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.