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!