Call for second town poll on community centre

Objectors and councillors come head to head at public meeting.

OBJECTORS have questioned why plans for a community centre are being driven forward despite ‘a copious lack of support’ and why a town poll had been ‘ignored’ by the town council.

There were heated exchanges when Honiton residents and councillors came head to head at a public meeting last week.

Resident Syd Taylor said: “There has been a copious lack of support for the community complex. The town poll indicated that we don’t want to do it.”

Councillor Vernon Whitlock added: “We have got to look to the future for everyone in the community.”

Fellow resident Ken Sherman questioned where the support for the centre was when a town poll was conducted. He said: “Of all those 20 consultations, the only one that was of democratic credit was the town poll. People who are electors turned up. If there was such strong support at this particular time, where was the support? It couldn’t be bothered to turn out.”

Mr Sherman added: “We had a poll which the town council chose to ignore at the time and has chosen to ignore it still. Let’s have another poll.”

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This was met by opposition from supporters, who highlighted the lack of facilities currently available in the town.

Resident Tony Simpson said: “I and other people accept that the poll was done at a particular point in history. The town has moved on – there has been the closure of the British Legion, the Red Cross Hall, and a lack of facilities.”

Concerns were also raised about coaches, which currently use Dowell Street car park, and where they would be going. Councillor Peter Halse had pledged to find alternative parking facilities to replace the ones being lost.

The town council is applying for a Public Works Loan of �975,000, which will be fixed over 50 years at approximately �60,000 per year.

Former town councillor Jill McNally said: “My argument has always been money. I checked today what the loan would cost and it would cost nearly two quarters of a million pounds. That figure needs to be said out loud to go inside people’s heads.”

Councillor Whitlock added: “We are borrowing over 50 years at an interest rate of four per cent.”