Honiton is split and I’m being asked which side I’m on….
For many (many) years there has been a group of people in the town who have been trying to develop and realise plans for a community centre or complex in the Devon town.
I have lived in the area now for almost three years, having moved here with my Honitonian husband Daniel and our two children aged nine and five. In my opinion, there are not enough good venues in the town for community activities and when I heard about the plans for a community centre, I thought yes, surely that would be a very good thing for this town. A bespoke building for the whole town to use for meetings, events, classes and more.
Then came the town poll, did they say it cost £2000 to administrate? And off the top of my head, I think it was about 70/30. That is 70% AGAINST the community centre. Very disappointing BUT this was a democratic way of measuring the feeling within the town. Democratic as far as this only measured the feelings of the minority who come out and vote in the town (I think this was ONLY about 30% in the last local elections!!)
Many objectors were opposed to the huge costs involved and money to be borrowed especially in the current economic climate. Then East Devon District Council withdrew the offer of the land to build on (the car park near the tourist info office & the Thelma Hulbert gallery).
Now I may be wrong (but my knowledge of all of this is just the same as the average Honiton resident, we pick up what is in the local papers etc) but I believe the town council is ignoring the results of the poll and pressing on with plans for the centre?
So this brings me back to whether I think Honiton should have a community centre.
I do think a town of this size should have a community centre and I do think that had the whole community been truly engaged in this debate, that many more local parents like me would have voted yes to the poll. I lived outside town at the time of the poll so couldn’t vote (which is strange in itself as my family, like many in the surrounding parishes use town facilities).
Although I think we should have a centre, I also think that we don’t need to be burdened with huge debt for future generations of Honiton. I read recently of another town in the region (I forget where) who had successfully raised enough to build their own community centre. What an admirable community!
I would like to see the plans and start thinking about how the centre could pay for itself. Perhaps this has already been discussed over the twenty or so years of planning but what about the centre being built of a low cost recycled material, eg tyres, glass, used wood etc ? Will the building be producing it’s own energy (solar etc) and making money from feed in tariffs? I presume there are also grants available for community ventures like this? if so many community groups want the venue then everyone should pull together to raise the funds to make it happen.
I think I’ve probably just touched on this issue and I do apologise if I have got my facts wrong. I welcome all comments on the issue and would like to find out more. Please add your comment below.
Coordinator East Devon Green Party
Regional Fundraiser for South West Green Party
Prospective Green Party candidate for Honiton St Michaels ward