Independence day as West Hill splits

Proposed new West Hill parish council boundary

Proposed new West Hill parish council boundary - Credit: Archant

Compromise reached over divisive boundary issue

West Hill looks set to form its own parish council after a contentious bid to gain independence was given the green light.

A long and acrimonious battle came to an end on Wednesday (July 13) when members of East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) cabinet voted in favour of the village breaking away from the governance of Ottery.

The bid was launched by the West Hill Parish Campaign Group (WHPCG), which argued the community has its own identity.

During the consultation process, a bitter row broke out over the proposed boundary.

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Speaking at Wednesday’s meeting, WHPCG chairman Margaret Hall said: “Our primary objective has always been to establish a parish council for West Hill. We know we have overwhelming support for this from residents of West Hill. We are disappointed by the boundary, however, we do recognise the need for compromise. We do look forward to working positively with all our neighbouring councils in the future.”

The compromised boundary option means the new parish will be far smaller than the current West Hill ward, but it does incorporate some households in Higher Metcombe, who strongly objected to being included in the Ottery ward.

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Mayor Glyn Dobson - not speaking on behalf of the town council - said: “I will be sorry to see West Hill go, because the parish of Ottery will lose approximately 25 per cent of its precept. However, if it’s the will of the majority of West Hill residents, I respect that.”

District councillor Peter Faithfull said the issue should be postponed entirely - as the level of acrimony did not allow for constructive debate. However, Councillor Phil Twiss argued there is a clear case for West Hill forming its own parish council.

EDDC needs to issue a final go-ahead before the proposal will come into legal effect on April, 1, 2017. The first elections could be held in May 2017.

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