Campaigner’s ‘horrified’ by proposed boundary for new West Hill parish

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

‘Plans radically different to what residents agreed.’

Campaigners and councillors have slammed a proposed boundary for an independent West Hill - which would effectively halve the existing ward.

A bid for the woodland village to create its own parish council – separate from the governance of Ottery – was launched in 2014 and a first round of consultations found in favour of the plan, with 60 per cent of respondents voting for it.

However, campaigners have said they are ‘horrified’ by the proposed boundary for a new council, claiming it is ‘undemocratic’ and ‘radically different’ to what residents have agreed. Speaking at an East Devon District Council (EDDC) meeting last week, former district councillor Tony Howard – a supporter of West Hill’s independence – said: “The proposed boundary does not make any sense. If the disputed boundary remains for the second part of the consultation, we fear a West Hill parish council will not happen. West Hill residents are unlikely to agree to form a parish council based on such a greatly reduced area of 50 per cent.”

Town and district councillor Roger Giles also spoke out against the proposed boundary, saying it is ‘quite bizarre’, ‘totally inexplicable’. He said: “What you would be left with would be a West Hill that is less than half the size of the existing one. West Hill would be eviscerated and decimated.”

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Ottery mayor Glyn Dobson told the meeting he would support the proposed boundary, saying if you use a certain criteria on getting a consensus for forming a parish council, you must use the same criteria for deciding the boundary. He described the boundary put forward by the campaign group as ‘completely unacceptable’ and said: “Ottery is a traditional farming community and it would seem unreasonable for all that farmland to be included within West Hill parish.”

In a statement, chairman of the West Hill Parish Council Campaign group (WHPCC), Margaret Hall, said: “We are horrified at the boundary that has been proposed by EDDC. The people of West Hill signed up to the new parish based on the existing ward, not something radically and entirely different.”

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Group member and town councillor Jessica Bailey added: “We are deeply troubled by the basis on which the map has been redrawn. We have been told repeatedly by EDDC that this is a result of the evidence that was produced during the first stage of the consultation. However, the evidence is virtually non-existent. Out of 800 responses there were only five specific comments on the boundary.”

No decision has been made on the final boundary and the bid is due to go through further consultation.

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