Honiton Community Centre

Your report on Honiton Town Council s rejection of taking the community centre project forward until a business plan is approved astounded and heartened me.

Your report on Honiton Town Council's rejection of taking the community centre project forward until a business plan is approved astounded and heartened me.

I have no idea what the report that the Steering Group put forward held - other than that they have come up with a name - "The Beehive".

Do you know, I really don't care just now what it is called, I care about the financing of this project. As an ex-town councillor (I resigned in February of this year), my main concern was always finance - it is what I do.

I am not against a community centre per se, but I am totally concerned that public money should be well spent, down to the last penny. This is a huge responsibility.

If the town council takes on the financial responsibility of this project, please, please remember it is not your money, but the town's money that you are spending.

This project has stumbled along in the past, resulting in (eventually) a business plan, which, I must admit, I always called a "wish list".

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On the basis of this business plan, the National Lottery and Devon County Council refused grants.

Following this, the steering group refused to admit defeat and asked the town council to approve a loan facility of �250,000.

I strongly opposed the loan when I realised what it would cost the town - a little under half a million, if I recall.

The town council narrowly approved the loan facility and I (and others) had to accept this as a democratic decision.

What we are left with now, and I am generalising, is funds in place of Section 106 monies of �500,000 plus �333,000 set aside by EDDC, some of which is already spent, plus a loan facility in place for �250,000 (which is repayable over 25 years), plus whatever amount the town council has managed to put aside for this project.

After all these years, I can only see funds put aside by official bodies (but not raised by the steering group) in support of the project - no accounts to which the steering group is answerable.

Now we have Cllr Teare telling the town council that "the go-ahead to move the project forward was not dependent on the business plan". What? �2million plus on the say-so of a tiny group of people who want this project, no matter what.

Councillors, the financial responsibility for this will be placed directly in your laps. You are wise to be cautious.

You must see the new business plan before committing yourselves.

You must carefully analyse the figures. If you don't understand the figures, please take advice before voting.

You must - because you are dealing with public money, and this is so important.

If the business plan ticks all the right boxes, then so be it - go with it and shoulder the responsibility.

But please, please, be careful, and remember that grants were refused by the lottery and Devon County Council, and the new business plan has got to improve on the old one.

Perhaps Cllr Coombs' call for a town poll should now be taken seriously, before this matter is taken any further forward - I don't know about that, but it is surely worth careful consideration.

Jill McNally