Councillors vote to take on the community building — but have yet to agree on how to pay for it.
ILFRACOMBE Town Council has agreed to take over the Lantern Centre after an 80 per cent ‘yes’ vote from a public consultation.
Last night (Monday), councillors voted to take ownership of the building from Devon County Council and also to cover the running costs if required.
Options on the table to pay for estimated first year running costs of £47,000 included raising council tax, which could have meant an extra £14.50 per year on a Band D property.
That was asked in the consultation and 229 of the 286 responses were in favour.
But councillors questioned whether it would really cost £47,000 to run, particularly once user groups such as the nursery were back at the Lantern and paying rent.
They agreed to a piecemeal approach and to cover the running costs ‘if required’, but not how that might happen.
Future options suggested could see a charity set up to run the community building, but most agreed the main thing was to take ownership of it first.
Members of the audience were invited to have their say. Three ladies from the nursery were keen to see the council adopt the building, while Janet Sanders, representing a ladies group which used the centre, said it should be kept in Ilfracombe and she was praying it went ahead.
But Mike Creek of Ilfracombe Trades Council said he felt the council was taking on far too much finance for the town, what with the bus station and now the Lantern, and wondered if councillors realised just how much ‘ordinary people’ were struggling.
The 286 adults who responded to the consultation represented three per cent of the town’s 9,175 electorate. It was promoted between November 13 and December 2, in the local press, through social media, plus various websites, groups and businesses.
A further 156 young people also completed the questionnaire, but as they are not old enough to vote these could not be counted – however, their views on what should be in the building have been included.
It also asked people what they would like to see at the Lantern. Responses could include more than one choice, but the largest majority went to the community hall option, with 354 votes.
A space for young people received 302 ticks, while creative art and office space got 276 and 208 respectively. Other suggested uses included as a function venue, for weddings, as a gallery, pensioners’ club and pre-school.