We will further consider how we can develop a new strategy, taking a long-term look at how we can deliver significant, integrated and meaningful improvements in public spaces, planning, transport, roads, shopping and leisure, balanced with protecting the individual characters of both Burnham and Highbridge.
The strategy will be aspirational and not a planning document. If and when opportunities arise for furthering element of any strategy, those areas will be consulted on and determined individually through extensive public engagement and close working with both Somerset County Council and Sedgemoor District Council.
The Town Council has embarked upon its Corporate Plan and identified the following 6 pillars that it will work towards for the benefit of our towns.
The Town Council is committed to improving engagement with the local community and to operate in accordance with accepted best practice of local government.
This will be achieved by:
- Ensuring that we operate according to legislative and regulatory principles, whilst following ethical standards and best practice
- Providing strong, clear and responsible leadership at councillor and council officer level
- Carry out critical self-assessment, comparing ourselves and practices against achievements of similar best-practice town and parish councils
- Ensure responsible financial management and clear direction in all aspects of the Council’s responsibilities.
- Utilising plain English and an open approach to its business and developing a multi-channelled communication strategy
- Investing in our councillors and staff; requiring the up-take of appropriate training opportunities for improvement and professional development
- Having a strong Town Council presence at community events where appropriate e.g. by use of a gazebo / stall etc.
- Seeking to recognise and reward outstanding members of the community via Civic Award system.
The Town Council is committed to supporting a year-round programme of cultural events throughout Burnham and Highbridge, providing improved infrastructure where possible that will benefit the towns and its residents.
Specifically, this will include:
- The on-going development of the Princess Theatre and Arts Centre as a cultural hub with an attractive and diverse offering for residents
- Seeking-out and securing external funding where possible to develop existing leisure and cultural amenities
- Providing financial support to community events and organisations
The Town Council is committed to taking an active role supporting and promoting sustainable development in the towns by engaging with residents, local stakeholder groups and the local Planning Authority making reference to the adopted Neighbourhood Plan and SDC’s Local Plan.
The Town Council will work with District Council and other organisations to actively promote Burnham-on-Sea as a Tourism destination.
Specifically, the Town Council will seek to:
- Support and benefit local business
- Support the local commercial environment and community by encouraging continued development of education and work-based skills
- Support the promotion of Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge
- Actively support and encourage local tourism e.g. Tourist Information office, Project Coach, etc
- Support efforts to achieve awards and accreditations that would benefit the economy and reputation of the towns
The Town Council will seek to provide and enhance facilities and resources to support and develop safe and well-connected towns
This will include working with other agencies and authorities to ensure changes to infrastructure to encourage and promote a sustainable healthy environment for our residents.
The Town Council will carry out a comprehensive review of footpaths and cycleways with the aim of producing a long-term improvement plan – both for those in the urban area and for those that link to the surrounding countryside and river paths. Better signposting and information could lead to improved usage.
The Town Council will also:
- Promote healthy living by supporting community-based activities and initiatives
- Encourage cycling, walking and other forms of exercise
- Ensure all Town Council managed open spaces are safe and well maintained
- Work with a range of partners to ensure the town centres and open spaces remain safe places
- Implement a series of improvements to the Esplanade as identified in the Burnham Evolution Business Plan
- Support a local ‘Wrist Band’ scheme for children and vulnerable adults
The Town Council will seek to maintain and encourage opportunities and initiatives to create a clean and green environment and endeavour to promote an environmentally friendly culture to reduce waste and promote reuse and recycling within Burnham and Highbridge.
The Town Council will endeavour to increase the number of planted trees and hedges at properties within our control and also seek to expand areas of wild or natural habitat. The Council will also support and encourage these policies at other public open spaces controlled by other authorities e.g. Apex Park.
Specifically, the Town Council will:
- Investigate and encourage the use of renewable energy within our properties
- Promote an environmentally friendly culture to reduce waste and increase reuse and recycling within our own operations
- Continue to support the ‘Litter free Coast’ initiative
- Continue to promote a reduction in the use of single-use plastics throughout the towns
- Explore the possibility of providing electric vehicle charging points at strategic locations with Burnham and Highbridge
The Town Council will endeavour to use all of its resources as effectively and efficiently as possible, including properties, personnel and finances; seeking to lead by example.
These objectives will be achieved by:
- Regularly reviewing the use of Town Council owned and managed properties and being prepared to make significant changes where appropriate
- Conducting regular staff appraisals and workloads, providing opportunities for ‘up-skilling’ where possible
- Setting targets to deliver efficiencies in line with key performance indicators
- Monitoring the use of resources (gas, water, electricity, paper etc.) at Town Council properties, with a view to reducing consumption year on year
The Burnham Evolution Business Plan was written with an aim of securing significant funding from the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund. Unfortunately, Burnham-on-Sea’s application to that fund was unsuccessful. However, the Burnham Evolution Partnership was able to work with Sedgemoor District Council to apply for different smaller pots of funding to allow it to undertake most of the projects in the Business Plan. Furthermore, it was successful in its application to the Hinkley Point C Community Impact Mitigations Fund and was awarded £350,000 for improvement works to the esplanade areas and to undertake refurbishment works to the Princess Theatre.
Minutes of the council meeting at which the full detail of the Burnham Evolution Plan was unanimously agreed: 06 2018 Town Council Minutes – Jun 18th – extraordinary
Other Sources of Funding
A number of Government funds have required district councils to promote a location for consideration. It has been unfortunate that neither Burnham-on-Sea or Highbridge have promoted to receive funding these sources: such as, the Heritage Fund, High Street Fund or Towns Fund.
It is evident that Burnham-on-Sea remains largely unimproved when compared to Weston-Super-Mare to the north & Bridgwater to the south, both of which have been awarded significant funding for major aesthetic and infrastructure improvements.
Burnham and Highbridge Area Neighbourhood Plan
Following the successful referendum on 20 September 2018, Sedgemoor District Council formally ‘made’ the Neighbourhood Development Plan for Burnham on Sea and Highbridge. The plan now forms part of the Statutory Development Plan for the area, according to which planning decisions should be made, unless there are other material considerations that indicate otherwise.
A copy of Sedgemoor’s Decision Statement is available below.
Residents eligible to vote were asked “Do you want Sedgemoor District Council to use the neighbourhood plan for Burnham on Sea and Highbridge area to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood areas?” There was a 17.62% turnout with 2658 votes in favour, and 358 votes against.