Tuesday, 31 January 2017

A Pile of Poo, A Standstill Budget, And Ceremonial Robes for The Mayor

Houghton Regis Town Council met on Monday evening and got through a wide range of topics.


A concerned senior resident of the town reported that he had noticed human excrement on several paths around Dog Kennel path, and Orchard Close footpath near a children's playground. Roy Houghton asked the Town Council for support in getting the Central Bedfordshire Council to tackle this problem. He also expressed concern that cars were coming from Foster Avenue through to Cemetery Road, and asked for support to get some bollards reinstated.


Town Mayor, Chris Slough reported that he had attended a Holocaust memorial service in Luton that had been very moving, and called upon councillors to support him at forthcoming events, a Buffet and Bowling evening on 17th February and a Quiz Night and Shepherd's Pie Night on 10th March at St Vincent's Social Club.


Cllr Tracey McMahon gave an update on activities at Houghton Hall Park, mentioning that the position of Head Gardener was now advertised, and that the project manager, Caroline Romans, was considering a position for time-lapse photography on progress of work. Some problems with rhino-bars had been mentioned, and that they have annoyingly been moved despite being made heavy with water, and latterly with concrete.

BUDGET 2017/18

The Town Council's Budget for 2017/18 was tabled for discussion. The council officers suggested a budget requiring a precept of £822,451 equating to no-increase of £175.40 for a Band D property.

The Labour Group proposed a precept of £746,485 equating to a budget of £159 per Band D property. Cllr Swain argued that they wanted to bring Houghton Regis back into line with other towns in Central Bedfordshire, as in 4 of the last 5 years Houghton Regis had had the highest precept.

A 'cohorts' group of councillors consisting of Liberal Democrats, Community Independents, and their financial spokesperson, Independent  Cllr David Abbott, put forward another budget also requiring a precept of £822,451 equating to £175.40 for a Band D property.

Voting took place, and the 'cohorts' budget was accepted. This means no increase, again, in the Houghton Regis' amount of Council Tax per property.


Business then moved onto the Service Level Agreement for Bedford Square Community Centre. The Town Council are due to be taking over management of the Centre from Central Bedfordshire Council. Cllr Caroll was concerned about anti-social behaviour around the centre when it was being let out to groups, and Cllr Joanna Hillyard had some minor concerns about how the management of the centre would work in practice. The agreement was approved, with Cllrs Hillyard and Caroll abstaining.

Ceremonial Mayoral Robes

A discussion about ceremonial mayoral robes then took place. During public questions at the start of the meeting HRND editor, Alan Winter had informed the meeting that a post on his Facebook Page had been largely unapproving of such an expense:

The item had been one of the Council's aspirations a couple of years ago, and the Town Clerk had obtained the background information to present to the councillors. The cost of providing the robes was estimated at £1100. The discussion was divided with the current mayor, Cllr Chris Slough, expressing the view that he had always felt welcomed by other mayor's whether they were from towns without robes or not. Cllr Martin Kennedy complained that getting robes for someone of average stature 5ft 6inches would disadvantage a shorter person as much as it would also not fit a taller person.

Cllr Caroll was unhappy that costings had not been included for a hat. The meeting was verbally told that a hat would cost between £200 and £300, and he proposed that a Bicorn Hat be included within the resolution. The motion was duly passed with voting going 6 in favour, 4 against, with 1 abstention.



Items on the agenda to secure a Coat of Arms and to investigate Lord of the Manor title were briefly discussed, but they agreed not to do anything about those at the present time, although they would revisit these particular items again in 12 months time.

Report written by Alan Winter.


  • The Buffet and Bowling Night will take place at Go Bowling, Court Drive, Dunstable, LU5 4JD on Friday 17th February 2017 at 7pm.

Each lane can accommodate up to six players and you are welcome to bring a team, or you can attend in a smaller group and be placed in a team when you arrive. Prizes will be awarded on the night and children are welcome to attend.

Tickets cost £15 per person and includes two games of bowling and a buffet. There will also be a raffle on the night. All funds raised will be directed to the Mayor’s Charities (All Saints Parish Church, Scouting organisations in Houghton Regis and Signposts).

To book details, please contact Sarah on 01582 708540 or email sarah.gelsthorp@houghtonregis.org.uk

Your current Council Tax charge for 2016/17  is made up of amounts for:
• Central Bedfordshire Council (79%)
• Your local town or parish council (6% average)
• Bedfordshire Police (10%)
• Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue (5%)


Please support these Town Mayor events which raise money for our mayor's nominated local charities

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Go Houghton Looking to Defend Last Year's Win in Bedfordshire Food and Drink Awards

Luton and Houghton Regis champions are looking forward to defending their titles in this year’s Bedfordshire Food and Drink Awards.

The overall title in last year’s tournament was won by GO Houghton bar restaurant in Houghton Regis.

Entrepreneur Kishor Patel, of GO Houghton, in Parkside Drive, is hoping to go from strength to strength in 2017.

"Winning the title was a huge boost to the staff at GO Houghton," said Kishor. "It also played a big part in getting more and more people to hear about what we have to offer.

"People come from all over Bedfordshire to this part of Houghton Regis for our multi-cuisine range of wholesome foods, from American burgers, to Italian pizzas, a tasty curry or British fish and chips.
"Last year our customers were good enough to nominate us and if they choose to endorse us again, we will be going out to defend our title!"Khaled Ahmed, of Meah's Curry Sauces, in Sundon Park, Luton, won the title of Independent Food Producer of the Year in last year's Bedfordshire Food and Drink Awards.

Khaled said: "More and more people are appreciating the benefits of eating curry at home and the fact that we help them create that unique curry flavour.

"Winning this award last year meant a great deal as it helped introduce our range of products to a whole new audience.

"We will certainly be going all out to defend our title this year, with the help of even more curry fans!”

The third annual Bedfordshire Food and Drink Awards have been launched with a call to the public to “nominate your favourite venues now”.

One of Bedfordshire’s most famous companies, the brewer and pub company Charles Wells, is the headline sponsor for this year’s contest, where the category winners will be decided by public vote.
Peter Wells, Commercial Director at Charles Wells said: “As headline sponsor of the 2017 Bedfordshire Food and Drink Awards we’re very proud to be able to help celebrate those who share our Bedfordshire roots and also strive to raise the bar in quality and taste, proving that Bedfordshire really does punch above its weight in serving excellent food and drink.”

Last year’s food and drink awards spurred some 450 nominations and more than 28,000 votes across three counties and the organisers hope to emulate that success this year.

Awards organiser Damian Cummins said: “The interest we’ve already seen points to not only an immense year but to us uncovering and promoting some fantastic butchers, bakers, restaurants, pubs and food and drink makers across Beds.

“Our message to the public is – please get nominating now by going to the website www.bedsfda.co.uk

Luton based Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce is also among the sponsors because, as their representative Paula Devine said, food and drink is a very important part of the Bedfordshire economy.

Customers can nominate their favourite venues up until February 27 and voting will remain open until May 1. The awards ceremony will be held in June.

Nominations must be made via the awards website www.bedsfda.co.uk

Friday, 20 January 2017

How Can Our Local Health Services Work More Closely Together?

​e have a
 growing population
​. We have an aging population.
​We have m
ore people living with long term health
​ ​
challenges, such as diabetes and arthritis, that cannot be cured but can be effectively managed.
The quality of healthcare that people receive
​varies throughout our region. 
​We have
 workforce shortages
​. We have 
significant financial pressures.
​ How are we tackling these issues.?

orking in partnership with the Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire, are hosting an event to invite feedback from key stakeholders, service users and the public on the Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP's). 
Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP's) have been developed across the country to look at how NHS Health and Social Care services can work more closely together to provide affordable, high quality services for their local communities.
The recently published BLMK STP Public Summary document (attached) sets out the vision for future health and social care in BLMK and outlines ideas for responding to the challenges ahead. The Summary also sets out a commitment to involve everyone with an interest in health and social care services, including those who use them and those who work within them, to further develop plans and proposals for the future of local services.
To learn more about the draft plan for Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes and share your views please join us at the following event - 'What is an STP and what does it mean for me?
Date:               Tuesday 31st January 2017
Time:              Registration at 10.00, finishing at 12.30.
Venue:            The Davies Suite, The Rufus Centre, Flitwick, Bedfordshire, MK45 1AH
To confirm your attendance please reply to this email or call 0300 300 8554, or if you need further details please contact susan.george@healthwatchcentralbedfordshire.org.uk

Thursday, 19 January 2017

For Businesses - Cyber Threat Awareness and Guidance Event

Cyber Threat Awareness and Guidance Event takes place at Putteridgebury on Thursday 2 February 2017.

This  event is FREE, (free parking, free food and refreshments) with top speakers from across the country.  Ranging from ethical hackers, hostile social engineers, banking, local police on current threats, advice from national leads, plus companies that can support business in achieving cyber essentials or ISO27001.  Businesses and directors will learn the requirements to protect their data.  An excellent opportunity to network and learn.

The aim will be to provide business with an understanding of current cyber threats.

Presentations include how hackers work, active hostile social engineering, recent regional threats; plus advice on how to protect your company. Then assistance and opportunities for SME to learn about Cyber Essentials, ISO27001 and the forthcoming GDPR legislation

The target audience will be local SME, larger corporations, and Government organisations.  

All welcome to attend free of charge for the day event.
Local & regional ICT companies, will be available to network and offer assistance.  Please be aware that your company details will be frowarded to the speakers & exhibitors. 

Bedfordshire Police Cyber Hub
Thursday, 2 February 2017 from 09:00 to 15:30 (GMT)
Luton, United Kingdom

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

How You Can Help With Supported Lodgings For 16 and 17 Year Olds

Central Bedfordshire Council has launched a new Supported Lodgings Scheme, to help 16 and 17 year olds leaving care to make the step from dependence to independence.

It is similar to fostering but a much less formal arrangement, so open to more people. For example, foster carers need to be able to drive whereas those interested in this scheme do not.

Carers need to provide a bedroom for the young person they are helping, and they will also share their facilities and provide practical and emotional support, depending on the young person’s needs, such as teaching them how to cook or improve their budgeting skills.

In return, support and training are available from the council’s fostering team and you will receive an allowance of up to £192 per week.

Councillor Carole Hegley
Councillor Carole Hegley, Executive Member for Social Care and Housing, said: “No 16 and 17 year olds should have to face the world on their own, but unfortunately thousands face that prospect nationally.

“That’s why we are appealing for people to come forward and help young care leavers by providing a safe place to stay and the practical and emotional support which they will need to learn how to live on their own.

“You could be the stable adult figure they need to help make a success of their life rather than facing future uncertainly and possible homelessness.”

To find out more about the scheme, visit www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/supported-lodgings

Residential Development Ahead For Windsor Drive Recreation Ground.


At last night's Houghton Regis Town Council (HRTC) Environment and Leisure meeting it was revealed that Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) have it in mind to develop Windsor Drive Recreation Ground for housing needs.

The site is thought to have originally been designated for education when "Area 5" of Houghton Regis was first plotted. It has been an open space over the years, but the site is ultimately owned by CBC. Permission was granted for a Sports Pavilion to be built on the site in 2007/8 when South Beds District Council's planning committee gave it the go-ahead (See LUTONTODAY), despite a 40 signature petition presented against it. That Sports Pavilion development did not materialise.

The ground was mentioned in the Houghton Regis Town Council Plan 2011 - 2015, as being a public space it would continue to support and improve. On the Town Council's website it is still mentioned as "Currently an area of informal open space, it is enjoyed by families, individuals and dog walkers. The land offers the potential for part of it to be used in the future for a variety of recreational purposes, which may include an allotment site."

In 2013 HRTC expressed interest in developing allotments at Windsor Drive (ref), but those ideas were shelved when it became clear that the then Town Council wanted to include Windsor Drive as a potential cemetery site, along with Orchard Close Recreation Ground.  Preliminary Planning Advice  from CBC was that “The Windsor Drive site is a well used public open space which is important locally. Whereas an allotment use would have a recreational appeal, I am concerned that a cemetery use would not accord with the planning policy for the site which is allocated for recreational use. A cemetery use would not therefore be supported by planning policy.” [ref or ref2]

Environmental studies were conducted at Orchard Close (the most preferred site) and Windsor Drive (the least preferred site), at the Town Council's expense, but in the end neither of these sites were adopted as future cemetery sites (see HRTC). The chair of last night's meeting, Cllr Ellaway, said that Houghton Regis now faces just one year of burial space at its existing site in Cemetery Road, with no replacement burial land as yet identified.

In May 2016, the land at Windsor Drive was included in a 'Call For Sites' list. It was thought, locally, that Windsor Drive might be spared from development as the town is facing major housing growth in the next decade (refer to Houghton Regis Places map).

On the CBC website as of 16th January, it is stated, "At the moment the sites have not been considered or selected for development so there is no impact on any residents. It is also the case that only an estimated 4-6% of the total land that has been submitted will need to be allocated to deliver the new homes that are needed. "
However, it emerged  on the 16th January that Town Councillors, Cllr Caroll (chair of Planning), and Cllr Ellaway (chair of Environment) had met with CBC officers to see what could be offered to the Town Council out of CBCs tentative plans, but had come away with the impression that it was pretty much a "done deal" that the site would be developed, although an olive branch might be to provide some leisure garden space.

The Windsor Drive site is 4.7 hectares, and would be used for residential (not G &T, and not employment) according to  a schedule of land in Houghton Regis submitted as potential building land. The map accompanying these potential sites is found here.


According to the CBC Housing Strategy 2016 -2021 Action Plan document [ref]  the Windsor Drive site would be used 'to help reduce the use of temporary accommodation and bed and breakfast and minimise the use of unsuitable and expensive bed and breakfast accommodation'. The site would be used to 'Deliver a temporary accommodation scheme at Windsor Drive, Houghton Regis' and 'Deliver more affordable rented housing and more shared unit accommodation for younger people' with a timescale 'On going to 2021', to be delivered by Housing Services, Housing Investment and Strategic Housing.

There should be a public consultation before the identified 'Call For Sites' to be used are publicly announced, but a CBC statement says,
"We are temporarily holding fire on the process of publishing our draft local plan for consultation.
Originally we had planned to launch this in January 2017 but the Government’s long-awaited Housing White Paper is now expected to be published during the same timeframe, so we are holding back the publication of our draft plan to allow us to consider its implications.
Whilst we cannot be certain what these implications might be for Central Bedfordshire, we do recognise that there is the potential for significant changes in relation to the housing numbers we are anticipating and in terms of our responsibilities in relation to developing local plans.
In this context, we have concluded (as have other local authorities across the UK) that it would be inappropriate to continue with planned publication of our draft Local Plan in January 2017.
This is only a temporary measure and we remain confident that we will still be able to deliver a draft plan in 2017.
While we’re disappointed that we cannot proceed with the plan in line with our original timescales, the decision is the right one given the fundamental changes that may be included in the White Paper.
Publishing a Local Plan without understanding the impact of the White Paper could mean we have to revisit parts of the process causing bigger delays and confusion."

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Monday, 16 January 2017

Cheering Volunteering 2017 - Nominate Your Award Winners

Cheering Volunteering is an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to those who give their time to help others in Central Bedfordshire.

The third annual Cheering Volunteering awards and celebration event will be held during National Volunteers Week, on the evening of

Tuesday 6 June at the Grove Theatre, Dunstable.

Nominations are now open in the seven award categories:

Young Volunteer of the Year - This award is for individuals aged 18 or under who have made a positive impact on their community through volunteering.

Volunteer of the Year Award - This award is for individuals aged 19 or over who have made a positive impact on their community through volunteering.

Volunteer Group of the Year Award - This award is for a group or organisation that has demonstrated an outstanding volunteering contribution in Central Bedfordshire.

Outstanding Contribution Award - This award is for an individual that has made a difference to you or someone you know, and has had a very definite, positive impact by going the extra mile.

Lifetime Achievement Award - This award is for an individual who is known for their exceptional contributions to volunteering over a significant number of years.

Fundraiser of the Year Award - This award is for an individual, group or organisation that has demonstrated an outstanding volunteer contribution to fundraising in Central Bedfordshire.

The closing date for nominations is Friday 31 March. Nominees who have been short listed will be notified via telephone or email and invited to the awards ceremony on the evening of Tuesday 6 June.

Nominations can be submitted online, by email or by post

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

​Community Voluntary Service Update 11 January 2017






​Community Voluntary Service Update   |  11 January 2017



CVS are offering two one-day training courses, starting at just £30 per delegate:

Business Planning - Tuesday 7 February - A one-day course designed to help participants from voluntary and community sector groups to formulate and write a business, strategic or operational plan. Click here.

Supporting, Developing and Managing Volunteers - Wednesday 22 February - A one-day course exploring how organisations can both support their volunteers effectively, and provide effective learning and development for volunteers, leading to increased volunteer retention. Click here.   


Free Safeguarding Awareness Training - Tuesday 7 February, 10am-1pm, Moggerhanger. A free session will enable those working or volunteering in small voluntary organisations and community groups to understand what is meant by safeguarding. Click here.

Traineeship Taster Days, 20 January and 3 February, Biggleswade. 'If you're aged 16-24 and want to find out more about the skills and experience employers are looking for, and get 'real life' work experience in a pre-school or nursery', the traineeship programme could be ideal. Click here.


Postcode Lottery Grants - Grants up to £20,000 will be available shortly for wildlife areas, sustainability initiatives, local spaces and citizenship (volunteering projects). Expressions of interest invited from 23 January - 10 February after which you may be invited within four weeks to submit a full application, by the end of March. Click here.

The Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner's Grant Fund - Applications can be for projects that either help victims of crime cope, recover and move forward, or prevent crime and reoffending. The priority areas for this fund are:

  • Violence against women and girls – for example; domestic abuse, serious sexual violence, or female genital mutilation.
  • Youth at risk – for example; trauma reduction, child sexual exploitation, gang-related violence and bullying.
  • New or innovative projects – for example, work linked to cyber-crime, work with the elderly, human trafficking, modern-day slavery, new crime trends, work with emerging hard-to-reach or hidden victims.
  • Capacity building to improve strength and resilience in the sector – for example, multi-agency training, partnership development and sustainability.

There are two different application forms (one for bids of under £2,000 and one for those £2,000 and over). Deadline 5pm, 17 February. Click here.

Sport England have launched the Active Ageing Fund to work with partners to understand more about supporting inactive older adults. They would like to receive expressions of interest and you do not need to have a fully-formed project at this stage – they just need to know a little about your organisation, your understanding of the audience you want to work with and your initial ideas on how you might tackle inactivity. If you do have a project that is fully worked-up and ready to start, they may be able to fast-track you to a full project award. Deadline for expressions of interest is 12pm, 13 February. Click here.

Building a Stronger Britain Together - The programme offers both in-kind media support and local grants. The grant-funding available will provide groups with the opportunity to bid for money to fund concrete proposals which meet one or more of the three BSBT objectives:
• Fewer people holding attitudes, beliefs and feelings that oppose shared values
• An increased sense of belonging and civic participation at the local level 
• More resilient communities 

'Groups applying for grants of up to £14,999 must have an income of less than £200,000. For applications for grants between £15,000 and £50,000, we will prioritise groups with an income of less than £250,000. However, groups with a larger income will not be excluded from applying.' Deadline 6 February. Click here.

The Bedfordshire Employment & Skills Service (BESS) is commissioning a number of adult training courses to be delivered in the current academic year. The courses support unemployed residents of Central Bedfordshire and Bedford Borough local authority areas into further learning or employment. All of the courses are to be accredited so learners will gain a qualification. Organisations may submit a tender for as many of the different lots as they wish:

  • Lot 1: Business administration
  • Lot 2: Book keeping or basic accountancy
  • Lot 3: Customer service
  • Lot 4: Food hygiene
  • Lot 5: Retail
  • Lot 6: Emergency First Aid
  • Lot 7: Lifting and manual handling
  • Lot 8: Generic employability

Deadline is Monday, 30 January. Click here. 

The Mick George Community Fund has changed its eligibility area which means it now covers Ampthill, Biggleswade and areas in Bedfordshire to the north of those towns (check out the online map to establish if you are eligible). The fund is managed by GrantScape, distributing up to £500,000 per annum in grants of between £5,000 and £50,000 where a total project cost is less than £100,000. Grants are available for capital improvement works to public amenities. Examples may include:

  • Village halls
  • Village greens
  • Public playgrounds
  • Sports fields and facilities
  • Nature reserves
  • Community centres
  • Cycle paths
  • Country parks

Further information about the fund, including the interactive map of the funding area can be found on GrantScape's website. The next deadline is 29 March. Click here.


Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation are looking for panel members to help make funding decisions. Local people who have worked within the voluntary sector and have experience of managing projects and understand funding priorities, would be ideal for this voluntary role. Click here.

Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Bedford Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council are working in partnership to improve the provision for Community Health Services, to meet the needs of Bedfordshire's growing and ageing population. In order to make improvements to the current services, they would like to invite you to take part in a quick online questionnaire, so that they can test what they have been told so far and understand what is most important to you when using community health services. Deadline 23 January. Click here.

A new easy-read guide to trusteeship has been published, which aims to help people with learning disabilities to become charity trustees. The Good Trustee Guide is NCVOs best-selling handbook on the role of trustees. The guide was translated by the Advocacy Project to provide information about trustees and boards to people with learning difficulties. It has been split into four sections, which you can download from here.​​​​


Corporate Fundraiser, Autism Bedfordshire, £20,000- £24,686 per annum, full-time, based in Bedford with travel across Bedfordshire. Deadline 16 January. Click here.

Community Programmes Administrator, The Harpur Trust, £18,500 per annum pro rata, 25 hours per week. Based in Bedford, Deadline 17 January. Click here.

Director of HR, Kings Arms Project, £28,000 - £30,000 (depending on experience), full-time. Based in Bedford. Deadline 20 January. Click here.

Tutor (SEN), Youth Inspired C.I.C, £18,252 to £21,510 (Depending on experience and qualification), permanent full time contract after 3 month probationary period. Deadline 21 January. Click here.

Chief Executive, Citizens Advice Luton, circa £40,000, 37 hours per week. Deadline 20 January. Click here.

Youth Worker, The Teenage Advice and Information Centre (TACTIC), Leighton Linslade, £26,556 - £29,033.  (pro-rata - 27 hours/4 days), Deadline 12pm, 23 January. Click here.

Grants and Trust Manager, Chums, £20-28k depending on experience, full-time. Office base in Silsoe, travel throughout Bedfordshire. Deadline 25 January. Click here. 




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Community Voluntary Service
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MK40 2AA
Tel: 01234 354366
Fax: 01234 214880

Email: info@cvsbeds.org.uk
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