Biggleswade Common factsheet to be published on council's website to set our your rights on the 'much valued' land

Biggleswade Common and inset, Biggleswade Town Council websiteBiggleswade Common and inset, Biggleswade Town Council website
Biggleswade Common and inset, Biggleswade Town Council website
Information boards could also be put at each entrance to the common

Information boards could be put at each entrance to Biggleswade Common spelling out residents’ rights within the 300-acre area, a meeting heard.

Issues have been raised at Biggleswade Town Council meetings and at its public land and open spaces committee about the management of the common, according to a report by delegated town councillor Madeline Russell.

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The common is the largest in Bedfordshire and is owned by the Lord of the Manor, but managed by the Fen Reeves, said the report. The town council owns two out of 108 Common Rights. Councillor Russell had a meeting with the head reeve Alan Porter and the acting reeve Hannah Skingley.

“The process resulted in a factsheet being produced and formally agreed by the Reeves and the Lord of the Manor,” explained the report. “It could be added to our website as information about an asset much valued by Biggleswade residents.

“The Fen Reeves are also working with Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity, aiming to put an information board with the factsheet details at each entrance to the common.

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“And they’ve met the Biggleswade Green Wheel partnership about providing interpretation panels for the common. Three are planned, which will focus on its history and wildlife.

“It’s particularly to be noted the land is managed under stewardship agreements with Natural England, which decides the number of cattle that can be grazed.

“And the common is inspected by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to ensure it’s being managed properly,” added the report. “There are a number of other laws which apply to the management of the common.”

The factsheet warns: “If exercising your rights on common land, please do so safely, considerately and within the parameters of the law.”

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Councillor Russell told a town council meeting: “I’ve been through this in great detail with the head Reeve and the acting Reeve.

“There are many laws pertaining to this,” she said. “I hope the council approves putting this on our website so the public are fully aware of their rights to go on the common, but the obligations that entails.”

Town councillor Andy Skilton described it as “a comprehensive set of guidelines”, asking: “Is there a chance it could be periodically reviewed?

“There are some items which aren’t matters of law, but rather recommendations to the public. Should we consult people who use the common?

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“Residents are broadly supportive. But there’s some concern around letting dogs in the river and the clarity on certain points where you can’t ride a horse or bicycle, although there are bridleways.”

Councillor Russell replied: “There’s one bridleway across the common and that’s the national cycle route from Furzenhall Farm through to Stratford Road in Sandy and the RSPB. That’s the only place on the common where you’re allowed to ride a bike.”

Councillors agreed the factsheet can be accessible on the BTC website.