Backing for community centre loan facility

PUBLISHED: 07:06 26 November 2008 | UPDATED: 22:40 15 June 2010

IN a recorded vote of seven to four, Honiton Town Council has approved plans to seek consent from the Public Loans Board for a £250,000 loan facility towards the cost of developing the proposed Honiton Community Centre complex.

IN a recorded vote of seven to four, Honiton Town Council has approved plans to seek consent from the Public Loans Board for a £250,000 loan facility towards the cost of developing the proposed Honiton Community Centre complex.The loan facility, proposed by Councillor Michael Teare and approved previously at a committee meeting, was brought back to the full town council for discussion following a resolution from Councillor Jill McNally, seconded by Councillor Vera Howard.The decision, taken at a meeting on Monday night, does not mean that the council will definitely borrow the cash. It will merely allow the council to proceed to the tender stage - to see what developers can offer the town on a 'design and build' basis.If a scheme is forthcoming that meets the town's aspirations and is within the funds available, a separate debate and decision will be called for.Town and district councillor Peter Halse, who was not at Monday night's meeting, sent an open letter to the council saying: "Now is the hour."He added: "If we go ahead, our grandchildren will laugh that we ever hesitated."Councillor Vernon Whitlock picked up on a point raised in Mr Halse's letter, expressing concern that Honiton could lose out to other towns if the council did not act now.Responding to questions raised about the project by Honiton resident Sheila McBrearty, community complex steering group chairman Councillor Teare revealed £85,697.12 had been spent on professional fees for the project between 2005 and 2007. Funding had come from an anonymous donation of £60,000 and cash drawn down from East Devon District Council's offered contribution of over £300,000.Before 2003, a lesser amount was spent on the project - work funded by a lottery grant.Councillor Halse said in his letter all that money will have been wasted if the scheme is allowed to stall.Stalwart community centre supporter and former councillor Marion Olive urged the council not to delay the project any further.Speaking during a public question time at Monday night's meeting, she asked why anyone would want to give money to the project if Honiton Town Council was not prepared to pay its share."Do you not think this is good value for money for future generations?" she asked.Mrs Olive revealed members of the public are prepared to fund-raise towards the project, with one person offering to run a marathon.If the council borrows £250,000 for the complex, which will include a new base for the council, the loan will be repaid over 25 years on a fixed rate of interest, below five per cent. Repayments were likely to amount to around £17,000-a-year.Councillor Vivienne Ash, chairing the meeting, said the debate should be about the principle of the proposed loan facility - not the merits of the centre plan.Councillor McNally said she had asked for the matter to be discussed at a full town council meeting so the council could be sure it was complying with guidelines for parish loans.Recorded vote: those in favour - Alf Boom, Sally Casson, Peter Corke, Peter Fleming, Michael Teare, Vernon Whitlock, Vivienne Ash. Those against - Ron Farnham, Richard Gaughan, Vera Howard and Jill McNally.Abstention - Dianne Morgan (she said she is relatively new to the council and wants more information before making a decision either way).


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