• Tense meeting sees Ottery Town Council vote against West Hill’s proposal to break away

    7th January 2016 | News | Claire
  • Before the debate started Cllr Christopher Hall asked that no vote be taken as he was concerned that there would be a “them and us” situation and “acrimonious exchanges.” 

    But the Mayor (Glyn Dobson) overruled this, stating that there had to be a decision.

    Much of the comments centred around finance and how Ottery Town Council would manage a significant loss to its precept, and that residents in the parish would have to pay more council tax to fund a council for West Hill, although councillors appeared to be divided on how much more residents would have to pay.

    The other subject that was hotly debated was the contribution that West Hill currently makes to services in the town, such as the library, bowling club and toilets. Responding to a comment from another councillor, Glyn Dobson replied that in other towns East Devon District Council funds toilets and some other services. In Ottery, the town council pays for such things.

    West Hill councillors felt there was too much focus on finances and wanted the council to recognise the reason that many West Hill residents wanted to create their own parish council – which is so they can manage their own affairs and be independent, reporting directly to EDDC.  As one of the biggest villages in Devon, West Hill is unusual in not having its own council.

    It was pointed out that some planning decisions for West Hill applications had often been overruled by Ottery councillors.  And that this was especially irksome when some did not know the layout of West Hill or were unfamiliar with sustainability issues.  But this point was disputed by others who asserted that this was democracy.

    As a former Ottery St Mary Town Councillor for West Hill, I can confirm that resentment over being overruled on planning decisions definitely happened – and it was frustrating!

    Cllr Anne Edwards felt that if West Hill created its own parish council it should pay a contribution to services in the town that were run by Ottery Town Council.  Cllr Dobson said that only a parish council could make this decision, it was not for the council to make that decision this evening.

    After around an hour and a half of debate, Cllr Elli Pang made a proposal that the parish was “better together” and that the West Hill parish council proposal be rejected, which was seconded by Cllr Ian Holmes.

    Votes in favour of Elli’s proposal were: Elli Pang, Ian Holmes, Lyn Harding, Anne Edwards, Geoff Pratt, Josefina Gori and Paul Bartlett.

    There were no votes against.

    The final decision will be made by East Devon District Council.