Potential West Hill split from Ottery St Mary likened to ‘divorce’

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

Proposed boundary continues to divide opinion

An ongoing debate over terms of West Hill’s proposed independence has been likened to an ‘acrimonious divorce’.

A bid for the woodland village to create its own parish council – separate from the governance of Ottery – has divided opinion in the town.

The first round of consultations resulted in 60 per cent of respondents voting in favour of independence, but the proposed boundary drawn up by East Devon District Council (EDDC) has been heavily criticised by campaigners.

At an Ottery Town Council meeting on Monday, Councillor Jo Talbot said: “Where is the evidence for the huge swathes of land that have been removed from the West Hill parish?”

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She argued that it’s not about drawing a tight line around the woodland village, but about the wider community.

Cllr Talbot is a member of the West Hill Parish Council Campaign group (WHPCC) but as a Higher Metcombe resident would fall into the Ottery ward under the proposed boundary.

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She said: “I have no reason to go into Metcombe. It’s down a dangerous road. If I want to go for a walk or get a paper from the shop I go to West Hill.”

WHPCC chairman Margaret Hall urged mayor Glyn Dobson to reconsider his support of the proposed boundary, saying it was drawn up on the basis of just five responses.

Dr Hall said: “Will you now stick by your word and support what the people of West Hill want?”

Cllr Dobson argued that the boundary should stay and said he has received calls from more and more people ‘getting disillusioned with what’s going on in West Hill’.

Cllr Roger Giles said: “What we have here is akin to a very acrimonious divorce. We have got to try our hardest to get back to where we were and try to achieve what is probably inevitable.”

The bid and boundary plans are due to go through a second round of consultation.

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