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Public invited to release community project cash through online poll

The public has been invited to release further funding for the £2 million Newton’s Place museum and community project by taking part in an online poll.

The scheme, led by Newton Abbot Town Council, will convert the redundant Grade II listed St Leonard’s Church, Wolborough St, into a long called-for facility. Total external investment in the programme has topped the £1 million mark, thanks largely to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) donating £800,000 of National Lottery players’ cash to the construction fund. The HLF contributed a further £150,000 for development costs and decisions on grant applications worth approximately £500,000 are expected soon.

But an unexpected change of heart by the prospective buyers of the town hall, the income of which will help meet the total cost, means the council has to temporarily extend its borrowing by £300,000. That will only be possible if the public continues to signal that it wants Newton’s Place to become a reality.

Town Clerk Phil Rowe said: ‘The Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government rules state that the Council can apply for a low-interest short-term mortgage for the town hall if residents approve the idea. The type of loan we favour is offered on a variable basis so there will be no financial penalties when it is repaid upon sale of the building. There will be no implications for Council Tax bills and this is a temporary measure we can afford. Any project of this scale is bound to throw up challenges but with the public’s support I’m confident we can swiftly move on and deliver on our promise to create a fantastic facility residents have long asked for.’

The Newton’s Place stall, offering free children’s entertainment and biodegradable balloons, formed part of the attractions at Saturday’s Summer Nights street food event in Courtenay Street.

’The message we’re getting from people is very clear, they can’t wait for Newton’s Place to open,’ said Mr Rowe. 'Please help make that happen soon by voting in favour before the poll closes on August 20th.’

Click to follow the link to the poll.

The photo shows Newton Abbot residents Jennifer Hardy and 11-month-old daughter Eleanor at Summer Nights. ‘We’ll certainly be paying a visit when Newton’s Place opens,’ said Jennifer.

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