West Row to get own parish council

West Row village sign
West Row village sign

West Row will have a parish council of its own by 2019, Forest Heath District Council decided last night.

The call for West Row Ward to have independence from Mildenhall Parish Council came from the West Row Action Group (WRAG), which was founded to fight planning applications for a large housing development in the village.

It made the application under a Community Governance Review all district and borough councils were told to have, which looked at various boundary changes.

Forest Heath’s review originally decided that West Row should stay with Mildenhall unless its voters significantly felt otherwise and a report before the full council last night revealed that though only three per cent of the ward’s 1,502 voters bothered to respond, 92.3 per cent wanted a separate parish council.

The district council supported the change unanimously.

A spokesman said: “Following a public consultation, involving the parish council, it was agreed that West Row parish ward should be a parish with its own parish council.

“We will now start going through the formal process for this to happen. The new council will be set up in April 2019 with its first elections in May of the same year.”

John Smith of the West Row Action Group said he was surprised at the level of support district councillors had shown at the meeting.

He added: “It brings local government back to West Row.

“It’s an incredible thing for the village – a village isn’t a village without a parish. The thing about it is we’re a really large rural area but we’re tagged on to what is essentially an urban town council.”

Based on its electorate, the new council will have nine members. Mr Smith said he would stand and felt other WRAG members would.

The current West Row Ward extends from halfway between Mildenhall and West Row to the Cambridgeshire border in the west. The border between it and Beck Row parish is down the middle of RAF Mildenhall’s runway. It includes Isleham Marina on the other bank of the River Lark.

Its departure would leave Mildenhall Parish Council with 6,240 voters in two wards.

Mildenhall Parish Council chairman Richard Greenfield said: “I’m fairly pleased – it was what they wanted.

“Mildenhall Parish Council discussed it twice and thought that if the majority of West Row People wanted it we would not stand in their way.

“It will be a challenge for them to establish a parish council from scratch – they’ve got to find the people willing to take part.”

He felt once West Row has left, Mildenhall was likely to become a town council, as Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket and Needham Market are.

“It reflects the growing size of the town and, if the base closes and we have housing there, it’s changing character,” he said.

One question remains – will the Mildenhall Treasure have to be renamed? The hoard of Roman silver was found in West Row during World War Two, but named after the parish in which it was discovered.