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

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

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:

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'. 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.


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.

  • 3 Sausages
  • 2 Bacon Rashes
  • Mixed Veg
  • Sweetcorn
  • Tagliatelle
  • Spirali
  • Honey and Mustard sauce
  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.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Alt-Right America: Trump's Right Wing Worrisome Cabinet

As of January 19th, these were appointed by the now President Donald John Trump, 45th President of the United States of America. Sends shivers of worry out in every direction. The people he's appointed will boost use of fossil fuel, trample over health care, ignore global warming, encourage torture ... I don't see how his appointees to his cabinet will give control back to the people. This man is a con-man, and he's surrounded himself by many con-men and women.

And if you look at what he said to the CIA in his first visit, I feel that he is out of his depth, and winging it.

Sonny Perdue: Secretary of Agriculture, he could  prioritize the profits of big agribusiness and trade over the interests of American farmers, workers and consumers

David Shulkin: Secretary of Veterans Affairs, he's not a veteran, and Trump wants Veterans Affairs overhauled.

Jared Kushner: Senior Advisor to the President, Trump's son-in-law, lacks experience in politics., may not actually be allowed by law to take a role in his father-in-law's administration.

Dan  Coats: National Intelligence Director, supports torture and widespread government surveillance, banned from Russia.

Kellyanne Conway: Counselor to the President, plays down Trump's worst habits and excusing his bad behavior, shifting focus to worst behaviour of others..

Mick Mulvaney: Budget Director: has aggressively pursued the defunding of Planned Parenthood and the prevention of Syrian refugees from entering the United States. Would shut government down rather than reach a compromise.

Ryan Zinke: Secretary of Interior: Non-believer in climate change. Describes the overwhelming evidence behind climate change as "unsettled science" .

Rick Perry: Secretary of Energy:  Likely to shift the department away from renewable energy and toward oil and other fossil fuels that he championed as Texas governor.

Rex W. Tillerson: Secretary of State: no experience in the public sector, strongly in favor of free trade, Russia even awarded him Order of Friendship.

Gary Cohn: National Economic Council Director. president of Goldman Sachs and COO

Andrew Puzder: Secretary of Labor: lacks government experience, his burger chains have drawn criticism for featuring scantily clad women.

Linda McMahon: Head of the Small Business Administration, billionaire co-founder and former CEO of the wrestling franchise WWE, she and her husband donated $5 million to the Trump Foundation, according to The Washington Post.

Scott Pruitt: Head of the Environmental Protection Agency. He has been a booster of the fossil fuel industry, doesn't believe in global warming.

Gen. John F. Kelly: Secretary of Homeland Security, job will be building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Ben Carson: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, no experience in government, opposed an Obama administration effort to improve housing integration,  has also criticized government programs meant to combat poverty .

James Mattis: Secretary of Defense, retired Marine Corps general, shares Trump's approach against America's enemies, particularly Iran, views "political Islam" as a threat.

Steven Mnuchin: Secretary of the Treasury, career started at Goldman Sachs, hailed as a "financial expert" by Trump insiders, he has no experience in government. He purchased a bailed-out bank for pennies on the dollar and then aggressively foreclosed on tens of thousands of families

Jeff Sessions: Attorney General, hardliner on immigration, described the Ku Klux Klan as "okay until I found out they smoked pot", said a white lawyer who had black clients was "a disgrace to his race", called the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) "un-American".

Wilbur Ross: Commerce Secretary, wealth is estimated at $2.9 billion, buys troubled companies "on the cheap" and sell them for billions of dollars in profit.

Betsy DeVos: Secretary of Education, a billionaire businesswoman, has sought to steer money away from public schools and into private and parochial schools,

Elaine Chao: Secretary of Transportation, has worked in three Republican White Houses.

Tom Price: Secretary of Health and Human Services, the leading voice to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, staunchly pro-life,  opposes funding for groups like Planned Parenthood, he's against the Obamacare mandate that provides free birth control, and he's against same-sex marriage.

Reince Priebus: Chief of Staff, lacks government experience. Cozy with Republican members of congress, he doesn't necessarily know how to run a government.

Steve Bannon: Chief Strategist and Senior Adviser, holds extreme conservative positions like white supremacy, anti-immigration, and anti-feminism. has worked for Goldman Sachs, "I'm a Leninist," he once told a writer at the Daily Beast. "Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that's my goal, too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today's establishment."

Mike Pompeo: Director of the CIA, has spoken out in the favor of the CIA's use of torture, which, according to a Senate report, included "waterboarding...the use of electric shocks, dogs, nudity, hypothermia, and mock executions."

Michael Flynn: National Security Adviser, retired Army lieutenant general , comments about the Muslim faith verge on Islamophobia, led chants of "lock her up" directed at Hillary Clinton. Praises "alt-right" (extreme right wing conservatism) internet trolls.

Nikki Haley: United Nations Ambassador, surprisingly a Trump critic, but lacks foreign policy experience, and opposed the settlement of Syrian refugees in South Carolina.

Want more? Read More

Friday, 20 January 2017

Hard Hrexit, Or Soft Hrexit? Houghton Regis Votes to Leave Bedfordshire

Last year Houghton Regis voted to leave Bedfordshire, but the population remains split over the decision.  Leave won by 52% to 48%.

Key Leave campaigner, Mr Park Avenue, said, "It was a momentous decision, Houghton Regis has voted to Leave, and we're now free to trade with the rest of the UK, and control our boundaries."

When Article 50 of the Treaty of Bedfordshire is invoked, the other 125 settlements in Bedfordshire will discuss Houghton Regis' decision. Negotiations over Houghton Regis leaving Bedfordshire will then begin. A draft deal will be put to Central Bedfordshire Council (59 members). Also to be consulted are  Luton Borough Council (48 members) and Bedford Borough Council (41 members). The draft deal will need to be approved by at least 82 settlements with 65% of the population of Bedfordshire. And then the draft deal needs to be ratified by a Parliament of all Bedfordshire Councils. At the end of two years, negotiations can be extended further but only if all 125 settlements agree. If there is no agreement to extend then the Treaty of Bedfordshire ceases to apply to Houghton Regis.

Following Hrexit, the office of Deputy Town Clerk will embark on asking for quotations from counties all over the UK, to clear away the town's household rubbish; providing housing benefits; schools and education; dealing with anti-social orders; providing services to encourage employment; road repairs; council housing repairs; children's services; pollution control; control of libraries and the countryside; gritting; electoral registration; registration of births deaths, marriages; health and social care.

Depending on negotiations, new passports may need to be issued to anyone who wishes to leave the town, and all visitors may need to be processed before they can enter. New employment will be created to build, and police, a new wall that will be erected around the town to keep out undesirables.

Unexpectedly,  the main supermarket in the town, has already declared that they will be leaving Houghton Regis and seeking an alternative location within Bedfordshire. A spokesman for the company said, "After Hrexit, it will be harder for people from all other parts of Bedfordshire to shop here, so we want to be where most of our customers will be."

 Mr Park Avenue, said, "We're now free to trade with the rest of the UK. We have other grocery stores in Houghton Regis, we should be loyal to them. And we'll approach the other main stores to supply us. I'm sure we can get a better deal. There's too many foreigners in shopping areas like Luton, anyway, and Milton Keynes is much nicer."

But it wasn't clear 'who' would approach the other stores to broker a better deal for Houghton Regis. The Town Clerk advised that negotiating with major grocery suppliers to come to Houghton Regis within the UK was outside her remit.

Houghton Regis will also lose it's police force. "Not to worry, we'll set up our own police force, and I'm sure they'll do a better job than Bedfordshire Police ever did for us," commented Mrs Park Avenue. The Town Mayor was unavailable for comment when we asked him how he was going to set up a town-wide police force, but was seen in worried conversation with a Mr Willows, and the words "consultation" were mentioned.

Social Services and Highways Maintenance are currently provided by Bedfordshire, and the office of Deputy Mayor of Houghton Regis would have two years to negotiate with them to take over running the services for Houghton Regis. "We'd like a reciprocal arrangement with them so that we can continue to offer this to our residents." But Leave campaigners have insisted that Leave means Leave, saying they want a hard Hrexit, not a soft Hrexit.

Mr Ad Infinitum commented, "Taking back control of of our boundaries will put a stop to developers coming here to ruin our countryside. Planning in Bedfordshire has gone too far, taking up all our wildlife spaces."

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Remoaners, Exiteers, and the 3rd group - Put Me in the Third Group

I asked a simple enough question and got a storm of a response yesterday. "So our best divorce lawyer has resigned, and we're still hoping for a successful Brexit?"

This may turn out to be a rambling, load of tosh, it's not researched, it's more of  "an awareness". But I'm going to write it anyway.

So, I did argue on the Remain side. We had a vote. It was close. The weekend that followed was amusing and an all time low, like the one I've often had after any election campaign, especially one that's not been won. Gove stood aside, Boris went off to play golf, Farage came on telly and wrongly got slated via TV AM for saying there won't be £350m going into the NHS, more like £250m, he said. Wrongly slated, because that slogan wasn't his, It came from the LEAVE EU campaign team, which he was not in.

In a marriage, there could be one partner thinking they want to get out, and never letting the other partner know about those thoughts. Then, the idea of divorce comes up, it's mentioned to the other partner who at first denies it as a blip, perhaps even ignores the idea,

While I was an original founder member of the Liberal Democrats, coming from the Liberal Party, the one part of policy I was never comfortable with, was that bit about wanting to be closely involved with a federalist Europe. The EU, its policies, it's ins and outs, were never interesting enough in my life for me to pay any attention to.

Just about the only piece of  "EU" that I did find interesting enough to pay attention to, was that MEPs are voted in by proportional representation. So that was why I voted in EU elections, to keep PR alive. We even had a Lib Dem MP for the East of England out of it. Then this MP started sending out newsletters to members of all the  things he was doing for the East of England. I even read some of them. But it all felt unconnected to my life, so dull was it.

Along comes UKIP, making some noises, I get the idea that they're some sort of racists, anti-EU and diametrically opposed (according to others in the Lib Dems) to Lib Dem themes, so I must therefore do everything to see them off. But actually, it's about leaving the EU, an idea I ignored, because I assumed people thought like me, that the EU was boring and wouldn't be interested anyway.

We move on a few years more and now the other marriage partner really means it. They want a divorce at all costs! Suddenly, we have a vote looming, something the 'out now' partner has been plotting and planning for years, something which the 'stay in' partner has to flounder around searching and worrying over what the problem is.

Then the vote is called ! The preliminary divorce papers arrive through the letter-boxes! Calamity! Panic! What are the counter-arguments? The 'out partner' has no need of counter arguments, their mind was made up long ago!

By the time the vote came around I had left the Lib Dems for local and personal reasons. Even if I took the political compass test now I would come out midway between Liberal (edit: Democrat) and Social Democracy. In the run up to the Referendum vote, I was not a member of any political party, and still am not. I went into the run-up with an open mind, but soon found myself looking into and supporting the 'stay-in' side. For me, it was a very late awakening that the EU had actually brought us a lot of very good things.

The vote is held. Cameron resigns. The 'stay-in' partner sulks away as the judge delivers his verdict. The 'out now' partner cries "Bloody hell, I'm not married any more. What do I do now?" At first no one quite knows what to do. Gove stabs Boris in the back, Boris appears more bumbling than ever. Theresa takes on the challenge leading the busted up family in a search for new lodgings.

It's at this stage that I get to really look at Farage in the 'work' he's done as a Euro MP. In his amazing attacks on EU officials - there's plenty of YouTube video on this. I actually start to conceive the idea that this guy Farage might actually be a very Liberal free trader, and very much more democratic than anyone else in my sphere of life has ever dared to suggest before.

The divorce is over, it's agreed they will part. I've voted, so have others. We must adhere to the vote. Then out comes Tim Farron, and latterly others in Parliament, saying they will campaign to stay in. I think,  "Mr Farron you are a chump, you won't get me back on that stance". We voted on it. You lost, Tim. The marriage is over. So get over it. The 'out-now' group will be forever unwilling to try again. The 'stay-in' group will hang on, and hang on, and hang on, as long as they can, because they are in denial and don't accept the need for the divorce.

The pragmatist in me says it is over. The best way forward is to move on with the situation, work out the best settlement, and do the best to remain friendly with those former parts of the EU institution (the marriage). The third group: moving on with the situation.

I'm in the third group, and I like to think that my question at the top shows my concern that out of this divorce, moving out of the 4 bedroom family home, we might just end up in the shed at the bottom of the garden.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Legacy Announcements, but Cart Is Before the Horse

Posted to BBC Three Counties Facebook Page:

All these announcements, but no plans as yet, and no public consultation yet, although I hear some pc will take place later this year.

How is it justified to announce all these facts, even before a planning application has been submitted? :

"The Legacy Foundation has announced the beginning of building work on 1,300 homes just outside Luton, set for completion in 2017", Oct 21st 2016 . That is stated as a fact, implying that it's all gone through planning, and making local people feel as though they have not been consulted.
"They will start work building 1,300 homes just outside Luton in 2017" BBC 21 Oct 2016. That is stated as a fact. And on the BBC web site.
"The first project sees 600 of the 1,300 homes built in Houghton Regis, near Luton, designated for social and affordable housing." Oct 21st 2016. Another statement of fact before any planning decision.
"The players' current project will see 1,300 homes built in one of the most deprived areas of the UK in Houghton Regis, near Luton, with 600 properties currently designated for social and affordable housing." BBC 21 Oct 2016
"It will have a leisure centre, swimming pool and a sports academy - where one of them will be training local kids once a month - and a creche." 27 Sept 2016. Another statement of fact without plans yet.
"They hope to break ground on their first project in early 2017, with the first flats ready for moving into a year after that." Sept 2016 Nothing wrong with "hope"!
 "A 22-hectare site in Kingsland, north of Houghton Regis – one of most underprivileged areas in the UK – will be the first location to implement the Legacy model" 21 Oct 2016. Another statement of fact, when other projects may end up being first.

The cart is before the horse.
There should not be a presumption in favour of granting planning permission.
Councillors have to be impartial to decide on planning matters.
As yet there are no plans  in the public domain.

Some notes I copied down from a few websites in 2016:

Football stars Rio Ferdinand, Bobby Zamora and Mark Noble will be revealing the plans this year for a £400 million housing development, with 1,300 homes, on a 22-hectare site in Houghton Regis,  in partnership with Central Bedfordshire council and funded by Aviva Investors.

It will have a leisure centre, swimming pool and a sports academy -  where one of them will be training local kids once a month - and a creche.

Legacy is the brainchild of Ferdinand, who grew up on a council estate in Peckham.

Zamora, 35, from Barking and now a striker for Brighton and Hove Albion, adds: “We don’t want to use the word ‘estate’ for Legacy schemes: we want them to be communities.”

Plans are currently under wraps as the details are worked out.

“We need to make it clear we ain’t just three footballers who just sit here,” says Noble. “We understand the scheme. We have sat in rooms with people who shaped the business model, and some of the most influential people in the industry for the last 10 months, and we understand it fully. We’re not just the faces of it.” (source )

Ferdinand says it’ll take three to four years to prove that the housing model and the legacy programme work and are sustainable. “I’m chomping at the bit to get started,” says Zamora.

According to The Big Issue  in October, "The first project sees 600 of the 1,300 homes built in Houghton Regis, near Luton, designated for social and affordable housing." The Legacy Foundation has announced the beginning of building work on 1,300 homes just outside Luton, set for completion in 2017

Of the £400 million development Zamora says that a minimum of 40 per cent of units will be social, affordable or key worker housing in each development, with an aspiration to 50 per cent.  They hope to break ground on their first project in early 2017, with the first flats ready for moving into a year after that. (source)

In an unrelated event, Cllr James Jamieson, Leader Central Beds Council, announced the opening of the Woodside Link on 10th December, even though it wasn't actually open. MORE ...