Houghton Regis Candidates for Central Bedfordshire Council - Feedback

Last week I wrote to almost all the candidates due to take part in the elections for Central Bedfordshire Council standing in Houghton Regis, and pointed out that I was hoping for a response by the evening of 11th April. In all, there are 19 candidates. The messages were sent via email or Messenger. Total responses received 2.

Although the response is dismal, there are mitigating circumstances:

1. I didn't have a contact point directly for 3 candidates, but I did ask that their 'party' colleagues would pass the message onto them.

2. At this time, the candidates may also be very busy leafleting, canvassing, working full or part-time or even running a busy household. And they would have to consider the value of responding to my request versus their valuable time. In the future, if elected, they would have a chunky pile of Council papers to read, and meetings to attend, sometimes going on all day long. They will have considered that they will probably need to devote at least 2 days a week to the role, as well as having to cope with everything else.

3. As a news blog item, our readership varies from a few dozen to several hundred, depending very much on the nature of the news. Having an included item on this blog would have given the readers, many of whom will be voters, a chance to find out more about them.

4. They might be just paper candidates, not really interested, or understanding what they have let themselves in for, and just waving the party flag.

Nevertheless, the responsiveness is still a useful indicator to how responsive they might be in the future, when perhaps there is something going off in Houghton Regis that councillor feedback might be useful for in terms of reporting back to residents via Houghton Regis News Desk, getting a quotation, or support for any initiative. Or perhaps if a local resident writes to HRND, as they do from time to time, requesting help on a public matter.

In terms of other responsiveness, it might also be useful to point out that, ordinarily, I do get quite good and rapid responses via emails or Messenger from current councillors now standing for CBC over matters to do with a Council. That includes but is not limited to, David Abbott, Susan Goodchild, Martin Kennedy, and Tracey McMahon. I have also had a small amount of correspondence with  Jimmy Carroll, John KaneToni Ryan and Ken Wattingham, too small to give a responsiveness rating for.

Of the new candidates, I have also enjoyed banter with Pat Hamill, usually agreeing to disagree over Brexit.

Clearly, if I am to continue with the HRND project, my readers will need to know which CBC candidates are likely to be more helpful in public matters. As a reader you may also be aware that Councillors often get involved in issues of a private nature that cannot be discussed publicly.

Personally, I do hope that rapport can be gained quickly or re-established with whoever it is who gets to represent Houghton Regis on the Central Bedfordshire Council so that matters of public concern can be aired and resolved. Some will wonder why I did not stand for election myself. Please accept that there are “family reasons” why I did not stand.

My email (or Messenger message) read,

“I am writing to congratulate you on your nomination to Central Bedfordshire Council Wards within Houghton Regis.

I would like to do an article with some quotes from each candidate, if possible. The article would be published on Houghton Regis News Desk.

Some suggestions for questions people might want answered are below. A short pithy answer might be more appropriate for the readership.
If you can manage to do this by the evening of 11th April, that would be fantastic.”

I then listed a few questions. The questions were not guided by any candidate, they were completely off the top of my head and presented in a random order. 

I hope to follow up with another round of questions for you all about a 10 days before the elections.

Alan Corkhill's Response

First off the mark to respond was candidate Alan Corkhill, standing in Parkside. Mr Corkhill chose to send this statement,

“I have longstanding connections with Houghton Regis and believe I will bring fresh ideas to CBC if elected. I am a committed Rotarian, with strong ethics. I want to see improved services in Houghton Regis for all ages within the community. That means education, social services, amenities, and any local issues such as anti-social behaviour being high on my list of concerns. I believe working together with all community groups, understanding issues and attempting to deliver better communication can only improve Houghton Regis. I look forward to the challenge and am always available. My contact details are freely available and my Facebook page is easily found.”

 Jan Cooper's Responses

(Questions I posed to all candidates are in bold):

Do you have a Facebook?

Where is the best place people will be able to contact you if elected?
The Clanger Office
Houghton Regis Library Complex
Bedford Square, LU5 5ES

Why are you standing for Central Bedfordshire Council?
Because there is a significant lack of attention being given to the lives of Houghton Regis residents by Central Bedfordshire Council

Is tackling anti-social behaviour high on your list of priorities?
Was, is and always will be. See Eyes and Ears group and Safeland. Both pieces of work to tackle anti-social behaviour, set up by me, for the town.

Do you think the government is asking too much of Central Bedfordshire in its housing targets?
County wide No. Houghton Regis Yes. Have CBC allocated 75% of the county wide target to Houghton Regis ? I think that is correct.

Are you looking forward to touring planning sites if you sit on the Development Management Committee?
That is not my area of interest. I will be looking to sit on Childrens Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Sustainable Communities Committee

How important to you are Children's Services?
My skill base is within this field having worked for CBC as a qualified youth worker for 10 years. I know the field, i know the challenges facing families, i know i can represent the needs and wants of Houghton Regis residents.

Should CBC increase bus and cycling subsidies?
If we want to have the cars away from schools, Yes. I was at Hawthorn school last week and saw the cycling proficiency lessons being run. How great is that :)

What do you see as CBC's biggest challenges in the next 4 years?
1) Hopefully having a bunch of Independent councillors to have to work with who are committed to their local community and not to a national agenda that they are unable to influence.
2) Dealing with the difficulties facing The Academy
3) Improving outcomes for Hawthorn Primary
4) Finding the money that is needed to invest in the estates of Chelsea and Bromley Gardens, Westminster and Hammersmith Gardens.
5) Resolving the development of the Kingsland site.
6) Building a new Leisure Centre in Houghton Regis, as promised in 2016.
7) Bringing the playgrounds up to scratch and unlocking the gates so the children are not climbing over the fences.
8) Introducing traveller stop over sites.
9) Reviewing the lighting in the alleyways around the estate.
10) Developing a strategic response to parking that is functional and effective; one that prevents parking all over the verges and blocking thoroughfares.

A Local UKIP Statement (received 13-04-2019)

All our candidates are Houghton Regis Residents. We are standing because there has been and still is a lack of a voice for our Town.  Many residents were saying that nothing gets done with regards to illegal encampments, off road Motorbike nuisances that plague our Town.  We will press for all of that to change. Houghton’s Voice will be heard. Why should we pay twice for policing yet the Town Council are contributing to more policing hours with our money.  We take the view that if our officers are available when offered extra payment, those same officers should already be made available as of our right. Our one message to the residents of Houghton Regis.  If you don’t vote for change all will remain the same.  Our UKIP candidates offer that change.

Other Candidates Standing

Here is a list of all of the candidates standing in Houghton Regis for Central Bedfordshire:

Houghton Hall Ward (2 seats)
Joe Angell, UK Independence
Alex Butler, Labour,
Jimmy Carroll, Independent
Yvonne Farrell, Liberal Democrat
Susan Goodchild, Liberal Democrat
John Kane, Conservative
Ian Purvis, Labour

Parkside Ward (1 seat)
Jan Cooper, Independent
Alan Corkhill, Conservative
Ray Morgan, Liberal Democrat
Gillian Patrick, Green
Toni Ryan, Labour
Angela White, UK Independence

Tithe Farm Ward (1 seat)
David Abbott, Conservative
Catherine Aganoglu, Green
Pat Hamill, UK Independence
Martin Kennedy, Labour
Tracey McMahon, Independent
Ken Wattingham, Liberal Democrat

Further information

The Labour candidates did not respond. They do have a local website at dunstableandhoughtonregislabour.org.uk/

The Liberal Democrat candidates did not respond. They have a national website at https://www.libdems.org.uk/

The Green Party candidates did not respond. Their local website: https://lutonandbeds.greenparty.org.uk/local-elections.html#Central

Tracey McMahon has a Facebook Page

David Abbott is currently suspended from Conservative Party pending an investigation, therefore cannot campaign or comment as a Conservative. He has a Facebook Page

Jimmy Carroll has a Facebook Page

To the best of my knowledge all of the candidates have Facebook Pages, but where they are members of a party, please refer to the party pages.

Alan Corkhill comments: Promoted by Sue Howat on behalf of Alan Corkhill of SWBCA, Wentworth House, 83 High Street North, Dunstable, Beds, LU6 1JJ
Jan Cooper comments: Promoted by Jan Cooper, The Clanger Office, Houghton Regis Library Complex, Bedford Square, LU5 5ES
UKIP statement: Published and promoted by Pat Hamill on behalf of Joe Angell and Angela White, 1 Park Avenue, Houghton Regis, Beds. LU55EA
Houghton Regis News Desk, published by Alan Winter