Plans for a new 12-day International Market on Burnham-On-Sea seafront at the height of the tourist season have been given a ‘thumbs down’ by town councillors this week amid concerns it would adversely hit the trade of local shops and businesses.
Rapid Events proposed to bring an international-themed market with between 15 and 30 traders to the South Esplanade close to Burnham Jetty between 28th July and 7th August 2022.
However, many shops and cafes in Burnham town centre have expressed concern that the event would take trade away from them at the height of the summer tourist season.
Councillors heard from representatives of Burnham Chamber of Trade and Burnham Retail Group during a council meeting on Monday night (February 7th) where both raised concerns.
They said that while they welcome new events coming to Burnham which bring more footfall into the town, the length of this proposed event – 12 days – and the date – at the peak of the summer – make the event unsuitable.
Furthermore, they added the market planned to sell hot food, fresh food and craft offerings that are already on sale at established shops and cafes which need support after a difficult two years. There are also concerns that the proposed location on the seafront would draw footfall away from the town centre.
Cllr Peter Clayton said: “It is just too long at the start of the peak holiday seaon. We know what the traders have been through over the last two years and this will take a huge whack of their summer trade and some shops maty not survive if events like this go ahead at the peak of the season. If it were just a few stalls then maybe, but it’s a full blown market of up to 30 stalls and they sell pretty much the products that the current traders sell in their shops and cafes. I like events in this town, but they have got to work for residents and traders. This won’t, it’s not viable at this time of the year.”
Cllr Andy Brewer suggested that a shorter period for the market to assess how effective it is could be one way to trial it.
But Cllr Sue Harvey added: “I think the market is just too long – when I first read the council report on the event I thought ‘oh, that would be interesting’, but it’s a long time during our main summer period. Even if it were a shorter market it would still take trade away from our traders and I can’t agree.”
Cllr Andy Hodge added: “I have a lot of sympathy with the traders in the town about this concept. On the flip side, though, diversifiction can be good for a tourist town, however I will say that the positioning of the market, the timing of it, and the length of it is not something I would support. I may well be inclined to support it if it were a shorter period.”
Cllr Mike Murphy added: “We need to draw people into the High Street to shop there and not to shop away from the High Street. So I say ‘No, No, No.”
Cllr Dawn Carey adds: “We’ve fought really hard over the last couple of years with Covid and I think we should leave the event well alone – enjoy the beach, sandcastles, the park and leave things along the High Street.”
Rapid Events said in its submission to the council that it has previously operated similar continental markets in Weston which attract extra footfall.
A final decision on whether the event goes ahead rests with Sedgemoor District Council which is the licensing authority.