Topsham residents call for neighbourhood association

HOMEOWNERS are calling for the reintroduction of a neighbourhood association aimed at addressing issues affecting residents’ lives such as controversial plans for a travellers’ site in Topsham.

Several people living at Newport Park would like a residents’ forum to be set up where they can discuss matters concerning their day-to-day lives.

A similar organisation existed around five years ago but disbanded. One of the reasons for its closure is believed to be because of disagreements between committee members.

Speaking about the decision to close the association, Marjorie Butcher, the former chairman, of Moon Ridge, said: “You have to have harmony in these things and we did not have that.

“It all ended in disaster, really. There were quite a few disagreements and I don’t think such a thing will happen again.

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“I think the harm that was done by deciding at the final hour to close it down has still left raw feelings among people.

“The main problem was that the park owner did not recognise us as a body and did not want us to interfere with the way the site was run.”

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Newport Park is a permanent residential estate for the retired or semi-retired. There are more than 180 mobile homes with around 300 residents.

There are plans to house a travellers’ site near the park which form part of a masterplan for the Newcourt development which will see 2,300 new properties being built near the East Devon town.

Scores of residents from Newport have written to Exeter City Council expressing their anger at the proposals.

Joe Robb, 76, of Central Avenue, believed there were a lot of benefits to having such an organisation.

He said they proved helpful if people wanted to discuss any work needed on their homes, maintaining the site by ensuring it is kept clean and checking up on the welfare of residents.

Regarding the latter, he said: “Because you have to be over 60 to live here, there are some infirm people on the site.

“There is one lady who on a couple of occasions I went to help after hearing her crying out for assistance following a fall in her home.

“When there was a committee, some if its members would walk around the park to check up on the welfare of such people.”

Mr Robb, who has lived at Newport Park for nine years, added: “I think the committee is a good idea for raising any issue of concern that you may have.

“I think it would have been great to have had an association to discuss the plans for the travellers’ site.”

Penny Hardwick, manager of Newport Park, said any decision to reintroduce a residents’ association was a matter between her and the people who lived on the site.

She said: “If the people want one, they must approach me. It is completely between me and them.”

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