Loan repayments ‘covered’ says Mayor

Vernon Whitlock tells East Devon District Council Honiton’s precept will not rise to cover cost of community centre.

Honiton’s Mayor was so keen to promote the community centre plan that he over-ran his allocated time slot of three minutes when addressing East Devon District Council’s Cabinet.

Councillor Vernon Whitlock was allowed to continue.

He praised the co-operation of the district council in getting the plan thus far and said: “One thing that makes the Honiton community complex proposals so different is the involvement of a range of partners in the scheme.

“In addition to the 24 organisations that have recently told us they wish to use the facilities, the involvement of the three major partners - the town council, Robert Owen Communities and The Registration Service - means that we are able to meet our outgoings on a regular basis before even letting out a single room to an external organisation.

“This not only gives us the financial security missing from so many similar schemes but also allows us to ensure that facilities will be available to the public at reasonable rates that are comparable to other halls in the town.”

Referring to the cost of the scheme to the public purse, he said: “The business plan shows that the precept set will cover the capital related to the repayment of the loan (amounting to a maximum of �6 per elector per year).

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“Honiton Town Council’s precept in the current year is one of the lowest of the towns in East Devon

“And it has not made an increase to the precept for 2012/13. It also does not anticipate the need to do so in future years with regard to the community complex as the repayment level contained within the town council budget is sufficient to cover the repayments at a fixed interest rate.”

Councillor Whitlock stressed: “Over the past few years, Honiton has lost two venues – not because they were not popular, but because the charities running them made a commercial decision to close them.

“We now have a situation in the town where it is impossible to find a venue without giving a significant amount of notice, often up to 12 months.

“This is not good for residents, for local organisations or for the town’s reputation.”