Burnham tourism centre's future secured
PUBLISHED: 10:00 17 November 2010
THE future of Burnham's Tourist Information Centre has been secured, after a deal to officially hand it over to its new owners was agreed.
Burnham Information and Rescue Support, a newly formed charity made up of concerned residents, has moved to safeguard the centre and has agreed a deal with Sedgemoor District Council which will see them take over the running of the centre from April 1.
And the committee of BIARS says it is hopeful that in the future the centre will be able to offer enhanced services which will see it become a regional leader
The centre, in South Esplanade, had been threatened with the danger of closure since last year, when the council revealed it could not afford the building’s running costs.
Despite agreeing the deal, BIARS still has to raise £10,000 to cover its start-up costs and legal expenses.
A fundraiser held on Friday evening at the Oaktree Arena in Highbridge, saw around £2,500 raised, money which will be split between BIARS and the funding of the town’s Christmas lights.
BIARS chairman Neville Jones is hopeful that the deal, which will see the centre retain everything currently in the facility, is the start of a long road back from almost being forced to shut.
He said: “We’ve made a start with the funding, but we’ve got a lot to raise between now and April 1, and as we’re not going to be getting anything from Sedgemoor District Council or the town council, we’re looking to the trust and to whoever can contribute so that when we start up we have sustainable funds.
“We’re also waiting at the moment for confirmation from Sedgemoor that we will not have to pay any rent for the next two years.”
Mr Jones added that the centre would look to learn from Shepton Mallet’s Tourist Information Centre, which has been run by a similar charity for the last six years and has become more commercial and effective in reducing running costs, and will take on new voluntary staff.
He said: “I hope people from Burnham and the area support us, as we have a lot to offer the town and people coming here, and we’re hoping not just to offer information on upcoming events such as the golf tournaments, but also to sell tickets.
“We want to make people feel welcome, we want to offer a welcoming hand to people when they are coming to the town.”