MORE homes in Central Bedfordshire now have access to superfast broadband as the local council says it has ‘smashed’ a target to reach 15,500 homes and business. Central Superfast is a partnership between Central Bedfordshire, Bedford Borough and Milton Keynes Councils and BT to deliver superfast broadband services to residents and businesses across the region. The 6.64million first phase began in June 2014 and in the two years since then, 188 new green fibre cabinets have been installed across the area including 72 in Central Bedfordshire.
This, Central Bedfordshire Council says, means it has ‘smashed its target of reaching 15,500 homes and businesses with 16,422 premises enabled and coverage up to 90 per cent’. The second phase of the project has already begun, with the aim of reaching 96.5 per cent of homes and businesses here by mid-2018 and will also include Luton Borough Council and the government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme. The phase is worth a combined 11.2million.
Homes and businesses are not automatically connected to superfast broadband despite the upgrade work. You need to contact a broadband service provider and ask to switch to or buy a fibre broadband service. More information about the project as well as a postcode checker to see if you are connected or in line to be connected, can be found here2.
At their budget setting meeting on Thursday 25th February 2016, the CBC councillor for Houghton Hall Ward, Liberal Democrat, Mrs Susan Goodchild, had these words of support.
The new rate for a Band D property for the Central Bedfordshire Council is 1,360.01 (up 3.95%).
By Cllr Mrs S. Goodchild “I am always concerned when I hear about proposals to increase council tax, but from my personal experience with my constituents in Houghton Regis, which is known to have a higher proportion of residents living in poverty, then I think we must protect front line services and for this reason I will be supporting the increase in Council tax in line with the council s recommendation.
It is however, hugely disappointing that the Government has not listened to council s and charities, which have been urging them to provide sufficient funding to support local welfare assistance. We cannot pretend that this will not have an impact on the Council s ability to improve people s quality of life. This Council has in the last four years made efficiency savings, whilst working extremely hard to protect the services upon which people rely. These efficiency savings cannot be made again and I believe the savings that we as a council will need to achieve will be the most difficult yet. In reality even having the same amount of money to spend in 4 years time, would mean that there are still significant challenges ahead for us as a Council. We will need to make savings sufficient to compensate for any additional cost pressures that we face over the next 4 years. Some of the challenges will include the ending of the contracting out of the National Insurance Contributions, introduction of the national living wage and the deprivation of liberty safeguards. It is commonly held wisdom that prevention is better than cure.
Instead of waiting for people to become vulnerable and require public services, it is more financially prudent and beneficial to society and the individuals to create an environment in which people do not become reliant on public services in the first place.
I am especially pleased to see the 9.5 million for providing disabled facilities grants, this will help our more vulnerable residents who need support to stay in their existing homes, where appropriate or if this is not possible to move them to more suitable accommodation.
I would like to extend my thanks to the Directors and their staff for the hard work that has gone into producing this budget and for the support which has been provided to members, to help them to understand the process.”
Residents in Bedfordshire are being invited to a public meeting with Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins and two senior police officers to address local policing concerns.
Commissioner Martins will be joined at St Vincent s Social Centre in Houghton Regis at 7pm on Thursday (25 February) by Senior Local Policing Command Officers. Olly Martins said, I have been picking up worries about policing in the Houghton Regis area for some months now, face-to-face from residents, from Town and Central Beds councillors and on social media. Some of the concern relates to changes in the processes being implemented as part of the new force operating model. The meeting will provide an opportunity to reassure residents about the new structure and how it is helping to deliver improvements, such as better police emergency response times and a 40% reduction in burglary in Houghton Regis in the last 12 months. Also more regular Police Officers are to be recruited over the coming months which will help improve the visibility of the local policing team. But there is no doubt that even with this recruitment there will still be way too few police in the county because of our chronic underfunding. In fact the Chief Constable says we would need at least 300 extra officers to put us on a par with forces facing comparable policing challenges to Bedfordshire . Mr Martins says the key to keeping Houghton Regis and other areas safe even with the overstretched thin blue line we have is for communities and their police to work closely together. I hope this meeting will prove to be the catalyst for forging the strongest possible partnership for the future he said.
I m not expecting the public to do the job of the police but it is important that the resources we have are used as effectively as possible. This means residents helping to be the eyes and ears of the police. The ongoing Operation Meteor against dangerous anti-social off road bikes shows how effective this alliance can be. There have been 340 emails from the public which have already led to a series of arrests and 12 bikes being seized, and there s more to come. Houghton Regis Town Council say that it is looking forward to seeing this initiative roll out in the area and will be working with the Police to support it.
Anyone wishing to put questions forward in advance of the meeting should contact the Commissioner s office on 01234 842064 or by email