Independence for West Row?

Will West Row sign up for its own parish council?
Will West Row sign up for its own parish council?
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A campaign for West Row to have its own parish council has resulted in the proposal being part of an official review.

The proposal will be in a Forest Heath District Council Community Governance Review, which mostly looks at tweaking parish council boundaries.

John Smith, chairman of the West Row Action Group, in front of the proposed housing site the group was set up to oppose

John Smith, chairman of the West Row Action Group, in front of the proposed housing site the group was set up to oppose

But the West Row Action Group (WRAG), founded to fight housing developments, applied to the review for independence from Mildenhall Parish.

WRAG chairman John Smith said: “The main issue is that Mildenhall is an urban conglomeration where West Row is a rural village – we see ourselves in a different way. We’re fighting for the character of the village.”

Mildenhall Parish comprises Great Heath Ward with 2,880 electors, Market Ward with 2,869 and West Row Ward with 1,224 but the largest area, from between Mildenhall and West Row, west to Cambridgeshire.

West Row currently has three parish councillors but the review says comparable parishes have nine.

Gerald Taylor-Balls believes any plan for West Row independnce needs careful examination

Gerald Taylor-Balls believes any plan for West Row independnce needs careful examination

Gerald Taylor-Balls, longest serving West Row councillor at nearly 38 years, said: “The ward is large enough to be a parish on its own but there are a lot of implications that need to be looked into.

“The amount of money we get from the parish is quite a large figure. If we break away, where is that money going to come from?”

Parish chairman Richard Greenfield said he doubted the council would resist if West Row wanted to go, but he added: “I think they would find severe disadvantages from an administration and financial point of view.”

He said: “There are a certain number of people who were discontented but not really due to the parish council because their concern was planning consents which are decisions by Forest Heath District Council.

“If they think having their own parish council and planning committee is going to make a difference, they’re wrong.”

A Forest Heath spokesman said: “The Council was happy to include it in the review, but felt that, with the evidence it currently had it should test a recommendation to maintain the status quo in the forthcoming consultation.

“This puts the onus on those proposing the change to provide us with the evidence of significant local support we would need to justify a change.”