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 Policy and Finance Committee considered seven applications for grants during their meeting this week, scrutinising each bid in turn.

Burnham-On-Sea Chamber of Trade is to receive £4,000 towards the cost of this year’s Christmas Lights display in Burnham town centre and its festive switch-on event in November.

Highbridge Chamber of Trade is to receive £3,174 towards the cost of its smaller festive lights display and switch-on event.

Cllr Janet Keen said she wants to see the “two chambers working together to achieve economies of scale,” and she could not support the applications seperately.

But Cllr Bill Hancock told the meeting that the displays are “wonderful for our towns at Christmas and the costs don’t get cheaper.”

Meanwhile, Burnham and Highbridge Cultural Arts Development Society (CADS), which holds music events in Burnham’s Manor Gardens, is to receive £3,775 towards the cost of three 2019 outdoor music events.

Cllr Andy Brewer said: “I support this. CADS put on very good events in Burnham and Highbridge that are always very well supported.”

The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) for Sedgemoor is to receive £2,700 towards the cost of providing its service in the Burnham-On-Sea area.

Cllr Phil Harvey said the CAB application was “the easiest decision of the evening – they have a 1,500 local client base wo are all in need. They provide extremely good value for the money.”

Kevin Chorley from the Sedgemoor CAB, pictured below, reassured councillors that while Somerset County Council’s funding cuts would mean its service across the region would be reduced, “there are no plans for cutbacks in Burnham and Highbridge.”

Meanwhile, Sedgemoor Community Partnership is to receive £2,500 towards the cost of Highbridge’s Morland Hall.

BARB Search and Rescue received £495 towards the costs of the recent rescue services day sound system, and the West of England MS Therapy Centre received £300 towards its work.

Councillors stressed that they are keen to encourage local groups to seek grants from other funding organisations alongside the Town Council to share the burden.

Cllr David Hoggarth explained: “We get less and less funding from central government every year – our coffers are getting tighter and tighter.”

This week’s grant recommendations are subject to the final agreement of the full Town Council at their next meeting in October.