Representing the whole village


- Credit: ©ARCHANT } NORFOLK 2002.

Mr Zirker is mistaken in his letter criticising the council for not playing an active role in the community (“Consult or resign”, Opinion, June 21).

Most of us give a lot of our time to undertake the numerous mundane tasks that are required to keep this village wonderful – a word we can both agree on.

I would like to clarify a few points Mr Zirker raises.

Recent changes to planning laws have resulted in a notable increase in large scale planning applications across the country, no more so than in East Devon, as witnessed with places like Feniton.

Parish councils find themselves on the front line of large and complex planning issues which some might say we are not equipped to deal with.

We are volunteers trying to help our local community achieve what we feel is the most benefit to the most people.

Politics deals with the allocation of limited resources to infinite demand and inevitably some people will disagree for a variety of reasons and passions – and tempers amongst these people will tend to run high.

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Where Mr Zirker mentions the lack of democracy, the criminal investigation is in fact all about upholding democratic values within the council, in that the adherence to codes of conduct and issues of interest are seen to be wholly transparent.

The council supports many clubs and societies with time, grants, advice and tax relief, and to state that this is in spite of the council is unfair to say the least.

As for a referendum, we have consulted with the village through a questionnaire administered independently by volunteers from the parish, which formed our parish plan.

We are proud to be one of a small number of parishes to have an adopted parish plan.

Twelve months ago Newton Poppleford and Harpford Parish Council had a 30 per cent councillor vacancy rate which had remained unfilled for a considerable period of time.

Elections were not viable and parish council meetings were themselves poorly attended by villagers.

In the last few months there has been a surge in interest not unrelated to the large planning applications that have been proposed.

This has in turn has increased the interest in parish meetings, particularly from people affected by these applications, some of them angry about how it might affect their lives, which is completely understandable.

Like every other parish council we are trying to navigate our way through these issues, trying to decide what is best for the whole village.

The great thing about a democracy is that everyone is entitled to an opinion and to say what they feel. The parish council is there to represent the WHOLE village population.

We hope these letters act as a catalyst for more villagers to come to these meetings and have their say about what they want for the village.

Mark Sanders

Chairman, Newton Poppleford Parish Council