Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Just what Axminster needs

MAYOR Andrew Moulding got it just right when he described the launch of the Axminster Heritage Centre project as a “landmark” occasion.

I was disappointed not to have been able to attend the reception at the original Thomas Whitty carpet factory on Friday afternoon, having been involved in the early discussions on the project and having followed it closely ever since.

Unfortunately, I had to interview the captain of HMS Edinburgh which was on an official visit to Lyme Regis for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

With 16 newspapers across three counties to keep an eye on, my time is a bit sparse at the moment.

But our Axminster reporter Anders Larsson was there and tells me the trustees and supporters at the reception were in a very upbeat mood about their plans to establish a heritage centre in the Silver Street building.

They deserve their moment of self congratulation. It has taken six long years to get the project to this exciting stage through the most turbulent financial climate for several decades.

I am sure that there were times when trustees' chairman and project leader Dr John Church and his colleagues thought it would never happen and may well have contemplated abandoning their plans.

But they stuck at it and the town of Axminster will benefit greatly when the centre is finally opened.

I think it is just what the town needs.

Axminster has a fine and colourful history but has never really been able to showcase its illustrious past. The heritage centre will do just that and will provide a focal point for many other activities.

Of course, there is still a long way to go to raise all the funds needed to convert the building into a modern exhibition area and then to sustain its ongoing success.

The building is now owned by Axminster Heritage Ltd, a major step forward, but the real work will soon begin to complete the £1.6 million conversion that will do justice to the complete history of Axminster, with the carpet industry as a focal point, housing also Axminster’s current museum, the Tourist Information Centre and providing a numer of other educational opportunities.

A project, indeed, of which the town can be justly proud and which will attract many visitors.

A fitting tribute to a Sector Lane legend

CONGRATULATIONS to the Axminster Hospital Cup Committee for their continued stalwart efforts to raise money for our local hospital.

Over the years the small group who make up the committee have raised thousands of pounds to improve the facilities and provide comfort for patients at the hospital.

This year’s final at the end of April was abandoned before the end of the game because of the weather conditions but replayed again on Saturday in lovely sunshine and with another big crowd.

The final was dedicated to the late Martin Leach who worked so hard for the committee over many years and was a bit of a sporting legend in and around Axminster. It was appropriate the the trophy was presented to the winners - Budleigh Salterton - by Eunice Beer, Martin’s auntie, who has also done much over the years to support the hospital. The two finals raised around £700, an excellent result.

I was given the privilege of choosing the man-of-the-match award and decided to give it to Seaton’s young defender Cameron Vere, who gave a good account of himself in both finals.

The final was the last competitive game to be played on Sector Lane before the bulldozers move in to start building 70 new homes on the football pitch. Axminster Town Football Club will decamp to Washbrook Meadows, the home of Ottery St Mary FC, for a year whilst their new £2million ground is built in Chard Road by developers Devonshire Homes.

The Axminster Hospital Cup is one of the most prestigious cup competitions in local football, the magnificent trophy having been donated in 1930 by the late Percy Stuart.

JUST 13 per cent of the electorate of Honiton bothered to turn out to answer the question: “Do the council tax payers wish the town council to proceed any further with the community centre project?”

For the second time there was an overwhelming majority (60 per cent) who answered with a resounding “No”. 

But the town council are not legally bound to adhere to the wishes of the majority in such a poll and whether it was a “Yes” or “No” they fully intended, before a vote was cast, to proceed with the controversial project.

Most people believe that Honiton needs a new community centre but the “No” brigade feel strongly that a less costly version should be pursued. 

They have failed to persuade the town council who will proceed to borrow £975,000 to fund the £1.8 million scheme. 

Parish polls are costly affairs but are not legally binding. Surely, a total waste of time and money?

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