First Blog of 2012

HAPPY NEW YEAR. What a wonderful display of fireworks on the Thames in London last night!

Looking back over 2011, I suppose the biggest surprise to me was that my "Houghton Regis News Desk" page on Facebook  gained over 200 new followers in one day, from people presumably looking for information about the lorry that crashed into The Chequers Hungry Horse. I have still not received a satisfactory explanation from the agents acting for the driver's company, although a rudimentary response was received by Andrew Selous, MP, from Central Bedfordshire Council, on my behalf. So speculation still exists as to the cause of the driver's misfortune.

Meanwhile, CBC were supposed to be coming back to us in September with suggestions for improving safety along Sundon Road, including the two roundabouts, but so far I've heard nothing. There are several footpaths from Parkside onto Sundon Road that emerge dangerously from trees, and I fear that it is just a matter of time before someone is knocked down, unless improvements are made to cut vehicle speed down.

The Save Houghton Regis Leisure Centre group sprang up on Facebook, and some "new" folk started taking a public interest in what goes on in our town. Hurrah for that! The town council were invited to "poll" the people of the town, and in spite of some controversy over the arranging of that poll - put down to delivery problems - a 10% feedback response was received, which is pretty good for an opinion poll. The poll didn't go the way the "save" campaign wanted, so the Central Beds Council swimming pool will not be re-opening any time soon. Regardless, the "save" campaign are promising to carry on to try to save the dry side, and an Open Day is arranged a week on Saturday at the Leisure Centre.

We've still got a grotty metal sign in Park Road declaring "Houghton Regis" and "South Beds Council". I wonder why the metal thieves haven't had that away by now? - They've nicked several man hole covers, lead flashings, and ripped out copper from several homes in the area over the past months!
"Welcome" to Houghton Regis

Local residents organised a petition to complain about the state of the cemetery.  It's difficult to balance what went before, what is required by modern safety standards, and what present day people want from a cemetery compared to what people wanted in the past. It's a wrangle that will continuously bother the town council.

So, Christmas came and went, we all put on a few pounds, no doubt. So in order to burn off a few calories, I did a quick stroll around Parkside, and sent off a few missives to Central Beds Council. A lot of it is down to people living in this area not taking care of the environment they live in:
  • We've had a spate of tyres being dumped.
  • I am requesting regular monitoring of Bromley Gardens, litter picking in and around all bushes in this road.
  • Tiles missing from disused garage at the end of Hammersmith Gardens close to Westminster Gardens flats.
  • Baby swings still missing from the playground between Chelsea Gardens and Bromley Gardens.
  • Green bottle glass is strewn in alleyway in Brentwood Close.
  • Several "day-burner" lights reported.
  • And we've got a wobbly road sign at Manning Court.
Tiles stolen; Wobbly road sign

On the plus side, I was pleased to note that:
  • a previously wobbly sign at Brentwood Close was resited, 
  • some dumped rubbish in Bromley Gardens was removed; 
  • some tarmac patching was done in Bromley Gardens.
On my walk, I was reminded of the struggle with this concrete monstrosity in Kirton Way that still needs to be removed. It is on private land, and will take some time yet to be resolved, but I know from Cllr Rita Egan that CBC officers are "on the case." Talking of whom, I was please to note that the dropped kerbs in Parkside Drive (near The Dog and Duck that closed in 2011), have now been instated for the first time after Rita's persistence with CBC.

This year will see the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. The Houghton Regis Town Council want to hear of ideas and suggestions for events in the town, and the Memorial Hall committee are also interested in putting on something.

A New Year, but a new prosperity? On the face of it, this seems unlikely in general terms. We've got a new store opening up sometime in the Autumn that will bring some basic jobs to Houghton Regis, which will help. 

On a personal note I was please to get a small raise from my employers in 2011 - the first for 4 years, I might add - although their ability to maintain a position for me has to be called into question. I guess we're all in the same boat. Thank goodness we're not "4 fathoms under" like the Greek, Italian, and Spanish economies. But if they go down, God help us all.

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