‘60 per cent in favour’ of West Hill independence

Proposed boundaries for the new West Hill Parish Council. The black outline is the boundary campaign

Proposed boundaries for the new West Hill Parish Council. The black outline is the boundary campaigners in favour of independence have put forward. The hatched parts are areas that EDDC is suggesting should remain part of Ottery Town Council, subject to further consultation. - Credit: Archant

District bosses look set to give the go-ahead to the next stage of a process which would see West Hill split from Ottery St Mary and form its own parish council.

A consultation held last year saw a majority of residents in the village back independence – with 60 per cent of those who responded voting in favour.

But the move failed to win the support of Ottery Town Council when it met last month, with members arguing the parish was ‘better together’.

On Wednesday (February 10), East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) leadership will decide whether to continue with the formation of West Hill Parish Council.

A report before EDDC’s cabinet recommends that the go-ahead be given.

If created, the new authority would be made up of seven councillors.

But the exact boundary of the proposed parish has yet to be agreed - and it could be significantly smaller than the existing West Hill ward of Ottery Town Council.

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In his report to the cabinet, EDDC chief executive Mark Williams says the public support for independence is one of the main reasons for his recommendation to create the new council.

EDDC sent forms to 3,495 homes in the current West Hill ward and received 801 - or 22.9 per cent - back as valid replies.

Of this total, 60 per cent were in favour of independence, 38 per cent voted against it and the remainder said they did not know which they preferred.

But Mr Williams also identified a number of concerns raised by residents opposed to the split.

One of the main issues was the reduction in income from council tax, known as the precept, Ottery Town Council would receive.

He said: “It maybe that some of [Ottery Town Council’s] ambitions will have to be reassessed without the precept income from West Hill.”

If EDDC votes to go ahead next week, finalised proposals for the new West Hill Parish Council will be formally published and residents given three months to comment.