids for grants from BARB and the Army Cadets were also unanimously approved.