'Trust the voters' plea as town poll looms in Honiton

PUBLISHED: 09:16 17 March 2010 | UPDATED: 01:02 16 June 2010

P8556-11-10AW Honiton plans for a new community hall by the Thelma Hulbert Gallery Honiton are unveilled to the public. Pic by Alex Walton

P8556-11-10AW Honiton plans for a new community hall by the Thelma Hulbert Gallery Honiton are unveilled to the public. Pic by Alex Walton

Copyright Archant Ltd

A PUBLIC meeting will be held later this month to find out if electors in Honiton want a town poll over controversial plans for a £1.75 million community centre complex.

A PUBLIC meeting will be held later this month to find out if electors in Honiton want a town poll over controversial plans for a £1.75 million community centre complex.

Town clerk Lyn Hargood revealed at the annual meeting of electors on Monday night that enough people had come forward to call the meeting. The meeting will be held at 7pm on March 30 in the council chamber.

The revelation came amid calls for town councillors to "to look into their hearts" before proceeding any further with the project.

Former town councillor Jill McNally, speaking during the open forum, urged the council to wait until the results of a town poll are known.

"I'm tunnel vision and it's about money," she said.

"I know you can build it, but you have then got to run it."

Referring to the council's business plan for the complex, Mrs McNally said: "There are lots of 'ifs'. You can't unbuild it.

"All of you, look into your hearts."

Ken Sherman, chairman of the Northcote Lane Area Residents' Association, who has spearheaded a campaign for a town poll, said: "You say they can't knock it down. If the rumours I've heard about the Tourist Information Centre are true, yes they can!"

Mr Sherman appealed to councillors to take serious note of the results of a town poll. "Trust the people of Honiton," he said. "Let them have a vote and abide by it."

Tony Smith, chairman of Honiton Senior Council, said apathy in the town meant many, many residents "don't know what it is all about". He told town councillors: "I feel sorry for you, trying so hard."

Councillor Vivienne Ash, the Mayor of Honiton, said she was aware not everybody in the town supported the community centre plan. But she stressed: "There is a strong body of people who do."

Councillor Ash said, after years of talk, "the time has come".

"This council has taken a positive decision," she said. "We are investing in our town for the benefit of our town.

"An awful lot of our taxes go to other towns."

Councillor Michael Teare, chairman of the community centre steering group, said: "It is something I believe in and I certainly don't apologise for being involved."

l The town council is not legally obliged to act on the result of a poll, which will cost £2,000 to conduct.


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