A collection of writings from my previous personal space

w/e 26/10/08
This week I was asked by letter from the Assistant Town Clerk to comment on shutters being provided for the Bedford Square Public Centre. I wrote back supporting shutters, as broken windows are an expense to public purse, not to mention the aggravation of out of hours working, and disruption to services if staff have to deal with broken window incidents. Sad, but it's a reality. I attended a meeting of Bedfordshire Town and Parish Councils in Henlow.

Labour Crash in May Local Elections
No election in Houghton Regis, but the presentation of incoming results left much to be desired. Labour might have crashed in the polls, but the crashing embarrassment of the night was this excruciating skit from Jeremy Vine on the BBC Poll Show. What was the point of this nonsense? For the record, Liberal Democrats had a bigger share of the overall vote than Labour.

Wall Fall Down?
13 March 08 Has anyone else had cause to wonder when the wall alongside Lower Harpenden Road will topple into the path of an oncoming vehicle? The wall is currently crumbling away rapidly. It can't be long before there is an accident caused. I would like to know what the authority responsible for it is going to do about it.

Its a Hard Life
12 March 08 I see the Chief Executive of Beds C. C. is scarpering off to a new post at Suffolk County Council, just 4 days after the announcement to abolish Beds C. C. was made. It must be hard living off her new salary reported at £220,000 p.a. I don't know how I'd meet ends meet. People like that just don't live in the same world as me.

Security Improvement?
8 March 08 Security Improvement? With the idea of blocking off some escape routes to would-be thieves, I've circulated several homes in the neighborhood with suggestions. The response has been about 25% positively in favour, and no one against. Presumably the others don't mind either way. It's a start. At least it's a better response to the surveys asking people for their views on local land developments, carried on by District Authorities (less than 1%).

Can't Spell, Don't Care
12 January 08 I have today reported dumped rubbish in the closed off section of Parkside Drive; and on the public footpath between the Painters estate and Bromley Gardens.

I have reported two potholes in Sundon Road, 1 opp. 45 Sundown Road, 1 outside Sundon Lodge.

I have taken photographs of graffitti at the southern end of Houghton Regis, near to Conway Close "Howton LU5" "D is lesbin with Jade X" and "ENTER AT OWN RISK HOUGHTON ..."

All taxpayers foot the bill for clearing up this mess. That's why our council taxes are as high as they are.Turning a blind eye to it won't do. It spells out to visitors, "Don't come here, we don't care, the schools are rubbish because we can't even spell, and if you actually buy a house here, don't expect to sell it easily when the time comes, because who would want to buy in fly-tipping zone, splattered with graffiti and ignorance? Everyone needs to take more care of this local environment, otherwise it hits us all in the wallet.

Litter Bugs Bug Me

16 December 07 Spent about an hour tidying up my car and lawn today, then decide to have a look around Westminster Gardens again. This time I actually picked the cans and bottles up, plucked from hedgerows, and under trees. It doesn't take much to do. If everyone spent 5 minutes a week, just tidying up beyond the actual boundaries of their own property, clearing up the mess left lying about by inconsiderate others, the world would be a much nicer place. I firmly believe that if a place is tidied up, it discourages others to drop litter there. If its left to accumulate, then accumulate it will.

30 November 07 Received a fabulous email from the "official" spammer at work a couple of weeks ago. I say official, because he's the only one permitted to mass mail the entire company at my work location. As soon as I got it I was onto Sophos.com, and snopes.com to see if there was any truth in the story. Sure enough, the particular story was false, and I let the "suffering" official spammer know, whereupon he opted to send everyone another email saying it had been a hoax. Lo and behold, 2 weeks later I get the same email from a fellow councillor who in turn has received it from an official spammer at his workplace. Those websites again: Snopes.com and Sophos.com


30 Sept 07 Took another of my walks around the locality today, this time noting down 11 incidents of fly-tipping, mainly in pockets along a public footpath with bushes, which South Beds D.C. will have the pleasure of mulling over when they roll into work tomorrow.Tyres, old paint tins, cardboard boxes of clothes, an old armchair... this stuff won't go into bins provided. In you ask me, the D.C.'s barmy policies of insisting that people pay to have "non-collectable" rubbish collected, is one of the key reasons the lazies in society dump rubbish where they do.


27 June07 With the elections now well behind us, I'm getting into the pattern of meetings at the HR Town Council.

Last week there was a Town Centre Growth meeting. Quite interesting. I was in the "public" seats. Halcrow gave a presentation with some options about how the town centre of HR could be. Those present, (included councillors and officers from District and County, Police, and HR and Dunstable town council reps, ) voted for the most radical realignment of the main road through HR, diverting it BEHIND the Co-op and THROUGH the buildings that are currently for sale. This would give converging roads a focus of HR Parish Church, and help people to realise they had "arrived" at the town centre, whereas at the moment, no matter which way you come in, you probably feel as if you have arrived at the back door. In turn, the road west of the HR town centre could be pedestrianised. The present Bedford Square could be redeveloped to have an inner courtyard for deliveries, with outward facing shops..

This is just a "suggestions" stage and gives Halcrow ideas about how to move forward with further proposals..

There was some mention of a skate board park possibily going down the side of the Village Green. Having previously Googled hybrid Maps and looked at HR from the air, I had already come to the conclusion that that could be the most likely place for such an operation. So I was personally pleased to hear that mentioned. Susan Goodchild spoke up for youth, and in favour of such a facility. Jack Goodchild, on the other hand felt there were already lots of other facilities that perhaps were not being taken up.

Burton Guard spoke about hoardings from Co-op work being taken down and used by youths as skateboard ramps. So, there is clearly a demand, and the kids are presently improvising to meet the current need. .

Of Poster Boards and campaigning...
24 April I'm learning to call at the back doors of certain roads in Parkside estate, because people don't answer or even use the front doors. Still picking up on the theme that people want to see more amenities and places for youths to meet up. And still hearing about the occaisional crime issue where the perception is that the issue itself isn't being taken too seriously by police. Certainly a common enough comment made about the lack of a police presence. Liberal Democrats would put more bobbies on the beat, and judging by a survey done by Liberal Democrats Focus Team in Bedford Square, Houghton Regis the other week, 94% of the public would agree with that policy.

We do our best around Houghton Regis to get a few poster boards up in strategic places. And they say a good poster campaign can win an election, but driving to work this week is a special delight to me at the moment. One village I drive through has 15 poster boards up at various houses for the Liberal Democrats. There were a few Tory poster boards too, but what amused me was that the Tories had TWO poster boards up in each of three gardens, presumably to try to even up the overall score, but failing miserably. The other thing that always amuses me, is the number of fields that have poster boards up in them for one party or another. The only thing that runs round my imagination when I see them is the thought of several cows or even walking crops turning up at a polling station to try to register their vote!

Around Parkside Estate
01 April 2007 I've been out and about around Parkside Estate, Houghton Regis. I've knocked on doors, heard opinions, met some folk at Parkside Voice, and observed. I find the daytime scene around my own neck of the woods, Westminster Gardens, a pleasant place to be. I've come across confidential problems. I've noted public problems, and I've probably noted problems that aren't even problems to most people. Yes - there is a parking problem - why else do people park on and churn up grass verges? Yes - bereavement can be a tough time for those on low incomes, and central government and its agencies need to train appropriately to be of proper assistance. Yes - sadly there is apathy among some. But there is also willingness to improve, and help others out in need. It's a great place to be, and I think that people on the estate can be inspired to take a pride in the their area.

M1 Widening and Houghton Regis
29 March 2007 The Highways Authority announced details for widening the M1 to four lanes between Junction 10 and 13 - the section running close to Houghton Regis.

* Highways Agency Plans

My Opinion Whenever there is a lane blocking incident in that stretch of M1, traffic overflows into our local residential roads, like the A5, Windsor Drive, Park Road North, and Bedford Road. When this happened one Monday evening in March 2007, it took me 2 hours to travel from M1 J9 along the A5, back to my home in Westminster Gardens, Houghton Regis. This is intolerable. Four lanes are required to meet current demands. If the whole section of M1 is closed, for some major accident, I dread to think of the traffic impact on our local roads. It's almost getting to the point when the M1 itself, needs a non-residential relief road.

So will the A5 bypass around Dunstable aimed at going through or very close to, Wickes, and Boscombe Road (next to Sainsbury, Pizza Hut et al, ) trading estate, ever become a reality? Do YOU want it to become a reality?

I agree with those who say we should use more public transport, but trains only go station to station, cars go wherever the roads go. Maglev trains would take up less land than traditional trains, go faster (267mph cruising speed), and thereby encourage more long distance journeys without cars. But they'll need a LOT of public investment to become a reality. In the future, I do believe Maglev trains will play a significant role in enabling people to travel long distances, but it's going to take a lot of political convincing that the investment will be worthwhile.