Central Beds councillors vie for supermarket in Biggleswade boundary debate

PUBLISHED: 17:05 28 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:05 28 August 2018

Not in Biggleswade: Sainsbury's, which is officially in Northill parish as opposed to Biggleswade. Picture: Danny Loo

Not in Biggleswade: Sainsbury's, which is officially in Northill parish as opposed to Biggleswade. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

Supermarket provision in Biggleswade threatened to distract councillors as they reviewed possible boundary changes in the locality.

Which parish the Sainsbury’s store falls into was at stake, as Central Bedfordshire Council debated parish council governance issues.

A review of the size of town and parish councils, as well as several boundary issues, were being considered by its general purposes committee.

Conservative Northill councillor Frank Firth said: “I can’t accept item four [moving Sainsbury’s store out of Northill].

“Biggleswade is expanding rapidly, mainly to the east. So why do they want this small piece of land in the parish of Northill?

“There are 19 houses there, the Tidy Tip and Sainsbury’s site. For that reason I would like to see item four deleted.”

Conservative Biggleswade North councillor Steven Watkins said: “I will have to respectfully disagree with my colleague councillor Firth.

“I think it’s pretty arguable that Sainsbury’s primarily services the residents of Biggleswade. It’s absolutely common sense it comes within our boundary.

“I do accept the town is probably expanding primarily to the east, but I think this is a boundary alteration which is long overdue.

“I think you did an analysis of the users of that Sainsbury’s. I would argue to the contrary.”

“I would disagree completely,” retorted councillor Firth. “You’ve got Asda. You’ve got plenty of supermarkets there. You’ve got Iceland.”

Conservative Linslade councillor Gordon Perham, who was chairing last Thursday’s meeting, said: “It’s not about supermarkets.”

Council democratic services manager Brian Dunleavy said: “The [consultation] committee turned down the idea of expansion into Sutton and Dunton.

“But it did consider there may be merit to move the boundary from the River Ivel to what is the A1, because Sainsbury’s in Biggleswade is not Sainsbury’s in Northill.

“I wrote personally to all the affected houses to give them the chance to have their say.

“What would be the normal case for how that boundary is drawn up is you would take a natural line wherever possible, a river, because a road gets moved.

“But nevertheless it was determined worthy of consideration.”

The authorities affected as well as local residents were given the chance to have their say.

The committee decided the number of parish councillors on Biggleswade Town Council remain unchanged at 15, but altered to five in each of the Holme, Ivel and Stratton wards.

Ivel ward currently has seven councillors, while Holme has only three.

They also agreed some changes to the parish ward boundaries for Holme and Stratton, to provide a fairer ratio of electors to seats.

But by six votes to three, the committee rejected redrawing the parish boundaries between Northill and Biggleswade to incorporate the Sainsbury’s supermarket, Tidy Tip and the 19 homes.

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