Sunday, 25 September 2016

After School Pop-up Cafés and Free Trips For Good Deeds

At their meeting of Community Services this week Houghton Regis town councillors will be discussing a proposal for after school pop up cafes, as well as young person focussed school holiday trips as set out by Groundwork.

The pop up café would be one way to reduce the number of young people hanging about near local shops after school, while providing a safe place to do homework with youth workers on hand to give advice.

The trips would be rewards to the young people for being involved in other social involvement activities Groundwork has outlined. These could include running a stall at a community event, maintaining a local flower bed, creating a mural, litter picking, creating bags of helpful items for the homeless.

The Town Council has allocated a budget of £25,000 for the delivery of Youth Projects and this scheme would cost in the order of £14,000.

The meeting is at 6.30pm on Monday 26th September in Peel Street, and members of the public are welcome. Agenda:

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Shots Reported Fired in Tithe Farm Road

A police unit were in Tithe Farm Road this afternoon looking for further clues following an incident last night.

At about 8.30pm two rival groups are thought to have had an encounter during which time a gun may have been fired. Police attended the scene last night, and cordoned off the area for about an hour.

Neighbours to the shop at the junction with Leaf Road this afternoon said they heard noises "like a car back-firing", and another said "we heard several shots".

A spokesperson for Bedfordshire Police later said: “We were called to reports of shots being fired in Tithe Farm Road. “Officers attended and found an altercation had taken place between a group of men, who attempted to steal the watch and phone of another man. “An investigation into the incident has so far found no evidence of shots being fired. “The victim of the attempted robbery was not shot at but was assaulted during the altercation and sustained minor injuries.”

If anyone has further information they would like to share with police, please call 101.

Alternatively information can be given through the charity,  CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111. Or go to the Crimestoppers website and complete an anonymous form. You do not have to give your name.

Videos - M1 Bridge Demolitions - Sept 2016

Specialist firm, Armac Group, used a fleet of excavators fitted with hydraulic breakers and other attachments to break up the Chalton-Sundon bridge B579 over the M1 motorway between Junction 11 and 12 on the night of 10th-11th September 2016.

The bridge demolition was the first of two being carried out as part of the works for a new link road connecting the M1 and A5 routes. The schemes total cost is put at £162.1 million.

The second bridge came down on the weekend 24th-25th September, with closure of the M1 motorway between 8pm on the 24th. The M1 reopened around 12 midday on the 25th. Traffic was signed to exit at junction 9 and follow the signed diversion to re-join the M1 at junction 14. One lane was open at junction 9 enabling traffic for Luton Airport and Junction 11 to head to their destinations. Significant delays were anticipated from 7pm onwards on Saturday.

Northbound M1 traffic was diverted to exit at junction 9 and then diverted north on the A5 to Milton Keynes, rejoining at junction14.

Southbound M1 traffic was diverted to exit at junction 12, through Toddington, Houghton Regis, Poynters Road, rejoining the M1 at junction 11 of the M1.
The full scheme is scheduled for completion in June 2017.

Further information at

Sunday, 18 September 2016

20mph Cash Cow Catches Houghton Regis Drivers Every Day

Startling figures have been revealed in a in a Freedom of Information request that show that as many as two drivers a day registered in Houghton Regis are being caught out by speed cameras in Dunstable. A 20 mph limit was set there three years ago. And as many as 44 drivers a day who are registered out of Dunstable and Houghton Regis are also being caught.

A first offender has a £100 fine and three points on their licence to contend with, or faces time off work to attend an education course that costs £90.

The ticketing figures were obtained from Bedfordshire Police Camera Tickets and Collisions Unit.

In the charts above, the blue columns represent drivers registered in Dunstable, and the red columns those registered in Houghton Regis. The green columns are for all registered drivers, all areas.

Drivers were caught particularly in Drovers Way which has a wide field of vision owing to the open nature of the front gardens, and where motorists may not expect a camera to be.

5814  tickets were issued in the three years the 20 mph zones have been active, between  July 2013, and the end of June 2016, all caught by speed cameras. The biggest numbers of tickets were to drivers travelling along Drovers Way towards West Street, and towards Houghton Regis.

 A further  Freedom of Information request was put in by Houghton Regis News Desk editor, Alan Winter. and these figures were given:

Alan Winter said, "It's been a 20mph cash cow. Until recently there was no large 20 sign painted on the road near the junction with Drovers Way and West Street. Until recent years Drovers Way was a major route to bypass Dunstable town centre. It was a sign-posted route to the zoo."

"Central Bedfordshire Council should now demonstrate that they are actually saving lives, and not just using the cameras to collect money."

Residents in Dunstable have complained on social media about speeding cars in other roads, such as Chiltern Road, Jeans Way, and even the narrow roads of  back streets like Edward St, Princes St, Victoria St, but these are not covered by cameras.

Note about the data.
As many of these offences have not yet been finalised figures are subject to change. The numerical data presented in the Freedom of Information response is an un-audited snapshot of unpublished data sourced from "live" systems and is subject to the interpretation of the original request by the individual extracting the data. Link to data.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Kathyrn Calls Parish Conference

Representatives from all Bedfordshire parish councils have been invited to Chicksands this Saturday where the Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, will host a public forum.

Kathryn will be joined by various representatives from the Force, who will be able to address specific concerns related to off-road bikes, community safety and anti-social behaviour, among others.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Town Council To Buy Another CCTV Camera

Houghton Regis Town Councillors have agreed to add a third CCTV camera to their portfolio so that it can be deployed within the town where needed.

The two currently in use can be moved to different locations and have been in use for the past few months. The Council's Combating Crime Working Group has been receiving reports on their use.

The capital cost of the camera was given as £5,400 plus £250 for the power adapter, and ongoing costs will be £900 per annum for the monitoring fee plus £400 maintenance fee once the  manufacturer's warranty has expired.

The Town Council for Houghton Regis are determined that they want the town to become a safer town with a reduced fear of crime, although it is recognised that camera evidence is no substitute for police officers attending reported incidents[*].

Meeting: Peel Street on Monday 5th September 2016 at 7.30pm.

Download agenda (pdf)

Grants Schemes Reviewed By Town's Council

In a review of its grants schemes, Houghton Regis Town Council decided not to consider doing away with its Large Project Grants. The suggestion came in a report to the Council on 5th September that said it was facing increasing financial pressures. But Cllr Abbott queried where the pressure was coming from, as it was not something he was aware had risen from any committee discussion.

Another option considered was to review all grant applications just once a year in the autumn, instead of several times a year, but in the end councillors opted for twice a year.

Dunstable Town Council have already decided to cease their grants schemes after this financial year 2016/17, but Houghton Regis Town Council still currently operate three schemes.

The schemes HRTC operate are 'Small Capital Grants' which are aimed at local organisations who need some financial help with awards up to £500.  'Large Capital Grants' are also aimed at local organisations and are awards for over £500. The third category is 'Key Partner Grants'.

Key Partners are typically larger organisations who work across the community and who need longer term financial planning. Current Key Partners are Dunstable Citizens Advice Bureau, Keech Hospice, South Beds Dial A Ride, and SORTED Youth Services.

More ...  details of HRTC grant schemes and how to apply