Roundswell survey ‘wants new parish’

Of 1,038 households surveyed, 642 want to break away from Fremington parish and strike out with a new council.

A stand alone parish council of Roundswell and Bickington could be closer to reality following a survey of local households.

Roundswell Residents’ Association surveyed 1,038 homes and of 664 which replied, an overwhelming 96 per cent were in favour of breaking away from Fremington.

Surveys went to each household in Roundswell and were followed up with a visit. In total 642 (62 per cent) said ‘yes’ and 22 (two per cent) no, while 112 (11 per cent) said they had no interest and 262 (25 per cent) were either not in or did not answer the door.

Now the association will need to carry out a survey in Bickington.

A survey carried out by North Devon Council in 2000 saw Bickington vote overwhelmingly to stay as part of Fremington. Roundswell was asked if it wished to become part of Barnstaple and 68 per cent voted against.

Residents’ association chairman Graham Turner said they had handed the new survey to the district council on Monday.

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“At the end of the day I think Roundswell is big enough to stand on its own feet,” he said.

“We already have more than 1,000 houses and if we were to get new homes at Tews Lane, there would be even more.”

He said they felt Roundswell was being neglected, with not enough upkeep of play areas and public spaces. They also felt too much was being spent on administration costs for Fremington Parish Council.

Vice chairman Ken Sharman said a new council based at Roundswell Community Centre would be more accessible to people and cost less.

Mr Turner added: “As a residents group we are out every Monday, doing flowerbeds, weeding, clearing cycle paths - we are doing the jobs parish, district or county councils should be.”

Fremington Parish Council chairman and deputy leader of NDC Cllr Rodney Cann said he felt the survey opened the issue for discussion again:

“I would hope now the district council will carry out a formal consultation but I think it’s important we establish the actual cost, the practicalities and whether it’s in the best interests of tax payers,” he said.

“When most authorities are combining to save money, setting up a new parish may not be the best idea. It will not change things such as highway maintenance and weed-killing because that’s not a parish council function.

“I wonder if we might in some ways be worse off with a new parish because it would not have the clout of a larger one and services might suffer.”

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