Long awaited repair work has now begun on a building in Dunstable that was dangerous to the public.
Number 5 High Street South, on the cross roads in Dunstable, has had scaffolding on it while Central Bedfordshire Council has traced the owner of the building to carry out repairs.
The council’s efforts to get the owner to repair the building have been difficult, but after protracted negotiations and legal difficulties, contractors appointed by the owners of the building have begin extensive repairs.
The works are expected to take some weeks to complete and will include rebuilding of several parts of the building.
Cllr Brian Spurr, Executive Member for Sustainable Communities, Services, said: “This has been a long, hard process but our Building Control team’s tenacity has ensured that this building will be restored. It has been a real safety issue and eyesore for Dunstable’s residents and we are delighted that our hard work has paid off and the work has begun.”
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee promises to be a fantastic celebration across the country and there are plenty of Jubilee parties planned in Central Bedfordshire.
The Bank holiday weekend runs from Saturday, 2 June to Tuesday, 5 June and Central Bedfordshire Council’s Waste Services team has some top tips to make sure your street and private parties stay waste free.
1. Reduce waste before you start - try to use re-usable items wherever possible such as washable plates, cups, cutlery and tablecloths. Can you make food instead of buying it ready packaged?
2. Reuse leftover food - buy or make the right amount of food for the number of people you’re expecting. Encourage everyone to bring a lunch box to take home any remaining food at the end of the party. For tips and recipes for making the most of your food visit www.lovefoodhatewaste.com
3. Recycle as much as you can - it’s best to position the recycling bins somewhere visible on the day, so people remember to recycle. Make sure everyone knows what’s recyclable and which items can ‘go in’ and which should ‘stay out’. Remember to rinse all containers to remove food and drink remains.
Cllr Brian Spurr, Deputy Executive Member for Sustainable Communities at Central Bedfordshire Council said: “This is an historic occasion and residents may be planning either a private or street party to celebrate. We would encourage them to remember to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible at their events, however big or small. Also remember there are over 100 local bring bank recycling points across Central Bedfordshire to recycle any empty glass bottles and jars after your party."
To see a list of local waste recycling points in Central Bedfordshire and for more information about waste and recycling, visit Central Bedfordshire Council’s website at www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/recycling
Residents are being asked to have their say on modifications to a strategy on mineral extraction and waste management in Central Bedfordshire.
Starting on Monday, 4 June and ending on Monday, 16 July, the public consultation will look at focussed changes made to the Minerals and Waste Core Strategy being developed jointly between Central Bedfordshire, Bedford Borough and Luton Borough Councils.
The focussed changes are modifications to the policies put forward in December 2011 to January 2012, which set out a planning strategy for mineral extraction, non-hazardous landfill and waste recovery that is needed throughout Central Bedfordshire for the next 15 years.
Over the next few years, new sand and gravel workings are needed to supply construction materials. More waste management sites will also help facilitate a move away from landfill and towards waste recovery uses (such as mechanical biological treatment and recycling facilities.)
Cllr Nigel Young, Executive Member for Sustainable Communities, Strategic Planning and Economic Development for Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “Both mineral extraction and waste management are important for healthy and growing communities and this Core Strategy provides the planning policies for where these developments should take place over the next few years.”
All three Councils involved are inviting comments on the modifications to the joint Minerals and Waste Core Strategy before it is formally submitted to the Secretary of State for approval.
People will be able to make their views known by visiting www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/consultations or by e-mail or letter when the consultation launches. The documents can also be viewed by visiting local council offices and main libraries.
The dedication of Foster Carers in Bedfordshire was celebrated at the annual Bedfordshire Foster Care Awards, held at Central Bedfordshire Council’s offices in Chicksands on Friday (25th May).
On the night 15 foster carers were honoured and between them celebrated 65 years of fostering by receiving long service awards of five, 10 or 20 years.
The packed event, hosted by Ashley Taylor-Rhys, one of the stars of TV show Tracy Beaker, was the culmination of Bedfordshire Fostering Service’s celebrations of Foster Care Fortnight (13-27 May), an annual national event aimed at encouraging more people to foster.
Maureen and Brian Roberts were honoured for the amazing achievement of providing 20 years of long term foster care to large sibling groups. Brian, who is Chair of Bedfordshire’s Foster Care Association, said:
“We knew of so many families where brothers and sisters were being separated, so our decision to become foster carers was about making a positive difference to the lives of children young people affected by this.
“We started out with five siblings, the youngest was just three, she’s now at university. The eldest has three children of her own, so now we're proud grandparents too.
“We’ve always tried to help our foster children get to a position where they can make the next step, be that going back to their birth parents, moving onto to adoptive parents or starting a career or moving onto university.
“And we’ve made sure that each of our foster children has known the whole story. Lots of things change - social workers, schools etc, but we've always wanted the children we foster to know where they have come from, so that they have a true sense of their own identity.”
Brian was also keen to stress the urgent need for more foster carers and the help available to support foster carers:
“Bedfordshire Fostering Service has always been excellent; nothing is too much trouble for them. I now know that the support we get is much better than the vast majority of other places in the country.”
“You really can make a difference. As long as you go into it with your eyes open it will change your life.”
Central Bedfordshire Council’s Executive Member for Children’s Services, Cllr Mark Versallion, said:
“What a fantastic and humbling evening. It was a great opportunity to pay tribute to the selfless commitment of our foster carers and give them the chance to celebrate their achievements with each other.
“We desperately need more foster carers. You can be single or in a relationship, you can work, and if you do decide that fostering is for you, our dedicated team will support you every step of the way.
“If you think you can make a difference and help transform the lives of children and young people by offering them love, support and stability, please get in touch.”
Ashley Taylor-Rice, who plays Seth in Tracey Beaker, said:
"Having played a social worker in Tracey Beaker I was humbled to be here to recognise the great work that foster carers do."
Finding out more about fostering, couldn’t be easier, just call 0300 300 8181, or visit www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/fostering
Central Bedfordshire Council and Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity (BRCC) are working together to plant a wood in Biggleswade to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of HRH Queen Elizabeth II.
The Jubilee Wood will be located at Kennel Farm, close to Stratton Business Park and residential areas in the east of Biggleswade including the new Kings Reach development. It will cover approximately 20 acres of land and once planted, will provide a fabulous new woodland for Biggleswade residents to enjoy.
The Jubilee Wood will form an important part of the Biggleswade 'Green Wheel', a new project with the vision for a green ‘circular’ corridor around Biggleswade, which encourages walking and cycling and increases biodiversity and is currently being developed. Once archaeological surveys have been completed, the design of the woodland will be undertaken with the help of the local community.
Planting will be predominantly native woodland species, but will also include a community orchard using locally distinct varieties of fruit trees. The woodland will also incorporate a ‘Jubilee feature’ to be chosen following consultation with the local community over the summer.
The scheme will be funded by the Woodland Grant Scheme and the council's Green Infrastructure Planning Obligations Fund. It is anticipated that the first phase of tree planting will take place late in 2012.
Cllr Brian Spurr, Executive Member for Sustainable Communities, said: “We are really pleased to be able to work with BRCC to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee by providing a woodland for the whole community to enjoy. It is important to us that the community is involved in the creation of this Jubilee Wood so we hope that people will join us for the tree planting events later in the year.”
Cliff Andrews, Green Infrastructure Team Leader for BRCC said: “Through the Ivel and Ouse Countryside Project, BRCC has a long history of being actively involved in countryside management and public access in the Biggleswade area. We are very pleased to be partnering with Central Bedfordshire Council in this exciting project. As well as bringing great benefits to people and wildlife in its own right, the Diamond Jubilee Wood will be a major asset along the Biggleswade Green Wheel.”
“BRCC is looking forward to working with local residents and organisations at a number of community planting events later in 2012 and into 2013."
A motorcycle campaign aimed at prompting riders to reassess their decision making and riding style when out on our local roads has been re-launched by Central Bedfordshire Council.
The ‘Riders’ campaign, in partnership with highways service provider Amey, follows research collected over the last five years across Central Bedfordshire to help identify styles of riding that frequently feature in road traffic accidents, such as, cornering, speed and overtaking. Research also found that 27% of serious motorcycle accidents involved only motorcyclists, either riding individually or as a group, who had not come into conflict with another road user.
Using this data, specific locations where motorcyclists were not assessing and reacting to the location in the most appropriate manner have been identified and as part of the campaign, road signs are being installed at these locations bearing the messages:
• Safe Speed?’ – is the motorcyclist riding at an appropriate speed for the road and local conditions
• ‘Safe Overtake’ – is it safe, necessary or legal to overtake the obstruction
• ‘Correct Position?’ – is the motorcyclist correctly positioned for the bend in the road
• ‘Ride with Respect’ - encouraging thoughtful road sharing and safe riding.
These signs will act as a reminder to motorcyclists of the potential for an accident and to encourage motorcyclists to review their riding style, ensuring they ride appropriately for the particular hazard they are faced with. This reassessment of riding style will hopefully lead to a reduction in motorcycle accidents on Central Bedfordshire’s roads.
Cllr Brian Spurr, Executive Member for Sustainable Communities Services at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “We are committed to improving road safety across the county for all road users. The Riders campaign aims to encourage motorcyclists to review their own riding style and behaviour on the road to reduce the possibility of being involved in a road traffic accident. Improved assessment of road conditions will help motorcyclists to plan ahead, giving them more time to make decisions when faced with a variety of road situations.”
Motorcyclists can find further information on motorcycling, including training opportunities at www.motorcyclingmatters.org
The Government has awarded £4.9 million of funding to Central Bedfordshire Council to help deliver local economic growth through promoting sustainable transport in and around Dunstable, Houghton Regis and Leighton Buzzard.
The council submitted their ‘Smarter Routes to Employment’ bid to the Department for Transport’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund to relieve transport congestion and boost economic growth by promoting sustainable travel in these areas.
The three year scheme will fund improvements to walking, cycling and public transport infrastructure. It will involve work with businesses, further education providers, community groups, charities and voluntary organisations to promote alternatives to the car.
The scheme will support the local economy and the local environment by increasing travel choices for residents and businesses so as to reduce car use in town centres and cut personal travel costs. Getting people to use more active transport will also improve health.
Cllr Nigel Young, Executive Member for Strategic Planning and Economic Development at the council said:”This is excellent news for the local communities in Dunstable, Houghton Regis and Leighton Linslade and is part of a much bigger vision to boost economic activity and growth in these areas.
“Along with other schemes that are in the process of being delivered, such as the Guided Busway, the A5-M1 link and the Woodside connection, the money from this fund will play a key part in tackling congestion and regenerating Dunstable and Houghton Regis.
“Through reducing congestion and offering better options for travel, we will improve access to jobs and education. It’s not simply about cutting car use.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank our partners who have supported us in this bid as they have already demonstrated great commitment to the project and will be key in ensuring the longevity of these travel options once funding has ceased.”
For more information on Central Bedfordshire LSTF funding bid please visit the council's Local Sustainable Transport Fund webpages.
The Building Control Team at Central Bedfordshire Council is celebrating after scooping six awards at the Local Authority Building Control Awards for Building Excellence, including the overall winner on the night.
The Central Region Building Excellence awards were held at Jury’s Inn in Milton Keynes, and the council took prizes in the Best Sustainability, Best Social Housing and Best Community Building categories, as well as highly commended for Best Educational Building and Best Social Housing.
A scheme of 179 mixed tenure dwellings at Sandringham Drive in Houghton Regis won Best Sustainability award and was highly commended in the Best Social Housing category. A set of affordable houses at Laundry Farm in Old Warden won Best Social Housing Category, and construction of the new Roecroft School at Stotfold was highly commended in the Best Educational Building category.
Overall winner on the night was a project to restore and adapt for community use two former wards at Moggerhanger House, which won Best Community Building and was voted the Supreme Winner of all 11 categories.
Cllr Brian Spurr, Executive Member for Sustainable Communities (Services) at the council, said: “It was a fantastic night for our Building Control Team and really shows the quality of our local builders, architects and developers. We were delighted that their work has been recognised in this way and look forward to seeing how they fare at the National Awards in November.”
The Countess of Erroll heads up the Moggerhanger House Preservation Trust. She said: “MHPT were delighted to receive best in category for the Best Community Building and the Supreme Award for outstanding merit, especially when competing against so many other deserving projects in this region. Our thanks go to principal funders, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Big Lottery, without whom the project would not have occurred. We now have an outstanding building, which will serve our community for years to come. I hope that local residents will come and enjoy this wonderful community building in the newly restored grounds.”
The Central region covers Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Bedfordshire. All the winners of each category now go through to the LABC National Building Excellence Finals in London in November.
Central Bedfordshire Council, Biggleswade Town Council and Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity (BRCC) are working together to create a vision for a ‘Green Wheel’ around Biggleswade.
The ‘Green Wheel’ concept was presented at the Biggleswade Town Annual meeting on Tuesday, 22 May. It will circuit the town, providing a ‘circular’ green corridor for Biggleswade residents to enjoy - encouraging walking and cycling both around and in and out of the town.
The local community will be invited to comment on the draft plans over the summer and, if adopted by Central Bedfordshire Council and Biggleswade Town Council in the autumn, will provide new green spaces and biodiversity for the town to enjoy.
Providing links to other routes such as the Kingfisher Way long distance walk, the Great North Cycleway, local businesses and tourist attractions, delivery of the Green Wheel would be funded by grant funding schemes and developer contributions.
Cllr Brian Spurr, Executive Member for Sustainable Communities, said: “We hope that the local community really get behind this scheme which will provide fantastic spaces for everyone to enjoy all around Biggleswade. Local residents and businesses will be able to give their views on draft plans during the public consultation over the summer and we look forward to hearing what they have to say.”
Cliff Andrews, Green Infrastructure Team Leader for BRCC, said: “Building on public consultation undertaken to produce the Biggleswade Green Infrastructure Plan in 2010, BRCC is very pleased to be a key partner in planning and delivering a 'Green Wheel' for Biggleswade. This exciting initiative will greatly enhance public access and informal recreation opportunities within a range of attractive settings around the town. We believe that the 'Green Wheel' can benefit the whole community, improving health and fitness and increasing enjoyment of the countryside around the town by people of all ages.”
Biggleswade Town Council stated that: “Successful land conservation in the 21st century needs to be proactive, less reactive and better integrated with efforts to manage growth and development. Green infrastructure planning works at national, regional and local levels and is an integral component, essential for building well designed and sustainable communities.”
Residents in the north of Central Bedfordshire will have their recycling and green waste collected separately from Monday, 28 May, as part of plans to harmonise waste collections across the area.
Current ‘split back‘ recycling vehicles that collect both recycling and green waste together in the same vehicle are being replaced with new vehicles that collect the waste separately.
The wheeled bins and bags residents currently use for their collections will remain the same. The day of collection is not affected, but some vehicles may change route and, as a result, collection times may vary from those which the residents are used to.
Cllr Budge Wells, Deputy Executive member for Sustainable Communities at Central Bedfordshire Council said: “The current ‘split back’ vehicles were due to be renewed by the collection contractor and we have taken this opportunity to start to harmonise collections across Central Bedfordshire. The new vehicles are more adaptable to seasonal changes in volumes of waste and will be fit for purpose when the new Bedfordshire Energy and Recycling (BEaR) Project for waste treatment solution commences.
“We would like to reassure residents that the quality of the current waste kerbside collection service will be maintained, however residents should be aware that separate vehicles will now be collecting their recycling and green waste and that the collection time, but not the day, may change”.
Residents’ bins and bags should still be placed out by 7am on the usual day of collection and taken back in as soon as possible after collection.
Find out more information about waste and recycling on our website.
A highways improvements proposal for south west Dunstable could help reduce speed and through-traffic for residents around the area of Meadway, Langdale Road, Lowther Road, Beech Road and Oldhill.
Dunstable’s residents will have the opportunity to look at planned highway improvements at a public exhibition on Friday, 25 May between 3.30 and 8pm and Saturday, 26 May between 10am and 1pm at Lark Rise Academy on Cartmel Drive.
The scheme aims to improve safety, especially for local schoolchildren, by reducing the amount of through-traffic and the speed vehicles travel at. The exhibition will show plans for road alterations which include junction improvements, raised crossings, footway improvements and measures to deter through-traffic.
Cllr Brian Spurr, Executive Member for Sustainable Communities Services, said: "We would encourage local residents and businesses to go and look at and comment on the plans for their area, which will make a massive improvement to these roads and the surrounding area."
Central Bedfordshire Council is taking a quiet moment to support annual Noise Action Week next week.
Noise can cause disruption and distress to everyone, whether at home, at work or at leisure. In 2008 a National Noise Survey showed that two fifths of the UK population said noise affected their quality of life, and around half a million people said they had moved home in the past because of noisy neighbours.
Running between 21 and 24 May, Noise Action Week seeks to raise awareness of the problems that noise causes, as well as highlighting practical solutions to minimise disturbance.
The council’s Environmental Protection Team will be out and about in Central Bedfordshire to offer advice on everything from the risks of listening to music too loud through headphones, to barking dogs or noisy DIY.
Visit them at Flitwick Tesco on Tuesday, 22 May between 11.00 and 15.00, Biggleswade Asda on Thursday 24 May between 11.00 and 15.00 or Leighton Buzzard Morrisons on Friday 25 May between 11.00 and 15.00.
The team promotes simple measures such as communication and consideration between neighbours to prevent noise issues occurring, and also helps out with serious noise disputes arising from common sources such as stereos, parties and misfiring alarms.
Cllr Brian Spurr, Executive member for Sustainable Communities (Services) at Central Bedfordshire Council said “The person responsible for the noise may not be aware of the effect on his or her neighbours, but discussion in the first instance normally sorts the matter out. If it can’t be resolved or the resident feels unable to contact the person responsible the council can investigate the complaint on their behalf and endeavour to find a solution without the need for legal action.”
You can find more information about noise disturbance on our website, or by telephoning 0300 300 8302.
As the Olympic Flame starts its relay across the UK, preparations are well underway to welcome the Torch through its historic journey through Dunstable on Monday 9 July.
Central Bedfordshire Council is working with Dunstable Town Council and local emergency services to make sure that the Torch Relay can travel through the town with minimal disruption and spectators can watch the procession safely.
Residents wanting to share in the excitement of the Torch Relay will get their first glimpse of the Flame just before 07.30 on 9 July. Hot foot from overnight celebrations in Luton the Torch will enter Dunstable on Luton Road (A505 at the Skimpot Road roundabout).
Torchbearers will carry the Flame along Luton Road, turning right onto High Street North which will be dressed in the Olympic colours and will be the focus of celebrations. If you’re coming to see the Torch this will be the best place to stand.
The Torch's journey though Dunstable will end just after 8.05am at the junction with French’s Avenue where it will join a vehicle convoy heading for its next stop at Milton Keynes.
Leader of the Council, Cllr James Jamieson says, "We are looking forward to welcoming the Torch and our inspirational Torchbearers to Dunstable. We want this to be a safe and enjoyable event for everyone and I hope that residents who can conveniently get to Dunstable will line the streets to join us for this once-in-lifetime opportunity.
"This a moment of celebration for the whole of Central Bedfordshire and I hope that people will extend the celebrations through their own events to make it even more memorable."
Road closures along the Torch Route will be in place from 6.30am to 9am. High Street North will be fully closed from the centre of town to Brewers Hill Road. There will be restrictions along Luton Road (A505) which will be subject to rolling road closures or may be fully closed, depending on visitor numbers and traffic conditions.
Anyone wanting to attend the Torch Relay is strongly advised to walk or cycle as road closures and travel restrictions will make journeys by road very difficult.
If you are planning to travel by car or coach, the advice is to start out early and get to Dunstable by 6am at the latest to avoid disappointment.
To keep disruption to a minimum, roads will be reopened to traffic as soon it’s safe to do so. Road closures should be lifted from 9am but it may take some time for traffic flows to return to normal. Residents and businesses are advised avoid any unnecessary journeys around Dunstable on 9 July. Those travelling should allow extra time for journeys. There is more advice for residents and businesses on the council's website www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/olympics
Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector at Ofsted, visited Central Bedfordshire on Tuesday on a fact finding mission, to hear how Central Bedfordshire Council is using new powers to make a positive difference to schools in the area.
Sir Michael, who prior to joining Ofsted spent 43 years as a teacher, including 26 as a Head Teacher, spent time with Central Bedfordshire Councillors, Cllr James Jamieson, Cllr Mark Versallion and Cllr Richard Stay, and Head Teachers from three local schools, Adrian Rogers of Robert Bloomfield Academy in Shefford, Nigel Croft of Redborne Upper School in Ampthill and Rebecca Baker of Beecroft Lower School in Dunstable.
The aim of the meeting was to give Sir Michael an insight into how the Council and local schools are collaborating together to improve educational attainment for all pupils in the area.
Councillors were able to outline some of the innovative approaches they are encouraging schools to take in order to bring about sustainable school driven improvement, including supporting schools to change their age range, encouraging school to school support and commissioning improvement through the Central Bedfordshire Teaching School Partnership.
There was also a discussion focusing on the work the Council, schools and children’s centres are carrying out to secure the best possible educational opportunities for the most vulnerable pupils. Nigel Croft outlined the Upper School heads’ and Council’s bid for an alternative provision free school, for older pupils who require support through alternative curriculum provision to help them succeed and Rebecca Baker discussed the key role of early intervention and children’s centres, in preparing young children for learning in schools.
Speaking after the event, Executive Member for Children’s Services, Cllr Mark Versallion, said:
“It was a pleasure to welcome Sir Michael to Central Bedfordshire, especially as we are one of the first local authorities he has visited.”
Improving educational achievement is one of our key aims, and we’re doing everything in our power to make it happen, be it handing over power to schools and parents, allowing variety within the tier system or encouraging schools to help each other.
"Sir Michael recognised our commitment and even commented that the Council was ‘visionary and far sighted’”.
Adrian Rogers, Head of Central Bedfordshire Teaching School Partnership and
Robert Bloomfield Academy, said:
“It was interesting to meet Sir Michael. I think it gives a strong message that Central Bedfordshire are determined to improve their schools and also, it was helpful to hear Sir Michael stress the importance of Head Teachers and school leaders in helping lead systematic change.
"As Ofsted is changing, it was a great help to hear of these proposals directly from Sir Michael - I was pleased to hear of his interest in, and commitment to, Teaching Schools too.”
Nigel Croft, Principle of Redborne Upper School in Ampthill, said:
“I was heartened by Sir Michael’s backing for school to school support and collaborative working with the local authority, as exemplified by the free school bid we have submitted to the Department for Education."
Central Bedfordshire Council’s superfast broadband plan has been given the green light from the Government. This will mean massive investment in improved broadband infrastructure to improve connectivity and services for residents and support business productivity and growth.
Central Bedfordshire’s Local Broadband Plan will be partially funded by £620,000 from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Broadband Delivery UK team, with over £1.2 million being invested by the Council and Central Bedfordshire Together (the Local Strategic Partnership) to improve broadband services.
Under the plan a minimum of 90% of all premises would have access to superfast broadband (defined as being at least 24Mbit/s). The Local Broadband Plan will also aim to ensure that all premises in Central Bedfordshire have access to a minimum broadband service (at least 2Mbit/s) and increase the choice of broadband services and suppliers of services for local residents.
Cllr Richard Wenham, Deputy Executive Member for Corporate Resources at the council said: "We are delighted that the Government has given us the go-ahead to proceed with our superfast broadband roll out. This is an important step and we are focused on delivering the plan.
It demonstrates our commitment to improving local infrastructure. We have already done a lot of preparation, which has been informed by what our residents, businesses and public sector partners in Central Bedfordshire have told us, but there is still time for people to contribute to our online broadband survey, and register their interest.
Rolling out superfast broadband in Central Bedfordshire will have a number of major benefits for the area. It will mean improved access to services for our residents and strengthen the local economy through supporting local business resilience, growth and innovation."
The Council will now move forward to procure a private sector infrastructure partner and secure additional private investment into Central Bedfordshire. The Local Broadband Plan has been developed in partnership with Milton Keynes and Bedford Borough Councils with Central Bedfordshire.
The superfast broadband survey and further details about broadband in Central Bedfordshire can be found at can be found on our broadband web pages.
A Shefford man who claimed benefits despite starting work as a cleaner has been given a 12 month conditional discharge.
Bedford Magistrates Court heard how Ryan Howlett, of Pinemead in Shefford, knowingly failed to tell Central Bedfordshire Council and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), that he had returned to work.
As a result he was overpaid £2300 in Job Seekers Allowance, £137 in Housing Benefit and £56 in Council Tax Benefit.
Howlett, 24, pleaded guilty at the hearing earlier this month and was sentenced to a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £50 costs.
Cllr Richard Wenham, Deputy Executive Member for Corporate Resources at Central Bedfordshire Council, said:
“Benefit cheats take money away from those people who really need it."
“This clearly shows that Central Bedfordshire Council will not tolerate abuse of the benefits system and will take appropriate action against those who do try to make a fraudulent claim."
“I would remind people that while we take a hard line against anyone who falsely claims benefit, help is always available for those who genuinely need it.”
Central Bedfordshire Council's confidential fraud hotline - 0300 3005557 is open 24 hours a day, for anyone who suspects someone might be claiming benefits fraudulently.
Any residents who want information about paying their Council Tax or to find out whether they are eligible for Council Tax benefit can call Central Bedfordshire Council's Money and Benefits Helpline on 0300 3008306.
Inspiring Music appointed as Central Bedfordshire music hub
The Arts Council England has chosen Inspiring Music to create a “music hub” for Central Bedfordshire that will help give all school children the chance to learn a musical instrument in class.
Music hubs are a key part of the Government’s national music plan to create a system which encourages everyone, whatever their background, to enjoy music and help those with a real talent to flourish.
Giving children the chance to perform at an early stage, play in ensembles and sing regularly with access to choirs and vocal ensembles are at the heart of the hub’s role.
As well as helping to create the next generation of word class artists such as Adele, music lessons at school are proven to have an important effect on social development and academic achievement.
Music hubs will be expected to form strong partnerships with schools, music organisations, practitioners and communities to provide quality music education.
“Schools can draw on the hub to support and expand teaching in schools so that it reaches beyond school boundaries and brings in the expertise of professional musicians, local orchestras, ensembles, charities and other music groups,” said Councillor Mark Versallion, Executive Member for Children's Services at Central Bedfordshire Council.
Inspiring Music has won the appointment on the strength of the scores of music making opportunities it currently offers to school children and the community in Central Bedfordshire. Over 2000 children are currently taking part in its Sing On, Sing Out initiative to encourage singing in schools; over 240 pupils played in a series of wind band relays to celebrate the Olympics; and more concerts are planned this term with instrumental days involving hundreds of young string players to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee.
A feast of musical activities ranging from African drumming and ukuleles for beginners to junior orchestras are also available at its four Saturday morning Music Centres based in Ampthill, Dunstable, Leighton Linslade and Biggleswade.
“England has a heritage of producing internationally recognised artists and performers in classical music, Britpop, jazz and folk. We want to instil a passion for music in our young people to ensure this tradition continues,” said Chris Jones, Music Director at Inspiring Music.
Making an empty house a home
Central Bedfordshire Councillors approved plans to bring even more empty houses and buildings back into use, at a meeting of the Council’s Executive today (Tuesday 15 May).
Properties that are empty for long periods often blight their neighbourhoods and can become magnets for criminal or unsociable behaviour, can decrease the value of neighbouring properties and are frequently a major source of distress for neighbours.
The Council’s empty homes strategy is designed to tackle these issues and return unwanted, unused and unloved houses and buildings back into use, to help meet the needs of people requiring accommodation in Central Bedfordshire.
Since the strategy was approved in 2010, more than 40 long term empty homes have been returned to occupation and earlier this year, the Council successfully submitted a bid for £200,000 of Government funding to bring more empty homes back into use. The money will be used towards bringing more empty homes back into occupation under a Lease and Repair scheme. Long-term empty home owners will be offered a set amount of money to repair their house, in return for a five or ten year lease.
Councillors also approved plans which will enable the Council to increase its use of high level enforcement action, including compulsory purchase orders, to tackle the most troublesome empty homes and buildings. A top ten list of priority empty homes needing attention has been drawn up based on factors, including, length of time the property has been empty, number of complaints received about the property, level of impact upon the surrounding area and the likelihood of the property attracting anti-social behaviour.
Councillor Carole Hegley, Executive Member for Social Care, Health and Housing, says:
"This is a real success story for the Council, and shows that when we take decisive action we can make a real difference. Getting an empty house back into use, is a ‘win win’ situation, with benefits for everyone involved – families on the housing waiting list, local neighbours and residents, and long-term empty home owners. This approach is also proven to be more cost effective and sustainable than building new homes."
Central Bedfordshire Council is celebrating national Foster Care Fortnight (May 14 -27) by holding a drop in event on Wednesday 30th May at Priory House, Chicksands, SG17 5TQ, for anyone interested in becoming a foster carer. The event is really informal and there will be opportunities to chat with staff and meet other foster carers.
Anyone unable to attend can get access to lots of useful information on the Central Bedfordshire Council website.
There is also a special YouTube video – ‘Fostering in Bedfordshire an insight’, which tells the stories of current fosters carers and care leavers, as they share there experiences of fostering and talk about the difference it has made to their lives. You can view the video online.
25 year-old Elouise, who stars in the video, said:
"I decided to become a foster carer because when I was growing up I had a couple of friends in the care system, who were being fostered and I always thought I’d love to help children when I was older.
"You know you are making a difference by giving a child love, care and a routine."
Figures released by national charity the Fostering Network show that a child comes into care and needs a foster family every 22 minutes in the UK. These startling figures highlight the urgent need for more foster carers in Central Bedfordshire.
A shortage of foster carers means that some children have to live too far from family and friends, change school and are separated from their brothers and sisters. Having more foster carers would mean more children could live with the right foster carer, first time, and not have to move several times.
Executive Member for Children’s Services, Cllr Mark Versallion, said:
"Becoming a foster carer is one of the most challenging and rewarding things anyone can do. We know that foster carers transform the lives of children and young people; there is simply no substitute for the love, support and stability that fostering offers.
We desperately need more foster carers. You can be single or married, you can work, and if you do decide that fostering is for you, our dedicated team will support you every step of the way.
If you think you can make a difference, then please get in touch with our Fostering and Adoption team this Foster Care Fortnight."
Children’s classic ‘We’re going on a Bear Hunt’, has delighted generation after generation of readers. And now its creator, the internationally acclaimed author, poet and broadcaster Michael Rosen, has jumped at the chance to champion the Children’s Trail in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire.
The Trail, which is set to open at the end of August, is full of imaginative pieces of artwork and will weave through and around the town. It is being jointly funded by Central Bedfordshire Council and Leighton-Linslade Town Council using Section 106 developer public art contributions.
The Trail has been inspired by the town’s links with Mary Norton - author of the series of children’s books 'The Borrowers' and 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks' - who spent much of her childhood in Leighton Buzzard.
Michael Rosen said: "I think this is a great idea. Children often learn actively, through doing and making and moving. I'm honoured and delighted that you have chosen a book I helped create as part of your Children's Trail. I hope it gives you all many moments of fun, interest and excitement. Best of luck."
Cllr Brian Spurr, Executive Member for Sustainable Communities (Services) at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: "The Children’s Trail is an exciting project and the children and young people in Leighton Linslade have played a valuable role in its creation. We’re delighted that a giant of children’s literature like Michael Rosen has decided to champion the Trail."
Artist Martin Heron has been commissioned to create the Trail. Over the past few months he has held creative workshops in Leighton Buzzard schools and within the community. To link in with the Trail’s theme, writer Lucy Banwell was also invited to set up an online ‘storyspinner’ writing and multimedia project in Leighton Middle School (Mary Norton’s school) and Cedars Upper School.
Lucy is currently commissioned by the National Association of Writers in Education to deliver ‘storyspinner’ projects, working with schools all over the UK to write interactive stories.
Residents can follow the work that the young people have produced by visiting their Tumblr page where they can also sign up to the dedicated blog, or visit Facebook to find out much more about the Trail.
Fairfield Park Lower School in Stotfold has emerged as the top school in the Eastern Region in the nationwide 'Big Pedal' competition.
The combined effort of children at the school clocked up a total time of 79 hours, 51 minutes and 12 seconds, which was enough to win the East of England regional competition, and finish 21st out of the hundreds of schools that participated across the country.
The Big Pedal is a stage race and works a bit like the Tour de France. Each day is a new stage in the race which takes schools on a route all round the UK. The team with the quickest time wins.
Many schools joined in for the whole three weeks of the race and schools kept a record of everyone who cycled to school using a Class Record Sheet, then at the end of each day they added the data to the website.
Each school was given an individual time weighting, depending on size and number of pupils, so that smaller schools are in with just as much of a chance to win prizes as larger schools.
As one of the regional winners, pupils at Fairfield Park Lower School have won a bike workshop kit which consists of 78 bike tools, a shadow board to hold them all in and a bicycle work stand for all the school's cycle repair needs.
Cllr Nigel Young, Executive Member of Sustainable Communities (Strategic Planning and Economic Development) at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: "This is a fantastic achievement for Fairfield Park Lower School. Active travel really is a realistic option for many short journeys, especially to school."
Jenny Stone, head teacher at Fairfield Park Lower School said: "This was a fantastic competition which the whole school really enjoyed. It has helped us in our efforts to encourage more people to leave the car at home for the journey to school and either walk, scooter or in this case cycle whenever possible. It was great to see pupils and parents cycling together in a real family event. Staff participated too and were keen to reduce their carbon footprint around the Fairfield site."
Some of the UK’s leading names in business will be sharing ideas on entrepreneurship at this year’s Cranfield VentureDay, sponsored by Central Bedfordshire Council.
Hosted by the Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship at Cranfield School of Management, the VentureDay on 10 May, will see Craig Sams, founder of premium organic chocolate company Green & Black’s and Warren East, CEO of British microchip designer ARM Holdings, meet with more than 200 other business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, UK start-ups and advisors.
Delegates can expect an extensive range of workshops and plenary sessions including: going global to grow; social media and internet marketing; innovative sources of funding; and growing through franchising.
Cllr Nigel Young, Executive Member for Sustainable Communities at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: "The council is delighted to promote this event that highlights business innovation and excellence in Bedfordshire. It is set to be a great networking opportunity.
The Let’s Talk Business Newsfeed, which was launched last year to provide quality, targeted information for our local businesses about this opportunity. Ten sponsored places for the VentureDay were offered through Let’s Talk Business Newsfeed on a first come first served basis and were allocated within 24 hours. We would encourage other businesses to sign up to Let’s Talk Business Newsfeed for more information opportunities and news."
Dr Stephanie Hussels from the Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship at Cranfield, co-ordinates the event. She added: "The growing importance of innovation and networking make events like VentureDay an easier way for start-ups, venture capitalists and advisors to collaborate and share best practice. We are delighted to have the support of so many high profile speakers as we know how much people appreciate hearing from experienced entrepreneurs and investors."
For more information about the VentureDay, visit the venture day website.
If you are interested in joining the Let’s Talk Business News-feed, please visit our business page, email email@example.com or contact the business team on 0300 3005297.
Central Bedfordshire Council is encouraging its residents and employees to walk their way to a healthier lifestyle during this year’s Walk to Work Week, 14th to 18th May, organised by the national charity ‘Living Streets'.
The latest figures show that a quarter of UK adults are now classified as obese and government statistics demonstrate that we jump in the car for more than a fifth of journeys shorter than one mile. Central Bedfordshire Council is promoting the event to highlight the role that walking can play in bringing some much needed activity into our daily lives.
Cllr Brian Spurr, Executive Member for Sustainable Services – Communities said:
"Being active doesn’t mean that you have to invest in costly gym sessions or running marathons. Walking is convenient, free of charge and can easily become a part of your daily routine.
"Walking for just 30 minutes a day during the working week meets the government’s recommended level of daily activity to transform your health. Walk to Work Week is an annual reminder that walking can make a real difference to our health."
Anyone who is interested can sign up for the event free of charge on My Living Streets website.
Central Bedfordshire Council is encouraging residents to ‘Give Back to the Earth’ by starting to compost at home as part of Compost Awareness Week next week (7 – 13 May).
Many people don’t realise that up to a third of their household bin waste is made up of organic waste like vegetable and fruit peelings, egg shells, tea leaves, coffee grounds and garden trimmings which can be turned into compost. Composting is an inexpensive, natural process that transforms your kitchen and garden waste into a valuable and nutrient-rich food for your garden. It’s easy to make and use.
For those wanting to try home composting now is the perfect time to get started. Through Central Bedfordshire Council residents can purchase home compost bins at a subsidised price of £9 (medium size) or £12 (large size). These prices are only valid for a limited time until 30 June 2012.
The council’s Waste Minimisation team will be at Stotfold Steam Fair and Country Show on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 May to share more about home composting, and visitors can pick up some free salad leaf seeds to plant in last year’s compost.
Home-made compost can improve soil structure, maintain moisture levels and help to keep your soil’s PH balance in check, whilst helping to suppress plant disease. Naturally peat-free, home-made compost also helps to protect the damaged peat bogs which release carbon dioxide when disturbed.
Cllr Budge Wells, Deputy Executive Member for Sustainable Communities at Central Bedfordshire Council said: “When organic waste, such as potato peelings or grass cuttings, is put into your black bin, it gets taken to landfill where it decomposes producing methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. By recycling this waste at home in your compost bin, the same waste breaks down in an environmentally-friendly way and can be used to keep your garden green and looking fantastic!”
For further information about these products, call 0844 571 444 and quote reference CBC01L. Alternatively, you can order your home compost bin and composting accessories online at www.cbc.getcomposting.com
Running between Monday 7 and Sunday 13 May 2012, international Compost Awareness Week is in its twelfth year.
Central Bedfordshire Council's objections to plans to develop an energy-from-waste and materials recovery facility at Rookery South pit, near Stewartby in Bedfordshire are to be heard by a special parliamentary committee.
The council, alongside Bedford Borough Council, 34 parish councils and the Waste Recycling Group had petitioned parliament against an order by the Infrastructure Planning Commission permitting development on the site.
A report published yesterday (1 May) by Committee Chairmen representing the two Houses of Parliament has announced that the petitions by the two unitary councils together with the Waste Recycling group have sufficient standing to proceed. The parish councils' petitions were dismissed.
Welcoming the decision, Cllr Nigel Young Executive Member for Sustainable Communities, Strategic Planning and Economic Development at Central Bedfordshire Council said: "I am delighted that we will get the opportunity to put our case against this development before a democratically elected panel. For something which would have such a massive impact on our area and communities to be solely determined by the IPC, with no public accountability, would have been wholly unjust.
"The objections on which we based our petition concerned the impact on the landscape, the design of the facility and the deliverability of the Milton Keynes Canal.
"We need to look in detail at the Chairmen's report to see exactly what we will be allowed to put forward to the parliamentary committee but will take the opportunity to present our case as forcefully as we can."
The publication of the report marks the start of a 21 day Resolution period, ending on 27 May, during which the Rookery South (Resource Recovery Facility) Order 2011could be annulled by either the House of Commons or House of Lords. If this does not happen, the Order will proceed to a joint committee of both Houses for consideration in the coming months.