Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The Wrangle of Parliamentary Boundaries - South Bedfordshire

Back in June we had three options. for how South Bedfordshire might be reshaped. I replied saying, just give us PR for Bedfordshire. Unfortunately that is not an option, and they went with option S3.

Potentially, I see this as creating a battle zone between Labour and Conservatives for Luton South, a safe Labour seat for "Luton South and Houghton" (although why can't it be "Luton North and Houghton Regis" ?) and a safe seat for Conservatives in the new South West Bedfordshire.

If S3 is adopted, locally, the proposed parliamentary constituencies would cover the council wards of:

Luton North and Houghton

Luton North and Houghton BC 71,188
Houghton Hall Central Bedfordshire 5,717
Parkside Central Bedfordshire 3,220
Tithe Farm Central Bedfordshire 2,994
Bramingham Luton 5,366
Challney Luton 8,227
Icknield Luton 5,614
Leagrave Luton 7,492
Lewsey Luton 8,207
Limbury Luton 5,530
Northwell Luton 4,966
Saints Luton 8,501
Sundon Park Luton 5,354

Luton South

Luton South BC 71,881
Caddington Central Bedfordshire 7,267
Barnfield Luton 5,295
Biscot Luton 8,351
Crawley Luton 4,696
Dallow Luton 8,243
Farley Luton 6,839
High Town Luton 4,206
Round Green Luton 7,566
South Luton 6,139
Stopsley Luton 5,294
Wigmore Luton 7,985

South West Bedfordshire

South West Bedfordshire CC 77,673
Aspley and Woburn Central Bedfordshire 3,681
Barton-le-Clay Central Bedfordshire 3,974
Dunstable-Central Central Bedfordshire 3,332
Dunstable-Icknield Central Bedfordshire 5,731
Dunstable-Manshead Central Bedfordshire 3,575
Dunstable-Northfields Central Bedfordshire 6,528
Dunstable-Watling Central Bedfordshire 7,402
Eaton Bray Central Bedfordshire 3,292
Heath and Reach Central Bedfordshire 3,426
Leighton Buzzard North Central Bedfordshire 10,881
Leighton Buzzard South Central Bedfordshire 9,303
Linslade Central Bedfordshire 9,108
Toddington Central Bedfordshire 7,440

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Friday, 5 August 2016

Dunstable Downs Kite Festival 2016

Sometimes I wish I had a decent video camera. The last decent one was a VHS, unfortunately I left it on a shelf, with a lead dangling down from it and one of my then toddlers managed to make it crash to the floor, breaking it.

So this was filmed on a tiny 8MP camera, in short bursts of a few seconds each time before the batteries gave up. I think I went through 6 sets of AA batteries to make this, which is ridiculous!

I've also got a tiny stupid camera from China that was a complete waste of money. Fiddly little buttons and I've never managed to make it work. Avoid buying this cheap crap - it's too prohibitive to even send back for a refund.

Oh, I could do so much more with the right camera.

Hope you enjoy. Comment below.

I took some stills, too. They can be seen here:

Thursday, 21 July 2016

To CBC: Stop Making Innocent Drivers Victims of Your Useless Sign Posts!

Drovers Way / Brewer's Hill Road, Dunstable imparticular.

  It should be obvious

When you are moving into a 20mph zone it needs to be obvious. Turning left into Drovers Way from 30mph to 20mph the 20mph sign can easily be missed. Make the road narrower, say 25 yards into Drovers Way,  Simple road striping could be used to narrow the road, but also make sure the 20mph signs are next to the narrowing stripes.

"Where a limit starts near to a junction, great care must be taken in siting the signs to ensure that they are clearly visible to turning traffic. Advice on the spacing of repeater signs for 20 mph speed limits is given in Traffic Advisory Leaflet 1/95"

"Previously, 20 mph zones were not permitted if any part of the zone was more than 1km from any boundary road. Although this no longer applies, it remains sound general advice"

"Gateways can incorporate coloured surfaces, with or without a 20 mph elongated roundel marking. Where a 20 mph roundel is used, it is strongly recommended that it is placed on a coloured background to give it prominence. "

To CBC: Download, Read, Digest, and Implement :

This article is a work in progress.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

How Do Pubs Survive These Days?

How Do Pubs Survive These Days

I went into a pub the other day. It's not something I do very often. There was a couple of men in there drinking some yellowy stuff. I scanned the pumps looking for something that might be brown stuff. Kronenbourg, Skol, Cider, but nothing I could see was brown stuff. I thought,  maybe there's something showing on the price list. Price list. I scanned the walls around the bar for a price list. I couldn't see one.

"Do you have a price list?", I asked. The response was in the negative. One of the drinkers piped up, excusing the pub saying it was just a little pub. The thought ran through my mind that licensed premises had to display notices like that. [Later, on the Internet: 'Prior to consumption or payment by customers, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 require operators to make menus and prices readily available and to include such information required by a customer to make an informed choice.']

"What is it you want?" I was asked.
"Well, something like John Smith's," I offered.

I was told that they did have that, but I couldn't see it because it was "on the other side". I ordered a pint, and she went off to draw it. I opted to leave that bar through one door, enter the fresh air outside, and re-enter 'the other side', where the pint glass was almost full.

"How much, please?" I asked.

I choked inwardly, reflecting on the four times 89p 500ml bottles of Heatherwood's Golden Goose I had purchased in Lidl's a few days earlier.

After paying, I looked around the bar. A Sky Sports channel was on. No other customers in the bar. A dart board on one wall. A few chairs and tables, and a cushioned bench. A rack of paperback books. Some old photographs on the walls. I walked over for closer inspections. Old pictures of the former village, nothing I hadn't seen before.

A certificate hung neglected beside the exit door, declaring ' --(pub name) -- winner of Tug of War competition 199- '.
"No sign of actual community involvement  than at least 20 years ago", I thought to myself.

The sportscaster on tv started annoying me. I asked the barmaid if it could be turned off. "No, it has to stay on," she told me, "it's on contract."

My back was up. I was their only paying customer on 'this side'. Suppose someone wanted to get out of the house to get away from the rest of the family who were watching inane tv programmes? Why would they want more inane tv?

It had to stay on. I was offered another channel, as a consolation prize presumably, and opted for a music channel. More drivel came on, of a musical variety. Why would people come in here, I thought. Dart board. Maybe there are darts? I enquired. "Yes, we do," the barmaid started searching for darts, her fingers moved along a top shelf, a bottom shelf. Two were found. "I have 2." she offered.

I groaned to myself.

"Hang on," she said on tip-toes, here's the other one, and pushed the three over to me.

I played for a bit, but there again I could have played darts on my own at home. I sat down on a bench to finish drinking. Would I really want to stay in here having another one? No, I wouldn't.

I would stick to whatever Lidl's, or the other supermarkets can come up with.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Patrick Stewart sketch: what has the ECHR ever done for us? - video

NOTE: Britain should withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights regardless of the EU referendum result, Theresa May has said.

SILLY WOMAN: You have to be a member of the ECHR to be a member of the EU. The European Union itself agrees to abide by the ECHR.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Tinkering Around the Town Centre Will Just Waste My Council Tax

When it comes to local councils, they do love to spend our money. I have to get this off my chest so I can move on.

This year, 15% of my income (assuming I continue to be part time employed) will go on Council Tax. So I want a say in how it's spent, and having been alerted by someone else to the shopping list that Houghton Regis Town Council have come up with for our town centre, I am appalled at what they want to spend MY money on.

For several years now, Conservative Central Bedfordshire Council have been robbing over £90,000 a year from Houghton Regis Town Council. It is money that the Government gives CBC to pass onto local councils in respect of council tax support. And CBC haven't been doing so. And now, somewhat miraculously, they have conjured up a £4m fund - the Market Town Regeneration Fund. I wonder where that came from?

The fund, of course, comes with strings attached, and our town has to compete with others for a slice of this money. CBC will give matched funding for schemes that improve town centres. Understandably keen to get their mitts on some of that funding, our town councillors, many of them newbies elected only last May, have swallowed the bait and come up with a raft of proposals they hope will make our town centre a more thriving place, IF their scheme is lucky enough to be chosen by Conservatives at CBC.

The documents were found on the HRTC website. The shopping list beggars belief, and although a survey was conducted, to my mind very little on the shopping list matches up with what the public were saying.

Shopping List: "Create a sense of 'gateway' at the entrances to the town"
Total: £8,000
My comment: "No. No. Waste of money".

Shopping List: "Create a sense of 'gateway' at entrances to Bedford Square"
Total: £15,000
My comment: "No. No. Waste of money".

Shopping List: "Improving the signage to the town centre".
Total: £6,000
My comment: "Waste of money. If people don't know where it is, then it's a bad job for them. Signs are a blight on the urban scene."

Shopping List: "Improve retailer branding and advertising"
Total: £6,000
My comment: "Waste of public money. If businesses want to spend on that, let them."

Shopping List: "Improvements to the Bedford Sq Community Centre".
Total: £17,000
My comment: "HRTC don't own this building, CBC do. The owners should pay for any improvements required. Accessibility for wheelchairs, widening the doors from the corridor, doing something about the stiff front door are things that all need to be attended to. There are four CBC councillors for Houghton Regis, shirking their responsibilities while claiming expenses of around £250 a week. Let them get on with making a nuisance at the Council that owns the Community Centre."

Shopping List: "To install public art into the centre of Bedford Square on the large blank wall".
Total: £60,400
My comment: "The HRTC don't own the the Square. The large blank wall on the side of Poundstretcher is somewhat austere. And yet 'No cycling' and 'No ball games' signs on the wall are already ignored. If something is put on that wall, please, let it not be a giant beechnut (or conker)!"

Shopping List: "To also install hanging baskets / planters throughout the centre of the town and along the highway fronting facades".
Total: £80,000
My comment: "It's a roadway and public footpath. For those that want to see flowers go to a garden centre or public gardens."

Shopping List: "Refurbish the tree bed near All Saints."
Total: £15,000
My comment "ok with that."

Shopping List: "Promote local active transport (cycling and walking)".
Total: £17,000
My comment: "CBC have already graffitied our roads and footpaths. The urban scene is already cluttered with signposts and fly-posts. No further wasteful promotions are required."

Shopping List: "The creation of a Bedford Sq performance space supported by an events programme".
Total: £132,000
My comment: "This needs careful consideration of residents living nearby. There are already several uses of Bedford Sq by community groups and HRTC. It would just take a bit of imagination for a theatre group (say) to adapt to what is already there. As venue it's often very cold or wet, so it wouldn't be for all year round use. The design would need carefully looking at to make vandal proof. On feedback forms people have suggested a bandstand, but not that it should be in Bedford Square. On balance I don't think it would be sensible use of public funds to pursue the idea."

Shopping List: "Establishment of a regular market, mainly spent on purchasing market stalls"
Total: £22,000
My comment - "Is there actually a demand from traders? Dunstable market has really floundered, and in the past HRTC have struggled to find even one stall-holder. Let the demand for a market be driven by traders coming to HRTC to ask, not the other way around."

Shopping List: "Establishment of specialist markets, mainly spent on purchasing market stalls.
Total: £26,000
My comment: "Is there actually a demand from traders? Dunstable market has really floundered, and in the past HRTC have struggled to find even one stall-holder. Let the demand for a market be driven by traders coming to HRTC to ask, not the other way around."

Shopping List: "Support to Local entrepreneurs
Total: £11,800
My comment: "I have no idea what that means."

Shopping List: "Shop local loyalty scheme"
Total: £7,000
My comment - "I don't agree with loyalty schemes. I believe in freedom of choice."

Shopping List: "Deliver town centre publicity"
Total: £2,000
My Comment - "What for?"

Shopping List: "To develop a Town Team"
Total: £217,800
My comment - " '£168,000 to go on appointment of supporting staff'. Wow! If along the lines of Dunstable Town Ranger then it might be worthwhile. Although, from what I know of the Town Ranger, many of the things tackled by this 'town' employee should really be in the domain of the Central Bedfordshire Council to manage.

Now, I'm happy to be torn to pieces over my comments, I just want this debated, and my council tax spent to actually improve my life.

Update 23/4/2016: CBC have shortlisted the Houghton Regis scheme and a decision is expected on June 7th. See

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Today's Walk: Litter, graffitti, and then there's progress.

Path between Frogmore Road and Lewsey Farm.

I wonder if we need more walls in Houghton Regis for the graffiti artists? Mind you, they're not very talented are they?

So where are the nice things? Well, there is Houghton Hall Park currently being transformed ... I heard some moans about the spreading snowdrops suffering from clearance work.

And here is the Woodside Link in construction ...