Crunch talks between Beehive charity and town council fail to materialise
PUBLISHED: 14:20 14 October 2019 | UPDATED: 15:55 14 October 2019
Crunch talks which were supposed to take place between Honiton Town Council and Honiton Community Council never happened.
The two parties, which are locked in a legal dispute over an alleged £40,000 bill owed by the council to the charity, had been set to meet at the end of last week.
However, the talks failed to materialise after the charity accused the town council of trying to dictate which representatives it was and was not allowed to bring to the meeting.
The disagreement is based around the presence of David Perkins, finance director of the Beehive.
Honiton Community Complex says correspondence received from the town council said the authority was not prepared to meet if Mr Perkins was present.
Barry Simmonds, chairman of Honiton Community Complex, said: "We were due to meet with Honiton Town Council.
"Two days before the meeting we received a communication from the council's lawyers saying that [Honiton Town Council] 'requests that the meeting is with lawyers and between Mark Tredwin from Honiton Town Council and Rob Sexton from Honiton Community Complex'.
"Rob Sexton is a relatively new trustee and is currently in Australia.
"In other words Honiton Town Council wanted to choose who they talked to."
Honiton Community Complex said the move would 'cut out' Mr Simmonds and Mr Perkins from discussion on a topic which concerns the finances and viability of the charity.
Honiton Town Council has rebuffed allegations, maintaining it proposed Mr Sexton for the talks as it was under the belief Mr Simmonds was unavailable.
Mark Tredwin, town clerk at Honiton Town Council, said: "When it became apparent that the chair would be available and that two other members of the board would be there, it was agreed that council would meet with both Mr Simmonds and with Serena Sexton [Honiton Community Complex trustee].
"The council has not made it a requirement that they will only speak to Rob Sexton and are happy to talk to Mr Simmonds and Mrs Sexton."
Mr Simmonds said the issue does not stem around personalities, but 'having the right people around the table'.
He said: "We will of course continue to try to move forward and endeavour to present our ideas."
Mr Tredwin said: "We are unsure why a settlement meeting could not proceed with Mrs Sexton and Mr Simmonds, who is the chairman and a fully qualified accountant, and we remain happy to speak with them to try and reach a settlement."