Thursday, 23 June 2016

Town Councillors Unhappy With Organisation of Market Town Regeneration Fund

At Monday night's Town Council meeting the main topic up for discussion was going to be the Market Town Regeneration Fund. This was supposed to have been a pot of money from Central Bedfordshire Council that local Town Councils could bid for, provided they could find funding to match it.

Houghton Regis Town Council scrabbled their staff and councillors into extra meetings to do what they could to put together a shopping list of enhancements that they would like to use the money for. The funding criteria  was that the projects would be deliverable, showing a clear vision of business, economic, social and cultural impacts and good return on investment.

As the successful bids began to be announced it became clear that some Towns had put in bids for things such as a Splash Park in Dunstable, and a Heritage Trail in Ampthill. It could be argued that provided such things were in the town centre areas, then they could increase footfall to the town centre and thus regenerate them.

Central Bedfordshire Council’s Executive announced on Tuesday, 7th June that £3.46 million of its Market Towns Regeneration Fund scheme would go to the Town Councils. Ampthill, Dunstable, Flitwick, Houghton Regis, Leighton-Linslade, Potton, Sandy and Shefford stand to benefit. A further £1 million was set aside from the Market Towns Regeneration Fund, to develop an area-wide High Street Improvement Scheme.

But on Monday evening this week, the Town Clerk in Houghton Regis told her councillors that at 3.30pm that day she had only just received detailed information about administration of the scheme. This had left councillors with no time to digest and understand the documentation. And the dilemma was that their next full Town Council meeting was not due until 3rd October.

At the meeting, Cllr David Abbott said that he had read the documentation emailed to him that afternoon. He told the meeting, "It's a dog's breakfast. In view of revelations made at the Town Partnership Committee, that a significant element of the MTRF scheme has been hived off to a separate scheme - namely shop fronts - plus poor criteria at the outset leading to our council's application being unduly restricted, location wise, I have come to the conclusion that we must not be led blindly into accepting what remains."

Cllr Abbott went on to propose a motion of no confidence in value for money for residents in this scheme. His motion had to be withdrawn after it was pointed out that Standing Orders meant motions had to be submitted three days prior to the meeting.

Thereupon a discussion of the situation took place, with other councillors bemoaning that extra meetings would need to be arranged notwithstanding the upcoming standard holiday periods, and councillor's work commitments.  Houghton Regis Town Council had no option but to defer consideration of the offer letter.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Local Library Opening Hours To Be Cut - Have Your Say

Library opening hours consultation

The Library Service in Central Bedfordshire has been asked to make efficiency savings of £85,000. This means that overall the service will be reducing its opening hours by 30 hours a week.

As part of the proposed changes the Library Service is also trying to find ways of opening libraries to communities outside normal opening hours so as to make the best use of the buildings. This includes evenings and weekends. Buildings could be used for activities such as health advice sessions, local meetings, or adult education. This is part of the council’s objectives in the Five Year Plan to foster self sustaining communities and support people to help themselves and others.

These proposals mean that no library in Central Bedfordshire will be closed. All libraries will retain professionally paid staff.

A consultation is open now until  5 September 2016 and members of the public are asked for their opinions.

Among the proposals, Dunstable (main library) hours would be revised to: Tuesday - Friday 9am - 6pm and
Saturday 9am - 4pm (a loss of 5 hours a week). And Houghton Regis hours would be adjusted to Tuesday - Friday 9am - 6pm and Saturday 9am - 1pm ( a loss of 6.5 hours a week)

You can have your say by completing  the questionnaire at

Further information, and a downloadable questionnaire is available online at

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Zookeepers Trumpet Arrival of A Baby Asian Elephant

Zookeepers at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo are trumpeting the arrival of an exciting new addition, a baby Asian elephant.

The pint-sized pachyderm was born on Friday 10 June, just in time for the nation’s celebrations of HM The Queen’s official 90th birthday.

In recognition of her regal birthdate, keepers have given the youngster a moniker fit for a monarch, and named the five-day-old calf Elizabeth, after HM The Queen, who is also Patron of the conservation charity which runs the Zoo.

Born to 17-year-old Karishma following a 22-month gestation period, and weighing in at a hefty 130kg, the young female joins a herd of ten Asian elephants at the 600-acre Zoo in Bedfordshire.

Arriving slightly earlier than anticipated, Elizabeth’s mum Karishma had showed no signs of going into labour, so lead keeper Darren Fellowes was surprised to find the new addition getting to know the rest of the herd when he arrived at work in the morning.

ZSL’s assistant curator of elephants, Lee Sambrook said: “Elizabeth is a great new addition to the Asian elephant herd here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, and we had to mark her poignant birthday with a suitably regal name.

“When we know an elephant is pregnant, and nearing her due date, we do a daily hormone test to give us an indication of timescales. Karishma’s most recent test suggested we had more time than we did, but you really can’t get a better surprise than a baby elephant!

“She’s strong, healthy and already forming bonds with her brothers and sisters. Maybe one day she’ll be the matriarch of her own herd.”

Classified as Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, Asian elephants are also ranked on ZSL’s EDGE list, which highlights species which are Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered, due to their threatened status and unique evolutionary history.

Elizabeth can be spotted with mum Karishma and the rest of the elephant herd enjoying their huge paddocks at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. Find out more and check out the video online at

All images ©SianAddison_ZSL

Monday, 13 June 2016

Andrew Selous, MP - One of the Most Responsive MPs

South West Bedfordshire MP, Andrew Selous, has ended up as the 10th most responsive MP in the country according to a new survey by Write To Them.

The website,, sent 90,175 messages to MPs in 2015–16. 50,852 people answered their feedback survey about their MP’s response.

The website helps members of the public contact an MP or councillor. It reports that Andrew Selous MP answered 91% of survey responses, answering 58 out of 64 survey queries, and 132 messages sent to him.

That contrasts with Gavin Shuker, Labour MP for Luton South, who came in 242nd place, answering 57% of surveys, or 27 out of 47 surveys sent, and 72 messages.

Kelvin Hopkins, the Labour Luton North MP, ended up in 557th place, answering just 28% of surveys or 15 out 54, and 77 messages sent to him.

But Nadine Dorries, the Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire had one of the worst records of all. She did did not accept any messages via

The full results can be found at

WriteToThem is an independent website with no affiliation to any government, national or local. It covers the whole of the UK and you can use it to write to any of your representatives, from your councillors to your MEPs.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Boundary Review 2018 - What Works Best For Houghton Regis?

Would you choose S1, S2, or S3 to be the Parliamentary seat arrangement?

13/9/2016 - S3 is the designated suggestion for Houghton Regis.
Do you like this? Or not like this? Have your say at The Boundary Review site

Parliament has specified that the 2018 review must reduce the number of constituencies, and therefore MPs, in the UK, to 600. It has asked The Boundary Commission, as an independent and impartial body, to consider where the boundaries of the new constituencies should be, ensuring that every new constituency has roughly the same number of electors; no fewer than 71,031 and no more than 78,507

What new distribution of Parliamentary seats would work best for our area?
Posted by Houghton Regis News Desk on Sunday, 12 June 2016

13-9-2016 - BBC -  Boundary review: New constituencies for the East

Thursday, 9 June 2016

​Skillsmax - Empowering Employment - Make Sense of Your Money

Skillsmax - empowering employment
A new training programme to help those who need additional support in making sense of how they will manage financially when moving into work.
This programme is for 2 days per week for 5 weeks starting on Monday 27th June
Find out more by dropping into Skillsmax 13th or 20th June – 11am until 1pm
  • Bank notes
  • Making sense of personal budgets when moving into work
  • How to compile a Pros and Cons list when moving into work
  • Understanding In Work benefits
  • Increasing budgeting skills
  • Access to organisations available to help with saving money
  • Increasing awareness of financial scams
  • Increasing understanding of legal rights relating to personal finance
  • Use of ICT tools for budgeting
  • Better off calculations when moving into work.
  • The programme is for 2 days per week for 5 weeks : 10am – 3pm
  • At Skillsmax Support Centre – The Courtyard, 42b High Street North, Dunstable
  • Every Monday and Tuesday
Programme Begins – Monday 27th June

Contact - Lynne Johnson : 07870581365


Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Whipsnade Zoo To Scrap Disposable Water Bottles


Zoo marks World Oceans Day by scrapping single-use plastic water bottles


ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is ditching plastic water bottles, as part of a new campaign led by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to protect the world's oceans from the growing threat of plastic pollution.


In celebration of World Oceans Day on Wednesday 8 June 2016, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will be switching to brand new 'water in a box' and encouraging visitors to re-fill their reusable drinks bottles.


Between 5.5 and 14.6 million tonnes of plastic entered the ocean in 2015, and frightening estimates suggest that – at current rates – by 2025 they will contain a tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish. ZSL Whipsnade Zoo wants to reverse this terrifying prediction, with 'Lose your Bottle!' – a project to raise awareness of the threat of plastics to our oceans.


Used just once, often for less than ten minutes, disposable plastic drinking water bottles account for a huge amount the of plastic waste in the world's oceans, which takes hundreds of years to break down.


ZSL's Head of Commercial, Kathryn England said: "With more than 35,000 single-use plastic water bottles sold at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo in 2015 and over 700,000 yearly visits, we want our visitors to understand more about the threats of plastic pollution and encourage everyone who visits the Zoo to do their bit to reduce the volume of plastic making its way to the ocean."


Visitors to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will be able to choose from a new drinking water range that uses sustainable paperboard water boxes, and will be also able to refill their reusable bottles for free at the Zoo's catering outlets.


Special World Oceans Day resources for teachers of Key Stage 1 and 2 pupils are available to download from the ZSL Whipsnade Zoo website at, where you can also discover more about ZSL's Lose your Bottle project.





​the zoo on
 Twitter @OfficialZSL




Monday, 6 June 2016

Care Quality Commission in Praise of L&D Staff in Positive Report

 Statement from Pauline Philip, CEO at the L & D Hospital on the recent published Care Quality Commission report on the L & D.
Overall a good report from the CQC which is good news for all patients, present and future, at the L & D.

"I am writing to let you know that today the Care Quality Commission (CQC) published its report into care provided by our Trust and awarded an overall rating of 'good', with some areas rated as 'outstanding'. Our Summit will be held next Friday and we very much look forward to seeing you there."
"We are delighted to receive such a positive recognition from the CQC. The report is an acknowledgement of the tremendous commitment and hard work shown by our staff and partners consistently over many years."
"The publication of the report follows a planned inspection by the CQC of the Luton and Dunstable Hospital from 19 - 21 January 2016, with further unplanned visits taking place on 27 January and 4 February."
"CQC inspectors praised our staff for their compassion and empathy, and reported positive feedback from patients, and outcomes above average when compared to other acute trusts."
"For the five key measures, the CQC rates the L&D's services as 'outstanding' for 'well-led' and 'responsive', 'good' for 'effective' and 'caring' and 'requires improvement' for being 'safe'."
"The CQC were particularly impressed by services in Urgent and Emergency care, Children, young people and families, and Outpatients and Diagnostics, all of which were rated as 'outstanding'. Surgery, Maternity and Gynaecology, and End of life care were rated 'good' and Medicine and Critical care were rated as 'requiring improvement' – and we have already made significant progress in these areas and addressed the very particular concerns they had."
"We have no doubt that working together in the future we will maintain and improve our performance in all areas over the coming months and years – the report will be a motivational force for us all."
Pauline Philip
Chief Executive

To download the full report – please go to the CQC's website at

Thursday, 2 June 2016

New Police data published for April 2016

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

March 2016 April 2016
All crime 711 697
Anti-social behaviour 289 314
Bicycle theft 10 5
Burglary 53 37
Criminal damage and arson 74 48
Drugs 7 9
Other crime 8 4
Other theft 44 49
Possession of weapons 0 3
Public order 20 21
Robbery 5 6
Shoplifting 31 34
Theft from the person 5 4
Vehicle crime 81 69
Violence and sexual offences 84 94

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.