Anger in Bidford-on-Avon at fence plan to reduce Big Meadow crowds
OVERCROWDING and antisocial behaviour are turning Bidford’s Big Meadow into a ‘no-go area’ on weekends, according to residents.
But a plan to deal with the problems by installing £11,000 of fencing has caused anger among some villagers who have demanded a public meeting before any changes are made to the open space which runs alongside the River Avon.
Bidford Parish Council, which had suggested installing the fencing as part of a trio of measures, met with 50-60 people at Big Meadow on Monday (3rd July).
Chair Cllr Penny Taylor set up the meeting as the council tries to deal with issues at Big Meadow, including disposal barbecues and food waste being thrown into the river, people defecating in the open, loud music and noise, and drivers performing doughnuts where children play.
During the heated meeting residents complained that the extra fencing would not only be an eyesore, it wouldn’t address the overcrowding.
Bidford resident Simon Hopkins said: “The meadow is a lovely open space which we’ve used for years in this village. It’s fabulous because it brings families together from the village and elsewhere. It’s beautiful.”
He suggested cheap car parking had contributed to the overcrowding.
“Until recently it was £3 for the day, which is fine during normal circumstances but during warm weekends and bank holidays it gets rammed,” he explained. “We’re talking hundreds of vehicles. And it’s not just locals getting frustrated because they can’t get onto the meadow, it’s a bun fight.
“The council needs a meeting where people can air their views, bring other ideas to the table, as a lot of people are angry because they think it’s a done deal.”
Responding to residents, Cllr Taylor said: “We were trying to find some extra capacity for cars while protecting the playing fields.”
She added: “People are unhappy about the fence, but I don’t think that created this level of passion. I think it’s much bigger than that. They are concerned that the meadow has become very, very popular and we are trying to manage that. It’s how do we do it so it doesn’t become overcrowded but at the same time is open to give pleasure to people from outside [the village] as well.
“We’re torn between the argument to do something urgently because of numbers [at Big Meadow] and responding to criticism that we are only doing things piecemeal.”
At a meeting on 26th June, the council agreed other measures for Big Meadow including increasing parking charges to £6 per day, installing portable toilets during the summer and exploring if a larger toilet block could be built.
Following Monday’s meeting, former parish councillor Suze Meredith said she would organise a public meeting at Crawford Village Hall.
She said: “I’ve been a councillor and want to represent my neighbours and the people of Bidford, let them have their say, write it up as minutes and send them to the council for a response. I am hoping in that way, the residents feel that they can have their say and the parish council will listen.”
Parish clerk Elisabeth Uggerloese told the Herald on Tuesday that the fencing plan was on hold and added that the council would soon decide about a public meeting.
“We want to thank all the residents who came to meet the councillors,” she said. “Their wide-ranging ideas and comments have been noted and will be discussed in detail in the next few days.”