Request to review Clipstone boundary shouldn't be viewed as hostile land grab by Leighton Buzzard

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'Clipstone Park is an eastern expansion of Leighton Buzzard not a western extension of Eggington'

A potential parish boundary change involving a large modern housing development on the edge of Leighton Buzzard shouldn't be viewed as hostile land grab, a meeting heard.

A decision to review the parish governance for the Clipstone Park estate (in the parish of Eggington) is going out to consultation after agreement from Central Bedfordshire Council's general purposes committee on Thursday.

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Leighton-Linslade town clerk Mark Saccoccio described the supporting evidence in appendix B of the agenda as unhelpful and "not representative of the terms of reference" driving the process.

The boundaryThe boundary
The boundary

"The request for a boundary review would appear like an act of hostility by way of an unprovoked land grab from a neighbouring parish, which isn't the case," he said.

"We're already getting requests from people in Eggington, with Leighton Buzzard postcodes, to intern their loved ones. They'll be charged four times the resident value for that service.

"To avoid a potential future legal challenge, stakeholders should be provided with sufficient information to meaningfully contribute towards the consultation exercise."

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Steve Jones, who chairs Leighton-Linslade Town Council, suggested appendix B of the agenda is "biased towards the status quo" and aimed at highlighting that its precept is currently double that of Eggington.

"That document (appendix B) is subject to legal challenge on the grounds that it doesn't put the whole case.

"If this consultation document goes out as presented, we would reserve the right to contact every elector or resident of Eggington parish with a full explanation as to why this is going ahead.

"This (estate) is part of an urban development and an expansion of the town, not of the village itself.

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"Even the Boundary Commission for England recognised Clipstone is more of a part of Leighton-Linslade than of Eggington.

"This consultation needs to happen quickly, having been going on for more than ten years."

Conservative Leighton Buzzard South councillor Amanda Dodwell referred to Clipstone Park as "an eastern expansion of Leighton Buzzard not a western extension of Eggington".

She said: "Eggington are the proud guardians of a park bench. It doesn't provide the level of services that Leighton Buzzard does to residents.

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"It's very understandable why its precept is as low as it is. To those people on that development your precept will go up if you remain part of Eggington.

"You've got play areas to look after and a cemetery. You've a parish council with no experience of running those services, so you'll be starting from scratch.

"The consultation is misleading. This should have been done at the same time as Billington and Sandhills."

Liberal Democrat Linslade councillor Peter Snelling said: "Eggington bears no relation to the new development except it's in a very rural part of its parish.

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"I don't agree with the monitoring officer that this is a fair and balanced document.

"If I was allowed to stay in the meeting I'd be moving that we should be rejecting this to send it back to the officers."

Conservative Linslade councillor Gordon Perham suggested it would be decided by what it costs the residents.

"They may think they'll be paying £50 compared to £150," he said. "But that won't last for long. Once those facilities expand and they've got to pay more to use local services that gap is going to be swallowed up in no time."

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Conservative Leighton Buzzard South councillor Ray Berry, who chairs the committee, but stepped aside for the item, backed the town council comments.

He then left the meeting along with vice-chairman councillor Perham, councillor Dodwell and councillor Snelling.

Independent Linslade councillor Victoria Harvey pleaded for more information to help residents reach a decision.

The committee approved the terms of reference and noted the proposed consultation document.