Beyton: Tensions boil over as row about village geese take parish council to the brink of collapse

The geese on Beyton village green. Sandy Maynard and Andrew Nimmons are pictured with the geese.

The geese on Beyton village green. Sandy Maynard and Andrew Nimmons are pictured with the geese. - Credit: Archant

A long-running row over geese on a Suffolk village green has taken a parish council to the brink of collapse.

The geese on Beyton village green.

The geese on Beyton village green. - Credit: Archant

Beyton, near Bury St Edmunds, has been the setting for the argument over geese on the picturesque village green for 16 months.

But tensions have boiled over after a vocal local campaigner - who feels the green is inappropriate for the birds - filmed a Beyton Parish Council meeting this week.

Three councillors have now resigned - and the chairman says he will also step down this week.

Only two members of Beyton Parish Council would be left, which will force Mid Suffolk District Council (MSDC) to use emergency powers to keep the council running.

The geese on Beyton village green.

The geese on Beyton village green. - Credit: Archant

The history of the geese goes back several years, with the green’s ten avian inhabitants reduced to one after four years, before the parish council bought an extra 15.

Sandy Maynard, who lives on the green, cared for the geese after a series of dog attacks and accidents. After the ninth bird was killed by a dog last year, she felt no more geese should be brought in.

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Ms Maynard, who has lived in Beyton for six years, said: “The green is just not a suitable site for the geese to live, they have no fresh water, the shelter they put up is inadequate and the road is dangerous.

“I heard that they were thinking about getting more geese and I couldn’t believe that they would consider it. They are not ornaments. One of the new geese disappeared after five weeks.”

Beyton village sign.

Beyton village sign. - Credit: Archant

She made her views known but a council poll found a majority wanted geese on the green.

At a council meeting on Monday Ms Maynard attempted to film the proceedings.

“A recent change in the law in August meant that people at the parish council meetings can legally film the proceedings,” she said.

“It means that I can go along and if I film them it will stop them being rude to parishioners.”

However, Ms Maynard, 67, added: “I started filming them and they were not happy. The meeting ended after six or seven minutes.

“After that I got all manner of abuse, villagers telling me to leave and asking why I even stay here.”

Chairman of the parish council Roger Wyartt will be the fourth to fly the nest this week, following the resignation of Colin Kennedy, Ed Bacon and Jack Maydom. My Wyartt confirmed the other three councillors had also resigned over the use of the video camera during the meeting.

He said: “The law had changed while we had been away. It is a ludicrous idea and I think it will just facilitate harassment and intimidation.

“Sandy came to the meeting and she started sticking the camera in our face. I do not believe it was being used to promote democracy.

“I dissolved the meeting because we were not prepared to be filmed, we have now had to update our standing orders and I will be resigning shortly.”

Fellow Beyton resident Jan Elmslie, from High Hedges, said: “It is a very busy road and that pond is stagnant, so their [the geese’s] welfare is just not being protected.

“They also foul everywhere around the playground, I just won’t take my granddaughter down there anymore.”

Husband Alex added: “Sandy is to be commended for fighting the council, they just do not like being challenged and she has looked after the injured animals for years.”

MSDC are yet to be made aware of the resignations and are waiting to be informed by the council before any action is taken.

Beyton Parish Council has seven seats in total. Their former chair Ian Shipley resigned earlier this year. For the council to legally function it needs a minimum of three members.