'They're part of the Leighton Buzzard community, not Eggington, and boundary change is long overdue'

United view on the need to address 'historical quirk' at Clipstone Park

Friday, 11th June 2021, 12:15 pm
Updated Friday, 11th June 2021, 12:16 pm

A councillor who opposed a housing project on the edge of Leighton Buzzard agrees it should be adopted into the town, rather than the neighbouring parish of Eggington.

A decision whether to review the parish governance for the Clipstone Park estate is being considered by Central Bedfordshire Council.

Conservative Leighton Buzzard South councillor Amanda Dodwell told its general purposes committee on Wednesday (June 10): "There's no doubt that eastern extension is part of Leighton Buzzard.

Barratt and David Wilson Homes at Clipstone Park

"I live on the east side of the town and if you walk across the other side of my estate you can actually wave to these residents," she said. "They're that close.

"Eggington village is another mile on with a field in between. They're not part of that community.

"I wasn't in favour of those houses, but it's happened and they're very much part of our community."

Steve Jones, who chairs Leighton-Linslade Town Council, suggested a change of boundary is necessary and considerably overdue.

"The town council agreed to development east and south of the parish in 2003," he explained.

"I have no doubt those residents who live in the development consider themselves part of Leighton Linslade, not Eggington.

"It was suggested previously a governance review could be carried out as long as ten per cent of the site had been occupied, a criteria which has been met.

"Given the Clipstone Park development is placed in the new boundary ward of Leighton Linslade East ward, I fail to see why we would have any objection to this change."

Leighton Linslade town clerk Mark Saccoccio said the reality is about 3,000 residents joining an established community of 280 residents.

"In every way, Clipstone Park is part of Leighton Buzzard. They look to the town centre for schooling, leisure facilities, open spaces, clubs and societies.

"But by a historical quirk and a parish boundary unrepresentative of the 21st Century they find themselves living in a rural community, who by design are socially distancing themselves from the newly arrived residents.

"Many of the residents who moved to Eggington are there because they want the rural life and the trappings which go with it.

"We need to plan effectively in the common interest of the communities we serve."

Liberal Democrat Linslade councillor Peter Snelling described Eggington village as "a separate community", saying: "If this (change) doesn't happen, they could find their parish council could be run by people who effectively live in Leighton Buzzard and not in their village."

CBC's head of governance Jonathon Partridge confirmed "about 20 per cent of the residents are currently living within those homes, growing at roughly ten per cent a year".

Conservative Leighton Buzzard South councillor Ray Berry noted the area is referred to as "land east of Leighton Linslade, never west of Eggington, and it's been acknowledged by the Boundary Commission for England during the last review".

Conservative Linslade councillor Gordon Perham said: "It was due to be looked at when it got to ten per cent of residents living there. It's 20 per cent, so there's no excuse not to do it now."

Both committee chairman Councillor Berry and vice-chairman Councillor Perham left the meeting, having spoken, as they declared a personal interest.

Councillors approved that the terms of reference be brought back with a consultation document.

Mr Partridge said the committee would have the chance to comment and make changes at that stage.