Plans to introduce a free wi-fi Internet network in Burnham-On-Sea town centre, and along the seafront and beach, have been unveiled this week in an effort to make the town more ‘mobile-friendly’.

At a meeting last night (Wednesday) of the Town Council’s Town Projects Committee considered the plans for a £20,000 project to be funded from Tesco regeneration funds and Sedgemoor District Council.

Burnham’s Town Centre Manager Bev Milner Simonds explained: “Recent national research about UK tourists explored what is the most important thing for holidaymakers to take to the beach. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, it was their mobile phone, as opposed to a towel or a bucket and spade.”

“Wi-fi connectivity in our town centre is very variable according to your network provider and where you are in the town or on the beach. It is possible that with a pan-town centre solution that we will be able to offer a more reliable free customer connection.”

“I have found a provider who will provide free-to-use wi-fi across the town centre and along The Esplanade and beach. It will enable the Town Council and businesses to engage directly with visitors. We will also be able to gather data and build up an accurate picture about our visitors to the town centre – who they are, where they come from, how old they are, what their shopping habits are – all the kind of information that you give over when you log onto Facebook, for instance.”

“Sedgemoor District Council is already considering introducing wi-fi networks in three towns and they are very happy with this proposal for Burnham and would be happy to put in 50% of the total cost.”

Cllr Paul Young, Town Projects Committee Chairman, said: “I think it would enormously help the town and would also help us understand more about our town’s visitors and shoppers.”

The Town Council would earmark around £8,000 of Tesco regeneration funds towards the £20,000 scheme while the project would also be part-funded by Sedgemoor District Council. There would also be £2,500/year costs for a licence, maintenance plus equipment.

The committee recommended the idea proceeds in principal, however it will now be considered by the full Town Council at its next meeting.