Loan bid delayed

PUBLISHED: 07:55 15 October 2008 | UPDATED: 22:27 15 June 2010

A TOWN councillor was accused of using obstructive tactics" to delay the progress of Honiton's proposed community centre complex this week.

A TOWN councillor was accused of using "obstructive tactics" to delay the progress of Honiton's proposed community centre complex this week.Councillor Jill McNally only needed a seconder (Vera Howard) to stop Honiton Town Council from ratifying a recommendation from its policy committee to apply for a loan of £250,000 towards the project. Every council taxpayer in Honiton will foot the bill for the loan over a 25-year period, if it is taken out after the tender process.Councillor McNally proposed the minutes of the policy committee be approved for accuracy and ratified, with the exception of the loan facility, which had been recommended for approval by a recorded vote of six to five out of the council's 18 members in secret at a committee meeting. As the matter of the loan was not an agenda item at the council's full monthly meeting, members were not entitled to vote on Councillor McNally's resolution. The loan application will now become an agenda item at the council's next full meeting, in November.Councillor McNally said she wants the issue debated and voted on in public.Councillor Sharon Holloway said Councillor McNally had used "obstructive tactics to delay a perfectly democratic process". "I disapprove of political game playing," Councillor Holloway added.Councillor McNally replied: "I object to the term 'political game playing'. I'm concerned about money."Staunch community centre supporter and deputy mayor Councillor Vivienne Ash was visibly shaken by Councillor McNally's resolution.She asked for clarification over the council's standing orders, to check whether or not Councillor McNally could "cherry pick" an item from committee minutes for future debate without a vote.Town clerk Lyn Hargood quoted Standing Order 15, saying she could. Mrs Hargood said the council had habitually ratified minutes of committee meetings without considering each item. Two standing orders seemed to conflict with each other, she implied.Councillor Roy Coombs said he shared Councillor Ash's concerns."If we are going down this route, we need a total overhaul of our standing orders," said Councillor Ash. She pointed out all councillors are members of the policy committee and had been given the chance to vote.Former mayor Councillor Sally Casson said she felt sorry for Mrs Hargood, believing she had been put on the spot, and agreed the matter needed clarification at a future meeting.Councillor Chris Tratt, the Mayor of Honiton, said the loan issue would be discussed at the next full council meeting. He had previously stated, at the same meeting, that the community centre scheme would not get his vote if sufficient funds were not available.n The Press and public were barred from the earlier policy committee meeting when the loan application was discussed. The Herald was told discussions involved a new contract. They, in fact, related to the principle of a contract - a matter (lapsed) that had already been debated in public in the past.

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