Friday, 22 May 2015

Houghton Brook - Being Blocked Up By Debris As Woodside Link is Constructed.




Central Beds Council are the responsible authority for keeping the Houghton Brook free of debris, but my random visit to the brook last weekend showed the stream in a sorry state. That wheelie bin has been there for months, unless of course, its another one. 

The second and third pictures are of a fenced area, intended to trap voles so they can be safely moved away from the area, but from the look of the fencing in the 3rd picture, it has come unstapled from the fencing support, and the voles could easily get out or in through that gap.

As workers move around the area while the Woodside Link is constructed, people jump the stream, breaking down the embankments, giving further cause for concern.

But clearly, DAILY INSPECTIONS, are not being done very diligently, are they, Mr Dobson of Central Bedfordshire Council?

From: Howard Dobson
Sent: Friday, May 15, 2015 5:29 PM
To:
Subject: Your enquiries
 

Hello again [name dedacted]

Thank you for your recent mails.

As you know we’re about to start the construction phase of the Woodside Link. Before that starts the current gang is carrying out daily inspections of everything on site. Balfour Beatty will then take over duties. Note that one of the first tasks Balfour Beatty will complete is the fencing of the site – which should limit instances of vandalism. Balfour Beatty have also subscribed the Woodside Link site to the Considerate Constructors Scheme, which means they are aiming at standards higher than statutory levels. See http://www.ccscheme.org.uk for more details on that. Please note that the Construction Environment Management Plan (CEMP) will be available in due course when it has been compiled.

With best regards, Howard

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Central Bedfordshire Council Elections 2015 - A Review

Well Done

I'd like to thank my opponents for a fair election campaign to win a seat on Central Bedfordshire Council to represent Parkside. Congratulations to Antonia Petra Ryan for her win (All the same I'd like to know what she's ever done for Parkside?)

Jimmy Carroll Independent 131
Adam Fahn Conservative Party 384
Stephen John North UK Independence Party (UKIP) 387
Antonia Petra Ryan Labour Party 510 Elected
Alan David Winter Independent 486 

All CBC results: http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/elections/election-results/2015/ward.aspx


THE COUNT

Management of the count at Chicksands was extremely poor. It's bad enough that I regularly see landscape staff parked up in vehicles around my estate who are apparently on a 45 minute tea-break, but to have this extended to staff being paid to sit at tables doing absolutely nothing for ages while there were ballot boxes to be opened was farcical. 

The Town & Parish Council elections were due to be counted Friday, but it never happened, being postponed until 10am Saturday.

The CBC count was abandoned at 10.30pm on Friday with Arlesey, Potton, Sandy and Stotfold results postponed due to discrepancies in their ballot papers.

Pull up your socks, CBC.


THE CAMPAIGN

I know not all candidates went out canvassing door to door;  I'm sure it helped me to almost win. It was very warming to have many people come up to me after they had voted, to say "You got my vote. You're the only one who knocked, and seems to know the issues on this estate."

Some Central Bedfordshire Council wards are just too big to do all that canvassing in, though, and I understand that. I think it would be miles fairer if there was one councillor per CBC ward. At least a single candidate then has a reasonable chance of getting around a good chunk of the electorate. 

The Undecideds were many on my canvass returns, and a lot of Maybes, too. The pull of Tories and Labour in the traditional two party system of a General Election accounts for them benefiting from a lot of that polarization.


If any statisticians wants to pour over my canvass figures, perhaps to see where the Undecideds and Maybes went to, I enclose them here.




Ballot Papers

Of course, it didn't help that here in Houghton Regis, in Tithe Farm and Parkside wards, there were two candidates having the "Independent" tag, when I would have much preferred to have been allowed another description, (maybe "Editor Houghton Regis News Desk" ?) as per the Town Council elections. How much of a big deal would it be to permit that?


"Aardvark"

I know the argument, too, that says that some people just pick the first one nearest the top of a ballot paper that seems to match their voting intention. As the ballot papers are printed in surname alphabetical order this disadvantages those with surnames at the end of the alphabet. To be fairer, the ballot papers could be printed in batches, randomized in different list orders. I guess, if they don't ever change the present system, I really will have to change my surname to "Aardvark" !


For those Not Really Bothered

At a polling station people should be asked, are you bothered about local elections? If they say no, don't give them a voting slip! After all, if local elections are the only thing being voted on, the turn-outs are much lower than if there is a General Election on at the same time.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Shortcuts

These are some of the permanent shortcut URLs I have set up:


http://is.gd/cbcplanning goes to CBC planning search pages

http://is.gd/gotravel goes to a mobile website where you can get travel plans.

http://is.gd/busway - Facebook Busway News Page

http://is.gd/houghtonregis Houghton Regis Places: my Google Map Project 

What to Do About High Hedges


Walls can be up to 2 metres high (6.5 ft) without planning consent providing that that they are not next to a highway or a footpath, and/or that the building is not in the curtilage of a listed building.

Unfortunately there are no restrictions on the height that hedges/bushes can be unless they are Leylandii.

If a hedge does adversely affect the owners/occupiers of an adjoining domestic property then they may be able to take action through the High Hedges complaints system introduced by the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003. The complaints system specifies the type of hedge and the adverse effects that it covers and, if you have concerns about the effect a hedge is having on your property you should contact the your council to see whether the High Hedges complaints system is applicable to your circumstances.

If you would like further information, or would like to discuss a high hedge, you may contact the Tree and Landscape Team by email at planning@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk giving your name, address and your reasons for concern.

High Hedges Prevention (.pdf) 

High Hedges Complaint form (.pdf)

I have been informed by Planning (1/5/2015) that unless the complaint form and fee are submitted CBC are unable to enter into any negotiations regarding high hedges, as the local planning Authority would be inundated with similar requested and do not have the resources to meet the demand.

Houghton Regis Town Council Robbed : Missing Council Funding

For 2 years Central Beds Council have failed to give over £90,000 a year due to Houghton Regis Town Council. In addition to council tax, local Town and Parish Councils should get a Support Grant. It is included in the money given to CBC by the government. It covers loss of payment from those who are on lower council tax bills, such as the disabled.

All of the Independent CBC Councillors voted to pass this much needed Support Grant money to Town and Parish Councils. A government minister confirmed that this money should have been passed on.Central Bedfordshire Council have behaved like a greedy boy who has been given a bag of sweets and told by his Westminster father to share them with his friends. Instead the greedy boy has scoffed the lot!

I asked if the government had given similar advice to local authorities like Central Bedfordshire, for the current financial year.

Letter


28 April 2015
Dear Mr Winter
Thank you for your email of 26 February to Brandon Lewis about his letter to Local Authority Leaders to encourage them to pass local council tax support to parish and town councils.  I have been asked to reply on his behalf.

Since Brandon Lewis wrote to the billing authorities last year Kris Hopkins, who has taken over Brandon Lewis’ ministerial responsibility for council tax, wrote to all billing authorities on 19 February 2015 along similar lines.  A copy of his letter is available on the government website at:


Regards


Richard McDonagh
Council Tax Division

Department for Communities and Local Government
SE 2nd Floor Fry Building
2 Marsham Street
London
SW1P 4DF

Telephone 0303 444 0000