Thursday, 10 August 2017

CB/17/03450/FULL – 74-76 High Street, Houghton Regis



My objections sent in with a little help from Houghton Regis Planning Applications Facebook Group


7th August  2017

CB/17/03450/FULL – 74-76 High Street, Houghton Regis
Site of Former 74 to 76, High Street, Houghton Regis
New build to create 3 x 1 Bedroom Apartments and 2 Studio Apartments (5 in total).

Objections.

1. The site used to house a commercial building that was demolished because it was unsafe. Demolition was permitted in CB/13/01129/DEM. Because there is archaeological interest in the site, the decision notice specified that "The Council's further express planning permission is required for the removal of the building foundations in connection with the redevelopment of the site." The application is therefore premature as there has been no application specifically for the removal of the building foundations.

2. Houghton Regis has a continuous record of almost all of its town centre shops being occupied. The proposed development is out of character with the immediate area which is predominantly commercial in character. The trend is to rejuvenate high streets as retail and commercial centres so this would represent the loss of a potential retail unit.

3.  It is unclear from the supplied documentation where Cycling and bin storage areas are to be provided. If communal bins are to be provided at the rear, the applicant has not demonstrated that the Council is able to supply bins that can be manoeuvred along the narrow alleyway to the front of the property. It is unclear who the onus of moving the bins to a collection point and back again will be done by.

4. Growth of developments in town centre locations that are built without adequate parking spaces increases pressure on neighbouring streets for parking restrictions, resident only parking, and civil parking enforcement which in turn becomes a burden on Council administration in terms of parking complaints, staff time and costs. In that respect accommodations without parking are unsustainable.

Central Bedfordshire Council’s Parking Strategy, forms part of the adopted Local Transport Plan 3 (LTP3) covering the period between April 2011 and March 2026. This specifies that a 1 bedroom dwelling should have 1 parking space per unit allocated as a minimum, plus visitor parking of 0.25 spaces per unit. Therefore this application for three 1 bedroom units plus 2 studio apartments should have at least 6.25 spaces. No parking spaces are provided which is wholly unacceptable.

5. For the alleyway on the western elevation, it is not indicated whether a lockable gate is to be provided or not. Being on a high street the alleyway could become a target for anti-social behaviour, therefore a lockable gate should be provided, to secure the route as a private one for the residents. In turn that would help to secure any cycles parked at the rear, and improve personal safety.

6. The application lacks a management construction plan detailing how the site is to be accessed during construction, codes of conduct for scaffolders, where construction traffic is to park, hours of construction operation, arrangements for pedestrians during construction, and who to contact for any breach of management construction policy.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Standing Orders! Six of One and Half A Dozen of the Other!


It's been awhile since I watched a bit of theatre but, on reflection, in terms of theatrical entertainment, last night's Town Council meeting was a good one.

In terms of getting anything done for the town, they achieved nothing.

The trouble is, the Council is hung, and on the key debates of the evening, to do with internal Policies of  Council, voting was split, along the lines of {Labour + Lib Dem Cllr Robin Hines} versus {other Lib Dems and Independents}, with the mayor having the casting vote.

Standing Order 7a  used to say (version as amended 30th January 2017) "PRESENCE OF NON-MEMBERS OF COMMITTEES AT COMMITTEE MEETINGS. Any Councillor may attend, and with the permission of the Committee Chair speak on particular matters at a meeting of a Committee or Sub-Committee of which he is not a member, but may not vote."

Some meetings were going on too long, argued the Labour side, so they sought a change to this Standing Order, to ensure that non-members of a committee would not be allowed to participate in the meeting unless the meeting had a public participation session. The counter argument from the chair of Corporate Services - arguably the  'keeper of the rules' - was that it was up to members to point out to the chair the time, and if necessary to invoke another policy:

Standing Order 1w. "A meeting shall not normally exceed a period of 2.5 hours unless by agreement of those Members present."

Then, provoked by repeated speeches from the same councillors arguing the same points over and over again, the chair of Corporate Services reminded the meeting of Standing Order 13o RULES OF DEBATE - MOTIONS "Unless permitted by the chairman of the meeting, a councillor may speak once in the debate on a motion" (some exceptions to this rule are applicable) and suggested that as changes to Standing Orders were being sought, they should abide by them.

I don't think anyone in the meeting really wanted to stifle anyone's contribution, just that sometimes some of them think too much allowance is given to non-members at committees which prolong proceedings; they all seemed fairly content with the rule that says that non-members of committees aren't allowed to vote on decisions. I've been at other meetings, Town Partnership for example, where the chair has only allowed non-members to speak after allowing most time to members. That seems good practice to me. At Xerox we practised Lean Six Sigma, and if anyone is familiar with Kaizen, they will know that a properly planned efficient meeting knows what it can accomplish in a given amount of time, with a member of the meeting detailed to be the per-item timekeeper.

With the Labour group losing their motion (6/7), another motion was passed (6/7), ultimately changing rule 7a to read,  "PRESENCE OF NON-MEMBERS OF COMMITTEES AT COMMITTEE MEETINGS. Any Councillor may attend, and with the permission of the Committee Chair speak on particular matters at a meeting, that is not in private session, - of a Committee or Sub-Committee of which he is not a member, but may not vote".

To me, that isn't plain English, and though understood now (I wonder if it really is?), future councillors may wonder at the sense of it.

PLANNING

On a separate issue, I attended a Planning meeting last week, and I still find it quite alien as a member of the public to be invited by the chair of that committee to participate throughout the meeting and sit at the table with elected representatives. Whilst I had things to say and was allowed to, I'm sure that the meeting was prolonged because of this.  I was uncertain about any rules under which I could speak, I was unsure how councillors potentially opposed to the chair's invitation would take my comments; I was on an uncertain footing.

As a member of the public, if I have comments to make on an application, I can make those direct to the planning authority; I don't need to make them through the Town Council. Controversial issues could arise, with members of the public who are oblivious to the Council's rules of conduct or who have no knowledge of Standing Orders.  Even members of the council scarcely know those rules, especially at the start of a term of office, never mind 2 years in. So, I am a bit reserved on this practice and wary of what might go wrong.

PRESS & MEDIA

In Public Questions, I asked for Corporate Services to review their policy and define what "Media" means. Press Protocols does not define "Media", but does state, "Copies of Agenda and Minutes sent to Members for meetings of the Council or its Committees will be posted to the Media, without charge, at the same time." Recently staff at HRTC had declined to send things to me in my capacity as editor of Houghton Regis News Desk because Media referred only to formally recognised press and media organisations such as the local newspaper. I reminded the members that the News Desk had been operating since 2010 and there is no local newspaper specifically for the town and that these days 'Media' also includes the Internet.

I also requested a notification system so that members of the public can be informed when new items are posted to the Town Council website. I already subscribe to such a service operated by Chalgrave Parish Council and find it very useful.

CODE OF CONDUCT ISSUES

They seem to be sorting themselves out; no point writing anything about it here. But it's covered here.

Monday, 10 July 2017

The Power of Social Media

Some images here showing the numbers of people reached by a few posts advising of M1 closures last year. I made the signs up in Transport Heavy font, the one commonly used on real road signs.
Houghton Regis News Desk had around 4,000 likes; Dunstable News Desk hadn't been online long, and had around 450 likes.













Friday, 5 May 2017

Who Are The Slobs that Dump Rubbish?

Wonder who cleans up this private car park, these days? In Fenwick Road this afternoon.




Debris in Stream #WoodsideLink


Reported to CBC today. WSL team are supposed to be keeping the stream cleared of rubbish etc.

Location at https://goo.gl/a7iJLy

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Tithe Farm Walk


The man on the telly said this week that we all need to do more exercise, move more, and eat less because we're all getting obese. And the statistics for Central Bedfordshire also show that in Houghton Regis we're a little on the large size. So this afternoon saw me make the most of the excellent weather we're having at the moment, with a 90 minute jaunt around Tithe Farm and back home again.

I haven't walked this particular route in its entirety before, and I'm not the fastest of walkers, partly owing to the constant sciatic pain in my left leg. My right leg could walk for ever (possibly), but my left leg can't. Still, if I convince myself there is no pain and if my right leg can do it, so too can my left leg, then the walk is do-able (just about).


After leaving the skate park at Tithe Farm Recreation ground I headed north towards Grove Farm.
Part way along, this is the view west.

... and this is the view east

... and this is the view south, looking back the way I came.

A little further north, over the brow of a slight rise, the view towards Grove Farm

Beside the new dual carriageway, the old field paths have been diverted. The westerly view.

From the bridlepath, close to the dual carriageway, looking south back towards Tithe Farm.
The old A5 is just a few weeks away from being diverted from its present course between Hockliffe and M1 junction 9 at Flamstead, to do a sharp easterly turn near Thorn and head instead towards the M1. No longer will this ancient coaching route, outflanked by the railway era, then outflanked by the M1 in 1959, be allowed to flow through the congested town of Dunstable. The big hope is that once de-trunked Dunstable will no longer attract HGVs and  instead they'll be banished to this picturesque part of Bedfordshire laying in a shallow chalk valley between Houghton Regis and Chalgrave Parish. The newly routed traffic will thus be able to connect to a new Junction 11a, avoiding such places as the village of Toddington, and the centre of Houghton Regis.

The new road will also become the new boundary for the Green Belt, permitting up to 5150 new homes to be built around the east and north of Houghton Regis. So, another reason for the walk, to make the most of what is there because it will soon be turned into an urban jungle of new roads, tarmacked footpaths, cars parking on footpaths, potholes, crisp packets, discarded pop bottles, dog-poo, and fly-tipped junk. As you may have gathered, I am one of those with little faith that old habits and will ever go away.


From the dual carriageway bridlepath bridge, westerly view.

From the dual carriageway bridlepath bridge, easterly view towards Lord's Hill

Also from the dual carriageway bridlepath bridge, easterly view towards Lord's Hill

Followed the diverted bridlepath through Grove Farm. You may be lucky enough to see the ponies grazing. The route continues to the ancient Ede Way or Theedway route (see Theedway notes at foot of this article). Here is the view looking towards Toddington.

Time for a selfie!

View from Ede Way towards Houghton Regis.
The dual carriageway is now hidden beyond the green field.

Similar viewpoint as the previous picture, this time more inclined towards Luton

Ede Way is quite wide as it gets closer to the M1.

Before long, a signpost and path back into Tithe Farm beckon. This old path now stops at the dual carriageway and leads you up a long slope to a new pedestrian only bridge.

View east, towards M1, from pedestrian only bridge

View west from pedestrian only bridge

Another view west from pedestrian only bridge

The long walkway to the pedestrian only bridge. Note the new channels cut in to take rain water.

This view looks back north east towards the recently completed Sundon Road bridge, marked "A" on the map above.

This view looks back north west towards the recently completed Sundon Road bridge, marked "B" on the map above.



Notes On Theed Way

THEEDWAY
An Anglo Saxon charter of 966 for Linslade gives evidence of a trade route for salt in Bedfordshire. It was the main east-west route through the settlement known as Thiodwegthe from where 'Theedway' or 'or Ede Way' is probably derived. This route crossed the Ousel at 'Yttingaford' (now Tiddenfoot), and moved eastwards 12 miles across Bedfordshire, Eggington, Chalgrave, and  converged into the Icknield Way, north of Luton at the foot of Warden hills. The northern boundary of Luton is established along the Theedway, and has been the boundary for at least a thousand years, and is the present limit of Luton's built up area. A section of Theedway survives near Linslade as Bridleway37 near Grovebury Farm north of the A505. (ref. Greensand Trust).

This route was noted in the Chalgrave Charter of King Athelstan in AD926 (1034) and was therefore in use during the Anglo-Saxon period (Blundell J H, 1925, Toddington, Its Annals and People. E. Ashby 1925).   Possibly a successor of the putative Icknield Way  prehistoric route, and its name means 'the people's road or highway'.  It passes through all of Bedfordshire's Royal Manors, but avoids key settlements.  The route may have been used to transport salt from the East Anglian Fens inland, avoiding paying tolls at towns and markets (Edgeworth, M, 2007, Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Bedfordshire, in Oake, M et al (ed),

Bedfordshire Archaeology – Research and Archaeology: Resource Assessment, Research
Agenda and Strategy, Bedfordshire Archaeology Monograph 9, 87-109 ).  The origins of the route are unclear; it has been suggested that it was a prehistoric track, as concentrations of struck flint have been along its course (Austin, W, 1928, The History of Luton and its Hamlets, Volumes 1 and 2. County Press).  The route remained important into the 18th century, when it started to decline.  It was finally removed as a major thoroughfare by the 19th century enclosures.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Studham Common And Surrounds

Another lovely April day today, so I escaped the house and took myself off for an adventure.

The sun was shining, it was quite warm, and one place I have been promising myself to walk around for the last 40 years is Studham Common. Somehow, I never managed to get around to it, so now was as good a time as any.

Back in the days when I lived in Dunstable and commuted to Hemel Hempstead I would occasionally go through Studham just to vary my journeys and to wonder at the inhabitants who lived around this common. Little cottages tucked away tightly against the kerb on a narrow twisting route. And a free house pub standing proudly overlooking the visible common.

View of Studham, from a photograph original I took this afternoon.

I parked up near the crossroads, and took myself off to the south west, across the common field that appears to be used on occasion for a village game of football, through the trees, and trampling along a well trodden path. By and large the wood opened up onto a wide green thoroughfare, a decent sized cottage standing at the end of it, like a hopeful mansion house with its Lord of the Manor vista in the style of Wrest House, looking down it's green vista, albeit on a much more miniscule scale, I hasten to add.

The walk turned past the cottage, which turned out to be called 'The School House', and moved onto a signed bridleway alongside a field. This route didn't seem like it would be too exciting, and though uneventful, it soon ended up on a lane, which I followed all the way back to the main road that runs through Studham. On the way I noted a substantial old set of cottages - 1864 - I think it proclaimed in  it's genuinely pleasing style on the cement on it's front. And then there was a playground tucked away in a distant corner of the Studham Sports and Social Club's cricket ground. They must really want to make those kids work hard to get to somewhere they can play.

Heading back down into Studham, I veered off to the right, on a road that turned out to divide Studham Common into the East Field and the West Field, according to the notice board conveniently placed to tell me where I was.  As the East Field had approached, so too did a blight on the landscape. Someone had evidently thought the car park could do with some seating and had dumped a leather settee and pushchair at the entrance.


Heading East, then north in the East Field - I spied a Red Kite hovering around, although I couldn't get a clear shot of it for the tree branches. There is plenty of evidence that someone has been busy planting more saplings around the edges of this fallow uncultivated green field.

View of East Common, adapted from a photograph I took this afternoon.
What's the saying? Spring is sprung? Blossom in the East Common field edge.

From the eastern side of the East Common, the hamlet looks particularly quaint.

In a hollow clearing in the trees, off to the north on the way back to the centre of the village, I stood still for awhile, taking in nature. A couple of pigeons flew off a branch, disturbed. A robin flew down and hopped a little closer towards me. A rabbit hopped over a branch in the middle distance.



Once back in the centre of the village I sat awhile on the wall of the Studham Community Centre, and looked back at the view into the tight corner as a pedestrian and cyclist came past.

A delightfully picturesque view of Studham, adapted from a photograph I took this afternoon.


I walked past the memorial stone at the cross-roads, and sat awhile in the sunshine. A couple of riders on ponies came past. Who wants to be stuck indoors on a day like this?




Also see:

Monday, 20 March 2017

HRTC councillor switches party after just a few months

At 11:03 PM on 18th March I was sent a Press Release:

"Press Release on behalf of Dunstable and Houghton Regis Labour Group
Tony Swain, leader of the Houghton Regis Town Council Labour Group applauds Tim Welch’s principled decision to join the Labour Party, meaning we are now the largest group on the Town Council and are in a stronger position to represent hard pressed and hard working members of our town. Tim recently won his seat in Houghton Hall ward, but has been disillusioned by the Liberal Democrats position on some key issues and was impressed with the principled stand of the Labour group. Amongst these issues were the decision to refuse almost £1/4 million of Market Town Regeneration Fund that was on offer from Central Beds Council and the ridiculous decision to go ahead with a vanity project to provide Mayoral robes and a hat to “add dignity” to the role of mayor of Houghton Regis at a cost of thousands of pounds when residents in Houghton Regis already pay nearly the highest level of council tax in Central Bedfordshire. These were decisions that the Labour group unanimously opposed and Tim has decided that this position was in the best interest of the people of Houghton Regis and has chosen to join us to further the interests of our community.
Tim will be warmly welcomed by fellow Labour Councillors Chris Slough, Richard Scott and Martin Kennedy representing all wards in Houghton Regis."

Let's look at this more closely.

Switching Party

"Tony Swain, leader of the Houghton Regis Town Council Labour Group applauds Tim Welch’s principled decision to join the Labour Party, meaning we are now the largest group on the Town Council and are in a stronger position to represent hard pressed and hard working members of our town. "

Timothy George Welch only won a by-election on Thursday 27 October 2016 where he represented the Liberal Democrats in Houghton Hall Ward of Houghton Regis Town Council. The turnout was less than 10%. Labour had no candidate.

When the Council was elected in May 2015, the Council's new composition was 5 Liberal Democrats, 5 Labour, 3 Community Independent Alliance, and one Independent.

Since then, 1 Labour member went Independent after 7 months, 1 Lib Dem went Independent and subsequently resigned, another Lib Dem went Independent in February 2017.

Tim Welch's defection leaves the current composition as, 5 Labour, 3 Lib Dem, 3 Community Independent Alliance, and 3 Independent.


Market Town Regeneration Fund

"Tim ... has been disillusioned by the Liberal Democrats position on some key issues and was impressed with the principled stand of the Labour group. Amongst these issues were the decision to refuse almost £1/4 million of Market Town Regeneration Fund that was on offer from Central Beds Council "

In June 2016, long before Mr Welch's election, Town Councillors of all parties had expressed their concern over the Market Town Regeneration Fund which required matched funding from the Town Council. You can read about that meeting in my report on here: http://www.hrnd.co.uk/2016/06/town-councillors-unhappy-with.html

At a subsequent meeting of the Council that I witnessed, again long before Mr Welch stood for election, the MTRF was again on the agenda.

"The potential investment in support of the town centre from the project equated to £437,700 which comprised a contribution from CBC of £211,600 and from HRTC of £226,100." see 22 August meeting.

Cllr Abbott (Independent) suggested that the motion before them should be voted on. The meeting was chaired by Labour's Cllr Slough, and he put the motion to the vote. No discussion took place, denying the few visitors the opportunity to understand all points of view. The vote effectively declined to accept the terms of the Fund offer. I blame all the members of the council for not ensuring that the issue was fully discussed as there was so much money involved, especially the chair of the meeting who has responsibility under Standing Orders:


20/3/2017 Footnote:
Cllr Swain approached me last night on this issue. To be fair he wasn't at the first meeting so didn't witness the concern shown by the councillors at that Council Meeting. During our brief exchange he confirmed my suspicion that he had been taken by surprise by the vote that eventually decided the matter. Which **eyebrows raised ** makes it all the more damning since his Labour colleagues perhaps should have let him know in advance so that he could have been ready to argue their case.

Mayoral Robes

"Amongst these issues were the decision to ... go ahead with a vanity project to provide Mayoral robes and a hat to “add dignity” to the role of mayor of Houghton Regis at a cost of thousands of pounds"

I won't defend the council's expenditure on the robes. It's not something I personally agree with.

But in the scale of other expenses it's not such a big deal.

The evidence to the council meeting was that the cost would be around £1100 plus carriage, then the councillors agreed to add a bicorn hat to the purchase and collectively voted in favour of it.



I attended this meeting in January 2017 and took notes. Only an Independent councillors word was taken for the cost of the bicorn hat of between '£200 and £300'.

http://www.civicrobes.com/Pages/Prices/Prices.htm website is referred to in the report to council and actually puts the cost of a bicorn hat at between £290 and £410. So the cost now rises to £1500. Then there will be the occasional cleaning costs. To my knowledge cleaning costs have not been discussed at a council meeting, but I understand from other councils that this is an infrequent expense.

As to the purchase being a 'vanity' project, that is an emotive word. I would point out that the report to council stated that it was "an agreed Outcome within the Council Vision".

In conclusion, to say "thousands of pounds" and use the word 'vanity' in the Press Release was taking a liberty. And, although Labour councillors spoke opposing the purchase of the robes, there was no recorded vote taken, so the whole council bear the responsibility for the decision to buy these robes. 


Friday, 10 March 2017

'Houghton Regis with Luton North' would be better if we have to have this.

The Proposed new Parliamentary constituency boundaries


MY views on the 2018 Boundary Review

submitted on 10th March 2017. Make your comments here.

About

I edit several social media pages, aimed principally at Houghton Regis, Dunstable, and to a much lesser extent Luton. The combined following of these Pages is 6,032. I could not imagine a homogeneous title for a social media page that wholly covered your proposed 'Luton North And Houghton' because the areas are so far apart in social activities shared.

Houghton Regis Residents Opposed

Your correspondents living in Houghton Regis all seem to be opposed to this proposal. Many of the comments on the Luton side appear to come from Labour Party activists. The only comment from Lewsey Farm, Luton, is from Hazel Simmons who describes herself as a Member of the Public when in actual fact she is Labour Leader at Luton Borough Council.

Kelvin Hopkins

In the enquiry in November 2016 Kelvin Hopkins MP pointed out that many of his constituents in his current Luton North constituency attend Central Bedfordshire College. Well, that may be possible, but even so, the college is located in central Dunstable, not Houghton Regis.

Mr Hopkins states that [the Luton North and Houghton area] 'is a contiguous urban area'. It is not. The two are separated by the M1 motorway, and a wide swathe of land currently designated as Green Field.

Andrew Selous

Andrew Selous, MP, also spoke at the enquiry, saying he was, " very sorry to see any part of my constituency removed; that very much includes the town of Houghton Regis." I am disappointed that he made no further attempt in his representation at that time to hold on to the town as part of his remit. He is held in high regard for his helpful interventions in small issues, not least because he is able to exert some influence with Central Bedfordshire Council. I'm not so sure that a Luton Borough ward MP would carry the same weight with Central Bedfordshire Council.

Two halves

To have the two halfs of constituents belonging to two different unitary authorities will be confusing to many people.

On this topic, this is why people will be confused:

New Build.

One of your correspondents rightly points to new build and population growth, expected in north of Houghton Regis and north of Sundon Park and I wonder if this has truly been factored in properly?


'Houghton Regis with Luton North'. 

There are two Houghton's in Bedfordshire. You must name the constituencies accordingly. "Regis" was added to my Houghton many centuries ago to distinguish it from Houghton Conquest. It would be quite wrong to chop it down to be known as simply "And Houghton". Houghton Regis is a town in its own right, with its key inhabitants striving to be known about on the map of the UK. Its Parish boundaries to 2030 are projected to double its population size. If the shape of this constituency ends up prevailing, then I would suggest that it be named 'Houghton Regis with Luton North', handing some pride back to local inhabitants, some of whom abhor connection to Luton judging by feedback they have left.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Pasta And Sausage Microwaved For One

Microwaving For One

Time: 12-13 minutes.

Food:
  • 3 Sausages
  • 2 Bacon Rashes
  • Mixed Veg
  • Sweetcorn
  • Tagliatelle
  • Spirali
  • Honey and Mustard sauce
Equipment:
  1. 2 microwave ovens
  2. microwave saucepan
  3. microwave steamer
  4. microwave tray
  5. frying pan
  6. kitchen scissors
  7. tea-cup
  8. colander

To cook this I first boiled water in a kettle. 
While that's boiling up, arrange tagliatelle (3 lumps) and spirali in a microwavable saucepan. 
Then, place 3 frozen sausages and 2 slices of bacon onto the tray and set to cook on Microwave High for 4 minutes in Microwave Oven 1. 
Into the  steamer place portion of frozen mixed vegetables and extra sweetcorn. 
When the water has boiled pour over the pasta and place the saucepan into Microwave Oven 2, and cook on Microwave High for 10 minutes.  

As the sausage and bacon near cooking completion, start to heat a frying pan. 
Flick the kettle back on. 
On completion of set time, remove tray from Microwave Oven 1. 
Pour boiled water into steamer, then place steamer in oven to cook for 5 minutes on Microwave High.
Turn frying pan heat to low, cut the sausage and bacon up with kitchen scissors. Fry the sausage and bacon up.
Fill a tea-cup with honey and mustard sauce (shop bought from Morrisons in my case).
When a microwave oven is available, carefully take out the contents, and heat the honey and mustard sauce on Microwave High for 3 minutes.

Strain the pasta through a colander, and serve onto plate. Add steamed vegetables, bacon, sausage and sauce, and toss together to make it look absolutely yummy. As it's a white sauce, white wines go well with this dish. 



Monday, 6 February 2017

Town Partnership Queries

I raised a number of queries at the Houghton Regis Town Partnership meeting on 6th February:
The follow-up meeting is now scheduled for 12th April.


Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Diana's Car Crash

This man could have been involved in the crash.

Diana, Princess of Wales, died on 31 August 1997.

Diana was at the Paris Ritz, having dinner with Dodi Fayed.  The paparazzi were outside at the front waiting to take a photo that might bag them a fortune. Dodi decided they would go out the back, and be driven by Henri Paul. Henri Paul drinks Ricard, a drink that looks like pineapple juice when mixed with water. Blood tests later show that he was three and a half times over the French limit, he'd also taken some drugs for a problem he'd had, and because he also smoked, that had masked the alcohol that might have been evident on his breath. Had it been known he was so inebriated he may not have been asked to drive.

Henri Paul drove the black Mercedes, with bodyguard Trevor Rees in the front, and Dodi and Diana in the back, at speed  through Paris very fast. He negotiated one underpass tunnel, then came up to a second tunnel. The second tunnel turned to the left some 15 degrees at the same time as the roadway dipped down sharply.

Tyre marks outside the tunnel were left by the Mercedes on the road well before the dip down into the tunnel, and the tyre marks also showed a slight bulge at one point, a sign that something traumatic happened. But French police only concentrated their efforts inside the tunnel, and reopened the road after just 4 hours, missing this vital evidence.

A white Fiat Uno came onto the main road near the Pont de l'Alma tunnel entrance from the right, forcing the Mercedes to brake sharply. Tyre expert has confirmed the tyre marks were from a Mercedes and calculates the speed of the Mercedes to be about 104mph.


The Merc, then collides on the Uno's left rear quarter, control is lost by the driver, the Merc then launches into the air at the point where the road dips down, and then leaves rubber tyre marks half-way up a wall on the right hand side on the tunnel entrance approach - but French police miss both the tyre marks on the road, and the tyre marks on the right side wall.


Even today, there are scratch marks on this wall at the entrance to the tunnel.

The Merc then glances off the right wall, and goes straight slam-dunk into the 13th pillar of the tunnel, swings violently anti-clockwise, and ends up next to the right hand wall facing the way it came in. Henri Paul and Dodi Fayed are killed instantly. The white Uno slips past, not wanting to get involved in an accident its driver contributed to.

Travellers report flashes of light, loud bangs and screeching of tyres. Flashes of light put down to headlights, and a car spinning out of control, rather than photographers on bikes that were out-paced with the speeding Merc. Moments afterwards, the paparazzi finally catch up with their prey, surround the car and begin assisting. Diana is alive, but dies later in hospital.



The destroyed Merc shows white paint scratch marks on it's front right side, consistent with being in collision with a white vehicle before hitting the pillar with such finality. Forensic evidence is produced showing that only Fiat used that paint on their Uno's between a certain time-frame.

A witness says they saw a white Uno with a Paris registration coming from the tunnel, the driver had black hair, and a big dog in the back, with an orange muzzle, and the driver was looking in his rear view mirror, agitated. And the witness confirms there was black collision paint on the left rear side of the same car.

They can't find the car.

Then someone goes to a police station for some driving reason, they investigate his car, and this turns out to have been resprayed, red. At first Le Van Thanh says it was resprayed the day before the tunnel accident, but later admits it was resprayed the day after.

Le does not discuss the accident. It is likely that he is being protected from the media.

Trevor Rees survives, but has memory loss and cannot recall the incident.