New working party after town clash

PUBLISHED: 16:00 26 August 2012

Highbridge and Burnham Town Sign.

Highbridge and Burnham Town Sign.


A NEW working party will be formed by Burnham and Highbridge Town Council to watch over improvements in the area – after a clash between the town team and its tourist information centre.

The party will be created with the aim of filling the role of a town centre manager – a job which was suggested by the Burnham Town Team.

But this role has sparked much debate in the past week among the team, council members and the community when deciding on who should take up the position - debates which prompted the team chairman to resign.

Before the agreement to create the working party, there was debate at the latest town team meeting over who would deliver the role, which would be funded by a portion of £320,000 of Tesco funding.

The town team was asked to support the town council by gathering 20 recommendations to improve the town to submit to Sedgemoor District Council, ahead of funding decisions.

These recommendations included a town centre manager.

While no specific recommendation was submitted by the town team - as to who the job should be allocated to - BIRS (Burnham Information and Rescue Service) made its own approach to Sedgemoor for funding for the role.

At the meeting member Beverley Milner Simonds said: “We have spent all this time putting these ideas together and it makes us look like idiots. Sedgemoor is going to think we do not talk to each other.”

BIRS representative Ken Smout attended the meeting and defended the group’s actions and explained the subject matter was confidential and therefore private meetings had to be held with Sedgemoor.

He said: “I apologise if you think that is needed but we were trying to resolve the problem of who would be the manager. We were doing this to try to help the town.”

After fierce discussions at the meeting, chairman Alex Turco announced his resignation and days later BIRS pulled out of its bid to appoint a new town centre manager.

Mr Turco said: “After considering my schedule for the autumn and in light of everything that has gone on, I’m leaving you.”

He also said he would give up his role from the town’s planning committee and his work on forming a neighbourhood plan and a business plan for the Princess Theatre.

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