Bedfordshire Bulletin

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ISSN 2634-453X

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Abbotsbury Residential Home could close following council’s support for proposal 2 —


by Local Democracy Reporter

An option to shut a Biggleswade care home rated ‘outstanding’ has been unanimously backed by town councillors. the possible closure of Abbotsbury Residential Home at Mead End is part of a programme to modernise and improve facilities for older people locally. A consultation is underway as Central Bedfordshire Council is in the process of reviewing the future of seven care homes which it inherited from Bedfordshire County Council in 2009. CBC’s preferred option is to relocate residents to better premises either built by the local authority or other providers.

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An independent operator is due to open a new care home on London Road in Biggleswade this summer. the operator, Quantum Care, has offered enough care home places for Abbotsbury residents wanting to move there, in principle, as long as their care and support needs can be met. this has presented CBC with an opportunity to consider the future of Abbotsbury, according to a letter it sent to the town council about the consultation process. Biggleswade town councillor Mark Knight said: “We should write in support of option two, but with three requests. “A review of the future (care home) need should be brought forward to 2023. “Any extra facility should be located in

Biggleswade, rather than the wider ivel Valley area. “And CBC should work closely with us to review any future options about how this site (Abbotsbury) is used.” town councillors voted to support option two of the consultation, favouring the closure proposal with alternative care home provision for permanent residents. Abbotsbury was built by Bedfordshire County Council in the 1970s on the site of a large former Victorian workhouse. the care home was given an ‘outstanding’ rating after an inspection by the Care Quality Commission. CBC has been talking to “residents and their representatives to gain an understanding of their needs and preferences” already,

explained the letter. the aim is to “provide residents with a choice of alternative accommodation which meets those wishes and are within a reasonable distance”. the alternative homes suggested “would offer good quality care, modern physical and environmental standards, and fee rates in line with CBC’s cost structure”. this only applies to care homes in Central Bedfordshire. the fees are reviewed annually and £601 a week is the current rate. CBC said: “the running costs for Abbotsbury equate to an estimated £695 per place a week.” other options include selling Abbotsbury as a ‘going concern’ to another

New head of Bedford 6th Form nEW Head at the Bedford Sixth form is Helen Smith. She takes over from paul Clarkson who has retired after leading the educational establishment to becoming the largest of its kind in Bedfordshire, with 650 students. the imposing, historic property, containing all the latest facilities, is a spacious environ-

ment for 16+ students to focus on A Level and BtEC studies. in 2020, students achieved a 99.8% pass rate with grades enabling them to go on to their first choice universities, or to take up quality employment opportunities. new Head Helen is a champion of people progressing

on to degrees, something which young people may have to embrace in the fast-changing employment environments ahead. She has four degrees in: psychology, Law, teaching and an MA in Educational Leadership. “i am passionate about learning and believe all people should be given the chance to

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achieve their potential. the Bedford Sixth form is great starting place for those aged 16+ on that journey towards the university, or employment, of their choice and to encourage them in the belief that continuing professional development is a positive pathway,” said Helen. previously employed at the Melton Vale Sixth form, Brooke House College and Cardinal Wiseman School, Helen has a combination of independent school and 16+ specialist expertise.

the Bedford Sixth form in Bromham Road was the former Harpur trust exclusive Girls’ High School, and is known as “Hogwarts” by some because of its gothic-style architecture, including a church now used as restaurant. Behind the facade the building has been re-equipped with the latest technology and learning systems. it has its own theatre, swimming pool and sports facilities which are made available to the public via www.trinity

Driver sped off

tEEnAGE driver nisar Ali panicked and sped off when police tried to stop him in Bedford. the 19-year-old, who had only a provisional licence, was not insured to drive his friend’s father’s VW, Luton Crown Court heard on tuesday Jan 19. the judge made a 12-month Community order with a 3-month electronically monitored curfew between 9pm and 6am. Ali was banned from driving for 18 months and must take an extended retest before he gains a licence. He must also pay £320 prosecution

care home provider or building a new care home on the site after demolishing the building, added the letter. CBC says a new 72-bed care home would cost about £10.5m. the remaining choices are to stop new admissions and close Abbotsbury after a set period of time, to revamp the building so that it meets modern standards or do nothing. Care home operators were identified to provide places for CBC’s customers in new homes built by the local authority at three of the seven locations under review. “A further two premises have agreed options for their futures and await the completion of new-build homes in the local area,” said the letter.

Ruby is a gem of an addition to Wells & Co’s board of directors

BEdfoRd brewing family Wells & Co. has announced the appointment of Ruby parmar to the post of non-executive director. An experienced business adviser to the private company market, parmar has worked in professional services firms for over thirty years, the last twenty at pwC as a partner whose roles included heading up the private Business practice, leading on the pwC sponsored private Business Awards and latterly as leader of the Milton Keynes office. Having retired as a pwC partner at the end of June 2019, her focus has now shifted to supporting a variety of businesses across the private, public and charitable sectors. She also continues to mentor individuals and supports organisations with their diversity and inclusion agendas. Announcing the appointment, Wells & Co. chairman paul Wells commented: “i am so pleased that Ruby is joining our board at this very demanding time. Apart from being a great enthusiast for pubs she has tremendous experience and insight from the business world that will be very valuable to the company.” parmar added: “it’s a huge

pleasure to be joining an established family business with nearly 250 years of pub history and i’m excited about working with the dynamic team at Wells & Co. in one of my favourite market sectors, with over 180 pubs across the UK and france.”

Member of Parliament for North East Bedfordshire

ADVICE SURGERIES Richard holds regular surgeries across North East Bedfordshire. If you would like to book an appointment, please call 01767 313385 The Beds Bulletin and Kempston Calling are independent publications part of Rosetta Publishing Ltd. Published by ©2020 Rosetta Publishing Limited 30 Radwell Road, Milton Ernest, Bedford MK44 1SH Tel: 07894 935952 Editorial: Advertising: Printed by: Iliffe Print Cambridge Ltd. Winship Road, Milton, Cambridge CB24 6PP Regulated by IMPRESS: The Independent Monitor for the Press CIC IMPRESS. 16-18 New Bridge Street, London, EC4V 6AG T 020 3325 4288 E w To view our complaints policy, please visit our website

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Covid-19 vaccination confusion explained LETTERS being sent out regarding Covid-19 vaccinations have caused confusion among the over 80s.

The letters, from the NHS Medical Director for Primary Care and bearing the NHS logo, instructed the recipients to ring a free number where they were then offered an appointment at a national mass vaccination venue: Stevenage, a journey which could take many people from

Bedford an hour by car. This coupled with reports on TV and social media of people having to queue for up an hour, outdoors, to receive the jab, caused extra anxiety. If elderly callers to the NHS number said they couldn’t get to Stevenage easily, or asked Why had their 90-year-old next door neighbour been able to go to a location much closer to home? They were given conflicting responses.

In fact, they can wait to hear from their GP surgery, by another letter, about more local appointments – albeit that they may take a while longer to come through. The confusion was caused by parallel processes being launched, explained local councillor Louise Jackson, Bedford Borough Council Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing. She clarified: “People do not need to respond to the national letter inviting them to book in at

one of these bigger centres if they prefer to stay in Bedford.” For some of those living close in Bedfordshire closer to the A1 route to Stevenage, the national centre option may have been acceptable. Others within Bedford Borough, are now relying on getting a second letter from their GP surgery offering them other locations. Said one family member: “This was clarified online when I asked

questions on FB, and was then shared verbally with various people who keep in touch with elderly friends and relatives. The problem is many people have come to distrust online and Social Media sources, even if they are silver surfers. “When they see something in writing, particularly with a logo from an official source like the NHS they take it as gospel. Something more tangible is needed to keep people informed.”

Shop workers will have the necessary ‘soft skills’ for a career in the care sector by Nick Goldwin

tHE care sector is currently facing a labour shortage, with approximately 122,000 vacancies available. this can be attributed to a number of factors: stigmatisation of care work by the media (being portrayed as requiring minimal skills and low pay), lack of career progression, as well as being potential unfulfilling. the new points-based immigration system may also prove to be problematic regarding recruitment for the care sector, as the wages of many employees in the sector do not meet the £25,600 threshold required by the new system. Approximately one sixth of current UK care workers are from foreign countries, which poses an issue towards sustaining the workforce. Care homes tend to be owned by private equity investors who are motivated by profit and therefore not incentivised to pay workers sufficient salaries to attract more applicants. these issues are worsened need by the threat of CoVid-19 exposure potentially putting off many applicants. Continuing this, as a direct result of the CoVid-19 pandemic, many people who had previously worked in retail and associated industries have found themselves out of work, due to the chains they work at having been deemed non-essential. this is problematic given that physical stores had been declining in popularity steadily for some time, and the recent lock-

downs had proved that online shopping was a vastly more favourable means of purchasing items, so many people who had previously had jobs in retail may not find it easy to return to those jobs once the pandemic ends. Some solutions to the labour shortage have been surmised. the Connolly foundation has been donating £75,000 towards the Bedford College Group to support the recruitment and training of care staff, an initiative that had been considered prior to the pandemic, but is now more relevant than ever. Similarly, those who found themselves unemployed in the retail sector may now be able to find a job as care workers, as many of the soft skills in retail translate well to working with the infirm. p in addition to this, the government had previously attempted to redirect the many people who found themselves unemployed into what they saw as a suitable reemployment option. the “Cyber first” campaign launched earlier last year was an initiative started by the Government suggesting that those who worked in artistic industries should retrain for a career in cyber security. this campaign faced almost instantaneous backlash from people of all industries, having been labelled as “crass”, and having potentially exposed the governments views of arts and culture as non-essential. A range of courses preparing people to work, and advance, in the care sector are run at The Bedford College Group in Beds & Northants




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SUpER supporters have hit all the right notes with Youtube performances playing beautiful piano tunes – and raised £3,775 for a local hospice. Husband and wife Jonathan and paula Willsmore, from Marston Moretaine in Bedfordshire, were inspired to support Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice after staff cared for their close friend peter freeman. the hospice’s palliative Care Hub team helped to look after peter in the last few weeks of his life in May 2019. When the Coronavirus pandemic first struck back in 2020, Jonathan and paula wanted to help by fundraising in peter’s memory. they came up with the creative idea of entertaining people during lockdown with ‘Jonathan’s Cocktail 5 Minutes’ – which saw talented piano player Jonathan performing several relaxing piano tunes at cocktail hour and streaming them on Youtube. the virtual performances, which saw people guessing which pieces of music Jonathan was playing, were a fitting tribute to keen musician peter and raised more than £2,450. the pair then reprised their virtual fundraiser in december to support the Moggerhanger hospice and to remember another good friend who had recently been cared for by hospice staff. Jonathan released a new video on Youtube each evening running up to Christmas, so people could enjoy a cocktail while listening to their favourite festive songs performed on the piano. they raised another £1,325 – bringing their MK40 3HZ fundraising total to an impressive £3,775.

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10 month’s of works start in February tHRoUGH the transporting Bedford project, Bedford’s High Street is set have a makeover, becoming one lane only for traffic permanently and creating more space for shoppers and pedestrians. Bedford’s High Street has been one lane for a number of months, with temporary barriers put in place to help people social distance during the pandemic. this new, permanent scheme will see a different road layout with wider pavements on both sides of the road. Works will be starting in february with the improvements expected to be complete by the end of november 2021. Works will be undertaken in stages so that the whole road will not be closed at once and the work is being carefully planned with businesses to maintain access. the length of the road from St peters Street to Mill Street will be closed from february until July, with this length then re-opened and the southern half of the street down to the Embankment then closing. permanent loading and short-term parking bays

Boost for care training

ConnoLLY foundation UK is giving more than £75,000 to the Bedford College Group to support the training of nursing and care staff. Vital staff who can work in nursing, care homes, or look after those living independently, are needed now more than ever before. to encourage people to join these

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will be installed along the High Street, and to attract shoppers, there will be wider pavements using high quality York paving and granite kerbs, the 20mph limit will be enforced by average speed cameras. Cllr Henry Vann, portfolio Holder for town Centres said “We hope that this High Street regeneration will give a long-term boost to our town centre.” Samantha Laycock, Chair of the Love Bedford Business improvement district said “the BedfordBid welcome this largest ever investment in Bedford’s roads continuing to demonstrate the commitment being shown in the town adding to the recent announcements of the town investment plan project and High Street Heritage Action Zone initiative to help future proof the town.” Judith Barker, director of programmes and Governance at SEMLEp said “during this time it’s particularly important that we keep supporting and investing in our town centres, our infrastructure and in our businesses.”

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and similar professions, the Connolly foundation is offering 56 bursaries of up to £500 plus another £50,000 towards equipping the training facilities. Students eligible for the funds will include those aged 16+ starting new t-Level full time courses in Health and Science from September 2021. A t-level is equivalent to 3 A Levels but also includes 315 work experience hours over the twoyear course. from this they can go on to employment as support workers in ambulance or healthcare, or into Higher Education studying to be in nursing, physiotherapy or the paramedic service or into a Higher Apprenticeship in a related field. the equipment funds will set up a care home or hospital ward setting complete with special bed, hoist, life size mannequins and scientific equipment for checking blood pressure and more. ian pryce CBE, principal and CEo of the Bedford College Group said, “this is extremely generous of the Connolly foundation who are champions of opportunity for young people.” the Connolly foundation has previously offered bursaries for young people in construction, financed a mini-bus to transport trainees to work experience locations and funded the Virtual Reality design suite in the Advanced Engineering and Construction Centre, the Buchanan Centre, at the riverside campus of Bedford College.

With the pandemic disproportionately affecting young people’s employment prospects, national employability and life skills charity

Inspiring young people

Working options in Education has secured funding from the Connolly foundation to inspire 14-19 year olds in Bedfordshire to consider career opportunities in social care – a sector often overlooked by young people, but one of the few which is growing. Rachel Roxburgh, Strategic Lead at Working options in Education says: “Working options in Education has been delivering a free employability and life skills programme in schools and colleges and online for 10 years. We are excited to be adding social care professionals to our network of industry volunteers to inspire and motivate 14-19-year-olds about opportunities in this sector.” Vanessa Connolly, trustee, the Connolly foundation adds: “We’re delighted to be providing a grant of £55,000 over three years to Working options in Education to increase young people’s awareness of employment opportunities in the growing social care sector.” in recent years, job growth in the social care sector has been minimal but vacancy rates have remained higher than average (7.3% in in England) with jobs hard to fill. However, the growth of the ageing population is likely to stimulate further demand and adult social care is one of the few sectors where jobs are increasing, offering significant numbers of long-term career opportunities in the current job market. if the adult social care workforce grows at the same rate as the projected number of people aged 65 and over in the population, then the number of adult social care jobs will increase by 32% (or by 520,000 jobs) to around 2.17 million jobs by 2035.

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38 Christmas and New Year’s Day babies at our hospitals!

Students benefit from 64 laptops tHE department for Education (dfE) has provided laptops to Mark Rutherford School to help students and families access remote education during the current pandemic lockdown. there is a Government requirement to currently provide remote learning and Mark Rutherford students have shown tremendous resilience since the national lockdown was announced on Monday 4th January. deputy Headteacher Kelli foster said, “Without

the appropriate technology, the challenges of the current lockdown could have a detrimental impact on student’s education and welfare, particularly the most vulnerable. “this technology will remove some of the barriers faced with remote learning. i am so proud of the mature response shown by our students and as school leaders endeavour to refine education or provision by always putting well-being and safety first.”

Shortlisted in top 50 travel agencies in the UK tHE travel industry has been particularly impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but despite the continuing challenges, one local travel agency recently has had cause to celebrate. independent, family-owned travel agency Select travel Holidays have been shortlisted as one of the top 50 travel agencies in the UK and ireland as part of the travel trade Gazette’s (ttG) top 50 2021. they are in the shortlist for the top five in the East of England region, and will find out on March 19 2021 whether they made finalists. the ttG top 50 is a prestigious honour in the travel industry; even to make it into the shortlist is an achievement in its own right, as the shortlist was decided by a wide panel of agent-facing suppliers, including tour operators and cruise lines, with a focus on travel agencies’ expertise and service, with particular consideration given to the challenges faced by the industry in 2020. now in its sixth year, the ttG top 50 sees thousands of travel agencies put themselves forward in the hopes of being recognised, but it’s not the first time for Select

travel Holidays, as they were finalists in 2018, making the official top 50. owner Rachel Wright said:”We always strive to deliver the best possible service for our clients – to me, without our clients, we’d be nothing, and they deserve the very best, so we always aim to make their holiday experience as perfect as possible, right from the moment they contact us to make an enquiry. “i’ve been working in travel for well over 40 years, my entire adult life, and like many of my team,

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i’ve lived through all sorts of crises which have affected the travel industry, from wars, terrorism, to ash clouds and other natural disasters, but we have never seen anything quite like Covid. “it’s been the most challenging of experiences for all of us, but the determination to continue doing our very best for our customers has got us through, and their support and appreciation has meant the world to us, it’s even brought tears of happiness! “Although our clients’ appreciation and satisfaction with our work is the ultimate reward for us, it’s still nice to be recognised within the industry, and such an honour.”

MidWiVES at Bedfordshire Hospitals nHS foundation trust (which includes both Bedford and the Luton and dunstable University Hospital) were delighted to welcome the arrival of 38 babies born on Christmas and new Year’s day across both maternity units. the first baby born at the Luton and dunstable University Hospital on Christmas day was Logan, a baby boy born at 2.24am weighing in at 8lbs 6oz. Logan’s parents, Kerry and Luke commented about the birth of their son: “it’s such a big miracle in such a little boy!” one of the amazing bundles of joy to arrive at Bedford Hospital on new Year’s day was isabelle, a baby girl born at 11.22am weighing 5lbs 8oz. Rebecca and Karl commented on the birth of their baby girl: “After losing her young nannie to a very short battle with cancer in late 2020. isabelle has brought so much life and love back to our family that we will forever be grateful for. She is our perfect little new Year’s day baby.” Chief nurse at Bedfordshire Hospitals, Liz Lees said: “it was extremely busy days for everyone on Christmas and new Year’s day and we are absolutely delighted and thankful to have helped bring 38 beautiful babies into the world, little rays of light so necessary as we currently navigate through a challenging health pandemic. Big congratulations to all the parents on their new arrivals, a fantastic way to end the year and start a new one; and thanks to all our incredible staff for working over the holiday period.”


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Covid-19 claims life of much respected Sandy firefighter

One of Sandy’s most respected firefighters Chris Page, aged 58, succumbed to Covid-19 on Tuesday January 5, 2021. Chris had served his home town community of Sandy and the wider community of Bedfordshire for over 19 years. Not only had Chris been a key part of station life but he also delivered the Fire Cadet Scheme for approximately 15 years, engaging young people in lifelong skills. Chris is survived by his partner Sue, and two daughters Robyn and Nicola.

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Millions invested in latest home building training WoRK is underway on Bedford College’s town centre £4.3 Million Modern Methods of Construction Centre for “off site” training, which is the future of the industry. pre-manufacturing homes, or at least part of them, and then shipping them to a building site, has been identified as the most efficient and cost-effective way of meeting the huge demand for housing. to keep up with the skills demand from the construction industry, Bedford College has been awarded money to upgrade its existing facilities in Cauldwell Street. the riverside campus already houses the Brundtland Building, which leads on modern “eco” infrastructure training, and the Advanced Engineering Centre, which houses a Virtual Reality construction ‘cave’, funded by the Connolly foundation. digital engineering technologies and the use of computerised-aided design (CAd) equipment is already part of the wider college curriculum offer. there is a huge synergy now between engineering design and the construction industry, which opens up a whole new world of employment. this new funding will see the single storey building which sits alongside the Brundtland Building on Cauldwell Street being upgraded to include a facility to construct dwellings and component parts like kitchen and bathroom “pods”. “We will be working closely with leading employers in the construction industry regionally to get input about the skills they need to fastforward these modern methods,” said the Bedford College Group’s director of Construction dave Wilkins, “there are huge opportunities here for training young people for great jobs in the future - be it 16-year-olds embarking on apprenticeships, those undertaking the new t-Levels, others progressing on to degree-level Higher Education courses, and those in the industry who want to modernise their skills. “there will always be a demand for more traditional construction skills and we will continue to offer those courses across all levels.” ian pryce CBE, CEo of the Bedford College

Work now underway with centre, Diane Gamble, Estates Director, overseeing the multi-million pound construction project. Right is David Wilkins, Director of Construction, who leads on the training programmes offered to those in the fast-moving construction industry.

Group, said of the Modern Methods of Construction Centre: “the funding to refurbish our Construction centre at the Bedford College Cauldwell Street campus will support our provision of high-quality learning environments for students in the region. “this refurbishment has been supported by the Getting Building fund which is especially welcome in these times which are seeing a renewed focus on the construction industry. the refurbished centre will support construction training, making it possible for young people to move into skilled and professional careers via apprenticeships or gain promotion through further qualifications.” the project has received £2.9 Million in funding as part of a Getting Building fund for infrastructure projects designed to stimulate jobs and support economic recovery across the county. the South East Midlands Local Enterprise partnership (SEMLEp), which covers

Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes and northamptonshire, has been allocated £27.3million of the pot – more than £15.1 million of which has been allocated to fund six projects in Bedfordshire. Hilary Chipping, SEMLEp Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to have secured more than £27m from government to support the economic recovery from CoVid-19 in this area. these projects will support key priorities including skills for young people, the green recovery and innovation, which all generate jobs. “in July 2019 we published our Local industrial Strategy, laying out the priorities and interventions we needed to invest in to realise innovation, further improve connectivity and achieve sustainable growth. these Getting Building fund projects meet these priorities and the needs of the local economy as we strive to recover economically from this pandemic.” The project is due to be completed by Autumn 2021.

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In Focus with

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In Focus with



The Bishop of Bedford


My mother died just after Christmas. i write this a few days before her funeral. She didn’t die of Covid-19 but rather after several years of incapacity and severe dementia. Like so many others i have known the heartache of not being recognised by a loved one. it would be easy at this time to be cross, even to rage, at the limitations on her funeral. it is hard not to be able to sing hymns, especially to celebrate the life of someone for whom faith and music meant so much. Like others, we regret that so many of her friends and relations will not be present. it is not just the limit on the number of attendees, but also that so many will stay at home to stay safe. We will profoundly miss the opportunity to gather after the funeral for a wake and the chance to share our memories. it would be so easy at this time to be cross, and yet i find myself profoundly thankful. thankful for all those who working hard to make the funeral a celebration of my mother’s life; the couple who have offered to help with streaming the service; the sensitive support of the funeral directors; the vicar who has worked with us to make things safe and appropriate; and for those who will be present with us in church. it is good to give thanks for what can be, rather than focus on what cannot. pastor Martin Rinkart was the only Christian minister in Eilenburg in Saxony during the thirty Years War (1618 – 1648). it was a time of conflict and of plague. Some days he buried forty or fifty people. the dead included his own wife. Yet in the midst of these severe trials, he wrote the great hymn ‘now thank we all our God’ with its invitation to thank God ‘with hearts and hands and voices, who wondrous things hath done’. one writer says, ‘We can picture pastor Rinkart with his children counting out, one by one, ‘countless gifts of love’. He gave thanks for what can be, not what cannot. i am sure he was angry about the death and disease of those times, but he knew the gift of being thankful. there is much at present that might make us cross, but i invite you to give thanks for what can be.

MP for Bedford and Kempston

by Dave Hodgson Mayor of Bedford



the pandemic has made us all much more dependent on access to the internet – to work, to learn, and to connect with loved ones. this has exposed the true extent of digital poverty in Britain today and the serious consequences of a lack of access to affordable internet for those that work from home but particularly children who need to learn online. the closure of schools has a disproportionately negative impact on those who are already disadvantaged and lack the resources for effective online study. that’s why my Labour colleagues and i have been calling on the Government to ensure every child has access to the digital devices and internet connections that are essential components of effective online education, together with support for schools and staff. Schools are doing all they can to get devices to the children that need them but the allocation they have so far received from the Government has fallen well short of what is needed. there are still up to 1.22 million children across the UK without access to a digital device, including many in Bedford and Kempston. i have had letters from distressed parents who are deeply anxious that their children are being robbed of educational opportunities because they are unable to access online lessons. i am extremely proud of the way the people of Bedford and Kempston have responded to the Government’s failings during the pandemic. i want to thank Susan Lousada, the High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, who is leading a fantastic campaign to get laptops to pupils, with Bedfordshire Learning Link, Bedford Borough Council, local businesses and rotary clubs, donations from the Harpur trust, the Blues foundation, and the generosity of other charities and individuals. We cannot continue to let our young people down at this critical time in their lives. please contact my office on 01234 346525 if you have a digital device need for school learning or if you might be able to donate a laptop, Chromebook, ipad, tablet or smartphone in decent condition which i will ensure is made workable and safe for a school kid that needs it.

At the time of writing we have just seen our second local Vaccination Centre open in Bedford Borough and there are plans for a third in the next few weeks. More and more people are getting vaccinated locally, although there was confusion earlier in January when a large number of residents received a letter and were offered a vaccination in Stevenage and further afield. the Clinical Commissioning Group has assured me those who cannot, or do not wish to, travel to Stevenage will be able to receive a vaccination in Bedford. You do not need to do anything, you will be contacted when an appointment in Bedford Borough is available. i have recorded a video about vaccinations and you can see it at 3175 i have also written to the prime Minister again, laying out my concerns and asking for Bedford Borough to get our fair share of vaccinations. We have seen an increase in text and online scammers trying to take advantage of the pandemic and sending fake messages offering Coronavirus vaccination. the text includes a link taking you to a fake nHS website that asks for personal info. Don’t click the link and remember the NHS will never ask you for your bank details. We are still seeing high levels of positive Coronavirus tests. You can see the Council’s weekly Coronavirus Snapshot at where there is also useful information and advice such as test and trace and latest Government advice. We need to continue to follow the guidance – do not mix with those not in your household or Support Bubbles, keep your distance from others, and wash or sanitise your hands regularly. We need everyone to play their part to protect the nHS and save lives.

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Two cannabis factories raided in latest crackdown MoRE than 90 cannabis plants have been seized as part of the latest crackdown on cannabis factories in Bedfordshire. on thursday January 14, officers carried out a warrant on a property in foxhedge Way, Sharnbrook. As a result, more than 100 suspected cannabis plants were seized. Subsequently one man was arrested on suspicion of drug cultivating and remains in police custody. on Wednesday, January 13, enforcement was carried out at a suspected cannabis factory at Greensbury farm, thurleigh Road, Bolnhurst, where three men were arrested and cannabis was seized. Subsequently three men have been charged with cultivating drug offences, and remanded in custody. detective Chief inspector Louisa Glynn, from the force’s intelligence unit, said: “drugs underpin much of the violence, exploitation and anti-social

behaviour which blights our communities. “organised criminal gangs use drugs as their main source of income, and growing and selling cannabis is a key part of this business model. it is relatively cheap to produce and there are thousands of customers in Bedfordshire alone to sell to. “Research suggests that around 59 million is spent on cannabis by drug users in the county every year. “We have noticed a definite pattern emerging where dealing cannabis is a gateway for children to start committing crime. Many of these children we come across are not even in their teens yet. “As a force we will continue to target those responsible for this type of criminality. We also rely on our communities supporting us in the fight against organised crime, by submitting information and flagging any suspicious behaviour. together, we can help keep Bedfordshire safe.”

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Central Beds Council elect new leader by Local Democracy Reporter

ConSERVAtiVE Arlesey councillor Richard Wenham (pictured) is the new leader of Central Bedfordshire Council until the next local authority elections in May 2023. the former deputy leader replaces Westoning, flitton and Greenfield councillor James Jamieson, who has stepped down from the role. Conservative Cranfield and Marston Moretaine Councillor Sue Clark has agreed to become deputy leader, while retaining her executive portfolio for families, education and children, Councillor Wenham defeated independent flitwick councillor

Gareth Mackey in a vote at a full council meeting, on thursday. January 14. “i’m very proud to have been a member of this council since 2011 and i’m now very excited to be

elected as leader,” said councillor Wenham. “Under the outstanding leadership of our outgoing leader, Councillor Jamieson, the performance of this council has been dramatically improved in all areas. “He underlined the importance of introducing financial rigour, balancing the budget every year for ten years and rebuilding reserves, even though CBC is one of the lowest funded authorities in the country. “His achievements have also been nationally recognised as Conservative group leader on the LGA and subsequently as its chairman. “the recent appointment of a new chief executive and now council leader gives us a greater

scope to accelerate change. “i’m determined we bring forward proposals of inclusivity and make progress towards tackling poverty. “the key part of this will be to encourage sustainable economic regeneration,” he added. “As leader i hope to work with all members, our officers and chief executive to join a common cause to deliver the things our residents care about.” Councillor Jamieson described it as a “sad and relieving day to be leaving the leadership, but i know it’s in excellent hands”. He said: “i would like to place on record my thanks to all those who helped over the last ten years. i really appreciate your contribution.

TOWN COUNCIL ’s 2021/22 Precept s Sandy Town Council year' which will save the council £1,800 in next for

precept l charges Sandy Town Council set the budget and budget. Although income lines from renta cil has Council Coun the , emic the year ending 31 March 2022 at a Full pand the to have reduced due budget the budget via some meeting on Monday 18th January 2021. The gh by been able to offset expenditure in throu voted sly imou unan both were pt and prece e anticipated from the cemetery incom ased incre public those Members in attendance. Chapel and use of Council land for some a fun and will st circus a reque pt res, prece theat or and et events, such as outdo The agreed 2021/22 budg t on Covid-19 pence a fair. These will of course all be dependen result in an increase of £0.81p a year, or 1.55 y. in Sand regulations at the time. week for the average (Band D) taxpayer -22 for all Band D households will pay £149.24 in 2021 £5,580 in In total, the Council made approximately the services Sandy Town Council provides. income of ased incre ll overa an and , tions reduc budget the of ases incre et budg red As with other financial years all aspects of requi st £1,775 set again ated to Council’s budget were scrutinised and evalu e possi- approximately £11,842. wher reduce costs and make efficiency savings budget are The areas that account for a growth in the ble while ensuring that its core functions , d its budget de increased costs for utilities, business rates cil inclu adequately resourced. The Council starte , Finance the Coun h Policy whic the to s and ment mber agree Septe and in s, ss lease proce ng, w staffi revie wed the is obligated. and Resources Committee formally revie recom a ng maki to prior budget at three meetings e of The Town Council recognises the importanc mendation to the Town Council. service and keeping costs value best a ding provi this in ase ders and contracts are The Council has maintained a small incre in admin- down. As such, service provi re best value and the year's budget by seeking further reductions ensu to wed revie y nuall conti ery and ional support istration costs, specifically its printing/station in the addit for es appli ly Council active IT budgets. Reductions have also been made rnble to help alleviate the possi ever wher ng fundi gove the cost of refuse disposal and as a result of public toilets, burden on the Precept. ment's decision to end business rates on

BEESTON WARD Cllr M P Scott tion 1) Work 01767 680983 (Op “The Gowans” Seddington Nursery Great North Road Seddington,Sandy SG19 1NZ

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IVE Cllr P Blaine 01767 692619 peterblaine.blaine@gm se Clo lar Pop 19 Sandy SG19 1HH

Cllr P N Aldis 01767 691333 SG19 1NF 7 Mayfield Court, Sandy B.E., J.P. M. e rn bo Cllr C Os 01767 682032 ‘Summercourt’ Cllr M Hill dy SG19 1LU 2 Leeds Smith Drive, San 01767 681469 g ag Cllr T Kn SG19 1PE 01767 223165 21 The Green, Beeston m 1RR 01767 682549 19 SG dy San se, Clo ilee 3 Jub Cllr W Jackson A Gibson lr Cl om et.c will.jackson662@btintern 517 Sandy SG19 1HF 01767 699 om 14 Westfield Gardens, amandafage@hotmail.c 19 1HS SG dy tt San tti ws, Pe allo 1 Allh Cllr M J Cllr J Hewitt 01767 680082 .com 01767 512002 martin.pettitt@virginmedia ells Hall, s den Gar me hol Clock Tower Cottage, Haz ans 42 Sw 2DD 19 SG dy San d, Roa 1HL Everton Sandy SG19 ck Lo Cllr R Cllr S Sutton 01767 227589 2 Havelock Close 33 Bedford Road Sandy SG19 1TE 1EP Sandy SG19

place, planning and regeneration will have a new deputy Conservative Shefford councillor Mark Liddiard. And a new portfolio for health, wellbeing and communities will be led by Conservative Sandy Councillor tracey Stock. Councillor Jamieson will continue to chair the Local Government Association (LGA) and to represent his CBC ward, having announced his resignation in november. He said at the time: “in the context of the pandemic and the huge social and economic consequences this will have for local government, i’ve concluded now is the right time for me to stand down as leader and to focus more of my attention on my national role at the LGA.”

Matthew’s mysteries reach New York Times



“i wish my successor Councillor Wenham all the best. We can as councillors make a difference and we do just that.” CBC chairman and Conservative Stotfold and Langford chairman Brian Saunders thanked councillor Jamieson, saying: “We’re grateful for all your work, as well.” Councillor Wenham was elected by 40 votes to ten, with five abstentions. Conservative Arlesey councillor david Shelvey will take over councillor Wenham’s previous role as executive member for corporate resources. A new highways portfolio will be the responsibility of Conservative Arlesey councillor ian dalgarno.

Town Council meetings Meet

ings of Sandy Town Council and its committees are currently being held virtua lly on the Zoom video conferencing platform. Members of the public are welcome to attend the meetings and can contact the Clerk at for detail s on how to join. All meetings commence at 7.30pm except Development Scrutiny Committee (Planning) which starts at 6.30pm

Monday 15th February 2021 Development Scrutiny Policy Finance & Resources Monday 1st March 2021 Town Council

See our website for details of other meetings. ALL MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC AND PRESS ARE WELCOME TO ATTEND.

Enjoying our green spaces

The last year has shown just how important Sandy’s public recreation areas are to everyone in our community. The Town Council is committed to keeping our green spaces safe, clean and accessible for the benefit of local residents. The Council arranged the replacement of a section of fencing along the River Ivel in the Riddy last month, where the fence was deteriorating and, in places, had fallen down. While you are out enjoying your daily exercise, please note and report anything you see which needs attention and help to keep our open spaces looking good by making sure to bin your litter or take it home with you. Please also continue to follow the government’s regulations. Leaving your home to exercise should be limited to once per day, and you should stay local.You can exercise in a public outdoor place: by yourself; with the people you live with, your support bubble or childcare bubble; or, when on your own, with one person from another household. The Council issues permits to residents of Sandy and Beeston to fish the River Ivel from The Riddy from June to March. Fishing is allowed as exercise under the current lockdown; however, anglers must stay in their local area and observe social distancing rules. We would remind residents that only local permit holders may fish in the Riddy and the activity is undertaken at your own risk.

10 Cambridge Road, Sandy SG19 1JE Tel: 01767 681491 Fax: 01767 692527

BEdfoRdSHiRE author Matthew Simmonds has seen his Sherlock Holmes stories promoted in the new York times*. He has written three instalment mysteries under where subscribers receive a letter each month giving clues to a Sherlock-style puzzle. “it’s been a real challenge writing the stories in such a way that each letter they receive gives them enough information but not all the answers. they’re great fun for the subscribers who enjoy getting old style authentic letter each month, rather than just doing quizzes online,” said Matthew who is the fourth generation co-owner of a family tobacconists, which of course sells Sherlock-style pipes. Matthew is also working on a follow-up to his successful Sherlock Holmes full novel the pigtail twist, on sale online (and when open, via the family shop at 80 High Street, Bedford). the pigtail twist is set in Bedfordshire and makes a great gift of for fans of the Conan doyle character. Writing “new” Sherlock Holmes mysteries is a business which has a global reach.

the super sleuth remains ever popular. A translation of the pigtail twist is now on sale in italy in the forms of bright yellow book forms which will be easily recognised by those who have travelled there. Buy from: byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1 * 6/02/books/review/with-these-literary-puzzlers-the-games-afootand-in-hand.html

Man convicted of sexual assault gets 11 years

A MAn has been served with a lengthy jail sentence after he was found guilty of six counts of sexual assault. Mark pearce, 52, of Abbey Grove, Sandy, denied the charges of sexual assault which dated back to April 2018. A jury heard how pearce targeted the victim, who was known to him, on three occasions, each time ignoring her pleas to stop. on the first occasion, pearce met up with the victim to socialise and then sexually assaulted her, even though she pushed him away and asked him to stop. He then assaulted her two further times before she came forward and reported the incidents to the police. pearce was sentenced to 11 years for four counts of sexual assault by penetration, and two years for two counts of sexual assault, to run concurrently. detective Constable Brendan Street, who investigated, said: “detective Constable Kathryn Lambert, who supported the victim

throughout the lengthy investigation, and i would both like to pay tribute to the victim who remained strong, resolute and determined for the duration of the case, despite the terrible ordeal she was put through. “pearce has denied all the charges and made the victim go through the pain of the trial. thankfully the jury saw through his lies and found him guilty of six counts of sexual assault. “pearce belongs behind bars and away from our communities.”

Call for rethink on special schools consultation

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“the reason is because the forecast of places is fundamentally flawed because it’s based on current numbers of children with A ConSULtAtion on special school education, health and care plans (EHCps) places in Central Bedfordshire should be and in specialist placements. deferred because it fails to address the “there are many children who need situation accurately, a meeting heard. EHCps and specialist placements, but don’t independent Ampthill councillor Mark have them through failings i’ve identified Smith called for the consultation to be before.” delayed at a meeting of Central Bedfordshire the additional resource provisions are Council’s executive. “sited and run” by mainstream schools, As part of the local authority’s Schools Conservative Cranfield and Marston for the future programme, the committee Moretaine councillor Sue Clark told the was asked to approve a consultation process committee. to increase special school places and this offers “specialist support alongside additional resource provisions. the opportunity for integration into main“the methods we’ve employed are stream education for some of our SEnd flawed and undermine the report,” warned pupils”, she said. councillor Smith. “A considerable amount of work has “i would recommend the executive defer been done with special schools and with our this until further work is undertaken. parent carer forum to assess the current and

by Local Democracy Reporter

Opting for a career in the countryside

pEtER Lickorish achieved a Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Master of Horticulture with a distinction at the young age of 23. His success should act as example to those who seek to pursue a professional career which supports the environment. Many courses leading to careers in the countryside are available via the world-renowned Shuttleworth College in rural Bedfordshire, where peter works part-time. As part of his dissertation peter pioneered a sponsored experiment to see if plants respond positively to sounds. He won £500 to support his experiment as part of his Masters. “thanks to the wonderful news that i had won the fred Roche foundation Study Award. i was able to assemble enough high-tech equipment to put the notion that sound can enhance plant growth – an idea firmly entrenched in the ‘myths’ zone for most gardeners – to the test. “thanks to their support, and that of the parks trust, the Milton Keynes Community foundation and Shuttleworth College, i am able to reflect upon what i have found and answer the question that i posed: can sound really aid plant propagation? “the simple answer is Yes. “through two experiments measuring seed germination in response to sound, and one establishing whether the rooting of stem cuttings is enhanced, “i have generated clear evidence that particular sound frequencies can make a profound difference. However, that profound difference varies markedly

depending on species. “take penstemon, for example. these are among my favourite plants as i am regularly able to coax them to carry on flowering even up until Christmas, and their nodding heads of colour-soaked flowers are a pilgrimage for the local bee population. My experiments have shown that 1 kilohertz sound – a steady hum – can increase germination by up to 400% relative to the rate without sound treatment, also shortening the average time taken to germinate by ten days. “So sound is a win for the penstemons. “My experiments have shown that sound is definitely worth researching further. it is surprising how quickly time has flown during the conducting of these experiments, but also how much more rapid seed germination was of some species in my latest experiment. “Also, with the health of cuttings improved, these observations potentially have positive implications for the production of plants. A lot of my findings are consistent with improved levels of particular hormones, auxins and gibberellins, in plants. “the next step in measuring whether sound can do plant producers a useful service is to see whether sound can go beyond the current improvements to propagation achieved by applying these hormones synthetically. if it can, then it really does sound as though i’m on to something.” for more on peter’s progress go to: View from the Garden: peter Lickorish’s Horticulture Blog (

projected need for places in our specialist provisions. “We’ve identified we’ll need an extra 92 places, during the next few years, on top of the 100 we currently provide. “of these, 20 will be required immediately in the form of a high performing autism unit. “our intention is to deliver that in the Shefford Stotfold area later this year, and a further 42 places will be required in additional resource provisions from 2023 onwards. “for our four special schools we’ll need 250 extra places from 2023 onwards,” she added. “this will involve the reprovision and relocation of our current schools. “this is an ambitious plan where we recognise our schools need reproviding, as well as a new special school, which would


be run by oak Bank School, in the Shefford and Stotfold area.” the number of pupils receiving SEnd support in mainstream schools has risen from 4,700 to 5,000 in the last three years, according to the report to CBC’s executive. “As of June 2020, CBC had about 1,850 EHCps for pupils in reception through to year 14.” Councillor Smith wondered whether mainstream schools had any input into developing the forecasting methods, asking: “Can we be sure these are going to be backed up with trained staff?” Councillor Clark, who’s the executive member for families, education and children, replied: “i’m really disappointed by councillor Smith’s comments. “the methodology was worked out and agreed with our special school heads and we

— 9

used an independent consultant to advise us. “Mainstream schools will be consulted during the planned engagement. “An independent review of all EHCps has been taking place and the information will be made public this month when that report is published.” Conservative Westoning, flitton and Greenfield councillor James Jamieson, who chairs the committee, said: “i understand there’s some urgency as regard the 20 places and deferring this report would put those in jeopardy.” Councillor Clark agreed, saying: “i don’t think should we should defer this consultation. “We’re confident the methodology we’ve used is sound.” the executive unanimously agreed to the consultation process from february 3 until May 5.

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CBC Budget proposals consultation by Local Democracy Reporter

A REdUCEd grant for social care provision in Central Bedfordshire is “unfair” and stretches the unitary authority’s finances, it has been claimed. A council tax increase of nearly five per cent is planned by the local authority, with at least an extra £1.48 a week to be found for Band d households. Annual town and parish council contributions are added to this figure, along with Bedfordshire police and county fire service precepts. Central Bedfordshire Council intends to spend £402m on services during the next financial year, through its revenue budget, which is largely funded by council tax and business rates. its capital programme covers investment of a further £128m for schools, roads, health, leisure and other infrastructure projects. the council’s budget proposal has been backed by its executive to go out to consultation, ahead of a final decision next month. on social care, Conservative Arlesey councillor Richard Wenham explained CBC would have expected under the previous format to receive £960,000. But a grant of only £217,000 is available, which he

described as being “unfair to unitary authorities, such as CBC, which have a high council tax base”, he told the executive. “Both being a unitary and with a higher proportion of council tax raised by our tax base we’ve lost out and i believe that’s fundamentally unfair,” he said. next year’s proposed rise in council tax consists of 1.95% for CBC’s universal services, while 3% is to support social care services. Cllr Wenham continued: “We’ll be spending more in these areas, notwithstanding budget pressures, while also delivering a further £10.7m of efficiency measures, through initiatives such as reduced spending on our offices, printing and travel costs.” Liberal democrat Linslade councillor peter Snelling expressed concern about “the scale of council tax increase the council proposed” on tuesday January 5, at the executive committee meeting. “i’m fully aware of the current financial pressures,” he said. “But it’s not a good time to inflict a five per cent increase on struggling families.” the consultation period on the budget runs until 5pm on January 27. A final decision will be taken at a full council meeting on february 25.


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Sandy octogenarian completes Spitfire flight to raise money for Cavell Nurses on december 9, well-known Sandy resident, Ken Lynch, 83, completed a daring experience of being flown in a Spitfire to raise money for Cavell nurses’ trust, who support nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants in crisis. this is the latest fundraising challenge from Ken, who has also previously completed a sky-dive for the charity. Cavell nurses’ trust is the charity supporting UK nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants, both

working and retired, when they’re suffering personal or financial hardship often due to illness, disability, older age and domestic abuse. Ken funded the flight experience himself, he explained: “All the donated money will go the Cavell nurses’ trust who have been extremely supportive of myself and my family.” Anyone wishing to donate in support of Ken can do so by visiting:

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letters In last month’s editions we ran an article about changes to the Yarlswood Immigration Removal Centre – It attracted series of letters which we are running here as ‘Letters to the Editor’ to demonstrate our commitment to freedom of debate as an independent news service

Being unfairly detained to tHE EditoR:

i was saddened and repulsed to see the front page headline, “Migrants free to roam the streets?” on the latest issue of Kempston Calling. As well as having little to do with the accompanying article, in which various politicians voice their concerns about living conditions in Yarls Wood detention centre, this headline is undeniably inflammatory, needlessly sensational and potentially capable of inciting or encouraging intolerance. it is not just the overall message of the headline which is offensive, but its inelegant wording. By “migrants”, are you referring to refugees seeking asylum who are being unfairly detained, or my Eastern European economic migrant neighbours? this vagueness would seem to cover both under the same xenophobic umbrella – creatures who “roam the streets”, clearly up to no good. this is a insulting example of sensationalist, right-wing dog whistling, and i would hope that you will publish a full apology and retraction in your next issue. Steven Fothergill, Kempston

Pandering to right wing views

to tHE EditoR: Shame on you, Rosetta publishing for

your headline ‘ Migrants free to Roam the Streets?’ about housing Asylum Seekers at Yarl’s Wood. A migrant is ‘merely’ someone who moves from one country to another (Collins English dictionary) – he/she does not imply danger or criminality as your headline suggests. You are pandering to people with very right wing views who see people different to themselves as a threat. Migrants are keeping our nHS and care homes going at present; migrants are providing much of our basic service like road repairs, refuse collecting and street cleaning as well as picking our vegetables and fruit. they are quite entitled to ‘roam the streets’. hopefully without harassment. thankfully the article’s contributors. our Mps and Councillors, are more sensitive to the plight of asylum seekers. Most do not choose to leave their homes, they are threatened and in fear – they are looking for a place of safety and have endured much to reach the UK. Whether or not you approve of people arriving here and asking for asylum, they have a right to do this. please may i ask you to use the correct language and not to use such emotive words to stir up prejudice and make an asylum seeker’s life harder than it already is. Fiona McLeod, Bedford


Letters to the Editor are welcomed. However the Editor retains the absolute right to edit, omit as he/she sees fit, without reference to the author. Please email your contributions to: with “Letters to the editor” in the subject line or Tweet us at: #RosettaCom or Facebook at: RosettaPublishingLtd

In breach of publishers’ code

to tHE EditoR: i wish to complain about the front page story of the Bedford Bulletin, January 2021 edition, published by you, and regulated by impress. the newspaper’s lead story: “Migrants free to Roam the Streets?” is a clear breach of the impress code. i worked as a journalist for 25 years and i am horrified by the cavalier and dog-whistle racist tone of the headline. i can only conclude it was written by a very junior member of staff with little effective training in either ethics or regulation. the breaches, specifically, are as follows: Clause 1: Accuracy. the guidance on Clause 1 says that “headlines must be accurate representations of the stories they accompany.” the story is about a Home office proposal to extend accommodation for asylum seekers at Yarls Wood immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire. there is nothing in the story to support the headline. it is also a distortion of the facts. there is nothing in the story to suggest that those accommodated at Yarls’ Wood would be at liberty to come and go as they chose. Clause 4 discrimination: the all-embracing word “Migrants” covers a significant proportion of Bedford’s established multi-cultural population. the headline implies they should not be at liberty to walk the streets of the town in which they live. Specifically it is discriminatory against those seeking asylum. it is a clear dog-whistle incitement of hatred against both established migrants and those seeking asylum and residential rights in the UK. Clause 5: Harassment: Whilst this clause might be taken to refer to journalists’ conduct while newsgathering, the delivery of this free newspaper through the doors of migrant members of the community would be considered a hostile act of harassment. Kate Smith, Biddenham

Unbiddened delivery

to tHE EditoR: i am writing to protest in the strongest terms about your pamphlet that has been delivered, unbidden, to my door. the headline ‘Migrants free to Roam the Streets?’, dated January 2021 is, at my most kindest, rather ill-informed. Jon Smith, Biddenham

Deeply divisive

to tHE EditoR: i would like to submit a complaint about the headline on the most recent issue of the Bulletin which i received yesterday. i believe that the front page headline ‘Migrants free to roam the streets?’ is both inflammatory and completely misrepresents the views of those quoted in the article. in terms of tone, suggesting that migrants should not be free to roam the streets is deeply divisive and risks stoking anger in relation to migrants’ ability to enjoy basic human rights. it also fails to distinguish between, e.g. economic migrants or asylum seekers and those in immigration detention. the headline also clearly misrepresents the views of those quoted including Mohammad Yasin Mp. i would urge you to address this disappointing failure of reporting standards. Jenny Sherrard, Bedford

Get their names and addresses

to tHE EditoR: i refer to the headline seen today in the

January edition of Bulletin, Bedford Borough Edition. Quite frankly, i like i am sure many other Bedford residents are horrified at the headline. Can i take you back some 16 or 17 years, to high-

light not only Bedfordshire police’s incompetence, but also that of the Government at the time. i was a serving officer with Bedfordshire police, and ‘out and about’ one morning, when i heard a Bedford unit being despatched to 3M’s depot on the Shuttleworth Estate to investigate the possibility of illegal immigrants in the rear of an HGV. Another officer responded, saying they were ‘double crewed’ and would attend in support. (double crewed + 2 officers) Control agreed that would be approved. i heard radio transmissions to suggest all units had arrived at the scene, had discovered a number of male illegal immigrants, but one officer admitted that he was not certain with current policies, and could he be reminded. Stand by, was the reply, as the radio operator sought advice. After a short pause, the instruction given was to use the police van which had attended in support, to transport the illegal immigrants to the Railway Station, and put them on the Brighton train, and to get off at Croydon, and make their way to the immigration Reception Centre. next question from the officers, ‘Should i take their names?’ Reply, ‘Yes, i suppose so’ What a waste of time, they could have given any names and no-one would be the wiser, And off they went. Where to, who they were, noone knows. that was the policy of Bedfordshire police 16 or 17 years ago. it would not have been their policy, but that of the Home office. it seems nothing has changed. We are seeing an increase in attacks on females by what appears to be Eastern European males. Reading the most recent headline, my wife will be far too afraid to go out alone. the icing on the cake insofar as Yarlswood in concerned. i knew a lady who worked there, at a Valentine Ball one year, while discussing the Centre and the sort of people interred there, she made the comment i will never forget, ‘the place is like a tinderbox, just waiting to blow up’ A few days later, it burned to the ground. She never went back. for goodness sake, deport these dreadful people, certainly do not let them roam our streets. Richard Bratton, Bedford

Bedford is much better than this

to tHE EditoR: i was absolutely appalled to see your headline posted through our letterbox this week and i think you should be ashamed to lead with such migrant baiting diatribe. Migrants free to roam the streets? these people are human beings, not criminals! Breaking immigration laws is not the slightest bit comparable to common criminals. the subheading also denotes concern on behalf of the Mps, who were far more concerned about the conditions these people are forced to live in with Mr. fuller and Yasin understanding this issue far beyond that baiting headline. the issue that exists is the poor quality of inappropriate accommodation on the Yarls Wood site and the lack of any inclusion of the evidence that the Home office has “lost” 37,000 migrants highlights how poorly written this piece is. these people are allowed to leave the detention centre in the first place so the headline is deliberately misleading and i am considering taking this piece up with impress for such a misleading piece. i’m disgusted that your paper offers no concern for the lives of people who just happen to have been born in a country far poorer than our’s and i would like you to not post such inhumane nonsense through our letterbox. the people of Bedford are much better than this. Ollie Charlton, Bedford

Highly debatable

to tHE EditoR: i must express my concern at the scurrilous headline: immigrants free to roam the streets?” immigration is a major concern and highly debatable. to be a migrant is not per se to be a criminal. i was relieved to read the article which was considered and supportive of vulnerable people. Local press could promote understanding as opposed to encouraging a hostile environment. i feel the plan (Home office’s) to be of dubious legality and hope they reconsider it. P. Arato, Kempston

Stop the UK-US trade deal

Open letter to Bedfordshire MPs

to tHE EditoR: We are extremely concerned that the UK trade deal with the US is being negotiated in secret with no parliamentary oversight. there is a very high risk that this deal will undermine many things which we value and will impact us nationally and of course locally in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. the trade deal with the US is not necessary, and offers only minimal economic benefits to the UK. We already trade with the USA and would continue to do so after Brexit, even without a trade deal. once it is in place, future governments will be effectively “locked into” the deal, even if they wanted to change it. the trade deal currently being negotiated threatens to: 1. weaken the nHS and other public services and drive up medicine prices (currently these are up to four times higher in the USA than here). it could lead to irreversible privatisation of profitable sections of the nHS 2. erode food, animal welfare and environmental standards in line with those that are currently acceptable in the United States. (for example chlorinated chicken, increased use of antibiotics and chemicals in farming, and unlabelled GM food). this would threaten the livelihoods of British farmers who follow higher standards 3. block government action to tackle the climate crisis and encourage the use of dirty fossil fuels 4. give increased power to ‘’Corporate courts’ that allow foreign corporations to sue governments outside of the national legal system to challenge things like environmental protection or public health policy thus eroding democracy 5. allow chemicals currently banned in the UK to be used in cosmetics or sprayed on crops 6. increase the power of Silicon Valley online giants like facebook, Google and Amazon, and make it even harder to get them to pay fair taxes 7. water down privacy protection – (including online and nHS data). thus increasing the amount of personal data being sold to corporations for profit You, our Mps, are excluded from the terms and details of these trade talks, which in the UK are negotiated in secret, whereas US politicians get a say. far from ‘taking back control’ the UK currently risks having the terms of the deal dictated to it by the far more powerful USA. for the reasons summarised above, we believe these dangerous and undemocratic trade talks should be stopped. We call on you, our Mps, to use your collective power and influence to stop this trade deal and instead promote trade that works for people and the planet. Global Justice – Herts and Beds, Local group of Global Justice Now

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‘Daily Dash’ raises £25,000 for Sue Ryder Hospice SixtY-tHREE big hearted people from Bedfordshire and the surrounding area walked, jogged or ran 5km every day in december, boosting their mental health and giving a much needed £25,000 cash boost to a local Sue Ryder hospice. the december daily dash challenge was started in 2015 by husband and wife Jackie and Mark Smith, after Jackie’s dad, Mike, received care from a Sue Ryder Hospice. that first year 13 people signed up to take part, raising £5,000. Since then the festive fundraiser has snowballed with 1,232 people taking part from right across the UK and as far afield as denmark, the USA, Canada and Mexico. they raised £310,000 in 2020 for the national palliative, neurological and bereavement support charity, Sue Ryder. dash creators Jackie and Mark said: “Well done and a huge thanks for the amazing fundraising and spirit that all the december daily dashers have brought to the dash in 2020! “We were especially grateful for the dash in this strangest of years, and have loved all of the pictures, videos and stories of everyone enjoying it too. We hope to see everyone back next year when we will be celebrating our 200th dash.” this was the fourth year Lindsay o’Kane, from Milton Keynes, had taken part in the challenge. She raised £697 in the 2020 december daily dash, said: “i originally signed up for the dash in memory of both my mum and my grandma. My grandma had volunteered for Sue Ryder for many,

Beeston News

WHiLSt most residents will be confined to their homes during the early part of 2021we are confident that the new Year will see a number of positive developments in the village. it is hoped the recently pollarded beech tree will survive but in any event expect more planting of trees on the Green and in the Limes this year. improvements to the verges and general tidying up on Willow island will take place. A book kiosk will be installed in the centre of the village and by popular request the plant table will be set up again in time for Easter. progress on the community orchard/allotments project is dependent upon solicitors and their speed of working but we are making some if painfully slow progress. it is expected the village will have three visits from the pantaloons outdoor theatre group. the town Council recently adopted a detailed policy to deal with parking issues on the Green and the Beeston Green Management plan is due to be updated in the near future. there are plans to build upon the community spirit generated through next door Beeston and other local social media groups and recruit some kind of village team to help revive activities like the open Gardens which fell victim to the pandemic. Any other ideas from residents will be gratefully received.

Sandy Twinning Association

fiRSt of all a very happy new Year to all members of the Association and all readers of the Bulletin. it would be encouraging to bring some good news but in all honesty any activities overseas, as for all such groups, are virtually out of the question in 2021 and the committee will simply start thinking about possibilities for celebrating 40 years of the Sandy-Malaunay link in 2022. Hopefully the English summer schools in poland will also resume next year. However, the literary achievements of one of our members are worth mentioning. Seasoned traveller and former town mayor Geoff White published his first book, Some Small Lovely thing during 2019. A year later has come oil and treacle. Some Small Lovely thing was a travel book about a journey he made overland in the 1970s from London to the foothills of the Himalayas. in a sense, oil and treacle is also about a journey but this is not a travel book, it is a biography. the subject is his

father, Jack, and his journey through the turbulent first half of the twentieth Century from before the Great War until the end of the Second World War. Both books are available as ebooks from your local Amazon. in the UK they are priced at £1.50, in the US at $1.99 and at similar prices in local currencies elsewhere. it is possible to buy an e-book for yourself or as a gift. A really good read in a short space of time and at an exceptional price. paperback copies are available only in the UK. for any information about the Association’s activities please contact Martin pettitt on 680082 ( or Max Hill on 681469 (amaxhill@

Biggleswade’s Lions update

tHE sleigh has been put into hibernation for another year, the reindeer have been put out to pasture and Santa is social distancing at the north pole. Rudolph was unable to complete his pre-Christmas tour of the area

due to Covid-19. things are not looking good for the coming year with lockdown in place which is almost certainly going to continue for some months. the Lions will attempt to be at as many fetes or fairs as soon as they can in the coming months. they did manage to take Santa on a tour of five of their planned routes before lockdown. Unfortunatley they have been unable to distribute food parcels this year but have made donations of £2,600 to each of the two local food banks (preens and need) which supported the local community. there have also been other small donations where they were able to assist relief of hardship. the problem is the ability to keep funds flowing in so that they can continue to provide help and assistance where it is so desperately needed. if you can help in any way they will be pleased to receive your donation. full details of how to give are on their website if you would like any further information about Biggleswade Sandy Lions Club please contact 01462 814693.

many years. She then spent her final days at Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice in Moggerhanger.” Rebecca Eaton and Kimberley Salour (pictured left), two kind-hearted colleagues from Letchworth company Willmott dixon, raised £681. Rebecca said: “As a teenager i had a grandma with Alzheimer’s and a grandad who needed to be looked after in a care home. We spent many weekends, birthdays and Christmas holidays visiting them. We saw how nurses and carers, such as the ones at Sue Ryder, give up their own time at Christmas with their loved ones to look after mine and others.” Kimberley added: “Last year was quite challenging in terms of being distanced from our family, friends and colleagues. As much as virtual quizzes and facetime have been great to keep in touch, it will

never quite replace the fun you can have in person. fundraising for Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice gave our Group people team at Willmott dixon a great opportunity to reconnect after many months of working remotely. “We did a virtual walk earlier in 2020, which was a great way of enjoying the outdoors, respecting everyone’s level of comfort and raising money for a great cause.” Hayley Webb, Community fundraising Manager at Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice, said: “i would like to take this opportunity to share a huge thank you to each and every person who completed the december daily dash in support of our hospice. for every step you took and pound you’ve raised you’re helped us continue to be there when it matters for local families.”

How is taxpayer’s money being spent? WitH the recent heavy rain and the threat of more rain falling on already water logged fields, more flooding is a real possibility. At Bedford Borough’s full council meeting on Wednesday January 13, a petition was submitted by Conservative Councillor Jim Weir on behalf of residents from all across the borough. the petition thanks all the volunteers and staff for their hard work during the Christmas 2020 flood and asks for a review in rela-

tion to the flood preparation and asks what needs to be done to attempt to stop future flooding. it also calls on Bedford Borough Council to make recommendations and provide clear guidance on which body is responsible for carrying out these actions. thirdly, the petition asks Bedford Borough Council to hold the Environment Agency to account on how they spending Bedford taxpayer’s money to protect residents from future flooding

and lastly to work with local community groups to ensure local knowledge and best practise is used in managing floods. Cllr Jim Weir is now asking those who have signed the petition for their comments to submit to full Council on february 3, and you can send your comments to: You can also sign the petition at: bedford-borough-council-flooddefences-in-bedford-borough

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by Local Democracy Reporter

A pLAnninG inspector has thrown out a developer’s attempt to convert offices to flats on the basis that they would create poor living standards. inspector Andrew Smith also rejected Homelink properties’ argument that Bedford Borough Council had acted “unreasonably” because there is no policy requirement for the amount of living space in the local plan. Homelink’s proposal to create one flat and one studio flat above 44-46 Bunyan Road, in Kempston, had been refused by the council at the end of July last year. the smaller, studio flat, would have its bedroom, lounge, and kitchen in one “modest” sized openplan room, as well as a shower room and a small entrance hall. Mr Smith said: “the future occupier’s combined sleeping, cooking and general day-to-day living requirements would predominantly be confined to a single room of relatively modest expanse. “indeed, the proposed floor plan indicates constrained internal arrangements that would provide living conditions of a poor standard.”

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Office-to-flat conversion plan appeal rejected over ‘poor living standards’ the studio flat would also not have its own outside space, the inspector found. He added that “acceptable living conditions for future residential occupiers of the studio would not be created.” the developers had told the council that the flats would be of an “appropriate size, scale and design in the context of the application site and the wider area”.

the inspector ruled that the council should have had reference to living space in the local plan that was adopted only last year. But he said the local plan and national policies sets out that “planning decisions should promote


health and well-being and secure a high standard of amenity for existing and future users.” He said he was “un-persuaded that a high standard of amenity for future occupiers would be provided” in the studio flat. He also said that the creation of new flats would need their own parking spaces, and most of the external area was used by business occupiers who often parked back to back. Mr Smith, who visited the area on January 4, said this would “likely be to the detriment of highway safety and the free-flow of traffic, particularly given the constrained site circumstances.” He said that the scheme would be a benefit for young single people but would not make a noticeable difference to borough-wide housing.

PCC Candidate Festus Akinbusoye welcomes new Criminal Justice Bill HoME Secretary priti patel is set to announce new legislation that will make it a criminal offence to intentionally set up a camp or trespass on private land. the legislation will give police the power to fine those who break the law up to £2,500 and lays out the possibility of a three-month prison sentence. Currently landowners face legal battles and court costs to evict travellers from their sites because trespass is only a civil offence. festus Akinbusoye, Bedfordshire’s Conservative police and Crime Commissioner candidate welcomed the news: "there’s been a long-standing review into how to deal with the issue of illegal encampments and trespassing in England and Wales. this is a matter of real concern here in Bedfordshire.” he said. “We’re now coming in line with the Republic of ireland, which

Kingsley Garage A fAmily run business since 1978

introduced the same law back in 2002. this is the fulfilment of a manifesto commitment and i’m fully behind the government's strong action,” he added. the new Criminal Justice Bill will authorise the police to take enforcement action against two illegally parked vehicles. the current number is six. And police action can also be taken to prevent any damage, disruption or distress to landowners. the law adds that police enforcement will be limited to anyone over 18 who fails to vacate a private property when asked to do so by the landowner or police. those found to be illegally occupying the property will also be barred from returning for at least twelve months. it is estimated that there are 23,000 traveller caravans in England with 3,200 parked on unauthorised sites. permanent

locations are often overcrowded with caravans exceeding the number approved by the local authority. pCC Candidate festus Akinbusoye commented: "Lawabiding residents and businesses in Bedfordshire have the right to peaceful enjoyment and protection of their property. this is absolutely the right thing for the government to do. "if elected as Bedfordshire's next police and Crime Commissioner, i will fully support our police force and local authorities to clampdown on this unlawful activity. i will also do everything possible to work closely with our three local authorities and town Councils to provide appropriate transit sites and monitor the permanent pitches. But i make no apology in putting on record that under my leadership, we will never turn a blind eye to illegal trespass on private property.”

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ConStRUCtion work is proceeding to schedule at Covanta’s Rookery South incinerator site at Stewartby. All structural steel work has been completed. the project’s principal contractor, Hitachi Zosen inova (HZi) has also completed the installation of the facility’s stacks. internal fitting out continues and in the next few months the facility’s visitor and education centre will be designed. Jack Stitt, project Manager for Covanta explained: “i’m very proud of all construction personnel at the Rookery South site for redoubling their commitment to health and safety in a time of Covid-19. their extraordinary efforts have enabled this complex build phase to safely remain on schedule throughout 2020. in 2021 we will complete the construction

phase and move forward into testing and commissioning of all areas of the energy recovery facility to ensure each component is working as it should.” With construction work progressing on-schedule, we have begun recruitment for over 50 new permanent operational positions at the Rookery South facility. ian Judd, Rookery South’s new facility Manager, explained more: “We’ve launched a Bedfordshirewide recruitment campaign to fill a range of new operational and maintenance roles as we start to grow the Rookery South’s operations team .“We hope that people locally with the right skills will apply, and to assist this we’re working with Bedfordshire’s local authorities and Jobcentre plus to promote these excellent opportunities.

it would also be a “relatively modest” benefit to the local economy but these “would not outweigh the harms and associated policy conflicts.” in another decision also made on January 13, the inspector dismissed an appeal for costs against the council.

the applicant thought the council had behaved “unreasonably” by imposing technical housing standards, which do not form part of the Bedford Borough Local plan. “i do not consider that it was unreasonable for the council to have had regard to the space standards as part of its assessment of the merits of the proposal,” he ruled.


Dangerous sexual predator gets jailed A tRAVELLER who raped two teenage girls from travelling community has been sentenced to an extended 18 year prison sentence. on friday, January 15, 2021, a court heard Barry price, married and in his his mid 20s befriended the girls on social media sites. on two separate occasions he persuaded each girl to meet him, but once they had got in his car they were subjected to a harrowing rape ordeal from which they couldn’t escape. the court heard that one of price’s victims who was 16 and a virgin when Smith raped her three times over three days while his prisoner, has now been shunned by her own family. Because she lost her virginity to another male from the traveller community, the girl said in her victim impact statement, that travelling culture now means she will find it “well nigh impossible” to marry within her community. price’s other victim was a 15year-old girl. He appeared at Luton Crown Court, after being found guilty by a jury last october of three charges of raping the 16-year-old girl, three offences of sexually assaulting her and one offence of falsely imprisoning her. He was sentenced to an extended 18 year prison sentence by Recorder James Wood QC. He was told the custodial element of the sentence was to be 14 years with an extended period when he oiled subject to a recall on licence, should he re offend of the 14 year jail sentence

price was told he would have to serve a minimum of two thirds before he could even be considered for release by the parole board. When ever he is released the extended sentence means that he will be on licence and subject to recall until 2039. it was in october 2019 that price of St James Close, Houghton Regis, in Bedfordshire arranged to meet a 16-year-old girl from South West Hertfordshire who lived with her traveller family. they had been speaking via social media and price made out he was 19-years-old. the girl agreed to meet him, when she was plied with cannabis and alcohol. Between october 20 and october 27 price who had with him a machete, raped her for the first time in the back of the car. After driving her to a chalet in Gamlingay in Bedfordshire he raped on two more occasions. on november 7, 2019, price met a 15-year-old girl from the Midlands who again believed he was the 17-year-old boy she had chatted to on facebook. He took her to the same property in Gamlingay, where he also put her phone on ‘airplane mode’ and subjected her to sexual assault and rape. When she tried to leave, he threatened her and destroyed her mobile phone. At court on friday, January 15, he was sentenced to serve 14 years in jail, with an extension of four years to reflect the dangerous nature of his offending.

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gardening with Milton Ernest Garden Centre

A plant that can flower all year


by Maureen Catlin

SK me “What is your favourite plant” and my reply is CLEMAtiS. Why? Well within this plant genus there is a variety that will be in flower every week of the year. they come in all the rainbow colours and flower prolifically.

Many have a lovely scent, grow as ground cover over an obelisk in a pot on the patio climb up walls or pergolas scramble over other plants or eyesores or as a perennial plant in the herbaceous border. in January we see Clematis clarkeana Winter Beauty an evergreen variety with creamy lime green buds in december followed by sparkling snow white bell flowers with a tremendous scent in January to March. plant it next to your front door enjoy it whenever you return home. Clematis cartmannii Joe is a delightful small evergreen to grow on a small obelisk in a pot on the patio. it has fern like foliage and is covered in pearly white scented flowers from february to April. Clematis Alpina and Clematis Macropetala greet spring in March and flower until May. Both species have an abundance of harebell flowers and varieties of various colours from creamy white to pink to lilac and blue. Recommendations are Clematis Alpina Columbine, blue, and Clematis Macropetela Markham’s pink. in April we see the rampant evergreen Clematis Armandii Apple Blossom or Snowdrift which will quickly cover a pergola while May heralds Clematis Montana equally as vigorous. Varieties like Miss Christine, pearly white, and freda, bright pink which will hide a garden shed with its profusion of sweetly scented flowers. Most hybrid Clematis will flower from June onwards throughout summer. the list is endless but a couple of recommendations are Lincoln Star, pink and white, Lady northcliff, blue, Rhapsody,

purple, and olympia, mauve, which is excellent in a pot on the patio. in July we are treated in the herbaceous border to the long blue clusters of Clematis Heracleifolia Stans and on a sunny fence Clematis florida Sieboldia with gorgeous purple centres. Clematis jouiniana praecox is ideal ground cover when planted in a bed of bush roses. the delightful bluish flowers appear before the second flowering of the roses. in September as autumn approaches so do the brilliant yellow flowers of Clematis Golden tiara, tangutica and orientalis Bill Mackenzie which continues to flower into october. in november and december Clematis cirrhosa freckles and Advent Bells are a delight to see in the dark dank winter months with cream bell shaped flowers with maroon markings. there are varieties suitable for sunny and shady situations and patio tubs. Climbing Clematis need support to scramble on which can be wires, trellis, pergolas or other plants. if you are growing a patio variety in a tub use a metal or willow obelisk which makes a decorative feature. Varieties that do well in containers are Cezanne, blue, Chantilly, white, ohh La La, pink with a darker pink stripe, and Rebecca red. Here are some cultural tips to help you grow Clematis well. the summer flowering Hybrid Clematis are the varieties that need some special attention when planted. Cut the top growth back by half before planting. dig a hole three times the volume of the container in which it is growing and twice the depth. Remove the pot and place the clematis in the hole. fill with a planting compost containing lots of peat. this will bury the lower part of the stem and protect it from surface damage which can cause the plant to wilt. Hybrid Clematis like lots of water about 5 litres every few days and regular feeding with liquid tomato food to promote flowering. Check the pruning regime on the label provided with your plant. they are available in a vast range of colours with flowers the size and shape of dinner plates to discreet small stars. the specie and herbaceous varieties are easier to grow and only require to be planted in rich peaty soil. details of how to prune different types of Clematis is posted on the Milton Ernest Garden Centre Web Site. there are so many wonderful varieties within the Clematis genus this is just a taste to encourage you to grow my most favourite plant in your garden.


foR the avid gardener, there is always something to do in the garden. the ‘to do list’ never really gets any smaller and if anything, grows every bit as voraciously as our most disliked weeds. So with frost blanketing the ground, now is a good time to prepare for the forthcoming horticultural year. it is certainly not a good idea to walk on frozen lawns as ‘frost burn’ can occur; ever wondered why you see brown footprints zig zagging a lawn? Well, that’s frost burn! Walk on a lawn when there is a frost and your movements will be preserved for posterity! Well, for a few weeks at least. in time, spor and other markings either fade or grow out and happily there doesn’t appear to be any lasting damage. With the latest lockdown strictures firmly in place with only the most selfish and inconsiderate flouting them, inspirational trips to gardens will have to be put on hold as will trips to most nurseries and garden centres. online growers continue to thrive and although the packaging is often environmentally disastrous, receiving plants through the post have come a long way since dishevelled and often effete shadows of their former selves were delivered with little or no chance of them prospering. Still, the very most rewarding way to garden is by investing in a packet of seeds. the nearest thing to alchemy would be my definition as what may at first glance look like ‘A Handful of dust’, in often less than ‘ninety two days’ becomes ‘the Loved one’ to gratuitously quote Waugh! With more choice than any other, it is also by far the cheapest way to pack your garden with colour and interest. And what’s more, the achievement is all yours and not the person who sold you it! one seed catalogue i was sent recently, and i get many, seems to my eye, delightfully old fashioned and with some real bargains to boot. take a look at d. t. Brown. Established in 1908, it still describes itself as ‘Growers and Merchants’ and with a monochrome cover, it is a triumph of substance over style, unlike so much of modern life and its pages drip with tantalising fruit and flora. for a limited time, all 99p seed packets are half price and outstanding value. See or telephone 0845 371 0532 to receive your own copy. Last month’s just for fun question asked for definitions of frequently occurring though often confusing gardening terms. they are as follows: Alba, white, foliage, leaves; Helix, spiral or turns; Horizontalis, growing horizontally; Japonica, believed to have originated from Japan; Lanceolota, sword shaped; Rotundifolia, round leaved; Rubra, red. this month’s just for fun quiz question then, following on from above, is: one former seller of packets of seeds, gave his name to a world renowned sporting contest that takes place every couple of years; what is the competition called and where was the original shop? As usual, many thanks to all of you for contributing to this column, keep them coming, and please contact me with any gardening tasks or queries you may have, or tel: 01767 627 581 or 07796 328 855.


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out & about

Additional EU red tape hurting artists by Tony Hendrix

WELL here we are again, in the middle of yet another miserable lockdown, doom and gloom is certainly something that has been lingering over the entertainment industry now for several months, however there is one department within the music industry that hasn't really seen any casualties throughout the pandemic. Radio as we know it has continued to operate throughout this challenging period, in many cases today’s technology has enabled presenters to broadcast their shows from their home or even from their garden sheds. Bedford’s dance music station In2Beats (106.5 FM) has managed to help keep many of their listeners glued to their radios during lockdown with uninterrupted entertainment from a bunch of dedicated DJs, In2Beats FM is a community radio station, the DJs are not paid they simply love music and some use the platform as a stepping stone to bigger stations and events. One DJ who's dedication to

music over the lock down caught my attention was Mr Kulcha Beats he presents an awesome show every Sunday from 2pm till 4pm packed with exclusive memorabilia reggae gems, he is part of ‘The Cultural Roots Sound System’ which has been established now for over 40 years, Mr Kulcha Beats describe by friends as having a heart of gold is often involved in music fund raising events for Cancer research and more recently he supported Marcus Rashfords appeal on radio by teaming up with JEMZ Caribbean before Christmas to supply meals for kids during lockdown. He has also recently launched his own radio show Live music in the UK contributes to approximately £1 Billion to the economy, artists within this industry including some of the UK’s top DJs had the option to travel freely within the EU for performances and concerts without any major restrictions. Following new Brexit legislation artists are no longer allowed to enter the EU to perform and will now have to produce visas and permits. Many artists within the UK have for many years used the EU as an alternative source of income, with the challenges Covid-19 has set within the UK and the additional new Brexit restrictions many bands and artists have seen all their sources of income disappear within the space of 12 months. Unfortunately the government has not put up a fight against these EU restrictions which has left the music industry fuming, there however has been talks recently of some kind of a “touring passport” for these bands and musicians which could act as a waiver for visas and permits.

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Games are off? But you can still help the Eagles FOOTBALL – BEDFORD EAGLES

by Michael Jarman-Webb

tHE CURREnt national lockdown means the chances of the season restarting for Bedford town and other step three and four teams is increasingly unlikely. All matches are already suspended to beyond March 6, meaning it would be virtually impossible for remaining fixtures to be completed by the end of May. it would mean matches being played at a rate of three or even four a week, which would be unsustainable for professional players, yet alone players who in most cases also work fulltime. Some alternative scenarios, such as dividing the divisions in two, or teams playing each other once instead of twice present their own problems and are i feel unlikely to be agreed upon by the teams who are currently being consulted on their preferred way forward with the season. the football Association have said that whatever scenario is chosen, all trident (Southern, northern and isthmian) Leagues must agree to it, and that its not viable for matches to restart until the country is in tier 2 or lower. Even if, as is likely the sea-

son does not recommence there is the chance it could be resumed and continued next season, rather than starting afresh. it’s likely a decision will have been made by next months Bulletin, but you can still support the club now by stocking up on merchandise from the supporter’s club shop, including the new, and very popular Eagles face covering, available now from

Bedford Hospital’s maternity services rated ‘inadequate’ A REpoRt by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) focussing specifically on the provision of maternity services at Bedford Hospital and follows on from an inspection in 2018. the earlier inspection rated the services as ‘Requiring improvement’ but the current findings rate the maternity services at Bedford Hospital as ‘inadequate’. inadequate means that the service is performing badly and that the CQC has taken action against the hospital to secure improvement. the CQC report notes that: “the trust took some immediate actions and developed an action plan to address the concerns raised.”

Richard fuller Mp (north East Beds) commented: “i am grateful to the CQC for their rigorous inspection and to the Chief Executive of the Bedfordshire Hospitals trust for discussing with me the plans for improvement. “i conveyed the importance that the deficiencies in terms of leadership and staffing identified in the report are addressed and i am reassured that the Chief Executive both recognises this need and has already taken decisive action. “these should result in improvements over the months to come and i hope the CQC will continue to monitor maternity services provision in Bedford hospital.”

Bedford High Street’s Harrison & Simmonds goes global

noW selling more world-wide than ever before is the long-established High Street gentlemen’s emporium and tobacconists Harrison & Simmonds. the business is today owned by the fourth generation of Simmonds – cousins Matthew and dominic, who are determined to keep the business going until it reaches its 100th anniversary later this decade. pipes sell like hotcakes across the globe via the company website, to which people are drawn by the experience of buying from an authentic, independent British business. “We’ve been selling across the world for years, Brexit hasn’t been a problem, in fact business is booming online as the ‘hipster’ fashion for a pipe, or pocket watch, to go with the beard and tweed jacket has taken off. there aren’t many authentic tobacconists left so we are sought out at home and abroad,” said Matthew. the on-off UK Covid lockdowns have hampered the High Street trade. particularly damaging was the last minute shut

down before Christmas when, like many, Harrison & Simmonds had stocked up, in their case with gifts “for the man who has everything” which have been left on the shelves. “the Government aid barely covers fixed costs and although we to sell in the UK on eBay and we do local click or phone and collect, there are differences in what we sell in the shop compared

to online,” added Matthew. “We are trying to help our regular customers by making some deliveries but if we hadn’t had an established internet following then it would have been much more difficult. “Luckily we have diversified over the last decade and behind our very traditional shop front is actually a business which sells across the world.”


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