Breaking News: Council to pursue loan for community centre

PUBLISHED: 13:13 30 September 2008 | UPDATED: 22:22 15 June 2010

AFTER a recorded vote of six to five, members of Honiton Town Council's policy committee last night agreed to seek approval to borrow £250,000 over 25 years towards the cost of developing the proposed Honiton Community Centre complex. The decision was tak

AFTER a recorded vote of six to five, members of Honiton Town Council's policy committee last night agreed to seek approval to borrow £250,000 over 25 years towards the cost of developing the proposed Honiton Community Centre complex.The decision was taken 'in committee', with the public and press barred from the meeting.If rubber-stamped by the full council, the application will proceed to the Public Works Loan Board.Councillor Michael Teare proposed the loan application and deputy mayor Councillor Vivienne Ash seconded it.Notes provided this morning by town clerk Lyn Hargood reveal she and Councillor Teare had circulated a paper outlining the current situation with the community complex. Cllr Teare updated members, saying the working group had been tasked to realise the community complex. It was now at the stage where it needed to go to tender but, before doing so, he needed to clarify the amount the council had available. There was therefore a need for the council to confirm the level of loan previously approved but now lapsed. He confirmed that, following the tender process, the proposals would come back to the council for discussion and a final decision.Cllr McNally outlined her concerns.a)The Council had failed twice to obtain funding from outside bodies. This should raise questions about this project.b)At a time of recession it is wrong to be thinking of borrowing money at a high rate of interest.c)£34K of the original EDDC capital funding has been spent and is not available to the project.d)Advice on the Public Works Loan Board shows that loans available depend on the financial situation of the Government and the state of the economy. There is a possibility that repayment of the loan may be asked for in full.Cllr Holloway felt that the current economic situation meant this would be a good time to go out to tender as it may give employment for local construction firms. She also confirmed that this method of borrowing had to be one of the safest.Cllr Farnham also expressed his concerns about the Council already having been turned down twice for funding. He felt that the people of Honiton would resent paying for this proposed loan. He was supported by Cllr Fleming. Cllr Ash reminded Members that the working group was only asking for approval so that it could go to tender to see what was on offer. She felt it was the right time to ask for a borrowing approval and that there was a need to invest in the future. The Council had worked hard to raise nearly £1m to get this facility.Cllr Boom reminded Members that during the six events which had been organised to raise the profile of the community complex, all the press and public response had been positive. He also felt that the level of precept was relatively low per person per annum. Cllr McNally explained that she was not arguing about investing in the community; she was concerned about how public money was being spent.Cllr Whitlock said that he felt the Lottery bid had been good but had failed as it had been up against economically deprived areas. The community complex project had now been discussed for 12-13 years and had started with a packed public meeting asking for better community facilities. He was not aware that there had been any change in this view. East Devon District Council had continually backed this project and Members were not being asked for a final decision whether or not to go ahead with a specific tender; they were being asked to approve the application for a public loan if the project goes ahead. He reminded Members that Honiton is one of few towns in Devon without decent community facilities.Councillors who voted in favour of the loan were: Vivienne Ash, Alf Boom, Sharon Holloway, Michael Teare, Chris Tratt (mayor) and Vernon |Whitlock.Against: Roy Coombs, Ron Farnham, Peter Fleming, Richard Gaughan and Jill McNally.Abstain: Dianne Morgan.

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