Honiton mayor says council has turned around after controversial year

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The Beehive, where Honiton Town Council is based

THE Mayor of Honiton, Councillor John Zarczynski, has apologised to the people of the town for not being in the public eye as much as his predecessors, but says it’s because his energy has gone into making sure the council is once again running smoothly.

Cllr Zarczynski took on the role in May, a week after the council elected Ashley Dellasalle as mayor, who controversially resigned within minutes of taking the position as she heavily criticised fellow councillors’ egos.

But Cllr Zarczynski has now said the refreshed council is better than ever and he believes the authority has turned itself around from where it was 12 months ago, when he re-joined in a by-election.

Cllr Zarczynski said: “I apologise to the public for not being at many events or in the media as often as perhaps the Mayor of Honiton should be. However, I was elected onto the council on a finance mandate, and as such since becoming mayor, my priorities have been to review council finances, working closely with the finance committee and The Beehive overview committee.

“The council has been through a very difficult time in recent months. However, I am pleased to say that we are working well on numerous projects for the benefit of the town.

“I’ve been working closely with our temporary town clerk in restructuring the admin of the council offices to make the council more cost efficient.”

Cllr Zarczynski said that having retreieved money that was owed to the town council, which now  has a surplus of £35,000, he was looking forward to being able to hand out more grant money than the “unacceptable” £5,000 that was given away this year.

“For a town of Honiton’s size we gave out an unacceptable amount of grant money last year, and there are so many great organisations that we want to help but haven’t been able to,” he said.

“Hopefully with the council in a better financial shape, we will be able to help more organisations than ever before. And we may even be able to look at investing into bigger projects to benefit the town.”

Cllr Zarczynski wasn’t able to give details on all projects the council is currently working on, but was able to name two which he said he was excited about.

“I can confirm that the council is currently in discussion with the county council and will bid to take over the lease for the youth centre in town, when it becomes available at the end of the month,” he said.

“If we were to take it over, we would ensure that it would be kept only for public use, and no organisation that currently uses it would lose out or be upended from there.”

The mayor was also able to confirm that proposals to rebuild a bridge across The Gissage were moving forward, with the plan being to  open up more green spaces within the town boundary using the bridge.

Cllr Zarczynski finished: “The council is the custodian of public money, and while we cannot take on projects like traffic congestion or road repairs, we can do our bit and make sure the public get the best value for their precept. And we are trying our hardest to achieve that.

“We have a committed and dedicated group of councillors now and we are still looking for candidates to join, and help continue this new and improved council.”

Honiton, Ottery St Mary, Chard & Ilminster Reporter | After studying for his NCTJ in Bournemouth, Peter started with the paper in June 2015 on a freelance basis, now permanently based in East Devon covering community and council news.

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