Saturday, 29 December 2012

Cost of Council Websites

Central Beds Council seem to be spending money on unnecessary software to check web links. 
With regard to website costs,  one of the items in the list refers to costs of web site link checking software. Not sure if this will help on budget costs, but I have used a free link checking programme called Xenu for years and that can produce very exhaustive link check reports, as I have indeed provided to Beds Library Service this year.

Monday, 24 December 2012

LibDem Win In True Blue Surrey

Wednesday by-election in true blue Surrey. The Lib Dems held the Sunbury Common ward with 46.3%, UKIP were second with 23.2%, Labour third with 16.1% and the Tories trailed in last with just 14.3%.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

The Political Police Commissioner

The decision of the new PCC, Olly Martins, to appoint 2 people to advise him who both happen to be Labour Party cohorts, stinks.
The position should never have been political in the first place. Martins has not advertised the posts, he has given them to people who are in the Labour Party.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Don't Bother Saving To Help Students

There are lots of reasons why people should not go bonkers over trying to save money to pay for students fees. But why should I bother repeating what is already explained by a renowned Money Saving Expert?

Houghton Hall Park Survey

Houghton Hall Park Survey compiled. Let's hope for some response.

Take the survey here.

Monday, 3 December 2012

A Smile For Nadine

From the start of "jungle" I've been in the "Good Luck to Her" camp.
So I found this very amusing this morning.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Sunday, 25 November 2012

X Factor USA - 13 year old Carly Still On Top

Just caught up with this weeks X Factor USA. As I mentioned on this blog before, 13 year old Carly Rose Sonenclar is absolutely amazing. This week she took a plain, ordinary song and brought out some truly amazingly well placed notes in this rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". No wonder that the USA voted her best act of the week.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

I'm in The News

Anyone who likes to read half a story is welcome to read the story on the above link.

If you want the extended story email me.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Nadine Dorries Helps Tories Lose Bedfordshire PCC

Senior Tory councillor Richard Stay ( didn't think much of Nadine Dorries going off to the jungle.  Perhaps his anti-Nadine campaigning has helped fuel the Tories expected win in the Bedfordshire PCC elections? By all accounts some people have protested by either voting for Olly Martins in the PCC elections, the Labour candidate who won, or simply scrawling messages about Nadine Dorries, thereby invalidating their ballot papers. 

From Tory Richard Stay's Blog:

Sally Chidzoy, (Home Affairs Correspondent, BBC (East of England)  ‏tweeted :
Beds Lib Dem PCC candidate Linda Jack jokes granddaughter, 6 asked : "Nana, if you get elected does it mean you have to go to the jungle?"

Stay has been predicting candidates would lose their deposits in these PCC elections, but they all saved them. Stay is either losing his grip on predictions, or helping the Tories to lose elections, or both.

Results Story :

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Roads, Roadworks and Buses

More adverse public reactions this week to work going on at Bedford Road/High Street after an accident occurred on Monday morning.

For those who don't know or aren't aware, I have been down several times to witness. I have reported my observations from day one of the works to Bedfordshire Highways and CBC. I have been told they will revisit their plans. I'm an unpaid lay person. We should expect a professional service from the paid professionals, and those who employ them need to ask stiff questions.

I took myself off to Luton yesterday. On the bus. Oh deary me. I used to travel by car from home to Welywn Garden City in 45 minutes or less, by starting the journey at 7am. So I boarded the bus at 8.30am The only bus service from home went all over the place. Someone seemed to get on or off every hundred yards of progress. Thank goodness for bus lanes in Luton. When there was standing room only, the driver undid his cash till, and got off. A lady got on. Fiddled around in her seat for a few minutes. Then drove about 6 feet, and opened the doors again. A load more people got on. Some who thought they were on didn't want to budge any further down the corridor and were either unable to understand English or so into their headphoned music that others had to speak loudly to get them to budge. Eventualy I arrived in centre of Luton. Journey time one hour. So roll on the busway. Let's pray we get a faster service for Houghton Regis to take us into the major commercial centre that is local to us.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Nadine Dorries - Good Luck to Her

I have been asked what I think of Nadine Dorries going into the jungle, seeing as her constituency is adjacent to ours.

Well, not a lot, frankly. I find her jibes at the Tory Party hierarchy amusing, her Tweets often witty, and you know what, I'm a single guy and she's an attractive lady. But I guess, since I've tweeted back to her a few times, and she hasn't responded, maybe she thought she'd better escape my attentions.

Good luck to her in her next career, for surely as an MP, this is the end of the road.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Flaky Councillors Show True Colours

I see Darth Costello has turned to the dark side.

"in-fighting": I seem to recall Mr Costello did a bit of that himself. Getting rid of a fellow councillor.
I haven't forgotten. Only then, he called it democracy.
This is not a reason for joining Labour, it's an excuse. And a pretty poor one at that.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Linda Jack For PCC

Lots of people bewildered that they have postal votes for PCC Elections and not knowing anything about the actual candidates.

Here's Linda Jack's website ...

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Nonsense of Job Seekers Travel Allowance to Interviews

Get this.

Apparently Job Seekers travelling to job interviews can claim travel-to-interview expenses provided they sign a bit of paper at the Job Centre BEFORE the interview. Very nice deal if you live next door to the Job Centre!

Now suppose you live in my neighbourhood, six and half miles from the Job Centre, or a 20 minute drive plus car parking fee away, plus walking time. Why would someone even bother, when they could simply just drive to the job interview and back in the same time?

And before you ask, no you can't do the claim online.

UPDATE: Following intervention by MP Andrew Selous, it was established that back-dated claims could be made, and this is now happening.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

New (Temporary) Roundabout

Attended site this morning 07:45 to 08:15. Traffic moving much more freely. Made observations and will pass them onto Highways.

LINKS:  Site Plan | Morrisons store plans and associated works scheme | S106 and Planning Permissions | Planning Documents at CBC

Monday, 29 October 2012

New Roundabout in Town: I Still Want A Shared Space Scheme

As part of the planning permissions for Morrisons new store in Houghton Regis a new roundabout was installed at a main junction today.  I'm glad the lights have gone. I'm happy the roundabout is back. But I still need to work on the powers that be to get them to accept "Shared Space".



Sunday, 28 October 2012

Busway Route Too Narrow for Wheelchairs


The footpaths around the bus stops in Houghton Regis have had their kerbs raised and footpaths relaid to make it easier for the elderly and people in wheelchairs to gain access to the buses without a ramp.  We won't know if this will always be possible because it's likely that on occasion wheels will get stuck in the gap.  In any case this particular path in my ward, in Parkside Drive, would be too narrow to get a wheelchair along.

The capital costs of the busway scheme are around £90million, (DfT £80m, local councils and private sector funding about £10m [reference]). The busway will run between Houghton Regis and Luton town centre and is due to open next Spring. Watch out for the spin. There'll be plenty of over-bearing, gushing, ministerial and council officials making announcements.

The government gave the go ahead for this project hours before the Spending Review announcement was made to review all capital projects. Echoes of "Yes Minister" in my head.  In the region there is no popular support for the concrete busway and many commentators have said as much. As much as it is a lame duck, that skirts around the edges of housing estates with very few bus stops, I am committed to promoting it, because if it's not promoted and used local Councils are going to have very high annual maintenance bills for it, with little coming back in to balance the books.

It would have been far more prudent, in my view, to have spent the DfT money on the A5-M1 link road (recently approved) and the Woodside Connection, a new arterial route proposed to take traffic from Dunstable to a new M1 motorway junction 11a (and supply local roads in a major new housing development).

The A5-M1 link road will cost between £156m and £212m. In part this is being financed by £45 million from the private sector and £5 million from Central Bedfordshire Council. The Woodside Connection is going to cost some £45m, and I don't think anyone seriously knows how they're going to pay for it, yet.

Of this private sector finance, the cost is, of course, bound to be loaded back onto the cost of the 7,000 new homes the developers want to build, and the way I see that is that it will mean less cash available for new community facilities like doctors surgeries, community halls, churches, sporting facilities.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

How to Claim £10 a Minute From Cold Calling Time Wasters

Man charged PPI cold calling firm £10 a minute for wasting his time, And Won!

Parking on Double Yellows - Accident Brewing

It so winds me up that drivers continue to flout the double yellow lines in Dolphin Drive, Houghton Regis.
After I took this picture, this driver told me, "I only stopped to buy some cups of tea. You need to get a life."

Well, it's not me that needs to get a life. It's him that needs to save a life.

I'm sure he did just stop to get some tea. And I'm sure he was only a few minutes. But after he's driven off, some other yo-yo is guaranteed to park up there, too, within 10 minutes, to "only get a loaf of bread", or "only get a newspaper." And before you know it the area is occupied by vehicles all day long.

The double yellows are down there to keep the road safe throughout the day. The obstruction caused could easily lead to a driver overtaking said parked up vehicle, and  making error and an accident on the blind corner will occur. 

Worse, it could be an emergency vehicle obstructed from making progress to attending a local house. Seconds lost towards saving someone's life, or someone's home from going up in smoke. Still, chummy here can always fall back on his excuse,  "I only stopped to buy some cups of tea".

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Apple iPad Price - It's All Supply and Demand

What's that saying? Never look a gift horse in the mouth?

To Apple the buying public are sheep. The buying sheep demand the iPad mini. The buying sheep will pay for it. Apple will supply it, and sell out. That's why  the iPad mini will cost $329.  And it doesn't matter that the Amazon’s Kindle Fire is half the price, or that the Nexus 7 is also way cheaper!

Me? I don't buy Coca Cola, like all the "sheep". I'm quite happy with the Cola versions in places like Lidl and Aldi. In my view equal products, doing the same thing, only one happens to be the market leader and costs a darn sight more than the others. For the same reason I won't be buying an iPad mini. 

So good luck to Apple. When there is cash for the grabbing why bother looking the sheep in the mouth?

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

My X-Factor Verdict 2012

I've always enjoyed watching the UK's X Factor, but some reason this year I'm finding the US version has far more real talent. As to the UK, I have  previously had reasonable success at selecting the end finalists, so I'm having another stab at it this year, despite my reservations.

I couldn't sit through all the chit-chat, so I didn't watch it live. I just watched the "singing" on "replay", and made the following comments before hearing the actual judges comments. So who's going to win X-Factor 2012? Well, I put them in the order I think they might end up in in week one; the predicted finishing number is in brackets. If no number, then I just don't rate them for top places at this time, and they could go out at any time before the final live show.

(1) Jahmene Douglas - From the 1st time I saw this guy I thought, "another Neil Sedaka", even if he doesn't play the piano! Commands the stage. Great notes. I wouldn't be surprised if he wins it this year. Sensational. Fabulous.
Week 2: He seemed nervous, on edge, uncomfortable. not a great performance.

(2) Melanie Masson - Sensational. Raucous singer. BRILLIANT.
Week 2: I really didn't enjoy the song choice. And she was eliminated in Week 2! That's not right. I blame Gary for the poor song choice.

(3) Ella Henderson - a beautiful rendition of Gary Barlow's song. I always feel intimidated by the circumference of her lips!
Week 2: Singing Minnie Ripperton's song that I love. Afraid I prefer Minnie's version because Ella was all over the place in this performance, but very commendable for her age.

(4) Lucy Spraggan - fantastic niche singer song writer. The experience on the show can only boost her inevitable solo career to come.
Week 2: Always surprises me with her ability to compete from behind her own guitar. A huge and obvious future star.

From here on picking out where the rest will finish becomes difficult. So in order of appearance,

James Arthur has strength in his voice.
Week 2: Accomplished performance. I feel his pain.

District 3 are not for me. Thumbs down.
Week 2: A big song that might need more than three to sing it properly?

MK1 bring youth and energy to the stage.
Week 2: Don't like the male English voice on this Michael Jackson song. They're going out?

Christopher Maloney has a nice voice, and could easily be singing in the West End. He could dive in future shows, or rise to the challenge. One to watch.
Week 2: Very strong singer. Sings like Meatloaf!

Union J - vocally I thought this group were weak.
Week 2: I fell asleep watching them!

Jade Ellis - sounds a bit nasal. She's not going to win.
Week 2: Very stylish. Fantastic. Magical. Atmospheric.

Rylan Clark - Embarrassing. He'll get the gay vote, but not the singing vote.
Week 2: He's not a singer. He's a game/chat show host, and the tye of game/chat show I'd want to watch. 

Kye Sones - I've heard it all before. Doesn't grab me.
Week 2: Too much fire in the stage presentation!

Carolynne Poole - As much as I've been personally rooting for her in the run-up, I thought for this live show that this song was weak, and not a good song for the show; needless to say she was knocked out on Sunday of Week 1 when the judges put the verdict into voters tie-breaker.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Richard Kemp: Why there will never again be a Tory Government

This is a conversation Richard Kemp has had recently with a Tory councillor.

RK:      Why is the Tory Party obsessed with gay marriage and Europe?

Tory:    Yes no-one really cares about these things outside the Party

RK:      So where do you stand on these issues?

Tory:    I’m in favour of Europe and gay marriage!

RK:      Aren’t you in the wrong Party?

Tory:    MMMMM!!

Continue Reading

Monday, 8 October 2012

Why This Labour Poster Irks Me

Labour (their web site) are upset by the cuts in expenditure drawing on "Table 1.9 NHS Total Departmental Expenditure Limits in real terms" (pdf file)
2010-11 £104,353m
2011-12 £104,333m

But what they don't point out (presumably because of their bias) is "Table 1.5 NHS Administration Costs"
2010-11 £5,471m
2011-12 £3,551m

Surely the drop in admin costs is something to be applauded, not ridiculed?

(Finally, here's a thought for poster makers: make them Facebook Page Picture Size: 850 X 315px)

Clegg: No Deal Done to Cut Benefits

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Traffic Chaos Tonight!

I have just spoken to Jason from Amey, who is running the operation to resurface Parkside Drive, Houghton Regis.

The works started this morning and will continue over the next four days. The times are 08:00 to 18:00.
The area to be resurfaced is from Windsor Drive junction to Westminster Gardens.
Through traffic is being barred from Parkside Drive, although local road access is possible.

Windsor Drive and Parkside Drive is used by traffic as an alternative rush hour route to using Park Road North and Sundon Road.
Because of the hours of operation of this resurfacing, this alternative route will be unavailable.
This will mean that for Thursday and Friday evenings there will be double the amount of traffic converging from Park Road North onto the Chequers roundabout, Houghton Regis.
I don't want to sound alarmist, but this is going to have significant impact all down Poynters Road and beyond. 

Therefore, traffic aiming for Tithe Farm and Parkside estates would do better by trying to reroute their homeward journeys, either via Luton or Junction 12 of the M1.

I have enquired as to why off-peak resurfacing is not being done. I have been told that that would cost another 25% on the budget, so is unaffordable.
I have enquired about the use of one way traffic and traffic lights. I have been told that would endanger workmen and equipment, and if equipment is damaged would cost the operation even more.
I have enquired as to the temporary potential opening of the bus link. I have been told that would not be possible as alternative routes must be on same grade routes, shrubbery would need to be cut back, graffiti removed from the road surface as to leave it would make the surface slippery, and to do all that work for short term gain would be inappropriate.

Please don't blame the messenger!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Labour Say Llib Dems Do

Labour say they'll do  ... but Lib Dems in Government are already doing!

No 1: Setting up a business bank.
No 2: Boosting the number of apprenticeships.
No 3: Separating retail and investment banking.
No 4: Boosting house building.

What next?

Houghton Regis Heritage

Last week was the first meeting to see who was interested in a heritage group for the town. 8 of us turned out, and we have lots of ideas and suggestions. Next meeting on Friday. I've put this web site together:

I've just whiled away more precious moments of my life compiling away some of the news stories I previously posted to the News Desk Facebook Page.
Did you miss the news this week? Here's a chance to catch up with some of the items reported on our Facebook Page -

Fairer Taxes For Minimum Wage Earners

Monday, 1 October 2012

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

For @DalekMP

Calm Down. Relax.

Election Boundaries

It looks as though the hopes of the Tories getting an easy ride into Parliament next time are not going to happen. That would have happened, of course, if the proposed boundary changes go through, and the number of MPs in Parliament is reduced from 650 to 600. Much of Dunstable would be lumped in with north Luton, separating Houghton Regis from the market town it gave birth to.

But Nick Clegg has vetoed the change, so Dunny will stay with its older parent, Houghton Regis, and Tory Dunstablians will be spared the potential embarrassment of possibly joining in a Labour constituency. So, though they may not be totally in tune with the idea, Andrew Selous and his band of followers are probably quietly thanking the Lib Dem leader for his intervention. To keep the current South West Bedfordshire constituency intact, will suit the Tories just fine.


Sunday, 23 September 2012

Cowering in the Corner

Son's homework was to produce a poem about trench warfare. Which prompted me to write one of my own.

Cowering in the Corner

The end is in sight, surely that is the score
I’m cowering in the corner, back to the wall
It may be the final hour, but I still doubt
That war was the answer to resolve it at all

Trench foot is disgusting, I’ve almost lost a limb
Rats run around, they're messing with my head
Lice in my hair, clothes reduced to rags,
Brothers-in-arms lie around me, they're all dead

Counting the cost of charges into no-mans land
It surely wasn't worth it, the madness of it all
One was my younger brother, just nineteen
Him by my side, when I saw him fall

I can’t take it any longer, I'm going to pull the trigger
Six weeks out of Blighty, it's been one big fright
"Hey soldier, Put that rifle down!"
"Medics coming, son, you're going to be all right"!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Sunday Blog 16th September

What Have the Romans Ever Done For Us

One of my all time favourites.

Travel Choices
Central Bedfordshire Council have launched a travel choices plan to try to get people out of their cars and use other modes of transport. Admirable, but when people are already forking out a fortune for car insurance, they might be thinking "Better get my money's worth". Meanwhile  bus fares for the unemployed to travel from Dunstable and Houghton Regis into Luton to sign on, are not exactly cheap, so again it makes sense if they are car drivers, to carry on using their cars. If they want to make a difference, CBC ought to be talking to JobCentre about bringing their services over here.

There's some gems of advice on their web page like, "Walking and Cycling on a regular basis is good for your heart and lungs, burns calories and is a good way to a healthier active life" - but realistically I'd say that people wouldn't heed that advice unless a doctor told them to.

I've noticed that often you get two 38 buses, one behind the other; one would think they'd be able to resolve that by the last one hanging back a bit.

Anyhow, I'm not entirely adverse to the strategy; I do walk or cycle into our town centre when not intending to get a pile of groceries; and I've already asked the Town Clerk for something to lock the bike to - so let me know what improvements you'd like to see to make alternative transport to cars more feasible for you.

Travel Choices - Find out more

Manhole Cover
It's probably 17 months since I filed a report about a missing manhole cover from Windsor Drive (opposite Parkside Close). More than likely stolen for cash, the manhole was quickly covered with a temporary cover and has remained that way all this time. I filed another report to Virgin Media a couple of weeks ago. So I was pleasantly pleased to see the other day that we now, at last,  have a proper manhole cover in place.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012


To cover up the loss of £400,000 on a failed "Love Luton" concert, Luton's Labour council is to take the money from Luton Airport.

But this is smoke and mirrors, because the money would have come to the Council from the airport anyway!



Monday, 10 September 2012

Petrol Filling Station

Members of the public turned out in strength to voice their disapproval of a planning application for a Petrol Filling Station on the site of the former Netto store, currently being run as a Morrison's store in Cemetery Road.

The earliest decision on Planning Application CB/12/02909/FULL will be taken on 16 / 09 / 2012. The decision will be made by Central Bedfordshire Council.

Apart from the Town Council, other consultees include a) Highways Team b) Rights of Way Officer - Central South c) Disability Discrimination Officer d) Public Protection South e) Bedfordshire Police.
Public comments are encouraged; Click the link below and look for "Submit A Public Online Comment". Planning Application CB/12/02909/FULL.

I'd like to share with you my objections on planning grounds to this petrol-filling station application for High Street, Houghton Regis.

*Some people have had problems displaying my objections in Internet Explorer, (me too) but I found it displayed okay in Chrome and Firefox.

Convert Text to Speech

Hey! This is cool - Select and Speak - works really well on my PC in Chrome browser. Highlight the text on a web page, click the button, and have it read out loud back to you. Select Options, and select from a range of over 40 language accents in male and female voices, and change the speed of speech delivery, too. Used in conjunction with Google Translate, you could even have a free "learn-a-language" tool.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Well said, that man!

Here in Houghton Regis we have to put up with mentions of the Labour-run unitary authority of Luton Borough Council in our local newspapers. So it was nice to see the ball punted back into the red court in this week's Luton on Sunday:
Labour Councillor 87 per cent pay rise

Linda Jack: Police and Crime Commissioner?

Experienced campaigner, Linda Jack, has thrown her hat into the ring for the Police and Crime Commissioner role in Bedfordshire, by seeking support for her candidature. It's not natural for Liberal Democrats to feel comfortable about a political appointee for this post, but at least it will give the public a good alternative to Tory and Labour candidates.

Linda reckons she knows urban and rural communities well, and their diversity, and is passionate about evidence based approach to criminal justice, which should bode well for protecting citizens and preventing crime. She's had experience of the party's Crime Policy Working Group, and reckons to be an ambassador for Make Justice Work, as well as claiming to work closely with Nacro, to support young offenders in being able to better manage their money.

About Linda Jack 

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Growing Vegetables

Just stumbled on some great ideas for growing vegetables
rain gutters used togrow plants in

Want to grow a salad garden but have no room? Try gutters! Affix them to a fence, slope them for drainage, and voila! More good ideas  at Nick's Barn Door.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Call for Changes in the Laws Governing Animals for Sale on Internet sites.

At one time I was secretary of the Liberal Animal Welfare Group, and still support causes for animal welfare. Here's a current petition worthy of your consideration.
We call for changes in the Laws governing animals for sale on Internet sites. Responsible department: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs We urge the Government to review the current Laws governing animal welfare to include animals for sale on trading internet sites. Currently live animals can be advertised for sale on these internet sites and there are no laws, few rules, checks or protection for the animals. Some animals offered for sale or “free to good home” can end up in the ownership of unscrupulous people involved in criminal activity, or worse still, animal cruelty such as dog fighting. Some animals are being used as” live bait” for this so called entertainment. These internet sites are rapidly expanding and we call upon the Government to bring into effect new legislation or expand existing Animal welfare laws to cover the sales of live animals on Internet sites.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Keep Away From Houghton Regis

I emailed the Street Works Co-ordinator today about the road works in Houghton Regis.

The current work is needed for UK Power Networks low voltage cabling, and will continue until the end of the week, being done off peak until 3.30pm daily. Temporary lights are in operation as one lane is out of use. These are being operated on manual timings (when the guy is not on his lunch break), and on automatic settings the rest of the time.

Automatic or manual doesn't seem to make much difference, actually, since the operator can't see the lengths of queues in all three directions, so his decisions are at best, a guess. I don't eny him in his task. If he had CCTV of queues in each direction this might improve on the guess work. It would certainly make more sense.

I did notice that traffic moving along East End and into High Street was leaving long gaps, and by the time the traffic arrived in the later period of the green lights at Bedford Road, these gaps were significant. If drivers didn't leave such long gaps, maybe a few more would get through in the green light period.

I also thought that traffic emerging from Bedford Road could be allowed to turn left at any time, with the proviso that a "CAUTION - LOOK RIGHT" sign was put up.

With lots more weeks of road works ahead, the message needs to go out to everyone in the region, "Keep Away From Houghton Regis!"

added 6/9/2012

Path works start next week. The Street Works Co-ordinator has stated in a memo to me, "When works start next week there will be no [temporary] traffic lights. The first set of temporary traffic lights will be after approximately six weeks of the scheme towards the end of October when the permanent lights are removed."

Labour Luton Lose £400k on Festival

STORY, Luton and Dunstable Express

Basically Labour Luton screwed up putting on a weekend event at unaffordable prices, then panicked and slashed the ticket prices in half to try to encourage more people to go.

Then they have the cheek to whinge about having to cut council services because of Government cutbacks.

Reality check, Luton. Watch the Debt Bomb. It's still ticking, and your lot set it off, racking up massive borrowings while in Government, never giving much thought to interest debt repayment.

Coordinated Action Called for on Neptune Square

Dolphin Drive, Houghton Regis, has an awkward double bend in it and that is presumably the reason for double yellow lines on it. I wouldn't support the removal of these lines from one or other side of the road as parked vehicles are a hazard to traffic movement. And, actually, I don't really support the heavy handed approach of beating people with a stick, in the form of the parking control car, especially when other solutions can be found.

Picture from Google Street View

Neptune Square was created at a time when it was assumed people would walk to the shops. The reality is that they would rather park on double yellow lines for a couple of minutes to save them walking too far "just for a paper" or "just for a loaf of bread". There are parking areas nearby but these have the look and feel of being in some way reserved for private dwellings.

A couple of years ago one of the officers from Central Bedfordshire Council was on the verge of putting together a scheme to improve the area when funding was withdrawn.

In Stevenage and Hemel Hempstead the Councils have worked with Nisa Stores to improve the parking situation near their other shops. I am very familiar with the scheme implemented for Crabtree Stores, Hemel Hempstead. People can park safely and have more time to shop as they are not constantly looking out for the "car parking police". This can only be good for business.

Picture from Google Street View

The shop owner tells me that he has been in constant one way communication over the past three to four years with the Central Beds Council, MP Andrew Selous and their solicitors with a proposal, "... to the make Neptune Square a more pleasant modernised, community place to visit, shop and park at our cost too. So far this is falling on deaf ears."

Well, I don't think this should continue to fall on deaf ears. I have written to Cllr Nigel Young, the "Executive Member for Sustainable Communities - Strategic Planning and Economic Development" to ask for some coordinated action.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012


What do you make of OSCAR PISTORIUS’S ‘outburst’ at the end of the T44 200 metre final when he was beaten by ALAN OLIVEIRA?

Stands to reason, if you've got bionic legs you'll fare better than someone without. If yours are more bionic than another's then you'll have a bigger advantage. Bionic-bodied shouldn't be allowed to compete with able bodied.

The stride length is clearly a factor and he was right to bring the subject up.

What I want to know is, why aren't these jumping stilts in the Olympics yet, then we can all get bionic!

Monday, 3 September 2012

Traffic Snarled Up Again

Email sent off this evening to the head of Highways Traffic.

Today I observed traffic snarled up from the Bedford Road junction on the High Street, all the way down to the Sandringham Drive / Park Road North roundabout for the best part of the day. Temporary lights were in use at Bedford Rd/ High Street.

I spoke with the temp light operator at 3.30pm while he was packing up, and he admitted himself that it took him half an hour to get back to the location this afternoon.

I don't know the ins and outs of the timings of these temporary lights, but I would have hoped that something better could have been sorted out to give more priority to traffic on the route I have mentioned. I understand that they are to be used for the rest of the week.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Estate Now Looking Very Weedy

Took a quick spin around the Parkside estate today.

Leaving Parkside to deteriorate like this is not on. In the long run it's false economy as the weeds undermine the pathways and roadways which will require even more public money to put right.

And it's not just weeds that need tackling, it's self planted trees, too. Come on Central Bedfordshire Council. You can do better!


Thursday, 30 August 2012

High Street Works - What's In Store For Us

With my "Bedfordshire Highways Rep" for the Town Council hat on, I have been trying to piece my way through the things that are happening, and the correspondence I have had, with regard to the roadworks  in Houghton Regis High Street. 

Morrison Utility Services are a utility company doing work in the High Street for UK Power Networks. The Morrison name appears on some pedestrian barriers in the High Street area. The work for UKPN happens to be installing cabling for the Morrisons superstore currently being constructed. Information received today says that this work was needed to be in place prior to the main work commencing. A memo from UKPN states that that work will be completed in the next 2-3 days.

Even these works have resulted in some complaints, on Facebook, of long delays in the High Street this week.

Permission has now been given by the Highways Authority's agent (Amey) to allow UKPN to continue with their work next week. This will require three way lights in place of permanent lights in the first week of September, during off peak hours, and manually controlled all day. Being manually controlled it is hoped that this may work better than the non-manual lights do at present.

When the full blown road works begin in the High Street, as a consequence of the S278 requirements for the Morrisons superstore,  the junction of High Street and Bedford Road will be  changed to a roundabout and there will no longer be traffic lights. A 20mph scheme will be brought in for the High Street area to further improve traffic flows. Information about the scheme can be found here.

A date for the S278 road works in High Street, Houghton Regis has not yet been confirmed, but highways planners are mindful of the impact that the major roadworks in South Bedfordshire are having. The start date is not far away.

Meanwhile, traffic flows between Dunstable and Luton continue to be affected by works in Church Street, Dunstable which may still be closed on two further occasions in October,  and Court Drive, Dunstable is likely to be one way only until approximately the end of October. Highway works planners say they are very mindful of the impact the works are having on Houghton Regis, and will continue to do all that can be done to help ease congestion through Houghton Regis in the coming months.

UKIP - "Complete Waste of Space"

Ed Walkington writes in the "easternAgenda" this Summer:

"Rarely in the parliament, frequently missing committee meetings and even plenary sessions, and most frustratingly of all telling constituents they are working hard on an issue when they haven't attended the relevant committee for years, the UKIP MEPs are a complete waste of space in the Parliament. The speeches in plenary tend to be the same europhobic rants, regardless of the matter discussed. One UKIP MEP simply votes 'no' on everything, which I guess saves him the time of reading each report. The greatest shame is that the UK loses out on a potential 12 hard working MEPs."

See how Nigel Farage cynically dresses "working class" to try to win the Old Labour vote.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

How Much We Owe and Have to Pay Back

How Much We Owe and Have to Pay Back In 1997 Labour inherited a budget that was actually in balance. After a painful and turbulent decade under the Tories, the public finances had finally been brought under control. But after four years in office Gordon Brown took out the country's credit card and let rip. By the end of 2009-10 our annual deficit had ballooned to £170.8 billion.

Those Pesky Claw Machines

Here's how they work:

In the owners manual "you can see the default setting is to only use the strong setting on the claw once every 18 games!"

"...There are further controls for the claw to grab in strong mode and then switch to weak mode anywhere from 2-9 seconds after grabbing."

Life is so unfair!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Student Fees

Some people are still upset by the myth that student fees will be unaffordable. Try this video.

No Death Sentence, Then?

I haven't really followed much about the Anders Brievik story, except the headlines that he killed 77 people in two separate attacks, and that his maximum prison sentence will be 21 years (although that may end up as life imprisonment).

Can you imagine the furore if it had happened in this country? "Animal!" Placards waving. Protests. Marches. Lack of respect for authority.

What kind of society is so accepting to not have a death sentence for such a heinous crime? When the court started assembling for the sentencing on Friday morning I ran some thoughts through my own head. "He killed 77 people. What would you do to this guy? Shoot 77 bullets into his own body? tear him apart bit by bit? Hang him?" .

Well, that's something Befordshire top Tory Richard Stay would presumably want. He clearly promotes bringing back the rope to the UK, for people who murder.

I pulled myself into check. This is happening in Norway. They don't behave like that. Why not? Have they ascended to a higher plain? A less knee-jerk society? A collective respect for their laws?

The Independent‎ - Leading article: "Anders Breivik trial exemplified Norway's strengths". Strengths? Ah, that'll be their Liberal society. "...the humanity, dignity and lack of panic with which Norway's leaders responded to the country's most heinous act of terrorism...", "confronted with an extreme atrocity, its social tolerance and respect for the law remained intact."

Aslak Sira Myhre writing in The Guardian "I am... proud to live in a country where my want for revenge does not define the judicial system. "

Way to go Norway. After all, the young lives cut down by Anders Breivik cannot be brought back.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Story of Stuff, Full Version; How Things Work, About Stuff

Why recycling is important.
Story of Stuff, Full Version; How Things Work, About Stuff, You Tube, 21 minutes.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Naked Billiards, Anyone?

Somehow I don't think naked billiards will catch on in Houghton Regis, but if it does, someone give me a shout!

Money Saving Expert

Latest Tip: Instead of spending all day reading the email from Money Saving Expert, and the outcomes of the email,  why not earn some money working?

Presupposes you have paid work to do, of course.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Down the Plughole One By One, or Brace Together?

Jeepers, we're in for a tough time ahead.

Looks like there is an agreement to bail out Spanish banks as their economy is swirling around the plughole... Greece is already further down the plughole and will default again soon... and the rest of us are likely to be sucked down by the inertia, too, before long. How to persuade people to keep their nerve?

How long can ordinary folk, more interested in EastEnders, The Simpsons, or simply finding the time to run from one job to another, spare any precious time to start to understand the issues?

So, to stop us swirling down the plughole into the swamp it looks as if the EU Commission will propose a banking union, this Autumn, to end weak national regulations. And there'll be a bank deposit scheme to restructure the risky banks, and close down the worst.

Fiscal union plans coming up in October, making tax-payers across the eurozone having to assume joint and several liability for a portion of national debt.

December - and we're promised plans for political union, accountable to the European Parliament. No throw-away cheap words from Homer Simpson to "get out of Europe" will make it go away.

Actually, all this could just salvage the euro and make it a welcoming place.

But Dave, the PM, says he won't let Britain join this federal union. (Mrs T. blue rinse, "NO" NO" NO".) Most Tories will be happy to see Britain detached from the EU. Hague has launched a white paper to review the EU and UK relationship, and de-construct the laws that bind UK to the Union.

While the rest of the EU draws up plans to hold hands and brace against the swirling current towards the plughole by making plans for a stronger union,  Britain runs the other way! It's almost laughable when you read this sentence in Hague's paper, "This Government is committed to playing a leading role in the EU and protecting the UK's sovereignty."

And what is London good for, if not financial services? If Britain goes down this isolationist route they shouldn't expect any favours in the City. Why should the other countries care? And that won't bode well for jobs, pension funds, and everything that goes with it. We could just be heading over to a dried out corner of the sink on our own.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


Is there a tree bothering you?

The Estates Team at Central Beds Council have advised that it is the responsibility of the tenants to maintain trees within the boundaries of their property.

So, if a complainant has discussed the problem of a neighbour's tree with their neighbour, and if that neighbour then  refuses to cut the tree back, then the Complaintant is within their rights to cut what is over hanging back to their boundaries, but must dispose of the offcuts in the correct manner.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Labour Embarrassed as Con-Man Poses with Police Chief

The LutonOnSunday reports today that a Labour councillor, Asa Rathore, "regrets not telling Chief Superintendent Mike Colbourne, Bedfordshire's Divisional Commander, he was being filmed with Ahmed Siddique .. convicted in 2009 of obtaining more than £160,000 through fraudulent activities" Labour Party organiser Francis Steer said, 'In my opinion Cllr Rathore was very unwise to allow herself and Ahmed Siddique who has been convicted of fraud, to pose for a photo with Chief Superindendent Mike Colbourne".

I suppose we're in for lots of stories like this from the press in the build up to the Police Commissioner elections. I agree that politics and police shouldn't be mixed.

Labour Celebrate - More Public Money Wasted

The Manchester Evening News reports: "Members of Greater Manchester’s axed police authority are to toast their own demise – with a taxpayer-funded bash at the five-star Lowry Hotel. About 100 people are expected for a three-course meal at the swish city-centre venue to mark the scrapping of the authority." Well, that’s one way for the (Labour-run) body to spend tax payer's money… manchestereveningnews/news/s/1586528_scrapped-greater-manchester-police-authority-to-hold-party-at-five-star-lowry-hotel---on-the-tax-payer

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Fundraising Houghton Regis

What a great bunch of charity fund-raisers the folks in Houghton Regis are! I asked on my News Desk Facebook Page for any resident in Houghton Regis who was raising funds for charity and got a fantastic response! If there are any more - and, I'm sure there will be, send a message to me and I'll add that to the article.

What Are They Teaching Kids?

Quoted from 

Edited quote: 
"We have the Year 1 Screening Check. Like you, I am at a loss to see what it tests, actually. 

Last year I was observing in a Reception Class and the teacher was ‘doing phonics’. Gold coins spun in front of the children’s eyes on the interactive whiteboard to form three letter words; some ‘real’ some ‘not real’, although how children are supposed to distinguish between real and not real is beyond me. 

Children had to give thumbs up if the word was real, thumbs down if it wasn’t. 

A little boy called Archie gave ‘thumbs up’ to a word that adults would know didn’t exist. The teacher asked him (very kindly) why he’d given the word the thumbs up. ‘Well, I thought it might be a word that I didn’t know yet,’ he replied. 

Where is the room in the test for answers like that? "

My Previous Blogs

Due to the complications of multiple accounts with Blogger, Google, Google Calendar etc, my previous blogs are discontinued. If they are available you will find them at:


Thursday, 16 August 2012

What Are They Teaching Kids?

Quoted from

Edited quote: "We have the Year 1 Screening Check. Like you, I am at a loss to see what it tests, actually. Last year I was observing in a Reception Class and the teacher was ‘doing phonics’. Gold coins spun in front of the children’s eyes on the interactive whiteboard to form three letter words; some ‘real’ some ‘not real’, although how children are supposed to distinguish between real and not real is beyond me. Children had to give thumbs up if the word was real, thumbs down if it wasn’t. A little boy called Archie gave ‘thumbs up’ to a word that adults would know didn’t exist. The teacher asked him (very kindly) why he’d given the word the thumbs up. ‘Well, I thought it might be a word that I didn’t know yet,’ he replied. Where is the room in the test for answers like that? "

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Those Political Boundary Lines

The latest threat to jeopardise the proposed constituency boundary changes – reducing the number of MPs from 650 to 600 – by the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, throws the problem for this area once again into sharp focus.

The proposed new boundary changes would see Houghton Regis and Dunstable being separated into two different constituencies. Dunstable would no longer be a part of South West Bedfordshire. Caddington, Chaul End, Kensworth and East Hyde would become part of a redrawn Hemel Hempstead constituency. Nadine Dorries present seat would be abolished.

But the South West Beds constituency has exactly the right number of constituents at the moment. So, why does it need to change?

It's already fairly confusing for local people as the current area newspapers regularly report the activites of five Members of Parliament. The re-jig would reduce that count to four. But will people, especially those in Dunstable, remember the changes if they do go through, and remember to contact the correct MP? Implementing the proposals would be a recipe for chaos at a time the country needs stability.

Political parties organised by Constituency boundaries face the upheaval of changing their structures and bank accounts to cope with the changes. Spending time on that instead of the real issues of the day is a detraction that we can certainly do without.

There is an overwhelming sense of being mere mortals in the face of these god-like proposals from the Boundary Commission for England.

Dunstable Town Council organised a petition protesting at Dunstable being shifted to a new constituency comprising eight Luton wards and the four Dunstable wards. The petition was supported by local Tory MP, Andrew Selous. The new threat from Nick Clegg may be a blessing for those protestors. Perhaps Andrew will support Mr Clegg?

The new boundaries are designed to even out the number of MPs in each seat, but given that population growth is likely to be strongest from current centres of population, it won't be long before they'll have to look at these boundaries again.

A new poll by Lib Dem Voice, which represents grassroot activists, found that 48 per cent would prefer to be in alliance with the Labour party in 2015 compared to just 19 per cent who want to carry on with the Tories.

Meanwhile, the reform of the House of Lords has effectively been dumped by the Tories. Perhaps now is not the time to be looking at this with the Eurozone in meltdown, but let's not forget that it does need addressing in the future. Inherited priviledges to attend a major place in the UK to decide the laws on how we live our lives is just not democracy.

There’s zero chance of Clegg cutting any boundary deal with Tories over party funding

Estimates by Boundary Commission for England.for the new boundaries:
18 Hemel Hempstead CC 76,457
26 Luton North and Dunstable BC 78,957
27 Luton South BC 75,106
43 South West Bedfordshire CC 77,807
44 South West Hertfordshire CC 79,167
46 St Albans CC 78,920

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Garages Boarded up While Waiting List Exists

Central Bedfordshire Council have a waiting list of 162 for a council garage. In Houghton Regis the Council owns 482 garages, 273 are rented out, and 43 are boarded up. In Dunstable the Council owns 666 garages, 246 are rented out and 80 boarded up. Parkside Houghton Regis town councillor, Alan Winter, obtained the figures through a Freedom of Information request. Cllr Winter commented, "It's a great shame that in our town 43 are boarded up while a waiting list exists. I used to park a Mondeo in a garage the size of a typical estate garage, so I don't buy the argument that garages are too small. A garage is the best place for a car for security, and they should be used. I shall be asking the Central Bedfordshire Council to step up its efforts to bring the boarded garages back into use."

Sunday, 15 July 2012

New Names Wanted for New Neighbourhoods

I read that land in the north of Houghton Regis was given to the Prior and this land was called Caldecote (Vivienne Evans, A Brief History of Dunstable with the Priory 1100-1550). Now that redevelopment proposals are being publicly discussed, they are also casting around for new suggestions for up to three new neighbourhoods. I think it important that the new neighbourhoods are given appropriate names.

We start from the current three electoral wards for Houghton Regis: Tithe Farm, Parkside, and Houghton Hall.

Developers suggestions have included "Houstone", "Milard", and "Kyngs".

Well, "Houstone" is an ancient name for the whole of Houghton Regis, and I don't find that very imaginitive. Milard comes from Alice Milard. Alice Smyth, widower, purchased land from the Duke of Bedford's very extensive estates, and proceeded to have Houghton Hall constructed next to the Village Green, completed in 1700. Her new husband, William Milard, later gained a knighthood. "Kyngs" is just another throwback name to ancient times when the whole area may have been known as Kyngs Houstone or Kyngs Houghton before 1066. (check out my time line for Houghton Regis at

Alice Milard was actually a daughter of one of the well known Brandreth's, so really, the argument ought to be to call a place Brandreth, except that the electoral ward known today as "Houghton Hall" is more representative of the area owned by the Brandreth's.

In the 2006 book "Selling Sparrows" "Great Crixsey" is mentioned within an enclosure map MA84/2 of 1796, as an area of land mentioned to the south of "Carcutt" Farm. Today we know it as Calcutt Farm. So there are three potential locality names - Carcutt, Calcutt, and Great Crixsey. Why not re-use, at least as small estate, or as road names?

My colleagues on the Facebook Group Houghton Regis .... Back in the Day are suggesting "Washbrook" and I discovered there was a "Washbrook Corner" in Houghton Regis in the 1841 census. I've located it on the same 1796 map mentioned above, being immediately to the west of the land marked Great Crixsley on Bedford Road, opposite the junction with Thorn Road. Roger Chant writes, "The Washbrook was so called as it was where drovers washed their sheep whilst driving them to market, probably in Dunstable. When we were kids there was a bit of a slope into and out of the stream on the eastern side of the bridge. "

I'm aware that various plants were cultivated for local chemists. So how about "Sage", "Parsley" and "Thyme" –– but only if they were relevant to our area!

So, thinking caps on– and let's hopefully end up with some reasonably good names–

The Draft Houghton Regis Proposals can be found here, on CBC website.

Time Banks

Here's a problem:
Mary loves baking, hates gardening.
Peter misses his mum's cooking now she's passed on.
Fred doesn't mind gardening, but hates ironing.
Betty loves ironing, hates wall-papering.
Peter happens to be quite good at wall papering.

         On Friday I attended a "Time Banking" seminar at Chicksands, hosted by Central Bedfordshire Council. Here's what happens: you volunteer an hour of your time to help someone, and get a credit of one hour in the time bank. When you need something done, you go to the time bank and prevail upon the skill that someone else has.

 So, Mary does some baking for Peter. Mary's credit 1 hour.
 Peter does some wall papering for Betty. Peter's credit 2.5 hours, less the hour already taken.
Fred does 3 hours gardening for Mary. Fred's credit 3 hours.
Betty does Fred's ironing. Betty Credit 1 hour.

 A free software programme works out the balance of time for you. If you've got lots of credit, why not link up with another time bank in Cornwall, and get some free instruction on surfing? Or maybe you'd like to gift this time to mother for Mothers Day?

 Find out more at

Monday, 21 May 2012

Houghton Regis Hit by Car Insurers

Originally published 5/2012.

Car insurance prices for Houghton Regis must be among the highest in the country.

Compared to last year my current insurer wants to hike up my fully comprehensive insurance premium by a staggering 50%. Yet none of my details have changed. Entering my details into a price comparison website this weekend I quickly found that I could get insurance for about the same as I paid last year. So that brought a smaile to my face.

But when I discussed this with someone else in Hertfordshire they were still wondering why my lowest quote was so high.

So, just changing the postcode in the price comparison website what difference did I find? Taking the average quote of the three companies offering the lowest prices, here's what I found:

Houghton Regis .... £371.92
Dunstable ............... £339.50
Blackpool ............... £333.93
Hemel Hempstead £318.69
Welwyn ................... £307.08
Thetford .................. £254.59
Camborne, (Corn.) .£216.25

Even on these figures, one company offered £0 compulsory excess in Cornwall, Thetford, and Blackpool; 2 offered £0 complusory excess in Welwyn and Hemel Hempstead. But for Dunstable and Houghton Regis, the mimimum compulsory excess offered by only one of these companies was £100.

Well, it's not fair. We're not a wealthy town. It's an injustice, and we need to be put on a level playing field. Motorists drive all over the country. Just because there may be a greater concentration of claims in one area - I have no idea if there actually is - should not automatically result in everyone residing in that area being tarred with the same brush.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Change this Car Insurance Postcode Lottery!

Car insurance prices for Houghton Regis must be among the highest in the country.

Compared to last year my current insurer wants to hike up my fully comprehensive insurance premium by a staggering 50%. Yet none of my details have changed. Entering my details into a price comparison website this weekend I quickly found that I could get insurance for about the same as I paid last year. So that brought a small smile to my face.

But when I discussed this with someone living in Hertfordshire they were still wondering why my lowest quote was so high.

So, just changing the postcode in the price comparison website what difference did I find? Taking the average quote of the three companies offering the lowest prices, here's what I found:

Houghton Regis ......... £371.92
Dunstable .................. £339.50
Blackpool .................. £333.93
Hemel Hempstead ....... £318.69
Welwyn ..................... £307.08
Thetford ...................... £254.59
Camborne, (Corn.) ....... £216.25

Even on these figures, one company offered £0 compulsory excess in Cornwall, Thetford, and Blackpool; 2 offered £0 complusory excess in Welwyn and Hemel Hempstead. But for Dunstable and Houghton Regis, the mimimum compulsory excess offered by only one of these companies was £100.

Well, it's not fair. We're not a wealthy town. It's a diaboloical injustice! A car insurance postal code lottery! And we need to be put on a level playing field. Just because there may be a greater concentration of claims in one area - and I have no idea if there actually is - should not automatically result in everyone residing in that area being tarred with the same brush.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Join Us

The stark difference between a Liberal Democrat newsletter for Houghton Regis and a Labour newsletter for Houghton Regis, is that the Liberal Democrats actually have news about the town in it, whereas Labour's doesn't even acknowledge the presence of their solitary councillor. The Liberal Democrats is a bottom up party, Labour is a top down party. Join us.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

A New Sense of Pride for A "Therapeutic" Cleansing

I've receieved several messages from a poorly Councillor Rita Egan this week, copying me in on progress of rubbish clearance on Shanley's land to the east of Houghton Regis. A bulldozer was at work there late last year mowing the bushes down (and some trees), scrapping up the land and depositing it all, along with years of accumulated dumped rubbish, into piles in their fields. As you can imagine this brought a string of complaints our way, and other residents took the issue up with Central Beds indepently of us.

Well, I can say that Rita went to the highest accountable person at Central Beds, Councillor Budge Wells, who came along personally to see the mess with the Environmental officer. They've had meetings with the landowners, who have promised a clear up and removal of the rubbish.

Other piles were left in bushes on the same land to the west of the old bus-link towards Lewsey Farm that I photographed months ago and sent to CBC asking for some action.

After Rita's messages I was aware that something was supposed to happen this week, so took a walk down the buslink after work one day to see for myself. Two piles of debris had been created after dragging it out from the bushes, and Councillor Pete Carrington tells me that a small truck was brought up the following morning and carted it away. But it does seem they were unaware of the amount on the fields next to Houghton Park Road, and will need to come back with a bigger truck. On Thursday Rita wrote me "They will be out tomorrow with diggers trying to clean up Houghton Park Rd. They are all monitoring the situation and this really is on everyone's radar."

Public Spirit

But I was cheered by the sight of public spirited local resident, Sally Gray, while I took my stroll down that lane. She had her own litter picker and sack and was concentrating on clearing particulalry glass from the green space to the west of the buslink. "Actually, it's quite therapeutic," she told me.

This is the land that Central Beds Council are one day hoping to drive a new road through from Portz Avenue. Really, they don't have a strong enough workforce to clear rubbish. To walk through this strip of wildlife refuge green land buffering Luton from Houghton Regis does make one appreciate what will be lost. It is a great shame that this route (south of Parkside) is being preferred above all others as the relief route. Anyway, I digress.

I've taken part in litter picking on two occaisions in March; at the Houghton Regis Chalk Quarry; and on Blows Down. Normally desk-bound, I certainly agree it can be theraputic.

I'm optimistic that the Quarry will become a much loved public space; and the exercise of rubbish clearance gave my walk on Blows Down a sense of purpose. With every scrap of can, bottle, or discarded bag removed the collecting bag grew heavier and heavier telling me that we were succeeding.

The Town Council in Houghton Regis is hoping to organise some community litter-picking around the town, so I do hope that when the call comes, people will respond. "We" made the rubbish, and "we" need to be more responsible for the environment we all live in.