Hope for peace

SIR - Along with every other householder in East Devon, I had my annual council tax bill 2011/2012 drop through the letterbox this week.

With a degree of trepidation, I opened it, surprise, surprise, Devon County Council 0.0 per cent increase – the authority, with its massive responsibility for roads and the like, are confident that they can fulfil their obligations without making an additional demand on the general public.

Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Authority, 0.0 per cent increase; Devon & Cornwall Police Authority likewise, the news gets better. I can confidently go about my daily business and rest easy in my bed at night knowing that, in the event of my need for protection or rescue, these authorities are equally confident.

East Devon District council, 0.0 per cent increase, the news gets better and better, my rubbish will be collected as well, without it costing more.

Ottery St Mary Town Council, they want an increase, whatever for I ask myself, just what do I get in return for my money? I’ve just remembered they look after the public toilets in Ottery, that’s a relief; wait a minute, they haven’t long closed one right in the centre of town!

They make planning decisions, no they don’t, they pontificate about them, but can only pass opinions, it is EDDC planning committee that makes decisions, in any case, anyone who has a mind to pass on opinion on any application is free to do so.

What is it then that our representatives do? Hang on, I have just remembered, our local West Hill representative is so keen and eager to prevent exploitation of the good people of West Hill, she doesn’t even wait for a planning application to be registered, once she has got wind of an application, she prepares flyers and distributes them to the surrounding households, urging them to object.

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When the issue is the future expansion of the East Devon District, the clarion call goes out, the troops are mustered, placards prepared and, accompanied by an equally vociferous local independent councillor, she leads the march to EDDC offices, speech prepared and placards held aloft – her flock are impressed.

How fortunate we are to be living in a democracy, but are these actions worth an increase in my Council tax, albeit a small one?

Can’t wait until May to express my opinion through the ballot box.

Ralph E Gray

Perrimead, Hawkins Lane, West Hill, Ottery St Mary

ED: Ottery Town Council member for West Hill, Claire Wright, has promised a full reply to the above in next week’s issue but, in the meantime, has made the following comment which we are happy to reproduce:

“It is quite true that I have distributed letters letting people know that a planning application was being prepared for that land and I have kept them informed regularly since then. I feel strongly that local people should be kept abreast of a situation that stands to affect them significantly.

What is untrue, however, is that I have urged people to object. As for the Knowle protest against the LDF, I remember reading quite an aggressive letter published in the Ottery Herald by Mr Gray himself last November relating to the LDF – he was as against it as I am!”