Monday, 27 July 2015

Time to Renew My Royal Mail Opt-Out


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Anyone fed up with Royal Mail pushing unaddressed mail through their door can opt-out.

Apparently my 2 years of opting out has now expired, so that explains why the postie is cramming more crap through my door.

Yes, I know it's a job creation scheme, for the leaflet designers, the printers, the bulk deliverers, the postman, the bin-men, the recycling centre sorting people, and paper-makers, but to be honest, it's mostly absolutely unwanted by anyone in my household, so I prefer to opt-out.

Bear in mind that the Royal Mail don't deliver election material, so you should still get that if you opt-out.

And also bear in mind that Royal Mail reckon that 75% of junk mail doesn't actually come from them. So you might want to invest in a "NO JUNK MAIL" sign for your letter box, and then jump out on the first people that ignore that sign, to give them a piece of your mind, so that they get the message.

The process involves going to Royal Mail website, writing to an address, waiting while you receive back gumf explaining the process, and then filling out a form, and post it back to them. So much for being simple!

To save a bit of time, you could download the paperwork they sent to me click on the link in that to download the OPT-OUT FORM, fill that in and mail it off.

Once you've opted out, RM should send you a sticker saying OPTED-OUT which you need to put somewhere near your letter box - after all, the poor old postie can't be expected to remember EVERYONE who has opted out.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

HRN2 Outline Approved - Without Land Identified for Cemetery

I attended the 2 hour debate at CBC on Wednesday this week on whether to allow the outline planning permission for HRN2, or not. It was all a forgone conclusion, really. The Conservatives have a huge majority, and none of the 4 councillors representing Houghton Regis, 3 of whom are that rare opposition, even have a vote on the DMC.

Lots of objections were put in. It's in the green belt, the number of allotments doesn't match how many should be provided per household, road safety concerns with the road layout proposal, traffic volumes on Bedford Road, the original proposal for a wildlife visitor hut had been removed, there was a need for a new cemetery in the town and no provision for one. There were nods to some of these, but in the voting, the need to create new housing seemed to take on the majority opinion.

Who knows, maybe some of these concerns will be worked out before the full planning permissions go through? I doubt they all will be. Some of those things needed to have been "set in stone" before the outline was agreed. In fact, one of the Tories said as much, and then said he'd still be supporting the outline application. Beggars belief.

If not Orchard Close, and not the HRN2 site, where?
So, what are the options for a new cemetery, now? Orchard Close was investigated for its suitability, by the Environment Agency, then dropped due to covenants protecting it for open space for recreational use. The other original choice was Windsor Drive, which might have also been used for allotments, but local opposition is expected there. That site is even closer to the water table, so is less suitable than Orchard Close. That's a big problem for any site within Houghton Regis Parish. The water table. There might just be other plots on the edges of the parish our town councillors might look at, like at Sewell (still in the parish), but environmentally special and sensitive to many people.

With the Town Council having few options left, I wouldn't fancy being in their shoes for next few years. Perhaps a new approach altogether is needed? After all a town council does not HAVE to provide a cemetery. But typically, burials in parishes where you are not resident, are charged THREE times higher than someone who does.

Maybe Central Beds Council needs to start looking to provide a central cemetery? It could be run profitably (as is the Conservative way), if charged correctly, after all, no crematorium runs at a loss.


Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Off-Road Bikers Now Challenging #WoodsideLink Constructors



I spoke with a rep from Balfour Beatty this afternoon; they are contractors for the Woodside Link. Apparently they are already suffering nuisance from off-road bikers in balaclavas who are allegedly using bolt-cutters to get access to the route of the new roadway under construction.

Clearly this cannot be allowed to continue, as the contractors are on a tight schedule to get the chalky soils moved around on site to the correct levels before October. Biker intrusions mean they have to down tools and wait for a police presence, or wait for the nuisance to go away. This will clearly be a further challenge to police resources.

I'm making local police and Andrew Selous, MP aware so that they might use this example to further the cause of improving police resources for Bedfordshire.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Farewell Funeral Attended by Darth Vader

Luton On Sunday this week... fancy dress to a funeral?


I think I find this bad taste. Each to their own, though.


Tuesday, 7 July 2015

POLLING DAY QUESTIONS FINALLY ANSWERED

I posted off a series of questions to the Returning officer at Central Beds Council at the beginning of June. Today I got a response. I find the answer to question 1 particularly worrying.

1.   During the May elections I was informed that some voters were able to go into a polling station, give their name, and get ballot papers, even though they had no polling card on them, and neither were they asked for any other form of identity. What is the correct procedure for the staff at a polling station to follow in the event that a person does not have a polling card?

RESPONSE: The system currently still works on trust with or without the poll card.  The poll clerk should repeat the line entry at it appears in the register and the elector confirms that they are that person.


2. During the count of ballot papers, boxes for Tithe Farm and Parkside were clearly visibly unattended for a long period, and open, at the rear of the tent. Why were they not attended and kept locked at all times?

RESPONSE: I have spoken with the Manager who administered the count within the marquee and he assures me that the ‘open mixing’ boxes were always in view should anybody have attempted to tamper with them.

3. Why were counting staff kept waiting for long periods, apparently waiting to count votes when there were many boxes piled up waiting to be counted?

RESPONSE: Until the supervisor has clearance from the central control that the verification figure or the count figure has been reconciled with the number of ballot papers issued at the polling station then there will always be a small period of time when the counters ‘appear to be doing nothing’.  Quite often the central control requests that a recount takes place and therefore that process would be carried out before the next box is issued.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Nuisance Off Road Bikers

A campaign to have more barriers installed around Parkside to help combat nuisance motor-bikers that ride around the footpaths of Houghton Regis has stalled.

Central Bedfordshire Council has responded to a residents request for barriers, saying that "the highway capital programme for this year has been agreed and is already fully committed".

Another line of attack was to approach the Council's Housing department. But the Council have stated that there is no evidence that the perpetrators of the anti-social noise are Central Bedfordshire Council tenants. Therefore the authority do not have any authority to challenge the youths directly, so the matter needs to be dealt with by the police.


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The reply puts the ball in the court of the police and local CBC councillors. Can't see any point in the last suggestion, unless the officer replying is suggesting his hands are politically tied unless a bigger fuss is made.

And the remark about a fully committed highways budget, is, I would suggest, complete twaddle. There is always a bit extra to be found somewhere, though it might be nearer the end of the financial year. Funny how they happily put funds into an opposed one-way contra-flow on Easthill Rd, then financed a new cycle path across part of the Village Green and made a path wide enough to take a quad bike at the back of Hammersmith Close (and omitting to put in barriers big enough to stop them) all without telling local representatives what they were doing.

The police have told me they are planning a series of further actions against the illegal use of bikes this summer, and the new Sergeant for Houghton Regis will be useful, but with the biggest will in the world, I can't see the problem ever going away.



Bikers Discussed Over a Video Put on BBC Three Counties Radio 7/7/2015

BBC3CR Facebook discussion



'Catch me if you can' - A teenager's message to the police about off-road motorbiking. It remains a problem in Dunstable and Houghton Regis.Our reporter Tony Fisher recorded this short video of the motorbikes in Dunstable.
Posted by BBC Three Counties Radio on Monday, 6 July 2015