Residents in the historic East Devon village of Colyford could get their own council after locals say they do not feel properly represented under the current system.
Philip Churm, local democracy reporter www.radioexe.co.uk
Villagers submitted a petition to East Devon District Council (EDDC) to carry out a ‘community governance review’; a process which can lead to the alteration or replacement of an existing parish council.
At present Colyford village is covered by Colyton Parish with 13 councillors but many people living south of Colyton say they feel left out of the democratic process.
Julian Thompson is one of the villagers driving the campaign and explained why they petitioned for a new council.
He said: “People who are living here were finding they weren’t able to have a fair, democratic governance of their local services and things they wanted to get done in the village to the current council, because the current council always out-voted the number of Colyford parish councillors who were sitting on it.”
Mr Thompson said villagers felt the proportion of funds distributed across the existing parish unfairly favoured people in Colyton.
“Because of the lack of democracy and transparency and clarity about where the Colyford tax had gone, it was very difficult to feel the local people were empowered and be able to look after their community,” he said.
Mr Thompson and other supporters drafted a four-year financial plan and listed the benefits of having a village council for the community, including:
The village council will recognise the unique and historic identity of the ancient borough of Colyford from 1237 – one of the largest communities in East Devon without its own council.
Residents will have access to a council that will work hard on their behalf – “by Colyford, for Colyford”.
Money raised through council tax by Colyford residents will fund improvements in Colyford and not elsewhere.
Residents will have greater influence on local planning matters, address their unique issues on traffic control and safety and build rapport with the local grammar school.
Former RAF Air commodore and Falklands veteran Julian Thompson said they have considered all the necessary aspects of the proposal which, if successful, would result in the election of new councillors next May.
“I have taken a very strict military approach to introducing new capability based on a military line of development,” he said.
“And from that I’ve taken all the inputs from the National Association of Local Councils and Devon village councils, EDDC, other parishes and built a sort of ‘how to introduce initial operating capability for local council’.”
EDDC independent councillor for Axminster, Sarah Jackson, who is portfolio holder for democracy, transparency and communications said: “It is evident from the recent consultation that the residents of Colyford feel a sense of identity separate from that of Colyton and a clear desire to be self-governed via the formation of a new parish council, and so I am pleased to see this governance review progress to the next stage.
“It is, however, important that the proposal is now refined and fine-tuned. Part of this will be to determine where exactly the boundary between the parishes will fall.
“I strongly encourage all those who are consulted on the draft proposal to fully engage with the process so that your views are considered and taken on board.”
The next stage in the process would be to consider submissions and prepare final proposals which could then be submitted to EDDC cabinet in November and full council by December.
If passed, elections under the new arrangements would take place in May 2023.