Saturday, 31 January 2015

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - But Which Authorities do the Best?

Compare Recycling Rates by Authority 2013-2014.

With different rubbish collection methods in use across the country, have put together an interactive map showing how authorities compare at recycling. Here's a snapshot for Central Bedfordshire, and some other authorities based on figures available for 2013/14. The EU 2020 recycling target is 50 per cent, and this is unlikely to be met unless more authorities pull up their socks up and tackle the problem.

Three Rivers District Council (run by Lib Dems)
Percentage of household waste sent for reuse, recycling or composting: 62.44%
Recycling performance rank: 4th out of 326

Central Bedfordshire Council (run by Conservatives)
Percentage of household waste sent for reuse, recycling or composting: 49.77%
Recycling performance rank: 77th out of 326

Blackpool Borough Council (my parents area)
Percentage of household waste sent for reuse, recycling or composting: 41.14%
Recycling performance rank by country: 183 out of 326

Cornwall Council (my brothers' area)
Percentage of household waste sent for reuse, recycling or composting: 35.15%
Recycling performance rank by country: 247 out of 326

Breckland District Council  (my other brothers' area)
Percentage of household waste sent for reuse, recycling or composting: 36.18%
Recycling performance rank by country: 238 out of 326

Luton Borough Council (run by Labour)
Percentage of household waste sent for reuse, recycling or composting: 33.34%
Recycling performance rank: 267th out of 326

Brighton and Hove City Council (run by Green Party)
Percentage of household waste sent for reuse, recycling or composting: 25.80%
Recycling performance rank: 306th out of 326

This data relates to the 2013/14 financial year as published by Defra on 18 November 2014
Interactive Map Source:

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Tesco Express to Close in Houghton Regis

This has rapidly become a hotly talked about topic in Houghton Regis. With thanks to Simon Gompertz Blog.

I hope they've taken the decision based on a proper set of figures. After all, the Co-op hasn't been closed for a year yet, and some footfall from that must have been heading to Tesco Express.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Bikes, Quad Bikes

I've come across three burnt out bikes recently, one in a wood between Lewsey Farm and Parkside, the other two in Bloomsbury Gardens. When the police recover them to a pound, and are claimed by the owner from the chassis number, the owner is charged £150 to get them back. As in the owner wants the insult of the charged added to the injury of the getting back a bike that is effectively a total write-off. So, last night's Town Council meeting saw a resident come to voice his annoyance at such charges; sadly the police were unexpectedly unavailable to attend the meeting to hear his complaint due to being on training courses, but members of the town council will be taking up this point with the Combating Crime Working group that meets monthly with the police. [Picture: burnt out bike on my Facebook Page: ]

In my post box today was another complaint from someone upset about the nuisance of bikes and quad bikes. I am well aware of the nuisance and noise they make. The riders are acting illegally by riding on footpaths, on public land without permission, for not wearing helmets, and probably for not having insurance, too. With all those illegalities they are in high danger of having their transport confiscated and crushed.  I have already written on this topic in the past week to Sgt Linda Wilson of the local policing force, and to Olly Martins, the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner. 

When Mr Martins replied, he did so via my Facebook Page, "Houghton Regis News Desk". He took the opportunity to point to his suggested 16% increase in the Police precept from Council Tax. This would cost a typical band D property about an extra 50p a week, a band B property about 39p extra a week. For that he estimates 100 new police officers could be put out into Bedfordshire to police our communities. Whether or not you support this idea, you can make your view known at 

The Town Council currently have a contract with Bedfordshire Police to supply extra PCSO time at a cost to the Town Council of £33,000. From time to time the Police have mounted bike operation stings against these riders, involving them mustering officers from neighbouring police forces on bikes of their own. Personally, I hope that these operations will continue from time to time.

Burnt out bike shared to Facebook on 22 January:

Friday, 16 January 2015

Update From #WoodsideLink Discussion

'Woodside Link' will go through this scrubland between Sandringham Drive and Wheatfield Road. Photo: A D Winter
On Wednesday I was at our Strategic Development Working Group meeting at HRTC where officers, and art designers were present.

We were told that the scrub under the 'diamond shape' pylons east of the old Parkside Drive-Pastures Way buslink will not now be done in the first season; it will be left until 2016.
We were also told that it was not intended to remove all of that scrub, anyway, but rather to make a grass footway through it.

We did ask them about planting along the edge of the wall and they gave us their experts opinion that this might be difficult to achieve given the north facing wall, and limitation of water supply to roots, and so on.
The CBC commissioned artist explained her design for the the wall facing out onto Sandringham Drive. Colourful rectangular upright shapes of various heights would be painted onto the sides of the walls to break up the eye level; in addition the wall would project outwards at regular intervals. They showed us 3D cardboard samples of how that might appear, too, which was very helpful, but unfortunately this does not convey in a 2D picture. In addition, trees can be planted on the grass verge between road and cycle paths, further reducing the impact of the wall. They have pointed out that planting is due to go on the land between the new road and Frogmore Rd, and the foraging and other plants will get some public participation, as will the proposed design for the road side of the fencing.

The artist commissioned by CBC who came up with the acoustic sound wave on the inner side of the route fence explained how it would work. People would be able to download an app to convert the painted blue sound bars into noise.
After answering my questions on practicality, and road safety, I expressed reservations, but ultimately I think they will do it anyway. The choice of what sort of noise is to be worked out, possibly with some community involvement.

We were told that they would work with the community to put in planting (foraging, if that is what is wanted) in the community gardens south of Frogmore Rd.

I again suggested that CBC should set up a Facebook Page specifically to convey news of Woodside Link progress. This was on the basis that when Poynters Rd was closed for 11 weeks a couple of years ago, a specific FB page was set up for that, and this seemed to work quite well, with local residents being able to quickly find the information they want, and able to report the things they were unhappy with.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

No One Likes Mess, So Houghton Hall Park Needs More TLC

I'm bringing this matter to the attention of CBC.
I was down there, in the new car park a couple of days ago and the ordinary bin was full to overflowing - possibly people are emptying rubbish out of their cars and helping to fill them up.
And the dog bins get full up too quickly.
The bins in Houghton Hall Park either need emptying more frequently or we need bigger bins.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Charlie Hebdo Cartoons

Two of my favourite cartoons illustrating the drama of the last couple of awful days in France.