Row over Seaton council plans to move office base

PUBLISHED: 10:48 29 July 2009 | UPDATED: 23:54 15 June 2010

A SEATON town councillor has hit back at plans to move out of the town hall and buy Willoughby House.

A SEATON town councillor has hit back at plans to move out of the town hall and buy Willoughby House.

Cllr Peter Burrows has criticised the council's proposal and says he will take the matter to 'higher authorities', because he was not given the chance to speak and vote in a meeting last month.

But Mayor Sandra Semple said he chose to leave the meeting early - without questioning the item to be discussed. She added the matter was held in private because it was of a commercial nature.

Cllr Burrows told the Herald: "Seaton Town Council wishes to raise £500,000 over 25 years, which will result in a repayment of £33,000 every year.

"This, along with £11,000 maintenance for the other four transfers, will result in £44,000 being added to the council tax for Seaton - already the second highest out of parish and town councils in East Devon."

He fears for the future of the Tourist Information Centre and the town hall if money is directed elsewhere.

He said: "If the town council leave, I believe East Devon could sell the building to the detriment of the many groups and organisations that use the facilities.

"In these times of recession and hardship, is it right that the Town Council should choose to move to bigger premises when the maintenance of the allotments is one of its main areas of concern?"

Cllr Semple said: "There has been discussion - most of it in public, at town council meetings, with just one meeting in private because, at the time, it contained sensitive commercial information."

She said they hoped not to raise the annual precept by using reserves and making cost savings.

"It should be noted that the old Seaton Urban District Council chose to give all its assets (except the allotments) to East Devon District Council," she said. "Had they not, we would have had a great deal of land and assets, which would now have been worth millions of pounds."

She said a move should not affect the town hall and would allow greater access for disabled people.

She said: "EDDC allows us only 60 uses per year of the so-called council chamber and four uses per year of the main hall. For this we pay them rent of £2,000 per year. Our move should make no difference to town hall use.

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