Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge were handed a major financial boost on Wednesday (September 27th) when the towns received thousands of pounds of grant cash.
Sedgemoor District Council is to direct more than £115,000 into our area after it received a £428,320 Local Authority Business Growth Incentive Grant.
A total of £30,000 is being spent on a new shop front improvement scheme in Burnham, while £7,500 is to be spent on a retail training scheme in the two towns, and £65,000 has been set aside to upgrade Burnham’s seafront toilets.
Also, Burnham-On-Sea Chamber Of Trade is celebrating after receiving £2,500 from the Grants Award Panel for Christmas lights in the town, and a further £14,000 will also be shared on festive lights in both Highbridge and Burnham.
Alex Turco, Vice Chairman of Burnham-On-Sea Chamber of Trade, welcomed the news. He told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “The Chamber is absolutely delighted that we will be able to complete the rejuvenation of the Christmas Light display.”
He added: “Toilet facilities are absolutely vital to visitors and it is good to know that the seafront toilets will be refurbished.”
“We hope the Shop Front Improvement scheme will also encourage more businesses to invest in their properties to create a better shopping environment.”
“This is excellent news and our thanks go to local town and Sedgemoor councillors and the Town Centre Manager who have worked with us to get this vital investment into Burnham-On-Sea.”
THE GRANT SCHEMES IN FULL:
.Burnham-On-Sea & Highbridge Shop Front Improvement Scheme
A report for Burnham’s regeneration team, produced by consultants Ekos, found that a large proportion of premises in the town appear to be in a poor physical condition and that they are in need of significant investment.
For Highbridge, it found that 19% of the retail units were unoccupied and many suffered poor maintenance and appearance. In both towns there was a high uptake of Small Business Rate Relief indicating the low rents within the towns, which results in landlords being unkeen to invest in their properties.
A shopfront improvement scheme for both towns will encourage property owners to make improvements, which in turn would support the regeneration initiative. The grant will be up to £1,000, offered as a maximum 50% contribution, on a first come, first served basis. In exceptional cases, grants over £1,000 will be considered. The scheme will be administered in close liaison with the Regeneration Partnership and Burnham and Highbridge Town Council.
.Burnham-On-Sea & Highbridge Christmas Lights
The Christmas lights in Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge have always been organised and provided by the Chamber of Trade, paid for by membership fees and assisted by grants from the Town Council and Sedgemoor District Council.
Due to new legislation, it has become necessary to replace all the Christmas lights – which is obviously a significantly higher cost than refurbishing each year. The Chamber in Burnham has provided a new shopping leaflet for 2006 and has other priorities for their funds directly related to the support of their members.
This, therefore, put the provision of Christmas lights in doubt. The grant money will not only provide new lights for Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge, but also enable the testing of the lighting columns, which is now due and which is also required for hanging baskets in summer. See our related story here.
.Refurbishment of Toilet Provision on the seafront at Burnham-On-Sea
Work is already underway on the long-overdue refurbishment of the toilets next to Burnham’s Tourist Information Centre and in converting the use of the facilities at the BARB station to storage space.
Burnham-On-Sea.com revealed in February that a review of the facilities was underway amid concerns that several local public toilets were threatened.
.Retail training in Burnham-On-Sea, Bridgwater and Highbridge
The aim of this grant money will be to offer bite-size training courses to independent retailers in Bridgwater, Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge. The course covers a series of subjects such as customer service, complaint handling, sales techniques, and each module is around 15 minutes. The courses will be run through Careerfinder who have developed similar modules for a number of national retailers. The courses will offer the opportunity for independent retailers to benefit from similar training to that received by employees of the nationals, which will enable them to compete more effectively in an increasingly demanding market. This type of training is not on offer through Business Link – they tend to focus on business start-ups or ongoing training funded by employers. This will also support the aims of regeneration projects in Burnham and Highbridge.
The news comes as the town waits for a decision on a bid for over £2.5million of funding from the South-West Regional Development Agency. This could result in huge regeneration of Burnham’s High Street, Pier Street and Princess Street.