Town councillors have this week written off more than £9,000 spent on a huge cross-street iron archway that was intended to rebrand part of Burnham-On-Sea town centre as a ‘Victoria Quarter’.
During an online meeting of the council’s Town Improvements Committee on Monday night (May 18th), councillors unanimously voted to scrap the project, which was branded a “total fiasco”.
The project initially began in 2015 after it was noted that footfall in Burnham High Street north of College Street was lower than the rest of the High Street, so to “encourage people into the Victoria Street section of the town, a new identity was suggested as the ‘Victoria Quarter’.”
The Town Council’s report on the project confirms that it planned to have the iron archway installed across the High Street – between Material Needs and Taste of The Orient – however no permissions were gained from the property owners in advance. Furthermore, planning permission was not sought when work on the sign started in 2015.
The team that operate Burnham’s CCTV cameras were also not consulted during 2015-17 on the potential installation. The council’s report on the project concedes that CCTV operators “have now highlighted that the sign would obscure one of the cameras on the junction with Victoria/Regent/High Street.”
During Monday’s meeting, it was also noted that Carnival carts may not have been able to pass safely under the proposed arch due to its height and width over the High Street.
Cllr Nick Tolley told Monday’s meeting: “The sign is not finished, the company who made it are no longer in the same premises, and it needs more money spent on it to complete it. We do not have permission or a building to put this sign up – I suggest we write off the £9,000 so we don’t have to discuss the sign again and put it down to experience.”
Cllr Richard Gardiner White added: “You’ve summed up how I feel about this. Can I clarify that the sign was not sufficient to allow the carnival to pass underneath? Yes, well I think this should be scrapped.”
Cllr Chris Allen adds: “I think the whole thing is a total fiasco and the sooner we can put an end to it the better.”
Cllr Phil Harvey added: “This has been an absolute disaster and I’m glad to say I wasn’t on the committee when it was done. There is no point in throwing good money after bad.”
Cllr Tolley asked councillors: “Are we all in agreement that we write off this £9,000 and never discuss it again?”
Councillors voted unanimously to write off the cost of the item. The total spent was £9,416 from £9,677 of Tesco regeneration funding for this project.