Honiton centre plans could be hampered

A GOVERNMENT squeeze on public spending could hamper plans for a �1.95 million community centre in Honiton.

A GOVERNMENT squeeze on public spending could hamper plans for a �1.95 million community centre in Honiton.

Until the new coalition government reveals the detail of its emergency budget this month, a question mark hangs over the funding of the controversial scheme.

With just weeks to go until a town poll is held over the project, Honiton Town Council will have to double check if it can still borrow �970,000 from the Public Works Loan Board.

Town clerk Lyn Hargood has raised the issue with councillors.

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It is understood by this newspaper that, if council tax is frozen, the town council will not be able to secure the whole loan - leaving a shortfall of over �400,000.

Mrs Hargood told the Midweek Herald: "The council is waiting to see the detail in the emergency budget in June with regard to any effect the Government's decisions may have on its plans."

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If the town council is unable to borrow the full �975,000, it will come as a body blow to a scheme that has taken more than a quarter of a century to reach its current stage.

New plans for the Dowell Street centre, dubbed The Beehive, are due to be submitted to planners at East Devon District Council and working groups are detailing the finer aspects of what the complex will provide.

Honiton Town Council, which plans to move from New Street into the first floor of the new centre, is proposing to add �9 a year to council tax bills, introduced over two years, to repay the loan.

The financing of the project and its business plan has come under scrutiny from members of the Northcote Lane Area Residents' Association, who hope a full breakdown of figures, including details of how much has been spent so far and what on, will be made public in the near future.

The association is keen to see the figures in the public domain before residents go to the polls on June 24.

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