Row over geese in Beyton results in half of parish council resigning

Geese on the village green at Beyton
Geese on the village green at Beyton
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An escalating row over Beyton’s geese population has resulted in half of its parish councillors resigning.

However, leaders of the council have vowed to stay on for the time being despite considering stepping down over the 16 month dispute with a resident over the geese.

Geese on the village green at Beyton

Geese on the village green at Beyton

The matter came to a head after the resident, Sandy Maynard, tried to film a council meeting on Monday.

Ms Maynard believes the village green is an unsuitable home for the geese, which were reintroduced in March after their numbers dwindled.

She met with objections from councillors and parishoners while filming and consequently the meeting was suspended after just a few minutes.

A change in council regulations in August means members of the public can make recordings in meetings, but council chairman Roger Wyartt believes the new rules present ‘an opportunity to make mischief’.

“The problem is that it becomes intimidatory,” he said. “Someone with an axe to grind can come and make a thing out of it.

“The geese is what brought the issue to a head. The meeting would have been tense anyway, but the filming brought everything to a head.”

Ms Maynard said: “I am very much for animal welfare, that is the whole thing with the geese.

“I wanted to know if the council would allow the public to speak out at the meeting.

“I think they have created a situation that is going to be difficult to correct. This is nothing I have ever wanted, I am very much a pacifist.”

Vice chair Ellen Kirkby said: “I am not happy about being forced into being filmed.

“We decided the most responsible course of action was to suspend the meeting. The issue of the geese was on the agenda, but unforunately we never got that far.”

Ms Maynard said there was ‘never an outcry’ to bring back the geese, a feature so iconic they are on the village’s sign.

She gathered information from the RSPCA and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to present to the parish council before the animals were reintroduced.

The council bought 10 goslings from a goose expert to release with four others which were hatched by the village’s only surviving goose.

The RSPCA said it advised the council on how to feed and shelter the geese, but its case in Beyton is now closed.

A survey conducted by the parish council in response to concern from some parishoners, including Ms Maynard, showed overwhelming support for the return of the geese.

Mr Wyartt and Ms Kirkby believe the geese help to slow traffic in the village as people slow down to look at them, and Ms Kirkby said she looked after the geese for several months at her home.

However, she believes Ms Maynard’s opposition to the council now stretches beyond the issue of animal welfare.

“Sandy did not get her own way with the geese and the situation has just escalated from there,” she said.

“There are complaints about anything and everything, even the conduct of the parish council. It just feels like harrassment now.

“I enjoy being on the parish council and I want to try and keep the village going, but if the barrage carries on I am not willing to let it take over my life.”