BIARS looks for more council support

Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News: Tom Ashton from BIARS said they needed more support from the council Tom Ashton from BIARS said they needed more support from the council

AFTER three years of running with no funds from the town council, BIARS tourism information centre in Burnham is now looking for financial support.

At the council’s annual town meeting in the Princess Theatre, members of the Burnham Information And Rescue Support group (BIARS) spoke of the great work it has been doing and of the need for more support.

Three years ago Sedge-moor District Council pulled out of operating the tourism information centre in Burnham and it was taken over by BIARS.

Tom Ashton, vice chairman for BIARS and one of the organisation’s found-ers, said: “The meeting was about letting the councillors see what kind of things we do.

“We set up three years ago this week.

“It was costing Sedge-moor District Council £130,000 a year, with between £80,000-90,000 a year for staff costs.”

Since then, the team of volunteers at BIARS have been running the place and have managed to keep it open and operating efficiently.

Last week Burnham was named as one of the finalists in the National Coach Tourism Awards 2014, in part thanks to the work carried out by the staff at BIARS.

Mr Ashton said: “We get about 100,000 people per year.

“We know that roughly half the people who come in are local people looking for information on stuff like bus timetables.

“All of that has come out of our work. We thought we would have to hand it back to the council when they got their finances in check.

“We are open as many hours as the council did and a little bit more.

“Ian Jeffries, tourism manager, is the only paid staff member and he’s only part time.

“We only take about £15 per day.

“We fund it through doing things like car boot sales, race nights and all manner of things but it’s been the community that has raised the money.

“We are looking for more financial support from the council.

“Back three years ago we did not get the support of Burnham Town Council and they turned us down.

“Sedgemoor gave us a lease on the building. Apart from that we have had no financial support at all.”

A spokesperson from Burnham and Highbridge Town Council said: “They (BIARS) told us there was going to be a need for funding which is why we had them give a talk.

“If they came to the town council for money, the council would have a better idea of how they are managed.

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