Independence for West Hill?

Leaders of the West Hill Parish Campaign Group (L to R) - Ian Heard, Cllr Jessica Bailey, Dr Margare

Leaders of the West Hill Parish Campaign Group (L to R) - Ian Heard, Cllr Jessica Bailey, Dr Margaret Hall, Cllr Jo Talbot - Credit: Archant

Campaigners calling for West Hill to have its own independent voice are rallying for support from residents.

The group behind a proposal to launch a separate parish council for the village gained the support of 392 signatures and a formal consultation has now been launched for people to give their views.

West Hill is currently under the governance of Ottery Town Council.

With 850 houses and around 2,000 residents, it is one of the largest villages in East Devon – one of the reasons why campaigners argue it should be independent.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) began a consultation process on Monday, October 12, and will distribute a leaflet and questionnaire to all households and interested parties in the area.

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Chairman of the West Hill Residents’ Association and campaign leader Margaret Hall said: “We want people to reply to the questionnaire, and not just throw it in the bin as more junk mail.

“We are a separate community and our village has its own unique character. We want to manage our own affairs.”

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The village currently has four ward representatives on Ottery Town Council and another consideration for residents is whether the number of councillors presenting the town should increase if the West Hill independence bid is successful.

Campaigner and town councillor for the West Hill ward Jessica Bailey said: “West Hill is one of the largest villages in East Devon.

“Yet unlike 51 smaller villages, West Hill does not have its own voice in the form of a parish council. This does not make sense to me and needs to change.

“West Hill has its own unique identity and a thriving community in the form of a primary school, a pre-school, a village hall with 20 active clubs, a Royal British Legion with more than 200 members and an active church community.”

A new parish council would be entitled to levy money from residents’ council tax bills to be spent in the village, enabling the community to benefit directly.

If supported, a second period of consultation will run from March to June 2016 and a decision will take place within 12 months.

The new West Hill Parish Council would have its first election of councillors in May 2017 if the bid is ultimately successful.

The deadline for submissions is January 12, 2016.

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