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Philip Evans


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HONITON: Options still open for Beehive future

Thursday, 21 August 2014

HONITON town councillors have stalled on a decision over the future management of the Beehive community centre, after being presented with new legal information hours before they were due to discuss the issue. At a meeting last week, councillors were ready to grant the Beehive company a 10-year lease on the building. In addition, councillors were due to approve that the company be converted into a charity, in order for it to be able to apply for grant funding. But consideration of the two controversial points was deferred for at least a month, after a report by the town clerk outlined “recent information” that “needed addressing”. The report suggested the council needed to obtain further evidence to support any decision it made on the future of the Beehive. Councillors therefore resolved to seek additional legal advice from the council’s solicitor, before moving forward with the plans. Speaking at the meeting, the deputy mayor, Councillor John Zarczynski, said: “This information only came to light this morning. It was unexpected – hence the last minute changes in the agenda. “Unfortunately, in view of this, we are not in a position to make a decision and could possibly break the law in the process. “We have got to get this information right and address the issues that have been put before us.” Ahead of the meeting, district councillor Mike Allen – who resigned in part over the issue earlier this year – reiterated his calls for the future governance of the Beehive to be put to a town poll. And during the discussion, Jill McNally – a former councillor – warned against any decision to grant charity status to the company, suggesting that such a move would not be “ethical” and “may even be illegal”. Around 20 members of the public, many of whom are volunteers at the Beehive or members of the Friends of the Beehive charity, gathered at the meeting to speak in favour of the plans. One speaker, Ros Weller, said: “The success of the centre has been assured because of the goodwill of volunteers who have given time and expertise willingly and with good grace. “In order to ensure volunteers continue to give time and expertise, there needs to be stability within the organisation. This can be achieved with a long-term lease of 10 years.” Wendy Van der Plank, who currently helps to organise the event programme at the Beehive, said charity status would enable the company to gain additional funding for crucial work with disabled people and youth projects, as well as new cinema equipment. Speaking at the meeting, the Mayor of Honiton, Councillor Peter Halse, said the council recognised both sides of the debate and that it is “vital” for the town to move forward with the project together. He said: “There has been considerable debate over all this and it is vital we, as a town, go forward together. “Therefore, we take objections quite seriously. The town council represents everybody in the town. “We are advised that there are certain things that need going into more detail. “There is nothing we are doing that is intrinsically wrong but we need to make sure the detail is covered so we do not end up taking two steps back further down the line. “It may be a matter of only two or three weeks before we can get this information and then the whole matter can be resolved. There is nothing wrong with what we have done or what we are doing.”


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