COMMUNITIES in Burnham and Highbridge are being urged to attend a crucial meeting tonight (February 27) to help secure £20,000 towards a blueprint for the area.

As reported in the Weekly News, the cash from the Government’s Pathfinder funding was given to the towns months ago to allow work to begin on a ‘neighbourhood plan’.

But Sedgemoor District Council is warning that if the project is not started by March, the money will be allocated to another area.

Phil Harvey, town councillor for Burnham East ward, said: “The meeting is open to anyone who is interested in neighbourhood planning and, potentially, joining a steering group.

“I would remind readers that the town council will be considering the issue the following Monday and needs to make a decision then in order to retain the £20,000 grant.

“Many councillors still have to be convinced that we should proceed and one issue is doubt about whether there are sufficient people prepared to make the commitment needed for a successful process.

“Thursday's meeting will help to establish whether there are.”

The neighbourhood development plan would allow residents to set general planning policies for the development and use of land under the 2011 Localism Act.

Parishes with a neighbourhood plan will also receive 25% of any Community Infra-structure Levy – cash charged on new developments in the area – compared to parishes without a neighbourhood plan who will receive 15%.

Chris Williams, town councillor for Highbridge ward, said: “I am a convert to this proposal having previously been dubious.

“As I understand it, we shall be expected to explain to the meeting in detail the process which is required to undertake a Neighbourhood Plan. This we shall do to the best of our ability.

“I am still 100% in favour of a Neighbourhood Plan going ahead, but I am realistic enough to know that if the town council working party cannot come back with a list of names, the professional skills and time contributions per week that are on offer there is very little chance of any further progress.”

The meeting is from 7pm at the council chambers in Jaycroft Road.