Raffle row erupts over community complex

Residents object to plans to hold a fund-raising prize draw at a public meeting to discuss plans for the centre.

A row has broken out over plans to hold a raffle to raise money for Honiton Community Centre.

Objectors have called Honiton Town Council “arrogant” after it announced that a draw would be held following a public meeting, due to be held today (Wednesday), to discuss the community complex.

A joint letter from Jill McNally, Dianne Morgan, Janice Sharman, Richard Gaughan, Gerald Morgan and Eddie Sharman said it was a “a blatant misusue of the town council’s position”.

The letter said: “We feel it is arrogant in the extreme to reduce a very important meeting over a project which will involve a huge amount of public money for the foreseeable future to a circus.”

The row was sparked after Councillor Sharon Pavey announced raffle tickets would be sold outside St Paul’s Church with a draw of prizes, donated by local business, to be held after the public meeting.

The raffle is part of a council programme to raise �106,000 for the proposed project.

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The letter also said: “This meeting, as you very well know, will attract people who are totally against the project, as well as those who support it, and as such should be impartial and open to all views.

“This is not a festive fun-packed gathering which should attract a raffle. What is this, a dance? There are times and places for raffles, and this is not one of them.

“The town council’s planning application has yet to be heard, and we understand that the period for comment has been extended as it was submitted just before Christmas. To have a fund-raising raffle when the planning application has not even been heard belittles our intelligence.”

A spokesperson for the town council said: “The council has resolved to go ahead with the building of a community complex for Honiton. It has also recently resolved to set the precept for next year and confirmed that this will not involve any increase with respect to the community complex to repay the loan from the Public Works Loan Board.

“As is clearly indicated on the public notices, the purpose of the meeting is not to decide whether the project goes ahead but to allow the people of Honiton to have their say on the use of the facilities and whether there are items that the council needs to ensure they are included.

“The town council and partners have been criticised on a number of occasions for lack of fund-raising. A fund-raising strategy is now in place and, as an initial donation of �1000 has been received in the past week, it was felt that this meeting was an opportunity to raise funds for the complex on a small scale basis.”