Rural parish

PUBLISHED: 13:09 20 June 2007 | UPDATED: 11:11 24 May 2010

Portbury Parish response to Portishead's call for boundary changes. I read with interest the Times article regarding Portishead

Portbury Parish response to Portishead's call for boundary changes.I read with interest the Times article regarding Portishead Town Council's (PTC) request for boundary changes (May 23). A boundary by definition divides two territories and it would have been appropriate to discuss it with Portbury Parish Council (PPC) before they went to press. The 200 new houses that have been developed in Portbury Parish were supported at the planning stage by Portishead Town Council and not Portbury Parish Council.The precept in Portishead is required for very different facilities than those in Portbury, which is a very large rural parish but with a very small population centred mainly in the village. It is this population size that decides our precept and not the size of the parish.About 10 years ago, when the Ashlands development achieved outline-planning approval, Portbury Parish Council recognised the need to maintain a green buffer zone, for quality of life, between the new residential area and the industry (Royal Portbury Dock). We set aside a significant proportion of our annual precept over a number of years and employed a planning consultant, but we still could not meet the costs of a High Court challenge and subsequent appeal from Portbury Dock. We are all indebted to Easton in Gordano for joining forces with us and paying for the lion's share of the legal costs, which resulted in success. Shipway Farm in Sheepway, now provides the much-needed buffer zone for the Ashlands development.Recently, the Green Belt was once again under threat along the Portbury Hundred, to Courthouse Farm at Easton-in-Gordano. Once again, Easton-in-Gordano joined forces with us to defend it by contributing to planning consultant fees. Portishead Town Council did not even offer lip service support to the fact that the Portbury Hundred (their own gateway to Portishead) could be swallowed up into dockland and industry. So in summary, the joint parish efforts over the past 10 years, and championed by our district councillor Nigel Ashton, have provided a quality environment where the future residents of Ashlands can be proud to live, irrespective of whether they are residents of Portishead or Portbury.The story does not have a completely happy conclusion as Easton-in-Gordano who fought relentlessly beside Portbury Parish Council to protect the Green Belt, have lost their green buffer zone (Courthouse Farm) from the green belt.So perhaps Portishead Town Council should be less mercenary with their outlook and understand the different needs of a rural community and the precept required to pay for it.If boundary changes in the future are inevitable then I would like to think that the affected residents had a say in the matter. For those residents that remain in the historic parish of Portbury, I hope we can continue to maintain a quality rural environment.Les Summerfield - Chairman of Portbury Parish Council

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