Public speaks

PUBLISHED: 14:09 16 January 2008 | UPDATED: 21:27 15 June 2010

A PUBLIC meeting will be held in Honiton to give residents a chance to air their views over Tesco's plan to relocate to Ottery Moor Lane. Town and district councillor Peter Halse won a round of applause from the public gallery when he insisted councillors

A PUBLIC meeting will be held in Honiton to give residents a chance to air their views over Tesco's plan to relocate to Ottery Moor Lane.Town and district councillor Peter Halse won a round of applause from the public gallery when he insisted councillors should not "hide behind their desks" at a meeting of Honiton Town Council on Monday night.He proposed the public meeting, saying dates lined up for residents to view plans in the Senior Citizens' Centre were not enough to satisfy the public. He claimed it is a British tradition to hold public meetings.He has already penned a personal objection to the plan and will not vote on the proposal when it goes before the town council on February 19 and East Devon District Council in March.Ottery Moor Lane resident Mike Bonetta had earlier in the meeting called for more debate, saying in a letter that a public meeting would be the "best means of conveying to our councillors how Honiton people feel about Tesco's plans".The meeting is likely to be held in the Mackarness Hall and a date and time will be published in this newspaper next week.Councillor Halse stressed the plan is not a done deal. He said he had been approached by people in the street who thought it was."I personally welcome Tesco wanting to expand, but do not welcome where they want to go," he said."No deal has already been done at East Devon District Council. "I want to make that absolutely clear. Everything is open. "I certainly want to see a fair deal and want people to write in with their views. I have been distressed by the public disquiet."Councillor Halse added: "Tesco is like the sun, it does a lot of good. But, if it gets too close to the town centre, it will burn us."Councillor Vernon Whitlock, the mayor of Honiton, said: "We want to know what everybody thinks. I want to assure the public that we will be looking at the plans on their merits."Councillor Vivienne Ash said she supported the proposal for a public meeting, but stressed those in favour of the proposed store must be given a fair hearing. She said the meeting should be "strongly chaired".Councillor Ron Farnham claimed councillors who serve on the proposed community complex project team should not be allowed to vote on the Tesco issue. He fears Section 106 cash could colour their judgement.His claim was universally rejected.Plans for the new Tesco store and supporting applications are on view in the Senior Citizens' Centre during Honiton Town Council's opening hours. Councillors will be on hand to listen to comments from 7pm to 9pm tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday, and from 10am to 1pm on Saturday.

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