THE temporary pedestrianisation of Burnham-on-Sea’s town centre is set to be eased after feedback from shoppers and traders.

At a meeting on Monday (July 13) councillors from Burnham and Highbridge Town Council’s town improvements committee discussed plans to extend the pedestrianisation or ease the measures.

It comes just a week after councillors spoke to traders and shoppers in Burnham town centre to get their views on the temporary pedestrianisation.

Currently the town’s High Street is closed from 9am to 5pm from Monday to Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sunday’s and there are one way systems in place on a number of streets in the town including Chapel Street and Cross Street.

But councillors voted to make changes to the layout of the temporary pedestrianisation including opening Burnham High Street for on street parking between College Street and Cross Street.

The proposals have not yet been approved by Somerset County Council’s Highways Team but they are expected to be discussed later this month.

A spokesperson for Burnham Chamber of Trade said: “A majority of traders would like to see the pedestrianisation removed. Many say their trade has been hurt by the closure, however we are aware that we need to ensure that shoppers are safe.

“The proposals are a step in the right direction to address some of the concerns while keeping a safe shopping environment. Another key factor for traders is better signs.

“It’s felt the big red ‘closed’ signs everywhere are sending out the wrong message that the whole town centre is closed. We need more welcoming signage in place explaining that shops and businesses are open.”

But Tony Lynham, a Burnham resident, said he thinks the temporary pedestrianisation is being relaxed too soon.

“Shoppers want to keep the temporary pedestrianisation but the traders are against it,” Tony said.

“I was disappointed that there was a representative from the Chamber of Trade for the traders but no representative to speak for residents. I think we need to give it a chance before easing the pedestrianisation, it’s only temporary.”

Sam Winter, town clerk for Burnham and Highbridge Town Council, said the changes aim to ensure access around the town is safe for residents and businesses.

"The meeting agreed to request that the Highways authority adjusts the pedestrianisation and associated measures to try to better serve the safe access needs of town centre residents, shoppers and businesses," Sam said.

"The councillors are the representatives of the residents, and I am aware Mr Lynham had shared his thoughts with them prior to the meeting."

A spokesperson for Somerset County Council, said: "As in a number of towns across Somerset, the County Council and Sedgemoor District Council, with the support of partners and Burnham and Highbridge Town Council, have worked collaboratively to put in place temporary pedestrianisation measures to support active travel choices and enable safe social distancing in the town centre.

"The bid for these schemes was submitted by the County Council to the Department of Transport but it is very much a collaborative effort between ourselves and the District and Town councils.

"Due to the pace at which these temporary schemes were required to be delivered, we simply have not had the benefit of time to undertake the consultations that would normally be carried out for this type of scheme.

"We recognise we will need to adjust and adapt the scheme as required and all feedback will of course be considered.   

"The Town Council has written to us and we’ll be reviewing their proposals and discussing with Sedgemoor District Council to determine if they are feasible.

"On the whole, feedback has been positive on the schemes but we’d welcome further suggestions and comments from the public and businesses – you can find out more and comment at the following link"