‘Has council got nerve to deliver?’

PUBLISHED: 16:54 16 June 2011

Latest business plan for a community complex in Honiton unveiled.

A Honiton town councillor has asked whether the council has got the nerve to go forward with plans for a community complex in the town.

The council resolved to move forward with plans after discussing its latest business plan during a meeting on Monday.

The costs of the complex, called the Beehive, will be met by section 106 monies of £500,000, town council reserves of £80,000, capital grants of £300,000, Honiton Community Centre Association funding of £4,000 and further fund-raising of £233,000, which is split £141,000 and a further £92,000 for fitting out.

A loan from the Public Works Loan Board has been secured for £975,000 at a fixed interest rate of about 4.5 per cent over 50 years, with loan repayments from the precept provision.

The total cost of the project is £2,092,000, with the building costs standing at £1,812,000.

Councillor Peter Halse said: “Some of the smallest villages have got public halls far better than we have got.

“I have looked at the business plan and it seems to be a reasonable project.

“To some people, it may seem a large amount of money for anybody involved - £2 million in 25 years is not a big project for the town.

“Have we got the nerve for it and, if we have not, it will not be done in our lifetime?”

The new facilities are to include a stage area, bar/café, council and registrar offices.

Councillor Cecily Young outlined her concerns over the charges for the hall compared to other facilities in the vicinity, which she said were four or six times lower.

She said: “I just wonder how on earth people are going to pay in the current climate when they are pulling in their spending.

“Organisations can’t justify charges and wouldn’t be able to get membership.”

Councillor Nick Cornwell said: “The important thing about the charges is that we have made it clear local residents and organisations will get concessionary charges.”

Councillor Vernon Whitlock added: “The rates which organisations are charged are in line with other comparative facilities in and around the area.”

Concerns were also raised during the meeting about the costs involved in improving it’s New Street offices and requested that the matter should be looked into.

Councillor Young added: “Everybody is saying the youth want this complex.

“I think what they want is employment.

“We have enough leisure facilities – we have a youth centre, sports complex and a swimming pool.

“I don’t believe the townspeople want this and do we really need it?”

A geological survey on the proposed site in Dowell Street (next to Honiton Magistrates’ Court) is to be carried out this week and the results will be made public at a later date.

l The Northcote Lane Area Residents’ association is to call for a referendum over the community centre plans.

Members have agreed to make the request to East Devon District Council “when the time is right”.


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