Saturday, 29 July 2017

FireFighters Charity - Virtual Run

Lorraine Moore
Fire Safety Officer
 is proud to inform you that her Grandson, Cameron Moore (Age 12) is in his fourth year of raising money for The Firefighters Charity.

This year he has organised a Virtual Run, a Virtual Run is where you pick the distance that you would like to run during the month of August (you can run, jog, walk or use a treadmill).

The distances are 5km, 10km or 20km.  You complete this at your own pace during the month so you can either do it in one hit or you can do lots of short runs over the month.

Once you have achieved the distance you signed up for, you send evidence via email to Cameron.  This can be screenshots of the treadmill, Strava App, Nike running App, fitness watch, map my run or similar to prove that you have completed your target. Once Cameron receives this he will send you out your medal.

The entrance fee is £10 for adults and £8 for children under the age of 14 (as of 31st August) and all profit goes to the Firefighters Charity.

You can scan the QR code on the attached poster which will take you straight to the application form or you can visit Cameron's Facebook page.

Once you have filled the application form in, Cameron will send you a PayPal request within 48 hours.

If you don't have a PayPal account or you would prefer to fill out a paper application form please email either myself or Stacey

Monday, 24 July 2017

Bug Lab Is Coming to Houghton Hall Park !

Houghton Hall Park, Houghton Regis
Monday 31 July – two sessions

The popular Bug Lab event will be returning to Houghton Hall Park in Houghton Regis this summer with two sessions for you and your children to hunt for mini-beasts with experts on hand and do a fun bug-related craft activity.

Organisers say that places are limited, so booking is essential - adults are free of charge with tickets available one per participating child at £3 each. Book at
 Session 1: 12.30pm – 1.15pm
 Session 2: 2pm – 3.15pm
 All children must be accompanied by an adult - not suitable for under 4s
 Please wear long sleeves, trousers and suitable footwear
 Outdoor event with little shelter
 No dogs please
 While equipment and guides are provided, the session involves group work and sharing of materials

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Wild Flower Planting in Houghton Hall Park

New areas of wild flower planting are being created in Houghton Hall Park.

The Park team point out that some bare areas will be appearing over the next few weeks. The areas first need to be prepared by ground clearance and spraying to prevent aggressive weeds from growing back and taking over the more fragile wild flowers. Once the area has been cleared and the soil raked then wild flower seed will be sown and the plants will appear soon afterwards.

The seeds to be used are a standard wild flower mix from a reputable supplier and consist of a variety of both native and other nectar-producing plants. This will provide colour, cover and, most importantly, a rich source of nectar and pollen for bees, butterflies and a host of other insects which will use the flowers as food sources. Other wildlife such as birds and bats will also benefit from the increase in insects in the Park.

The Park team hope that you will enjoy the added colour, variety and wildlife that these new areas will bring on your walks around Houghton Hall Park.

These colourful pictures of the park by Alan Winter.

Be An Xplorer!

Houghton Hall Park Xplorer Fri 28th Jul 2017. 11 - 12.45pm.

Xplorer is a family friendly fun navigation challenge that is educational and gives children a sense of adventure as they explore the park to find the markers. It involves a healthy mix of physical activity and decision making that the whole family can enjoy together.

Explore the Park, Find the Markers, Complete the Challenge, Have fun together!
Using a simple map the aim is to find a number of markers that are located around the park. At each marker, children need to identify what is pictured and enjoy learning a fun fact to tell their friends.

Work as a family to find the markers hidden around the park
Older children will have fun competing against their friends or other family members whilst younger children will enjoy the excitement of successfully finding the markers.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Councillors Confessions

On Tuesday night's Town Council Agenda were a couple of items to do with complaints. Both items were shrouded in mystery with regard to who was involved and the nature of the complaints.

The first item acknowledged that a Complaints Sub-Committee had held a meeting on 13th June 2017 and that the complaint was not upheld.

The second item was a Code of Conduct Complaint. This had been upheld by the Monitoring Officer at Central Bedfordshire Council who had recommended that training is provided in "Officer-Member relations and the role of the Town Council as an employer". The Town Council were asked to clarify how Code of Conduct complaints and associated outcomes are handled. After debate and demands for more information, the Town Council agreed that the relevant councillor or councillors will be provided with training, and the Corporate Services Committee would develop a Code of Conduct Complaint Handling Policy.

After the voting, Cllr James Carroll made a short statement in which he said he had been the councillor about whom the complaint had been upheld, in an incident last October. Cllr Tony Swain commended Cllr Carroll for his admission and admitted it had been him that had made the complaint. Cllr Joanna Hillyard then admitted it was her that had had a complaint made against her that had not been upheld.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

CBC Respond to Painting of Anthem for the Road

A response to adverse comments made on Houghton Regis News Desk about the blue painted fencing on the inside of the Woodside Link road has been received from Central Bedfordshire Council. The reply is marked Unclassified, which means if shared it would cause little or no damage to the Authority.

Many comments on the item were to do with cost and suggested that the money was not well spent. The Council says cost is a common theme on any social media postings about council projects.  The Council says this artwork element is very modest compared to the costs of the overall WSL scheme. One person claiming inside knowledge had stated on the Houghton Regis News Desk thread that the cost of the paintwork was £2341.68.

To the charge that 'the art scheme was bolted on after the scheme had bolted, denying the opportunity of any formal objection to it', and that there was no planning application, the Council says, " It was a requirement of the Development Consent Order for the Woodside Link that the scheme include ‘enhancement of elements to mitigate the visual impact’ as this was a concern of residents and the Town Council."

"The inspector for the DCO recommended that visual mitigation of these structures, via public art and/or landscaping be followed up and included in design proposals.  Detailed designs were to be approved by the Local Planning Authority under DCO Requirements 4 (detailed design & implementation), 5 (landscape mitigation), 8 (design of acoustic barriers) & 11 (materials).  Requirements, being a similar mechanism to planning Conditions, do not go to public/non-statutory or statutory consultees for further comment.  With regards to the public art itself needing planning permission, as I understand it mural’s do not require planning permission unless they are in a designated area, such as a conservation area."

The Council adds, "In hindsight, there could have far been wider involvement from the Town Council or a local community representative in the artist selection panel and this is a lesson learned to be taken forward."

The Council also points out that, "There has however been a lot of community engagement carried out, which provided the opportunity for comment and whilst the design concept was set by this point this did lead to changes and modifications to the final artwork.  For example, there was a large sign planned for the community orchard which people didn’t like so was pulled completely from the project."

To the suggestion that elements of the scheme might be changed, the Council has responded, "Given this element of the project is now nearing completion, the opportunity to make further changes or do further retrospective consultation has passed.  The only way this could be done would be if further funding were found, which we do not have."

To the suggestion that going forward there should be more publicity and explanation, especially for people not on social media, the Council has responded, "We can ask the communications team to do more on explaining the project to local residents – please let me know if you would like this and I will ask ... to contact you."


Read about it here on CBC website


Below was the post and adverse comments that first appeared on 12th June 2017:

Feedback from this Post


Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Town Council - "Cut-price Swampy" Jibe In E-mail Exchange

Houghton Regis Town Council is now so divided that the task of getting work done would appear to be, at best, very difficult. At least, from a spectator viewpoint, the meetings are stimulating, writes Alan Winter, the editor at Houghton Regis News Desk.

Last night's meeting was well attended by members of the public, some even from Dunstable, no doubt equally curious as to why the local Labour group leader, Cllr Kennedy (Parkside), had encouraged them to come along. As the same councillor had been barred from a local "Occurring" Facebook group a few days earlier, no doubt this helped to fuel their curiosity.

Tithe Farm, was under-represented at the meeting, being two down. It must be noted that apologies were given for one Labour councillor, but not for the other absent Labour councillor.  The numbers were crucial, for they could have made a big difference to the motions that followed, were debated, and voted upon.

Under public question time, it was queried what 'Former Community Services Arrangement', under the section marked 'Exclusion of Press & Public', was all about? A flurry of guarded answers provided by The Town Clerk, the Town Mayor (Cllr Joanna Hillyard, Community Ind, Parkside), and other councillors, told the meeting as much as they felt they could; it was a sensitive confidential, legal, matter to do with a former contractor and the council.

Even before the proper business of the meeting could begin, Cllr David Abbott (Ind, Tithe Farm) interrupted the flow by proposing two motions. The first one was requesting under the Council's Standing Orders, a written report from the Clerk asking why last week's Town Council meeting had to be abandoned even before it had started. Cllr Dixon-Wilkinson (Lab, Parkside) countered the motion saying he was consulted verbally about the abandonment. Voting on the motion was split in Cllr Abbott's favour, leaving the Clerk with the onerous task of now having to make a written report.

Cllr Abbott then announced another motion calling for Cllr Kennedy to be removed from the meeting for disorderly conduct. An unfortunate choice of words had arisen in an email from Cllr Kennedy to Cllr Hillyard, copied to other councillors, in which Cllr Kennedy had used the words, "It's about time you start acting like the chair of the town council and not a cut-price Swampy." All Councillors are bound by quite rigid Standing Orders and a Code of Conduct (both available at the Town Council's website). Debate hinged around where the comments were made. The  Clerk pointed out that the comments were not made in a meeting. Cllr Abbott insisted on his motion, at which point Cllr Kennedy made an unreserved apology towards Cllr Hillyard, the motion was withdrawn, and no vote took place.

The Proper business of the meeting then began in earnest, with the new Mayor, in office since the end of May, reeling off a long list of events she had attended in an official capacity. These had been:

  • Tithe Farm's Got Talent at Tithe Farm school
  • Army Benevolent Fund garden party
  • Cheering Volunteering at the Grove Theatre
  • Houghton Regis Primary School Summer Fair
  • The official opening of Dunstable's new Go-Kart centre
  • Big Lunch Community Picnic
  • Mayor of Harpenden Civic Service
  • Right Track Video launch
  • Kids In Action Key to the Door
  • Chiltern School visit to the council offices
  • Hospice At Home lunch
  • Houghton Regis Brownies visit to the council offices
Information was released that at the last count, £400 had been raised for her charities in addition to a lot of donations being made to helping homeless people through one of her chosen charities, Streetlife. And there was news that a Teddy Bear's Picnic was to be arranged for August 19th. (A public round of applause followed.)

Around the table, various councillors reported on their outside representative activities. Among them, Cllr Mrs McMahon (Community Independent, Tithe Farm) reported in depth in her capacity as outside representative on the Houghton Hall Park works. Cllr Wattingham (Lib Dem, Houghton Hall) reported on his time with the Memorial Hall, noting the sad passing away of Chris Kavanagh who had worked for many years to keep the Memorial Hall running. Her funeral would be this Thursday and Town Council would be laying a wreath. Cllr Sue Thorn (Lib Dem, Houghton Hall) reported on Citizen's Advice. Cllr Hines (Lib Dem, Houghton Hall) reported on Dial-A-Ride.

After a flurry of the council's usual business reports, and thanking the staff for all their hard work, the topic of office refurbishment came up.

A report had gone to the Council suggesting expenditure of some £20,000 on rectifying concerns with the state of the fabric of the building, but the report was limited by accessibility and some parts of the structure were overlaid. Suggested repairs might give the building an extended life of 10 to 20 years, although much more might be needed once work started. Cllr Abbott moved on 4 resolutions, with slight adjustments to those published in the Agenda. He argued that the growing town would need a larger office to accommodate staff, and more space would be required for meetings including any future new councillors. Dunstable operated with 40 staff, he said, and Leighton Linslade with 39. Houghton Regis could end up being bigger than both, and it currently operated with just 14 staff, he argued. He was in favour of not spending money on the current building, renting some office space, selling the freehold asset of the current site, creating a fund for a replacement building, and actively seeking a permanent location.

Cllr Slough (Lab, Houghton Hall) had other ideas. He argued that the Town Council offices were an appreciating asset, and there was no rent to pay. "£20,000 is not that much to pay, and we spent more than that on a tree!" said Cllr Slough in reference to the cedar tree at Houghton Hall Park. He suggested that under Cllr Abbott's plan the offices would need to relocate, and then relocate again with lots of disruption. The present large meeting room, he said, was not used 90% of the time, and staff could be put in here if needs be, while Council meetings were held elsewhere. "Why should we pay now for something that's going to happen in 15 years time?" Cllr Slough demanded to know, "[Houghton Regis] was already paying more in Council Tax than neighbouring towns. It was CBC that was forcing all the northern growth on the town, and it was they who should put their hands in their pockets."

Cllr Sue Thorn (Lib Dem, Houghton Hall) agreed with many things said by Cllr Slough. She wanted to know if other premises were available, and what would the cost be? She wanted to spend the £20,000 now and to start saving for a new building. Cllr Ellaway (Ind., Houghton Hall) had concerns about staffing matters such as toilets, staffing levels, and staff parking.

Cllr Carroll (Community Ind., Parkside) said he had big concerns about the current building, it had been taken over in 1988 as a temporary building, it had a steel structure and asbestos, and they needed a Town Council mechanism to start talking about this. He wanted more reports on the current building, the 'Condition Report' before the meeting had too many ifs and maybes.

The Clerk, Mrs Evans, was unsupportive of  Cllr Abbott. She said that there were no plans to increase staff, the number of councillors was a reactive process to the town's growth, and there was more value in looking at existing space (at this point there were some appreciative public hand-claps). Several motions were then voted upon to do with the building and wanting structural reports, with the voting split on each occasion.

The meeting then voted (again split), to go into private session to discuss matters to do with a 'Former Community Services Arrangement', whereupon press and public were asked to leave.

*LibDem members voted against their leader (not just abstaining) on almost every vote leaving him on his own.