Food fest grant questioned
PUBLISHED: 11:08 27 July 2015
A ROW over council funding for a food festival has surfaced after the event was given a £1,000 grant by town councillors.
Burnham Food Festival, which will return to the town centre for a seventh time in October, attracted more than 20,000 people for its last visit in May, and has become a popular fixture in the local calendar.
But issues have previously been raised over the impact of closing the High Street and surrounding areas for a day, and this month a petition has been handed in from 17 businesses and 55 members of the public to call for a halt to a £1,000 grant fund.
Burnham resident Ann Popham, who presented the petition to the council, said there was a feeling the food festival should have become self-sufficient, having operated in the town since 2012.
She told the Mercury: “They didn’t even look at the petition or take any notice of it. I feel that the public should be listened to.
“We go out there and put our crosses on the ballot papers by those councillors names, but we are not being represented correctly.”
Beverley Milner-Simonds, a director of the festival and Burnham’s town centre manager, said feedback from previous festivals had been ‘overwhelmingly positive’ and that she was ‘surprised’ by Mrs Popham’s submission.
She told the Mercury: “Mrs Popham had not raised her points previously, although we have worked quite closely with her on other voluntary projects in Burnham.
“The grant we applied to the town council for helps to pay for the free events and activities that we build into the festival.
“That’s things like the entertainment, competitions, demonstrations and workshops.
“The food festival is not just another shopping opportunity, it is a free, fun day out for the whole family.
“Both Burnham and Highbridge Town Council and Sedgemoor District Council have been happy to support the festival so that it can provide for local visitors.”