Residents of Snitter fight off attempted annex by Thropton Parish Council

Residents at Snitter are to retain their independence after fighting off an attempted annex by Thropton Parish Council

General views of Snitter, near Rothbury, Northumberland
General views of Snitter, near Rothbury, Northumberland

Residents in a tiny hamlet in rural Northumberland are to retain their independence after fighting off an attempted annexation by a neighbouring community.

Snitter, near Rothbury, is one of a small number of communities in Northumberland not served by a parish council and its residents enjoy lower taxes and a simpler system of local government as a result.

However, parish councillors at neighbouring Thropton, a mile away, have tried to bring them under their rule, citing an historic request from a now defunct authority.

But residents at Snitter have overwhelmingly snubbed Thropton’s proposal – and Northumberland County Council has dismissed the bid.

Snitter, which has just 47 dwellings, did have a parish council which, due to a lack of any public buildings in the hamlet, met in a member’s home.

However, that fizzled out around 20 years ago.

As a result, Snitter has been one of only three or four parishes in Northumberland not served by a parish council.

Residents have as a result not had to pay a parish council precept although they do contribute to a joint burial committee in Rothbury managed by that village’s ruling body.

Thropton Parish Council recently asked the county council to carry out a community governance review with a view to Snitter parish being incorporated within its boundaries.

The move would have seen residents at Snitter paying a precept to the Thropton council.

An initial consultation exercise carried out by the county yielded no responses.

The county council then sent letters to all households within Snitter.

Of the 47 households, 25 replies were received. Twenty four of those snubbed the change with only one in favour.

As a result, county councillors will next week be told that Thropton’s bid has failed.

Last night, Colin Bell, who has lived at Snitter for 30 of his 67 years, gave his thoughts on why residents had been so opposed.

He said: “I think the general consensus of opinion is that really we do not want our own parish, it is another layer of something we do not need, basically.

“There is nothing in Snitter where we could have a meeting anyway – we would have to meet in Thropton.

“We would have to meet in somebody’s front room. We have not a village hall, there is not even a bus shelter. We could meet in a telephone box!

“There is not a public bus service anyway. You have to walk to Thropton to catch a bus. We are a bit devoid of facilities to say the least.

“I do not think there is any point.”

Mr Bell said residents would have been swayed by the cost of coming under the Thropton council, adding: “We would have to pay a little contribution. Nobody wants to pay anything these days.”

Ann Winter, clerk to the Thropton council, said that body had been asked by the now defunct Alnwick District Council - which was abolished in 2008 - to consider swallowing up Snitter, due to it having no authority of its own.

Members had been reluctant at first with questions over how many councillors each settlement would have, but later agreed to pursue such a move.

“It is such a long time ago, it has gone on for ages and ages.”

Ms Winter said the council would be quite happy for residents at Snitter to retain their independence.

“It will be cheaper for them anyway! It really does not make any difference to Thropton really. It’s fine.”

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer