Saturday, 29 November 2014

Parkside Walk About. Problems Problems Problems. (sigh)

Out and about in Parkside, Houghton Regis today. A few problems reported. A few remaining.

Litter and debris near Bloomsbury Gardens

A mattress is dumped on path by Bromley Gardens  (and another in Long Meadow). And hardboard dumped at end of Conquest Rd. And more rubbish by garages in Linmere Walk (where incidentally, we still have the weeds growing uncontrolled by a partially demolished garage.

Railings @ Bromley Gardens bent and twisted.

An issue with frayed ropes at Parkside Upper playground reported to HRTC.

I've long thought that something should be done with the pathway leading from Sandringham Drive's new estate to Parkside Lower playground. The path leads through a small copse and is used by young mum's taking their small children to the playground. If you've ever pushed a pushchair through mud, I think you'll understand the issue. I think I'll have another stab at CBC's Travel Choices people and see if they can't fund a solution. After all, they seem to be happy to spend money helping two-wheeled cyclists in South Beds, so how about other, four wheeled, pedestrian vehicles?


Ongoing Fareham Way issue:

Need to chase up a certain CBC officer about this:

That'll do for today. (sigh).

Footnote 1/12/2014. Very responsive reply from CBC Environmental Protection Officer about the burnt out garage. "Have asked for a sample analysis to be taken in regards to the possibility of asbestos with in the waste from the roof covering. Once I have the results of that test we will be in place to select a contractor to clear and secure the garage. Once this is done I will finalise the case file and sent to our legal team."

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Cemetery Charges Under Review

Houghton Regis Town Council meet tonight to review various charges, including burial costs at their cemetery in Cemetery Road. Should the charges be left as they are, increased by the rate of inflation, or brought into line with charges made by bigger local authorities?

I've just done some research, and although Houghton Regis charges very fairly as compared to similar small towns in Central Bedfordshire, the cost of looking after graves over many years is never really met. Crematoriums are run at a profit, graves at a loss. Farmers are no longer giving away land as a favour for a cemetery, preferring to sell it to developers for new housing. The value of any land a town council has, has to be carefully weighed up. It won't last forever.

The Town Council are currently looking into the prospect of converting a recreation ground (WITH  COVENANTS ON IT, ONE THAT RESTRICTS ITS USE TO "OPEN SPACE FOR RECREATIONAL USE") into a cemetery that might last them 40 years. Well, what happens after the 40 years are up? What playing field comes under scrutiny next?

The land use might be spun out a bit further by building mausoleums, and charging high fees for vaults (prices up to £37,000 at Bedford Borough Council), but in the meantime, more should be done to dissuade burials, and encourage cremations.

Sample fees (sourced Nov 2014) :

Exclusive Right of Burial (Adult) cost to authority residents 75 years except where stated):
£954 East Finchley  (+50% for advanced reserve)
£893 Mill Hill  (+50% for advanced reserve)
£860 Watford (50 years)
£675 Luton
£561 Bedford
£469 Stevenage
£260 Toddington
£236 Houghton Regis
£220 Edlesborough (50 years, includes interment)
£205 Flitwick
£160 Biggleswade (100 years)

After the burial right, the cost of Interment in a grave:
£620 Luton
£619 Bedford (with other options up to £37,447)
£552 East Finchley / Mill Hill
£450 Watford
£262 Flitwick
£248 Stevenage
£200 Biggleswade
£163 Toddington
£110 Houghton Regis

Permit for headstone:
£212 Bedford
£170 Stevenage
£150 Toddington
£84 East Finchley / Mill Hill
£64 Flitwick
£45 Edlesborough
£43 Houghton Regis
£40 Biggleswade

* Footnote: since writing this, the committee agreed to increase the fees in Houghton Regis by 5% rather than the 3% in-line with inflation suggested by officers. Luton's fees are due to rise again in January 2015. For the record, when the covenants on Orchard Close came to light, this changed everything for me. I do not support Orchard Close being used as a cemetery.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Apalling Fly-Tipping Problem in Essex!

It's going to cost about a £1million to clear this lot up, is just one of the quotes in this story from the BBC. I really can't understand why any local councillor has allowed things to get into this state. In my experience you have to keep going out in your patch, seeing what the problems are, and reporting them. If you don't report them things get out of hand and this is the result.


Thursday, 20 November 2014

Appalling Behaviour of Tory Councillor @Councillorsuzie - Pointing Out A Person As Fat - And Just For A Laugh.

If Suzie knows Gemma, and knew she could take it as a joke, then fair enough.

If Suzie simply doesn't like ANY fat people, and doesn't care for their vote, then fair enough.

But otherwise, this is BAD. BAD. BAD.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Pharmaceutical Needs in Central Bedfordshire (file note)

Document includes lots of health statistics, chemist opening times, services they provide, ward by ward, life expectancy,  Stop Smoking Services, Substance Misuse, Childhood Obesity, population maps by ward,  End of Life Care Medicines  service, Legislative requirements, for Central Bedfordshire.


Houghton Brook - Lilly Lane (file note)

 I took a number of pictures of the Houghton Brook yesterday afternoon alongside the path between the cricket pavilion and Park Road North. Historically this route is known as Lilly Lane.

The Houghton Brook starts behind the Pavilion on Houghton Regis Village Green and wends eastward. It is claimed as the source of the River Lea.  Sustrans National Cycle path N0. 6. runs alongside the Brook through Houghton Regis. The waters easily collect debris from small fallen branches between the Green and across to Parkside. And then there are people who don't care and throw things into it.

My contact at the Environment Agency has now promised me that he "will get one of our Operations gangs to come and clear the brook. I will try and get this done ASAP."

The EA will attend to calls made to their incident number (0800 80 70 60 ) by members of the public reporting obstruction/blockages such as fallen trees. They don’t own the Houghton Brook and  have no legal responsibility to carry out any work on it. Maintenance of the brook is the responsibility of the land or riparian owner. The EA carry out maintenance works on the brook for flood defence purposes using powers granted to them by Government.

The EA have a brochure "Living on the Edge". If you own land or property next to a river, stream or ditch you are a ‘riparian landowner’ and this guide is for you. It has been updated with new information on who to contact for guidance on watercourses. Download here (pdf).

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Question About Stray Dogs In Central Bedfordshire

Unfinished Business

In July and August I provided Central Bedfordshire Council with a "tip of the iceberg" report on the state of overgrown trees in Parkside. I am still waiting to hear what they will actually do about them, apart from pass the baton to someone else to look into.

Back in April the Town Partnership, a joint committee of Town and Central Bedfordshire Councillors and officers from both, met to decide a way forward to removing a pile of concrete from Kirton Way. I am still waiting to hear when and if any action will actually take place.

I have not had any news on any schedule of works to remedy the works in the High Street. We were informed in the summer that the rectification bill would be met by the private supermarket developers, although the work would be carried out by Amey.

On 15th July I presented a petition to CBC  requesting that provision be made for a social club within the redeveloped Co-op site on Houghton Regis High Street. Senior CBC councillor Nigel Young delegated an officer to liaise with myself, the club chairman and the two CBC ward councillors. To date all I've been told is that negotiations on the site are confidential.

I have had CBC officers investigate three eyesore garages in Newbury Road. This has resulted in enforcement notices, and the area being made more respectable, although it needs constant monitoring.

A problem of parking near the Parkside Neighbourhood Centre has been investigated. Housing and Highways officers from CBC have advised me, and I have seen residents involved. Let's hope the residents understand each other now.

Last year I highlighted the problem of empty garages in the ownership of CBC ( I was told in a Freedom of Information request that Central Bedfordshire Council owned  1,016 garages in Houghton Regis, of which 565 of them were boarded up, and apparently a waiting list of only 25. A wasting asset in my view. Action seems to be nearing some conclusion as I understand that CBC are working up a couple of schemes to redevelop one of two garage blocks in the Tithe Farm area, although not in Parkside, just yet.

Application to build one bedroom flats on the old Dog & Duck car park - the outcome of this is awaited with interest. My objections were largely based on poor security provision for the site, such as leaving proposed bike cupboards exposed to a public car park.

Monday, 3 November 2014


found on the Busway near Dunstable ... but what sort is it?

Try here: ɥʇʇd://ʍʍʍ˙nʞsɐɟɐɹᴉ˙ɔoɯ/pǝʌᴉlsɔoɐɔɥ-ɥoɹsǝ˙ɥʇɯ