Community centre supporters speak out

Honiton Town Council urged to push ahead with project after ‘ground swell of support’.

Supporters of the community centre stood up to be counted and urged the town council to push ahead with the project.

The lack of suitable facilities in Honiton, the increasing population and loss of venues, such as the British Legion Club, were some of the things highlighted by residents in support of the centre during a public meeting last week.

Resident John Gregory said: “We may, at long last, get a community centre.

“The reason there has not been support for silly polls is that people have not believed, until now, that it would be possible. “People are getting behind the idea and the time has come for it.

“The population has got bigger and the centre is needed more than ever. We have, at long last, got over that starting hurdle and started the race.”

The move towards providing ‘much needed’ facilities was welcomed by members of performing arts groups in the town.

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During discussions, residents said that they were being forced to use other facilities outside of the town because they were not available in Honiton.

Another resident said: “We need a community hall in Honiton. We are living in the 21st century and we need to keep up with the rest of the world and the rest of the community.

“Payhembury built their own hall. There was a lot of opposition but now they are loving it – it provides facilities for the old, young and all in between.

“I put forward that we help and encourage the town council to go ahead with this.”

One supporter said he felt like objectors were trying to “hi-jack” the meeting, which was intended to discuss the facilities use in the community.

During the meeting, residents joined councillors at individual tables to discuss what they wanted from the centre.

Suggestions included adding to the existing centre, using it as a theatre and concert venue and a site for professional talks.

Some residents questioned whether enough money was being spent on the centre.

Resident Jan Guscott said: “I thought we would have the community centre way before now.

“We have got more and more people in the town. New houses are to be built in the town with more children. We need to start encouraging young people to get involved.

“If we had the facilities there is so much more we could do –it would get people in the town of all ages involved.”

Resident Frank Horrell said: “Prove to me we can’t afford it. Are we spending enough?

“I think it will be advantageous to the town.

“It will be a central point for the town - something like this has got to happen.”

Bringing the meeting to an end Councillor Vernon Whitlock added: “We have had a ground swell in favour of the community complex after all the criticism and negativity.

“We can go out and promote this project. We desperately need this ground swell if it is to succeed.”