Council claims town is left short

At a meeting last week, Ottery Mayor Glyn Dobson said he felt the town had been overlooked for help with funding community projects At a meeting last week, Ottery Mayor Glyn Dobson said he felt the town had been overlooked for help with funding community projects

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
7:30 AM

Ottery St Mary is being overlooked for community funding by Tory district council bosses because of the town’s independent representatives, claim civic leaders.

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Town councillors this week heard that the involvement of either Roger Giles or Claire Wright in bids to the authority ‘could signal the death knell’ to any application – a situation lamented as ‘sacndalous’.

Both have been critical of the Conservative East Devon District Council (EDDC) hierarchy over several issues – including controversial relocation plans.

Mayor Glyn Dobson was giving colleagues an update on correspondence between himself and EDDC’s chief executive Mark Williams at a meeting last Monday when the claim was made.

He said: “I believe that Ottery Town Council does not get its fair share of money from EDDC, and I have thought that for a long time.”

Cllr Dobson said EDDC currently spends more than £200,000 across the district, subsidising running costs for public toilets in more than 10 towns and villages – but Ottery has to pay an annual fee of £2,500.

He added: “I put the case to Mark Williams at a meeting in July last year, and asked if they could help with other projects too – insurance for our skatepark, a reduction in parking charges for coaches at Land of Canaan and help with the pavilion at Strawberry Lane.”

Mr Dobson only received a response from Mr Williams on February 21 – with no offer of any financial help – and added: “I think it is appalling. We certainly don’t get our share of public funds – everything we ask for they say ‘no’.”

Deputy mayor Ian Holmes said: “At the meeting [with EDDC bosses in July] it was said to us that if either of our independent councillors were involved in a project it could signal the death knell for it.”

Long-serving Cllr Giles, who represents the Ottery town ward on the district council, said the situation was ‘scandalous’ and added: “It’s totally unacceptable and unimaginable that council spending priorities would be decided in this way.

“Projects put forward should be decided on merit, not on whether you are a Conservative or independent.”

The town council agreed to take advice from the Devon Association of Local Councils to resolve the situation.

Cllr Wright, representative for Ottery Rural, told the Herald: “Serious questions need to be, and will be, asked at the highest level.”

Both Mr Giles and Mrs Wright bagged resounding victories in the 2011 district council elections.

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