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.

EXCREMENT

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.

MAYOR

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.

HOUGHTON HALL PARK

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.

BEDFORD SQUARE COMMUNITY CENTRE

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.

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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.

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  • 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

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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%)

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