Council to bring back surgeries in Honiton so residents can raise issues

PUBLISHED: 11:02 23 November 2018

The Honiton Beehive. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref mhh 2243-34-14AW

The Honiton Beehive. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref mhh 2243-34-14AW

Archant

Town council-led surgeries in Honiton are making a return - despite very few residents making use of the them when they were held years ago.

Councillor Henry Brown, Honiton’s mayor, said he wants to revive the sessions and host them in a more comfortable environment in the town.

Surgeries were previously held at Honiton Market and the town council’s old New Street offices, but attracted very few residents.

Cllr Brown said: “I think it’s good, especially with the end of our tenure, for people to come and see what we have been up to for the past four years.

“A lot of members of the public do feel there is a clear separation between councillors and members of the public. If they don’t choose to turn up, that’s their own issue.”

Cllr Vera Howard said previous surgeries held in the council’s former New Street offices only attracted three people at the start, and that number soon died off.

Cllr John Zarczynski said he has always supported council surgeries, adding: “It is disappointing the lack of response we do get from the public. Tonight is a good example, we have got one member of the public when people can come and voice their concerns directly to this council.

“I totally support the surgeries - my only reservation is that if its at the Beehive, many won’t be bothered to walk down here.”

Cllr Ray Hanratty said the authority needs to engage with the public, and said the ideas of holding stalls at the market would ‘bring the council to the public’.

He added: “I think we should bring the council to the people - not the people to the council.

“I think holding surgeries here [The Beehive] is a waste of time.”

Cllr Brown said an amendment to the original recommendation included ‘other appropriate locations’, as well as the Beehive.

Cllr Zarczynski said: “We have to take into consideration that a lot of people that don’t like this place, so they wouldn’t come here on principal. I think I would have to agree with Cllr Hanratty.

“Some may wish to speak to us but won’t come here on principal.”

The recommendation that ‘members resolve to hold elector surgeries on a Tuesday evening between 6pm and 7pm in the middle council office, and at other appropriate times and other appropriate locations’ was carried.

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