Managing from the ground

One of the favourite parts of my job is getting out and about and understanding more about our communities first-hand. I really enjoy meeting residents, looking at the impact the Council’s work has had and identifying opportunities where we can do more.

I recently visited Downside in the Manshead area of Dunstable with colleagues from the Council’s Housing Service, and Councillor Eugene Ghent, Executive Member for Assets and Housing. Downside is a stone’s throw away from Dunstable Downs, but it is also one of the parts of Central Bedfordshire where we have the greatest opportunity to improve people’s lives and the community where they live.

During our visit we came across a number of opportunities to enhance the area over the next twelve months. Firstly, we are going to refurbish the two play parks in Downside with new equipment. I enjoy spending time outside with my grandchildren, and I know how much of a difference it will make to the families there to have updated play areas for their children to enjoy. Additionally, over the next few months, we will be cutting back vegetation and removing weeds and moss in communal areas of our council-owned properties, as well as tackling outstanding property maintenance issues.

We are always keen to hear from residents about what else they might like to see, so please do contact your local councillors with your suggestions. You can also share your thoughts through our Growing Greater Neighbourhoods survey, which closes at the end of January.

These efforts build on the public safety work we are doing in partnership with Bedfordshire Police in this area. In September we hosted a Safer Streets event (pictured) to share crime prevention information with local people and we launched a wider programme of safety improvements. We’ve handed out smart water kits to residents so they can mark their belongings, and offered two-way radios to local businesses so they can contact the Council’s CCTV room quickly. Looking ahead, our Safer Neighbourhoods team will be installing CCTV cameras in the area, and we’ll be improving lighting to tackle antisocial behaviour.

Investing in areas like Downside is extremely important for me and is part of the Council’s wider efforts to prevent people from being left behind or slipping into need in Central Bedfordshire, something which has been exacerbated by COVID-19. Last week the Council’s Executive committed to creating a councillor taskforce to look at fairness and enhance the Council’s efforts to reduce deprivation, and I was delighted to see that the motion was unanimously supported.

I want people to have pride in where they live, and I will be returning to Downside to see how the improvements are coming along.

2 thoughts on “Managing from the ground

  1. Lovely to hear the folks of Downside are happy.
    The settled community of Lt Billington, (near Leighton Buzzard), not so.
    The Leighton Buzzard Observer has run 2 articles since November about council mismanagement of traveller sites in this tiny hamlet over a period of many years, and this week comments about CBC’s performance concerning other issues in Leighton Buzzard were
    We have around 20 houses (estimated 50/60 people) in Lt Billington, and there are over 145 caravans and statics (estimated 300-350 people) within 3/4 of a mile……The government guidelines state that traveller sites should not dominate the nearest settled community. You don’t need to be a genius to work out that Lt Billington IS dominated.
    The CEO of any company would be failing in their duty of care, if they had read articles and critical reviews in a newspaper, published because peoples’ lives had been seriously affected by the bad decisions made by their employees. Questions would have or should have been asked.

    Not a word, however, from the CEO of CBC or any of its “officers” in response.

    Right or wrong, it displays an arrogant disregard for the people who pay their salaries and pensions. Often they fail to answer a simple question with non committal or “council speak”Even the Parish Council has experience of that. It is such a pity CBC does not work with the community to find solutions. It’s always “us and them”
    I agree that people should take pride in the area in which they live. The settled community of Lt Billington always did and continues to do so. Many people comment about the daffodils on the verges along the B440 planted by villagers for the enjoyment of everyone.
    It is sad the traveller community and non travellers who rent accommodation at theses sites, do not do take the same pride.
    Littering, fly tipping, speeding, petty and organised crime, drug dealing and anti social behaviour is more “the norm”. Remember the slavery case?
    There is good and bad in all communities, but EVERYONE has the right to peaceful enjoyment of their home without fear of abuse, intimidation and anti social behaviour……


  2. The Growing Neighbourhood Survey is very limited and has no facility to leave comments. As such, not a good tool to assess resdients views.
    Due to the poor performance of CBC in getting the Local Plan adopted, namely that it was 2 years late and could not demonstrate 5 year housing land suppy which allowed developers to win planning consent on appeal, the majority of CBC villages have suffered un-planned development with no tangible benefits to the villages.
    CBC now need to look at a planned approach to make villages safe for pedestrians and cyclists, especially in view of the increased traffic.
    CBC also need to look are a better approach to school planning. Making primary children travel past the Village Academy to poorly perfoming schools in Biggleswade demonstrates how there is little or no joined up thinking between CBC departments.
    In Langford, there are no cycle paths, the roads are in a poor state of repair and the footpaths are less than 900mm wide in places making it unsafe to walk children to school. Secondary pupils have to be driven to neighbouring villages as there are no cycleways or public transport.
    Councillor Dixon stated that nothing would be done unless there were a fatality!!! Surely CBC can do better.
    Rather than boast about improving a play area, please show some leadership and deal with issues that really matter and make our villages safe for our children.


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