‘Time is right’ for new council

PUBLISHED: 10:13 27 January 2015

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

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

Archant

Plans to split the Ottery parish in two and form a separate West Hill council are moving forward, with campaigners now looking for support from residents.

The West Hill Parish Campaign Group (WHPCG) revealed their intention to create a new authority in October, which it says would give the community more influence over issues that affect residents of the woodland village.

If successful, it would mean new ward boundaries would be drawn up for Ottery Town Council, but any formation of a new authority would be subject to a comprehensive consultation process.

Dr Margaret Hall, chair of the WHPCG, said the possibility of a separate council was an exciting prospect for the village.

She said: “This is about us controlling our future rather than relying on Ottery Town Council.

“People have talked about having a parish council for quite some time, but we feel that now is the right time.

“The village has expanded in recent years, and with over 850 houses it is now one of the largest villages in East Devon.”

The group says a West Hill Parish Council would be able to provide improved services, local representation and better support for local voluntary and community organisations.

“A parish council would provide the community with a focus for tackling the issues that affect us, provide us with a louder voice and ensure the money raised locally is spent locally,” added Ian Heard.

Before they can formally submit their vision to East Devon District Council, campaigners will need at least 250 signatures from village residents.

WHPCG will be holding drop-in sessions for people interested in more information on Saturday, January 24, and Saturday, January 31, from 9am to noon outside McColls in West Hill Road.

And a public meeting on Friday, March 6, at 7.30pm in West Hill Village Hall will outline the benefits a new council could bring and the process behind forming it.

A petition will also be available to sign at the meeting.

Councillor Jo Talbot said: “We would like to talk to as many people as possible at the drop-ins and public meeting so that we can explain the benefits of forming a parish council and how it can improve community wellbeing, provide better services at a local level and provide local people with a stronger voice.”

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