Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Woman Attacked and Robbed In Tithe Farm Alleyway

Attack Scene: The alleyway between Eddiwick Avenue and Hillborough Crescent
Police are investigating an attack on a woman in Houghton Regis that took place on Sunday April 21st in Tithe Farm. Three white males, aged about 17 or 18, one on a bike and with a scar on his face and having an Irish accent, stopped the woman in an alleyway near Eddiwick Avenue. The 43 year old was threatened with a knife and forced to hand over her money.

Detective Constable Matt Shepherd, who is investigating the incident, is keen to hear from anyone who may have witnessed the attack or seen the offenders in the area either before or after the robbery, about 3.30pm.

DC Shepherd said: “This was a very distressing attack on the victim who was extremely afraid of what the offenders may have done. I’d urge anyone who may have seen the offenders to get in contact with us as quickly as possible so we can stop them causing any more harm to residents in the town.”

If you have information relating to this incident, contact DC Shepherd, in confidence, on 01582 394448, the non-emergency number 101, or text information to 07786 200011. Alternatively contact independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111, or online at crimestoppers-uk.org.

News Press Release from Bedfordshire Police

Monday, 22 April 2013

Prison sentence or community service?

Magistrates’ courts, based in Bedford and Luton, handed down 12,098 sentences to men, women and children during 2011, of which 443 were custodial.

But the percentage of custodial sentences handed out varies from county to county.

The maximum sentence that a magistrates’ court can impose is a six-month prison term, or up to 12 months in total for more than one offence.

Ministry of Justice figures show that short-term prison sentences are failing to cut crime. Only 36 per cent of adults who began community orders between April 2010 and March 2011 went on to re-offend within a year. In contrast, 58 per cent of adults went on to re-offend after completing a prison sentence of 12 months or less during the same period.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “A short-term prison sentence is a catastrophe for everyone. It does not help change the life of the person sentenced – indeed, it is likely to compound issues such as drug addiction and make them more likely to re-offend. It costs the taxpayer a fortune and it does nothing to help or ease trauma for victims."

Prison sentence or community service? What do you think?

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Chairman Caroline Will Raise Breast Cancer Awareness

Councillor Caroline Maudlin is the new Chairman of Central Bedfordshire Council.

As Chairman, Cllr Maudlin will be an ambassador for the Council, representing the authority on civic visits and at ceremonial events. She will also raise funds and awareness for her chosen charity, Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

Commenting on her new role, she says: "Having recently experienced breast cancer – I wanted to support Breakthrough Breast Cancer which is working to find a cure for a disease that affects many thousands of women and their families. As well as raising funds I also want to spread the message about prevention – particularly in a year when the council is taking responsibility for public health. It's about healthy lifestyles and regular self-examination so you get early treatment if you find anything out of the ordinary."

Caroline  has served the Sandy ward since 2011.  She was one of the early members of cabin crew for Virgin Atlantic Airways where she's worked for the past 22 years. She once helped Sir Richard and Lady Joan Branson organise a huge charity ball for the NSPCC. She now flies part time as a Flight Service Manager for Virgin Atlantic,  travelling the world three times a month.

Cllr Maudlin also runs her own business in garden supplies from her home in Hatch which she shares with her partner and two dogs.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Highways Budget - 2013/14 - Poynters Rd Resurfacing to Cost More than a Million

The agreed highways work for Central Bedfordshire in 2013/14  has been issued.

More than a million pounds has been allocated by Central Bedfordshire Council just for the resurfacing of Poynters Road from Luton Road to Park Road North. In all, this cash allocation is just under half the budget for all B and C class roads in the Central Beds area, and one ninth of all Highways works budget. Poynters Road work is expected to be scheduled to begin once the works in Houghton Regis High Street are completed.

In other schemes affecting Houghton Regis,  £50,000 is allocated to create 20mph zones in residential areas of the town,  and incorporate any proposals for the High Street brought forward by Morrisons.  Agreed works  also include
- a zebra crossing for Parkside Drive (£35,000);  
- funds are allocated to improve key walking and cycling routes to work
- Neighbourhood Improvement Schemes, Sandringham Drive, Houghton Rd, and routes to All Saints Academy (£75,000).
- a  drainage scheme for Whitehouse Close is included to alleviate flooding issues.
- Patching & Thin Surfacing for Windsor Drive from Longbrooke to Sandringham (629m), Lowry Drive (243m) and Fensome Drive (whole of road).
- a footpath at Bromley Gardens is to get a retread (300m) at a cost of £37,000.

A scheme to resurface the High Street from Bedford Road To Townsend Farm Road (552m) has been put on the reserve list (i.e. it might get done, if schedules and money allow). This would be in addition to the works being carried out under the agreement with Morrisons.

The maintenance schemes programme  in Central Bedfordshire comprises structural maintenance schemes for roads and footways, highway bridges and culverts, street lighting works and drainage schemes.

The programmes for bridges and culverts, street lighting improvements and replacements and drainage schemes are based on greatest need throughout Central Bedfordshire. The Council's highways team stress that, for roads and footways, they are continuing with the approach they started with last year to intervene at the right time in the life cycle of the road to achieve best value for money.

Where some of  the spending is allocated in Central Bedfordshire:
£950k on strengthening bridges
£750k on street lighting column replacement
£850k on lantern replacement
£374k on drainage improvements
£1636k on principal roads
£2134k on B & C class roads
£3062k on unclassified roads
£1020k on footways
£1338 on integrated transport schemes

Where would you have made changes to the budget? Do you think there are more pressing needs than those above? Have your say.

Meet Sarah Driscoll the New Principal at UTC, Houghton Regis

Sarah Driscoll
01582 867756
Kingsland Skills Centre,
Parkside Drive, Houghton Regis,
Bedfordshire LU5 5PY

Kingsland Skills Centre, Parkside Drive, Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire LU5 5PY

Central Bedfordshire’s University Technical College Appoints Sarah Driscoll as New Principal

The Central Bedfordshire UTC, which promotes technical learning for 14-19 year-olds in engineering, design and
technology, has appointed Sarah Driscoll as its new Principal.

Sarah has been a part of the UTC since it opened in September 2012 and was a member of its leadership launch group.

She said: “The UTC provides a fantastic opportunity for the young people of Central Bedfordshire and Luton to get qualifications rooted in employer and university learning to set them up for these careers. It’s an incredibly exciting opportunity to lead a school which provides students with such advantageous progression routes.”

Sarah has worked in a senior educational leadership capacity since becoming Director of Teaching and Learning at Mellow Lane School in 2007. In 2009 she was appointed Assistant Principal at the Rosedale Hewens Academy Trust in Hillingdon, and in 2012 was made Assistant Principal at the Central Bedfordshire UTC. She comes from a family of engineers and her husband Mark is a designer at Formula One world champions Red Bull Racing.

The UTC has close ties with local employers and the University of Bedfordshire and Cranfield University to ensure students leave with a clear vocational path to follow in the fields of engineering or design.

The UTCs’ unique set-up and relationship with industry and education means every student who completes their studies receives support in securing apprenticeship, further education or employment.

It is at the vanguard of a new type of education which equips students for the workplace or higher education, and its curriculum is jointly written by the school, industry and universities.

University Technical Colleges are promoted by the Baker Dearing Trust and funded through the Department for Education. The Central Bedfordshire UTC was one of the first to open and Lord Baker was delighted with the latest announcement. The former education secretary said: “Sarah has been involved since the very beginning and has already contributed a great deal to the planning and its curriculum. I am sure that she will make this UTC very popular and very successful.”

Prospective parents and students can find out more about the Central Bedfordshire UTC at www.centralbedsutc.org or contact us via enquiries@centralbedsutc.org or call 01582 867756.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Volunteers Start to Clear Rubbish From Parkside Ward

Volunteers today filled some 15 sacks of rubbish - mainly crisp packets, plastic bottles and fizzy drink cans - and removed sundry larger items from an area of Parkside in Houghton Regis. 

The project was lead by Parkside ward Town Councillors, Peter Carrington and Alan Winter, as part of the HOUGHTON REGIS TOWN COUNCIL VISION 2011 – 2015, part of which is to enhance public places by facilitating community litter picks. (Download the TC's Vision - pdf file - http://www.houghtonregis.org.uk/downloads/HRTCVision.pdf). 

The approximate area cleared was Brentwood Close, Enfield Close, including the community garden by Sundon Road crossing.

Is there an area of town you'd like to volunteer to help clear up?

CBC Set to Endorse Gypsys & Traveller Sites to 2018

The Central Bedfordshire Council meet on 18th April. Among their deliberations will be a recommendation to accept the Draft Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan Pre-submission (May 2013). This Plan sets out how the Council will meet Gypsy and Traveller and Travelling Showpeople accommodation needs in Central Bedfordshire until 2018, with aspirational figures to 2031.

This presubmission Plan will be subject to formal consultation. Any representations received will be considered by a Planning Inspector, following submission to the Secretary of State
(anticipated in October 2013). It is expected that following the Examination process and the consideration of the Inspector’s Report, the Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan will be adopted in July 2014.

The Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan aims to identify 157 Gypsy and Traveller pitches and 22 Travelling Showpeople plots throughout the CBC area, to be delivered between 2013 and 2031 to meet the accommodation needs of Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople, but this Draft Plan has so far only identified a third of the number it requires to 2031.  This Draft will tide the Council over to meet theoretical demand to 2018.

Part of the need for sites stems from laid down criteria to meet overdue demand, which it must do by 2018, of 32 pitches (38 new ones less 6 coming back into use), plus another 33 pitches stemming from growth criteria between 2013 and 2018. 

A pitch is the space required to accommodate one household and their caravans, parking space and enough room for the turning of vehicles.

Sites so far identified comprise "land west of Barton Le Clay" - a  site that could accommodate up to 10 pitches. Drawbacks include the fact that the site is located within the existing Green Belt. The report suggests that the defined Green Belt boundary will be amended in order to accommodate and enhance the deliverability of the site.

"Land south of Dunton Lane, Biggleswade" could accommodate up to 10 pitches. This is located in the open countryside.

"Land east of Potton Road, Potton" could accommodate up to 10 pitches. This site is located within a Biodiversity Opportunity Area and accordingly a net gain for biodiversity will be sought as part of the development.

"Land east of Watling Street and south of Dunstable" would be an extension to an existing privately owned and privately managed site, and could accommodate up to 9 additional pitches in a rural location.

"1 Old Acres, Barton Road, Pulloxhill" is allocated for up to 13 pitches comprising 8 pitches accommodating the current site occupants and an additional 5 pitches. This site is privately owned and occupied and will be privately managed by the current owner.

"Land south of Fairfield" could accommodate up to 10 pitches.

"Land east of the M1, Tingrith" is  located within the Green Belt and  is currently occupied by a single Gypsy and Traveller family with temporary planning permission for 4 caravans. The site is allocated for up to 4 pitches, to accommodate the current family. This site is privately owned and occupied and will be privately managed by the current owner.

For Travelling Showpeople site allocation is at "Kennel Farm Holding, off Dunton Lane, Biggleswade", a site that will accommodate 4 plots to meet the local need identified in Biggleswade.

The Council will still need to make provision for about another 100 pitches if they are to meet identified Gypsy and Traveller needs in Central Bedfordshire up to the end of 2031.

Full Council Agenda Report and downloadable attachments are available  online at CBC Website 

Sunday, 7 April 2013

LBC's Demands for North of Houghton Regis Development

Luton town hall, a reminder of a one fingered salute. © A D Winter 2013
The proposed redevelopment north of Houghton Regis may yet be scuppered by Luton Borough Council. They have concern over the size of the shopping proposals required to serve the 5150 new homes. Luton Borough Council feel that the vitality of their own major and minor retail areas could be jeopardised. In the proposals for North of Houghton Regis a large supermarket and other retail offering would be centred around new roads to the south of the M1 J11a (near the present day Chalton Cross Farm, Sundon Road). 

Another key issue is that Luton wants access to up to 50% of the affordable housing to be built in the North of Houghton Regis to enable them to address some of their acute housing needs. And some assurances over transport integration.

April 15th is the date of the Luton meeting where these concerns will be raised. 

Luton fell out with Central Bedfordshire Council  over The Joint Core Strategy in 2011, for redevelopment of housing and other growth issues, so now the two authorities are trying their best to salvage what they can of the Strategy on which over £4million had been spent.

See Luton's forward report of their response The item is number 12 on the list.

With 5150 houses planned for north of Houghton Regis, do you think it's right to build new a major supermarket and associated shops to serve them? Comment below or Follow the story on Facebook .

Thursday, 4 April 2013

New Public Open Space To Compensate For Bus Way

An area known as The Paddocks has today officially become a  public amenity space, and will be owned in freehold by Houghton Regis Town Council. The space will be managed through Central Bedfordshire Council by The Wildlife Trust.

On a bitterly cold morning with snowflakes falling around them, a hardy bunch of council officials, councillors, and representatives of the Wildlife Trust, met up for the official opening ceremony of The Paddocks, adjacent to Blow's Down.

Councillor David Jones (Mayor of Houghton Regis), and Councillor Pat Staples (Mayor of Dunstable) cut the ribbon at the official opening ceremony.

The Busway acquired land from Dog Kennel Downs in Houghton Regis and impacted on the wildlife and ecology along the old railway corridor between Luton and Dunstable.  The Busway project includes an agreement with the Wildlife Trust to maintain and promote a number of plots of land in the Blows Down area for the next 60 years, and a cheque for over £1 million was presented today, to help achieve that.

The deal is that this land, and plots of land known as the Hayfield, and a part of Chaul End Field have been provided as compensation for wildlife habitat lost through the creation of the Luton Dunstable Busway.

The Paddocks have been split into four main areas. A public amenity area, and three grazing areas. Access to the public amenity area is next to Half Moon Lane in Dunstable. 

Find out more about the Wildlife sites in Bedfordshire.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

£2 drop off at Luton Airport - but you can drop-off for free!

Charges have gone up at London Luton airport. It now costs £2 for 15 minutes to drop off and pick up people outside the airport terminal building. But a little known FREE car park also exists. The airport's website says they have a free parking area where people can also board a free shuttle bus to the airport. But if you park in that special area longer than 30 minutes, charges do apply. So, next time you go, wise up at the airport! twt


Monday, 1 April 2013

Houghton Regis Heritage blog

A factual story based on an inaccurate story published yesterday by http://www.dunstabletoday.co.uk

Houghton Regis Heritage blog was set up by local resident Alan Winter to hold notes of his investigations into the rich history and importance of the town.

Writer Alan Winter, who also writes the Houghton Regis News Desk blog – presents his research findings on his associated blog.

On the blog he details the argument in favour of the town hosting a market.

Featuring photographs and maps from generations ago, the blog will appeal to any of Houghton’s sons and daughters interested in their town’s past.

Mr Winter spoke with a Bidwell farmer about some old photos he had found depicting Drury Lane.

He said: “I had a little chuckle when he mentioned that in the past he drove his cows up the road, along the High Street and down the side of the Village Green. I wonder what today’s folks would make of that?”

The blog even features a detailed timeline of the town that goes back as early as the last ice age.

The site also features an extensive bibliography, recommending literature for those interested in learning about the history of Houghton Regis.

To find out more, visit http://www.houghtonregisheritage.blogspot.co.uk.

This month, a Facebook group known as "Houghton Regis ........back in the day"  posted a 50-year-old photograph of a scene outside the King’s Arms. Upon noticing a distinctive car in the image, one of the group's members wrote, “Oh my god, that could be my dad in that car – he loved the Ford Popular.”

Meanwhile, a Heritage Society for the town is just starting up and hopes to have a fully functioning website soon. The group’s aim is to “stimulate interest in the history of the area by research and fieldwork”, as well as promoting Houghton Regis in general. One of the main focuses of the group is engaging with residents and learning their stories.

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