A Town Council row has broken out this week over whether a £2,000 grant should be given towards Burnham-On-Sea Food and Drink Festivals.
The funding is being sought by the organisers to meet some of the costs of holding the twice-yearly festivals in the town centre, which are set go ahead this Saturday (May 23rd) and on October 31st.
But several town councillors have this week raised concerns about the impact of the festivals on shops and businesses.
Cllr Louise Parkin explained: “The Town Council doesn’t give funding to Burnham Farmers Market, so why would we here, especially when the Food Festivals negatively affect shops and traders. It’s unfair that this is being held on the first day of the half-term school holidays, one of the busiest days for traders.”
“I am not against the Food Festivals in general, but I do think the timing of them is unfair on traders when they’re held at the busiest times of the year. They are creaming off the top of the trade.”
Cllr Bill Hancock added: “I agree 100% per cent – it’s not fair on the traders who already pay high business rates. The events shouldn’t go ahead in the high season.”
But Cllr Phil Harvey disagreed, saying: “The festivals bring a great deal of visitors into town who would not have otherwise come here and in fact some traders have their best days during these events. The festivals put Burnham on the map. They also create higher revenue for Sedgemoor from extra parking revenue.”
And Cllr Kate Lawson followed up: “The Food Festivals bring the community together and give people a chance to get involved. They are a showcase of local food and drink suppliers and I feel wholeheartedly that we should support them. They are a great success story that we should be proud of.”
Cllr Parkin proposed that the application for grant funding be sent back to the council’s Policy and Finance Committee for “a much closer look.”
Cllr Peter Burridge-Clayton said, however, that the council would not want to jeopardise this Saturday’s festival and he proposed that half of the grant is approved to cover £1,000 for the May event with the other half to be considered before the October event. The proposal was unanimously agreed.