Biggleswade labelled 'cash cow' of Central Beds as deputy mayor says she's 'embarrassed' over lack of leisure facilities

Football club representatives pitch for sport, leisure and recreation facilities in Biggleswade to cater for unmet demand
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Biggleswade is the “cash cow” of Central Bedfordshire generating considerable amounts of money, which are spent in other parts of the county, a meeting heard.

Representatives of Biggleswade Football Club were invited to speak to town councillors about the pressing need for leisure facilities locally.

Mark Inskip led the presentation from the club, which groundshares with Bedford Town.

Biggleswade Town Council officeBiggleswade Town Council office
Biggleswade Town Council office

“Nothing’s being delivered on the leisure side, despite the emphasis today on people’s wellbeing and mental health, with sport and recreation playing a large part around that,” he told the council:

Referring to the Kings Reach draft development plan for 2007, which contained areas for football pitches, he said: “None of those have been delivered.

“Even if they provided these pitches now, the ground is full of stones and slates, and isn’t fit for purpose. There’s nowhere to park and no changing rooms. It’s dangerous and unsuitable.”

He described an area near Edward Peake Middle School as one which “shouldn’t be built on and instead set aside for leisure and recreation”, such as football pitches, hockey pitches and netball courts.

“There’s nowhere in Biggleswade for anyone to train,” he explained. “We have to travel to Stotfold, Cranfield, St Neots, Bedford and Baldock. The FA has highlighted Biggleswade as the worst area in the country for facilities.

“There’s £230m available to invest (nationally) and as a council we should be jumping on that.

Read More
Disappointment as much-loved Biggleswade funfair asked to close on opening day d...

“In Central Bedfordshire, there are houses being built elsewhere in Stotfold, Cranfield and Flitwick. Other towns have developers more in tune to delivering on promises.

“I keep hearing the term Biggleswade is a cash cow of Central Bedfordshire. We need to be thinking about tomorrow and the next generation.

“The swimming pool is oversubscribed,” he added. “There’s a queue for swimming lessons. If you want to learn to swim as a youngster there’s a waiting list. For me that’s not good enough.

“Biggleswade Athletics Club is based in Sandy. Biggleswade Hockey Club moved to St Neots. Within two years the club folded. All this time later, there’s still no 2G/3G training pitch in Biggleswade.

“Surely someone in the planning department needs to look at health centres, GP surgeries, leisure and recreation. They can’t keep letting developers build without giving anything back to the local community.”

Ben Weldan presented the club’s vision of some suitable facilities for the town covering up to 15 acres, saying: “It’s ambitious, but forward-thinking for the community.

“This site was designed for multi-use with football, netball and indoor sports, also including a splash park, a regular park for children and an overflow car park.

“The project could be built in phases, when the funds and the need would allow.”

Mayor Grant Fage replied: “Leisure is clearly a real priority of the town, as commitments were made over 20 years and not delivered on. We must ensure the promises are kept now.”

Deputy mayor Madeline Russell said: “I’m somewhat embarrassed, having been a councillor for 20 years. We’ve lobbied in the past, but we’re not the planning authority.”