Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Whipsnade Elephant Mystery Cleared Up

On Sunday it was noticeable that one of the elephants was raising its right front leg for several long moments at a time. ZSL have responded to an enquiry, saying, " the particular elephant in question does have a medical problem which is being treated and monitored by the vet department. This is nothing serious but on occasion may be causing the elephant some minor discomfort for a short while."

Dunstable Landmark School Is Offered For Sale

Ashton Middle School, the former Dunstable Grammar School, is being offered for sale.

Frances Ashton died in 1727, bequeathing 6 almshouses for Dunstable. Ashton Almshouse Charity went on to acquire various lands for investment. In 1868 it sold land to the Midlands Railway Company for £14,500 and permission to build a school was obtained from Queen Victoria in 1885.

The foundation stone for Dunstable Grammar School was laid in 1887. The school cost £12,000 to build. A science building was added in 1907 and a further new science building in 1964.

The Ashton Schools Foundation is a registered charity with a Board of Governors who are the trustees of three Church of England Schools in Dunstable including Ashton Middle School. The buildings and associated grounds belong to the Foundation. Ashton Middle School is set to close in July 2016.

The southern part of site falls within a  Conservation Area including the main school building that fronts High Street North and the science block which fronts onto Dog Kennel Path. It occupies a prominent position on High Street North (A5). The site features a Grade 2 Listed main school building, as well as numerous ancillary buildings of varying age, size and construction.

The site is being sold by Informal Tender. Offers are to be received at:
2nd Floor, 45 Grosvenor Road, St Albans, Herts, AL1 3AW by 12 noon on Thursday 19th November 2015 clearly marked 'Ashton Middle School, Dunstable' – for the attention of Toby Lambert.

The site is offered for sale freehold, with vacant possession from 1st September 2016.

  • A Facebook group interested in preserving Dunstable's past has been formed. 

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Bedfordshire Police Demand A Fairer Deal For Bedfordshire

Back the petition

You may be aware that the Home Office has been conducting a review into the way in which the central Government policing budget is allocated across forces with a view to developing a funding formula that is fit-for-purpose and sustainable.

Policing partners and the public have been consulted and earlier this month chief constables and PCCs received a letter from Policing Minister Mike Penning MP outlining the proposed refinements to the way in which central Government policing budgets will be allocated.

I cannot express enough my disappointment to see that under the latest proposal for central Government funding Bedfordshire is set to receive no additional funds. I know that you will share my disappointment at hearing this news.

With more cuts looming, I really do fear that this force will become unsustainable – we will no longer be able to deliver some services or respond to incidents in the way we do currently.

Bedfordshire Police has been under-funded for a very long time and we are already over-stretched; with only 169 police officers for 100,000 of the population – compared to the national average of 232 and 388 in the Met.

This is despite facing significant challenges; we are the fourth highest force for gun crime in the country, and we have a similar level of burglary robbery and vehicle crime to the West Midlands, who have 256 police officers per 100,000 of the population.

Here in Bedfordshire we face the most significant serious and organised crime challenges of any force in the region, so it seems incredulous that we have fared the worst in the funding proposals. My worry is that if we continue to be under-funded, then we will not be in a position to continue to provide the same level of service to protect people in our communities.

Bedfordshire may be a small county, but it is incredibly complex to police. We have an international airport, busy road network  and some of the highest levels of gun crime,  knife crime and serious acquisitive crime in the country, yet have one of the lowest rates of officers per head of population.

I am completely committed to fight crime and protect the people of Bedfordshire in any way that I can. We were the first force to collaborate a department with another force and we have recently introduced a new operating model and time-saving technologies which will go some way to delivering savings. But this is simply not enough to sustain the viability of the force with the proposed levels of Government funding.

That’s why I’m urging everyone in the communities we serve to show their support for our hard-working, brave, over stretched officers by  signing the petition that Commissioner Olly Martins has launched, which pushes for a fairer deal for Bedfordshire, enabling us to continue to protect people, fight crime, and keep Bedfordshire Police.

Back the petition

Jon Boutcher QPM
Chief Constable

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Motorcyclist injured in Houghton Regis Collision - Top Stories: 21 October 2015

Motorcyclist injured in Houghton Regis collision -

Posted by Houghton Regis News Desk on Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Monday, 19 October 2015

Pedestrian, 80's, Injured in Incident With HGV on High Street Crossing

Photo sent in by Louise Joyce
A pedestrian, in her 80’s, was involved in an accident with a HGV on Monday afternoon. The lady suffered an isolated shoulder injury and was taken to Luton and Dunstable hospital. The road was closed during the incident and traffic was considerably backed up.

Later, at Monday evening's Town Centre Partnership Committee at Houghton Regis Town Council there was discussion on High Street works.

In public question time, resident Alan Winter, said "I have been asking for central refuges for the crossings since before the scheme was implemented, to give people a fighting chance of some safety. When was Central Bedfordshire Council going to listen to the safety concerns of the public and local councillors?"

Later, in the meeting, it was reported that Cllr Brian Spurr, a CBC executive member, had visited the scene in September and had met with a deputation from the Town Council. It was reported that he was more supportive of measures to keep the traffic flowing, than he was in implementing any measure to improve public safety. The outcome of the discourse was that councillors wanted safety to be put before improving traffic movements. The Town Clerk was asked to suggest a way forward, and in turn she asked for time to consider next steps.

  • The crossing on Bedford Road was moved a few yards after concerns that the original position was too close to the roundabout.

  • Works have been undertaken since the scheme was implemented, to eradicate puddling on the crossing edges.

Female injured in collision involving HGV -If anyone has any information about the collision, call 101.A meeting is...
Posted by Houghton Regis News Desk on Monday, 19 October 2015

National Adoption Week: How About Stepping Up For it?

This week is National Adoption Week (19-25 October) and the council is appealing for more residents to help give children here a new start in life.

Some extraordinary people have already come forward to become adoptive families in the past and interest is welcomed from more residents.

In Central Bedfordshire there is a need for adoptive parents for children of all ages, especially children with complex needs, who may have been affected by drugs or alcohol, or with additional health or behavioural needs, as well as sibling groups of various ages.

A couple who chose to adopt a sibling group said: “We felt we wanted to help keep siblings together and offer a home to an older pair of children who sometimes get left in the care system. It was certainly the right decision for our boys to be placed together as they have a close bond (despite the usual sibling rivalry) and have helped each other to settle into their new home.

“Going from zero to two children overnight was more challenging than we expected, but the training and reading we did beforehand gave us a good grounding to help parent them in the therapeutic way they needed.

“We have been very lucky with our match and love our boys so very much. We would certainly recommend adoption to anyone: it is incredibly hard work but so very rewarding all at the same time.”

Councillor Carole Hegley, Executive Member for Social Care and Housing, said: “Central Bedfordshire Council has a responsibility to find adoptive families for children who cannot live with their birth families, for a number of reasons, and we are working very hard to do that.

“Children should all be offered the best possible start in life and to have the chance of being brought up in the heart of a loving home.  We are very grateful to all of our adoptive families who have come forward to give a child or children a new start in life and would encourage anyone thinking about adoption to get in touch and find out more. An initial phone call or email for more information is a great start.”

The council welcome applications from couples and single people aged 21 and over of all backgrounds, ethnic origins and religions.  People with childcare experience, especially with children not related to them, and people with experience looking after children with additional needs are particularly needed.

For more information about adopting a child or children in Central Bedfordshire, visit, call 0300 300 8090 or email

Female injured in collision involving HGV - Top Stories: 19 October 2015

Female injured in collision involving HGV -If anyone has any information about the collision, call 101.A meeting is...

Posted by Houghton Regis News Desk on Monday, 19 October 2015

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Rugby Union Action From Dunstablians 2nd XV vs Peterborough 2nd XV

Dunstablians were all over Peterborough this afternoon at The Washbrook, Bedford Road, Houghton Regis. The final scoreline was 26-8 to the home side.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Summer Reading Challenge: Number of Books Read Goes Up

In this year's district Summer Reading Challenge almost 5,000 more books were read than in 2014.

The annual event is run by The Reading Agency and was this year supported by Guinness World Records. It is designed to encourage young people to read more. In all 78,481 books were borrowed from Central Bedfordshire Libraries, to beat last year's total of 73,553.

Altogether, 5,289 children took part in the Summer Reading Challenge in the district, and all were entered into a prize draw. One winner from each library was then invited to a prize-giving event attended by local MP, Andrew Selous, at Luton’s Stockwood Discovery Centre on Saturday.

Storyteller Philippa Tipper read to the children from A Word in Edgeways at the event. Additionally, a cheque for £1,083 from sponsors PMP Recruitment was handed to the Keech Cottage Children’s Charity to go towards the costs of an Angel (nurse).

Cllr Budge Wells, Deputy Executive Member for Community Services, said: “Congratulations to the winners and all the children who took part in this year's Summer Reading Challenge. It certainly seems fitting that the Record Breakers theme has inspired fantastic participation numbers, with thousands more books read than last year."

The local winner for Houghton Regis Library was Harmony King, aged 10, and for Dunstable Library, Harry Athsine, aged six.

For more information about library services in Central Bedfordshire, visit or jump straight to Houghton Regis library.

Tools taken from 13 vans in one night - Top Stories: 16 October 2015

Tools taken from 13 vans in one night -

Posted by Houghton Regis News Desk on Friday, 16 October 2015

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

A world record attempt for the most people howling at the moon - Top Stories: 14 October 2015

A world record attempt for the most people howling at the moon ...

Posted by Houghton Regis News Desk on Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Sundon Road Closures - Top Stories: 14 October 2015

A section of Sundon Road closes 8pm Friday 16th October to 6am Monday 19th October to complete work for a future...

Posted by Houghton Regis News Desk on Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Baby joy after birth hell for Hatters star and wife - Top Stories: 14 October 2015

Baby joy after birth hell for Hatters star and wife -

Posted by Houghton Regis News Desk on Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Councillors Pick Litter

On 3rd October, Houghton Regis Councillors undertook a litter pick.  10 people attended at 10am on a sunny Saturday morning in a bid to clean up Houghton Hall and the surrounding area.

After an initial clean up of The Green and the playground, the group split up into two teams.  The first team headed along the Brook and then onto Park Road North. The second team travelled along the path in the opposite direction and ended up at Dog Kennel Walk.

During the 2 hour community event, 17 bags of litter were collected including plastic bags, empty bottles, take away cartons, 2 car hub caps, 2 broken police cones and some chicken wire, to name just some of the many things collected.

Houghton Hall Park Lottery Funding & Update - Top Stories: 10 October 2015

Houghton Hall Park have been awarded a funding bid of £2.2 million to transform the Park, from Heritage and Big Lottery...

Posted by Houghton Regis News Desk on Saturday, 10 October 2015

Friday, 9 October 2015


The Home Office has finally unveiled the figures behind the police funding formula review, which show that, after years of underfunding, they still want Bedfordshire's share of the funding cake to remain exactly the same at just 0.9% of the national police grant.

Shocked PCC Olly Martins said, "The Conservative Government appears set on playing politics not only with Bedfordshire's policing but also with national security, and all because they don't want to risk losing the 2016 London mayoral election.

"The Government is about to totally chicken out of reforming the police funding formula, which would have required a serious redistribution of resources away from the Met and towards underfunded forces like Bedfordshire.

"If they proceed on the basis of their published figures the government needs to be very clear that, if there is a serious terrorist incident involving extremists connected with Luton, the responsibility is theirs and not that of the ridiculously overstretched and under-resourced Bedfordshire Police.

"According to the latest figures, in Bedfordshire we have 163 police officers per 100,000 population. This is way below the national average of 226 and less than half the Metropolitan Police's 381.

"Luton is responsible for policing an area that has many of the characteristics of an inner London borough, but with a fraction of the police resource. Luton is therefore clearly under-policed and the knock-on impact is that the remainder of the county is exceptionally under-policed. The Chief Constable says we would need 300 more officers to be on a par with other forces, but the government looks set to send our police strength in the opposite direction.

"I triggered the council tax referendum in May because, on the basis of predicted 20% government funding cuts, Bedfordshire Police would need to freeze recruitment and cut the number of police officers within the next 2 years. The Chancellor is now saying the cuts will actually be anything between 25% and 40% and I shudder to think what this will mean now that it looks like we will not benefit from a larger and fairer slice of the government's police grant.

"Following the referendum I met with the Policing Minister, Mike Penning MP, and subsequently a Home Office task force was sent in to Bedfordshire Police to undertake a 'deep dive' on our finances and the challenges we face as a rurally funded force policing urban challenges. The Government appears intent on completely ignoring the evidence that was carefully presented to them.

"Earlier this year the spending watchdog the National Audit Office criticised the Home Office for not understanding the impact of its funding reductions on individual forces and not knowing what a failing police force actually looks like. Because we have already restructured, collaborated and cut to the bone to make savings, I fear Bedfordshire may be about to find out what ‘unviable’ means for a police force.

"The Home Office is undertaking a brief period of further consultation on its formula review proposals until 30 October. I am urging those concerned about dwindling police strength in the county to lobby their Member of Parliament, even at this eleventh hour”.

Find out more about the official site of Bedfordshire
Police and Crime Commissioner's Office at 

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Central Beds Council: "Our Development Strategy Is Now Out of Date"

Council Executive supports new Local Plan

Central Bedfordshire Council has moved a step closer to producing a new Local Plan after resolving to withdraw the Central Bedfordshire Development Strategy, the draft local plan for the area up to 2031.

The proposals, which included a recommendation to discontinue legal proceedings with the Secretary of State, were backed by Executive councillors today but the final decision will rest with full Council on 19 November. If the Council agrees to formally withdraw the Development Strategy, work on a new plan would begin immediately.

The Development Strategy, outlining how the Council would meet future demand for homes and jobs while protecting the natural and built environment, was submitted to the Secretary of State last October for independent examination. Following initial meetings with the Planning Inspector, the Council received a letter from the Inspector in February, stating that the Council had not met the ‘Duty to Cooperate’ with other local authorities.

Since that time the Government has introduced significant changes to national planning guidance and revised household projections have been released. Accordingly, the evidence base of the Development Strategy is now out of date and councillors agreed to sanction a proposal to reset the process and produce a new plan. This will enable the Council to proactively plan for growth in a sustainable way.

The Council has also been proactive since February, using the time to review the evidence underpinning the Development Strategy and engaging with neighbouring authorities so that it would be in a position to swiftly commence work on the new plan. This will ensure that the right development occurs in the right locations with the necessary supporting infrastructure.

Nigel Young, Executive Member for Regeneration, said: “During preparation of the Development Strategy, we have listened carefully to the views of local people and neighbouring Councils. I want to personally thank everyone who has contributed across our communities. Other Councils have found themselves in the same position as ourselves and, given the challenges of a rapidly changing planning policy environment, we have supported the idea of resetting the process.

“We need to act in the interests of our communities and what is most important now is to get a sustainable new Local Plan in place as soon as possible so that the Council can maintain control of growth and associated infrastructure to support it.”

Central Bedfordshire Council to Consult on School Admissions Arrangements

Central Bedfordshire Council's Executive has approved a consultation on its admission arrangements for voluntary controlled and community schools in 2017/18. 

The consultation approved by members yesterday includes proposals to alter Leighton Middle School's admissions criteria, and to amend the catchment area for Houghton Regis Primary School.

Looked-after or previously looked-after children, children living in the catchment area with siblings at the school, children living in the catchment area and other children who already have siblings at the school are currently given priority admission to Leighton Middle School, in Church Square.

After that, it is pupils who have spent three years or more at a Leighton Buzzard, Linslade or Hockliffe lower schools such as Beaudesert, Clipstone Brook, Dovery Down, Greenleas, Heathwood, Leedon, Linslade, Mary Bassett, Pulfords, Southcott, St. George's, St Leonard's, Stanbridge and Hockliffe.

The approved consultation will ask people to have their say on removing this specific admissions criterion.

It will also ask respondents to have their say on expanding the catchment area for Houghton Regis Primary School to cover all of the Tilia Park housing development. Currently, a small proportion of homes on the recently built development fall into the catchment area for another school.

The six-week consultation will now begin next Monday (12 October) before the final decision is taken by Executive Member for Education and Skills, Councillor Mark Versallion.

If the proposals are agreed they will come into force for the 2017/18 academic year.

Cllr Versallion said: "I am pleased that Executive has approved this consultation and would encourage everyone affected to have their say on the proposed changes.

"By removing the criterion relating to previous attendance at a lower school in the Leighton Buzzard area, the admissions criteria for Leighton Middle will be brought into line with the majority of the council's other schools and will be fairer to new families moving into the school's catchment area.

"The catchment area for Houghton Regis Primary was drawn up before Tilia Park development was built and it makes sense for all primary aged children living there to fall into the same catchment area."

Anyone wishing to have their say on the proposed changes can do so from Monday at

Friday, 2 October 2015

Crime Data July and August 2015

Here is a brief summary of the crime information for the past two months:

July 2015 August 2015
All crime 876 721
Anti-social behaviour 427 337
Bicycle theft 17 10
Burglary 54 36
Criminal damage and arson 74 91
Drugs 5 2
Other crime 6 1
Other theft 53 52
Possession of weapons 4 4
Public order 21 18
Robbery 4 4
Shoplifting 31 24
Theft from the person 0 3
Vehicle crime 84 60
Violence and sexual offences 96 79

Please visit for more information including outcomes for these crimes and contact information for your local policing team.

The information and statistics displayed are for information purposes only and may be subject to change.
Although care is taken when processing and analysing the data, the detail is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large-scale recording system.
While the figures shown have been checked as far as practicable, they should be regarded as approximate.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

A surprise for residents in St Albans (Sinkhole) - Top Stories: 1 October 2015

A surprise for residents in St Albans last night!

Posted by Houghton Regis News Desk on Thursday, 1 October 2015