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News from Councillors Lucy Bywater & Ben Foley (Green Party councillors for Castle ward), January 2020

A quick summary of some of what they were doing in Castle ward in January

Greyfriars changing

Lucy and Ben met with the team trying to redevelop the Greyfriars Police Station site, and were pleased to see that the ideas fit pretty well with what the local community would hope, with the degree to which nearby properties are overlooked being reduced, and a good number of family-sized flats in the proposal. We were pleased to see in the plans landscaping and raised green spaces to improve quality of life for families. Your councillors will continue to keep an eye on things as they progress, since there is still a lot to be gained or lost, as things progress, and of done right this has the capacity to improve this part of Castle for everyone.

Accessiblity

Ben attended a meeting with “Accessible Bedford” who are looking to improve accessibility for disabled people, particularly in the town centre. If you have particular bugbears about accessibility, especially in Castle Ward, please do let Ben know. Ben also attended a ‘focus group’ run by the police to fine-tune their plans for a scheme to help them deal more appropriately, right from the start, with people who have autism.

Illegal parking & vehicle idling

Lucy is continuing to work with council officers, Sustrans, nearby residents and parking services to prevent drivers (including taxis) parking on double yellows and letting their engines idle (including buses), often for long periods outside both Castle Newnham’s south site and Bedford Girls’ School.

West Rail East Both Lucy and Ben attended the briefing about East West Rail where we received the good news that it will pass through Bedford’s main station. We hope that this will be a catalyst for the long-postponed rebuild of the station, and Ben asked at the meeting of the full council for representatives of wards affected around the railway line in the town to be kept informed as plans develop.  

Holocaust Memorial Day

Lucy attended the Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony at the Anne Frank Tree in Russell Park. Amongst others there were some pupils from Goldington Academy who shared their thoughts and feelings. 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and 25 years since genocide in Bosnia, we believe we need more than ever to be vigilant against racism and hatred because today many people’s lives are seen by some as less valuable than others, because of their ethnicity, sexuality, gender, religion, or disability. Some people have asked about the significance of the Horse Chestnut tree there. It’s a direct descendant of the tree outside Anne Frank’s window during her period in hiding in Amsterdam and is mentioned in her diary as bringing her comfort.

SMART Prebend

Prebend Day Centre held an open afternoon that both councillors attended, learning of the facilities and the ways the organisation provides support, information and advice to help get the genuinely homeless and vulnerable to a better phase of their lives.

Finally, Priory Primary are looking for people with Bulgarian/Romanian-English skills: can you help? Do you know someone who can? Please email Ben on ben.foley@bedford.gov.uk

How can they help you? Lucy & Ben hold monthly councillor advice surgeries for Castle ward residents on the first Saturday of each month 11am-1pm. Next one is Saturday March 7th at Eagle Bookshop, St Peter Street and we alternate venues with the Woolpack Hub on the corner of Commercial Road and River Street, (Saturday April 4th). You can email us on lucy.bywater@bedford.gov.uk  & ben.foley@bedford.gov.uk  You can find general information on the local Green Party website: https://lutonandbeds.greenparty.org.uk/   You can also easily report some routine local problems that need fixing via the Borough website: https://www.bedford.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/website-information/Pay-Report-Request/

Bedford HOPE Events Committee hosts their third successful event in aid of The HOPE Foundation is joined by HOPE Founder Maureen Forrest

The Bedford HOPE events group hosted a charity screening of award-winning SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE on Friday 17th January at The Quarry Theatre in Bedford.

The Group is made up of Poonam Chand, Karen Crofts, Seema Grantham and Jacqueline Merne; women from different backgrounds who are passionate about this cause and have come together to raise money for the HOPE Foundation.    Their common purpose is to raise awareness of, and vital funding for, street and slum children’s programmes in Kolkata, India, run by The HOPE Foundation.

A magical evening was had by all where 85 attendees enjoyed the wonderful theatre venue ‘THE QUARRY’ having pre-movie time to mingle with a drink, buy raffle tickets and sponsored chocolate, and discuss HOPE and their child sponsorship programme.  Our very special thanks go to The Quarry who were so generous thus allowing all monies raised, with the exception of film royalties, go to The Hope Foundation.

After people were seated in the auditorium Jacqueline Merne introduced HOPE founder Maureen Forrest who has headed and worked tirelessly for the Charity for more than 20 years.  Maureen spoke with such passion about her harrowing experiences in war-torn countries, that formed her decision to start the HOPE Foundation and introduced us to her personal experiences in India.  She closed by thanking everybody for their contributions confirming how every penny is fully utilised in helping educate children thus providing them with an opportunity to be self-sufficient moving forward.  Over 2.7 million people have benefitted, both directly and indirectly, from HOPE’s interventions since 1999.   The speech was followed by a short thought-provoking film introducing the charity and highlighting the HOPE Foundations ethos that ‘it should never hurt to be a child’.

The successful event raised £1,000.  There was also much interest shown in child sponsorship and as a result of this event 2 more children have already been sponsored and will have an enhanced life and more attendees are expressing interest.  For less than the cost of 2 cups of coffee a week you too could experience the joy that child sponsorship brings.  For more information on this and HOPE foundation please reach out to:  

Chloe on 044 0(208) 133 0863 or e-mail Chloe@thehopefoundation.org.uk

We would also like to thank Michelle Jovic for giving her photographic services for free and the following sponsors that provided the wonderful raffle prizes:-

News from Councillors Lucy Bywater & Ben Foley (Green Party councillors for Castle ward), December 2019

A quick summary of what they were doing in Castle ward in December

Cycling

We’ve been concerned about figures from the Cycling Campaign for North Beds, who we had a meeting with, that cycling numbers have dropped about 7% in the town centre compared to the previous year. This is likely to be partly due to the PSPO banning cyclists from the pedestrian areas of the town centre, including the very high number of Kingdom enforcement fines (while perhaps more problematic pavement cycling itself seems to continue with little challenge). We are also concerned about the very high number of bike thefts especially from the station (Bedford is second only to St Albans station nationally). Ben has been talking to the station about how security can be improved. Although there is CCTV, we’re aware that bike thefts may not always be followed up by potentially time-consuming scrutiny of footage to catch repeated thieves. However we are pleased that residents and police working together has resulted in the arrest of a prolific bike thief. We’re going to push for a cycle champion and the restarting of cycle strategy meetings at the Council. Air quality and traffic congestion means we need to do everything we can to make cycling in the town easier and safer.

Crime: 

We’re looking in detail at opportunities where we can help to make residents safer in their homes. At The Heights on St John’s Street for example, Ben persisted over many months to get the managing company to fix a broken communal door broken door which had made several break ins to flats too easy.

At the police priority setting meeting in December which Ben attended, residents were told about significant drug arrests (supply of cocaine and heroin) in Castle ward, proving that local residents passing on information is helping police to build cases against known drug dealers. Please keep reporting: www.bedfordshire.police.uk/report  or quickly and anonymously via our own link which we regularly pass on to police: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScW3AOqGPeMp5kzj_a–dnolIlzZWfGAr04oJcjno3a8Mpxbg/viewform?fbclid=IwAR1a_2U_iDRs-tyYJpH5LUHTdTUH-gCe6_zrPNGiwFG5u4mDvmjNe5T0u7U

Homelessness

Lucy visited (and bought delicious soup at) the SoupFest fundraiser for local homeless charities which took place again in Harpur Square on December 3rd and raised thousands for several local homelessness charities. Lucy also visited the town centre’s Somewhere Safe to Stay overnight accommodation for rough sleepers on Harpur Street when it held its first open day to show services available. The next count (really an estimate) of rough sleepers in Bedford will take place on January 23rd. We hope to see the number dropping considerably. 

Pavements/roads

Heavy rain has showed up various issues with drainage where very large puddles/floods across Castle ward make getting around difficult for pedestrians and wheelchair users. We’ve reported a large number and work is being/will be carried out to sort these out. 

Greening areas & improving biodiversity

Working with local experts on wildlife and biodiversity, we’re planning a wildflower seeding of some of the neglected-looking Thyme Gardens (below) in Russell Park. (Staff cuts across parks services in recent years are an issue). We’ll be contributing ward funds to this project, want to get residents involved, and are looking do similar in ‘unloved’ patched across Castle such as next to the Salvation Army on Commercial Road and on Ashburnham Road opposite the station. Other suggestions are very welcome. Research this week shows that people who live near green spaces, including in urban areas, tend to care more about the natural world. And even small green spaces nearby help improve well-being.

Trees

We regularly question the necessity for the removal of urban trees, and we push for appropriate replacement of trees by the Council as soon as possible. 

Bedford Hospital merger

Ben attended a public meeting about the Bedford and Luton and Dunstable hospitals merger. Lucy sits on the Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee which was assured by Stephen Conroy at an October meeting that the merger was ‘not planning any significant changes’ and that A&E and maternity would be retained in Bedford. It’s important however that we all keep an eye on this to be sure that key hospital services in Bedford are not lost. 

How can we help you? We hold monthly councillor advice surgeries for Castle ward residents on the first Saturday of each month 11am-1pm. Next one is Saturday, February 1st at the Woolpack Hub on the corner of Commercial Road and River Street, and we alternate venues with the relocated Eagle Bookshop, St Peter Street (Saturday, March 4th). You can email us on lucy.bywater@bedford.gov.uk & ben.foley@bedford.gov.uk  You can also find general information on the local Green Party website: https://lutonandbeds.greenparty.org.uk/   You can also easily report some routine local problems that need fixing via the Borough website:https://www.bedford.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/website-information/Pay-Report-Request/

News from Councillors Lucy Bywater & Ben Foley (Green Party councillors for Castle ward), November 2019

Air quality

Lucy is continuing her campaign for improved local air quality and since the summer has been focussing on getting enforcement against vehicle idling (parents’ cars and, in the case of Cardington Road, buses) which present harm to children as well as immediate neighbours. Several bus companies have now been pressed to instruct their drivers to switch off (such as outside Bedford Girls’ School where 20 minutes was not uncommon). Dangerously parked parents and private hire vehicles outside York Street entrance to Castle Newnham have also been spoken to with a view to possible further action. We also encourage residents to continue to report repeat offenders who pose a danger – to us and to Parking Services: 

Planning

We are broadly supportive of planning permission being granted for conversion of Greyfriars police station to residential flats prior to its sale (especially as there will be a good balance of 2 and 3 bedroom flats included). However Ben spoke out for local residents at the planning committee meeting on 25th November, pointing out that proposals to include a shop in the Police Station redevelopment is unrealistic in a town centre with too many empty shops already. We’re meeting with the developers in early January.

Natural spaces & biodiversity

We’re looking out for areas to improve with low maintenance planting that is attractive and good for biodiversity. Unloved spots on our list that could be improved include this spot behind Vue carpark. (We noticed some of the bollards had been knocked down so they’ve now been reinstated). Please let us know about other corners in the ward that could be improved, especially if you can help with planting or helping to perhaps maintain as part of a group. 

Policing

We organised a community policing event at the EntShed at the Gordon Arms. We’re grateful to Ruth and Phil for making it available to us. It was a good chance for residents to ask about local crime, how best to report, lighting in the town centre and near the station as well as ongoing drug dealing issues which are linked to the majority of local criminal activity. Ben and I continue to be in regular contact with community policing. We can’t emphasise enough the need to keep reporting crime, online is easiest if possible. https://www.bedfordshire.police.uk/report/report

Litter

Lucy joined a litter pick in Russell Park organised by Refill Bedford which we’re proud to support. The project is working hard to reduce single-use plastics and litter in Bedford. And launches officially on 24th January at Pavilion in the Park, Bedford Park. 

Homelessness

We both attended the useful local Homelessness and Health conference organised by Bedford Homeless Partnership attended by council officers, a wide variety of agencies and charities. We know that homeless people, rough sleepers especially, often suffer mental and physical health problems, addiction issues and face severely shortened life expectancy (a shocking 47 years for men, 43 for women). A large proportion have suffered some form of trauma. There are an estimated 34 rough sleepers in Bedford and 130 people in emergency or temporary accommodation, including families with children. This is part of a national picture and we want to see an end to all homelessness. Sufficient supply of affordable housing and social housing is vital. 

Women of Bedford

Lucy attended a Women of Bedford event at Bedford Heights to continue efforts to raise funds for the first statue of a woman in Bedford. If you’d like to contribute, whether as a business or an individual, you’ll be helping to make this excellent project a reality sooner rather than later. 

Road Victims Trust

Lucy attended the world Road Victim’s Trust world remembrance day service in St Paul’s, was moved by the personal story of Katie Holmes whose husband was killed in a collision when their daughter was a baby, and impressed by the charity’s work providing invaluable free counselling to people affected by fatalities on the roads. A powerful reminder that although road safety is improving, getting behind the wheel is a real responsibility each time.

How can we help you? We hold monthly councillor advice surgeries for Castle ward residents on the first Saturday of each month 11am – 1pm. Next one is Saturday, January 4th at (newly located) Eagle Bookshop, St Peter Street. And we now alternate between there and the Woolpack/ The Hub on the corner of Commercial Road and River Street (February 8th)

You can email us on lucy.bywater@bedford.gov.uk & ben.foley@bedford.gov.uk  You can also find general information on the local Green Party website: https://lutonandbeds.greenparty.org.uk/   

You can also easily report some routine local problems that need fixing via the Borough website: https://www.bedford.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/website-information/Pay-Report-Request/

 Castle Ward includes most of the town centre and adjoining areas – it stretches from the railway to York Street (inclusive) and from Bromham Road/Goldington Road south to Rope Walk and St John’s roundabout.

News from Councillors Lucy Bywater & Ben Foley (Green Party councillors for Castle ward), October 2019

Climate Crisis

October’s full council meeting was an eventful one for us as we, for the first time, proposed an amendment to a Conservative motion and gave our ‘maiden speeches’ to council in supporting it. Our proposal that the council be more supportive of young people taking part in the climate strikes was rejected by all the other councillors, even though all parties commended the young people’s ‘political engagement’. Ben argued that it was hypocritical to both commend young people’s political engagement, while having in place a system to penalise those whose engagement had been effective enough to get the issue raised in council. It was that motion to the council that Lucy and Ben had tried to amend. The next climate strike will take place on Friday 29 November.  

Also on the theme of climate, some of you might have read that Ben was arrested during a peaceful protest in London. Ben explained to local press that “neither the UK Government, nor the Borough Council executive are working to get the area they are responsible for to be carbon neutral before 2050. And that is decades too late. This planet, our house, the only house, is on fire. I have done all I can to call to action those who should be acting as a fire brigade, but still they are dithering.” 

Electric Vehicle charging

Lucy and Ben had a meeting with a council officer to discuss suitable locations within Castle ward for kerbside Electronic Vehicle charging points. Several were identified that look like they could be useful for local residents without causing too much parking friction. We know there is demand in the area and some residents want to make the switch now. Lucy has also spoken to local taxi drivers about how to support those wanting to make the switch to electric, which would benefit local air quality. The zap map shows you where EV charging points already in place: www.zapmap.com/live/  Overall we still favour pubic transport infrastructure and investment over EVs though. 

Disability Access

Ben had a meeting with a representative of Bedford and District Access Group, discussing various issues of access for disabled people within the ward, with a particular emphasis for now on St Cuthbert’s roundabout and Mill Street. Both Ben and the group have a great interest in maximising access for disabled people across the ward – including the Town Centre, so they will continue to work together, and on a cross-party basis with other interested councillors. How inclusive do you find Bedford? https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Bedfordaccesssurvey_2019

Street trees

Lucy has been surveying where street trees are missing and have not been replaced and went on a walk with tree officers of the streets to the east of the ward. Some pavement repair issues were noted at the same time. Council funds are tight due to cuts but trees are gradually being replaced and Lucy and Ben will be contributing ward funds both for tree replacement and for new trees right across the ward. They’re vital in terms of absorbing carbon, improving air quality and for wellbeing as well as for the attractiveness of our town.

Natural resources & biodiversity

Lucy had a meeting with Edward Darling of the Redlist Revival and the Life Map, a data mapping initiative to show land, habitats, water resources and temperature and how it could benefit Bedfordshire by really engaging/educating local people. Lucy is trying to set up a meeting to gain the mayor’s support and hopes to have news of this soon. See http://www.the-life-map.org/#number-3

Policing

We both attended the regular meeting with police, community safety, Bedford Bid, BPHA and other agencies to coordinate efforts to tackle the big policing issue for Castle Ward – drugs and the problems that flow from them. The meeting included a description of the work of “Path 2 Recovery” by Bedford Adult Drug and Alcohol Sevice, who operate a no-appointment-needed drop-in service for adults at 21 The Crescent, MK40 2RT, open 9am-12 midday Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday. And 5-7pm Thursdays. 

We’ve been busy reporting a load of issues to get fixed: half a dozen incidents of flytipping, slippery pavements needing sweeping of leaves, several cases of paving slabs being so uneven they were a tripping hazard and one on the High Street that caused a nasty fall and was quickly repaired. Most potentially serious, though, were the multiple syringes left on the pavement on Bromham Road – which were cleared up as hazardous waste. 

Looked After Children

Lucy, as a member of the ‘Corporate Parenting Panel’ (offputting name but basically about making sure Looked After Children get the best start) visited the Children in Care Council to meet children and youth workers in a relaxed atmosphere. And learned to play dodgeball! And during half term was delighted to join the Looked After Children’s Celebration for younger children at Thomas More School, to talk to children, foster carers and social workers. 

How can we help you? We hold monthly councillor advice surgeries on the first Saturday of each month. Next one is Saturday December 7th at the Woolpack/ The Hub on the corner of Commercial Road and River Street, 11am-1pm. (Thanks to the Salvation Army for letting us use this venue). We’re now pleased that we’re alternating venues with the recently relocated Eagle Bookshop and Gallery, St Peter’s Street so that’s where you’ll find us onSaturday  January 4th. You can email us on lucy.bywater@bedford.gov.uk & ben.foley@bedford.gov.uk  You can also find general information on the local Green Party website: https://lutonandbeds.greenparty.org.uk/   

You can also easily report some routine local problems that need fixing via the Borough website: https://www.bedford.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/website-information/Pay-Report-Request/

 Castle Ward includes most of the town centre and adjoining areas – it stretches from the railway to York Street (inclusive) and from Bromham Road/Goldington Road south to Rope Walk and St John’s roundabout.

News from Councillors Lucy Bywater & Ben Foley

(Green Party councillors for Castle ward), October 2019

A summary of what your local Green Party councillors have been doing in September, with a focus on the east side of Castle ward/Castle Road area.

A summary of what Cllrs Lucy Bywater and Ben Foley have been occupied with during September, related to the east side of Castle ward, alongside responding quickly to residents with issues from fly-tipping to anti-social behaviour and unsafe paving.

Salvation Army and Christchurch

We went to meet Graham and Angie at the Salvation Army and Richard at Christchurch to talk about the wide range of work they each do in the community, activities for all ages that we can help support and publicise. Both also provide weekly venues for Bedford Food Bank. Loneliness and isolation and austerity were themes that came up. We look forward to meetings with many other faith groups this Autumn.

Police Community Forum event

We both attended this quarterly meeting (at different venues, this time at Goldington Road Bowling club) for residents where drug dealing was once again set as priority for Castle ward. We’re now arranging a Castle east specific police engagement event for November 7th  because of the very regular issues with localised car crime, muggings and burglaries. Info to follow soon. Ben was also able to attend the similar forum event for south of the river which includes resident around St John’s and Cardington Road which is also part of Castle ward.

Access Bedford

We attended the excellent deaf awareness course organised at The Higgins by Access Bedford. What emerged most from the day was not to underestimate the multiple barriers deaf and hard-of-hearing people face, not to make assumptions and to understand that many deaf people don’t identify as disabled. This will hopefully help us to better assist local residents to access the services that are often taken for granted. 

Replacement of lost trees

Amongst other things, we are plotting where street trees are missing across Castle ward & need to be replaced. Apart from the general aesthetic, urban trees have enormous value in improving air quality, local cooling, reducing storm water runoff, increasing biodiversity (especially if native trees), attracting businesses, reducing stress, increase wellbeing & even, according to recent research, helping reduce crime rates. We would love local residents to help us further by telling us where diseased/unsafe trees have not been replaced. 

Vehicle Idling

Lucy has been working for a long while with residents of Cardington Road and Highways on the ongoing problem of dangerous parking and especially vehicle idling outside the Girls’ School. (A problem outside many local schools!). More news on that soon. Lucy was also on BBC 3 Counties discussion to talk about air pollution from the school run in particular and what can be done about this public health crisis. Measures include enforcement against vehicle idling and double parking, more bikeability training courses, walking buses and engagement with children by Sustrans visits to schools, for example.

Homelessness

Lucy took part in a local training day on homeless law by JustUs homelessness advocacy charity. This is already helping us to better support homeless people in the Borough to get safe, secure housing that they’re legally entitled to, with JustUs’ excellent work. If you’re concerned about a vulnerable person who’s facing homelessness, please do get in touch with us so that we can make referrals to JustUs where possible. You may also find this helpful of course: http://cvsbeds.org.uk/bedford-homeless-partnership/

Recycling Week

During Recycling Week, Lucy met with recycling officers in Borough Hall to talk about obstacles to people recycling increased proportion of waste. (The current rate for the Borough is about 43%). Flats continue to be an issue in terms of bin space and contamination. Municipal food waste composting will finally become a reality some time next year as it becomes mandatory across the country. National rules on waste and recycling are vital to help address this huge issue. By the way, on a local level, if you’re able to have an orange bin, rather being supplied with than orange sacks, you’ll help save money and resources for cash-strapped services. 

 Priory Country Park

Lucy spent a fascinating morning, alongside Newnham councillors, walking with and hearing from Jon Bishop, ranger at Priory Country Park, recently awarded a green flag once again. Jon’s Long experience of thoughtful management of the park and his passion for biodiversity are inspiring. Due to cuts, rangers are relying on volunteers to help them with a quite a lot of important work. If you’re interested in volunteering, email: prioryrangers@bedford.gov.uk We’re fortunate to have this on our doorstep and a lot of Castle residents benefit enormously. http://priorycountrypark.blogspot.com  

Bromham Road Bridge Access

As a result of Ben’s ongoing dialogue with Network Rail and his request, Network Rail changed plans for the temporary footbridge over the railway to include a staircase, which will save those walking over this bridge about 100 yards walk if they are going between the double mini-roundabouts and Queens Park. This should help children going to school in Biddenham, as well as the residents of the north part of Queens Park well into next year. 

How can we help you? We hold monthly councillor advice surgeries on the first Saturday of each month. Next one is Saturday November 2nd in the foyer downstairs at Bedford Central Library, 11am-1pm. (And we now alternate these monthly surgery venues with the Woolpack Hub on Commercial Road, just opposite the Salvation Army).  You can email us on lucy.bywater@bedford.gov.uk & ben.foley@bedford.gov.uk  You can also find general information on the local Green Party website: https://lutonandbeds.greenparty.org.uk/   Or on our individual councillor Facebook pages.

You can also report routine some local problems that need fixing via the Borough website: https://highwaysreporting.bedford.gov.uk/

 Castle Ward includes most of the town centre and adjoining areas – it stretches from the railway to York Street (inclusive) and from Bromham Road/Goldington Road south to Rope Walk and St John’s roundabout.

Local crime

In August Ben and I joined the Joint Action Group at Lime Street police station, discussing local crime and related issues with BPHA, town centre security and Bedford Homeless Partnership. We’re still gathering info on drug dealing in behalf of residents (anonymously) which we are sharing with community policing team on a regular basis. OR we recommend, rather than a potentially frustrating time on hold (calling 101) that people report ALL non-emergency crime online: https://www.bedfordshire.police.uk/report/ReportPolice are stressing the need to report.

Homelesssness

I met with JustUS Homeless  support and advocacy charity. We’re planning on doing their Homelessness Law training coming up to better understand the Council’s legal responsibility and how we can help local homelessness families in trouble. The registration fees from Castle Jumble Trail stalls are also being donated. See their website: https://bedfordhomeless.org.uk/organisations/justus/

We also met with the Kings Arms Project (celebrating their 30thyear this year) who, amongst many other things, run the night shelter in Clarendon Street as well as transition ‘move on’ housing and pathways to employment & training. They’d love local businesses to accept more homeless people as volunteers to help them gain confidence and skills. https://www.kingsarmsproject.org/ They also flagged up the community sponsorship of refugee families. Have a look at https://resetuk.org/

News From August

Foodbank

Continuing the austerity theme, we visited the Food Bank depot. They provide emergency food packages to about 600 people each month, two thirds being adults. So far this year, that includes 825 people from Castle ward. They have enough volunteers at the moment (about 100 regulars) and are grateful for food donations at supermarket exits, but funding is always an issue for their overheads. A new fundraising appeal starts very soon.

Bedford BID (‘Love Bedford’)

We met with Sam and Christina at Bedford Bid, funded by 600 businesses, to talk about the town centre, challenges for business (such as thefts and begging) and the refurb of the Harpur Centre. The vote on renewing the BID comes up in October. 

Companions Bread Community Interest Company

I met with Nigel and Sue from Companions Bread café, to hear about their excellent work with ex-offenders who gain vital skills and support to rebuild their lives. Their ethos is based on ‘honest bread’ (real sour dough, nothing artificial) and ‘honest lives’. They have a fundraiser on September 20thwith Rebecca deWinter, and raffle prizes are welcome! https://companionsrealbread.uk/

Green Business Network meeting, with BCCFWe met with Jane Varley of the Green Business Network alongside Bedfordshire Climate Change Forum to talk about the funding challenges to the network which helps businesses (currently about in terms of carbon reduction, sustainability and risk management due to the climate crisis. They currently run monthly seminars for businesses. We’ve arranged for the GBN to meet with us and the Council to see how we can support and expand the network into next year. http://www.gbnbedfordshire.org.uk/

Russell Park walkabout

I went on a walk with a Cranfield University soil scientist and a local wildlife expert to map possible areas in Russell Park area which could be used for sewing wildflower mixes, talking also about engaging locals about biodiversity, invertebrates and how ‘tidy’ is not always healthy for wildlife or for us. Hope to have more news on that soon.

Town Centre Plan consultation

We need a town centre genuinely fit for the future, in terms of affordable housing, better public transport, air quality, low carbon, sustainable local businesses (but less retail, for which there is less demand) and which enables and encourages walking and cycling for the able bodied. Ben went along to the consultation session at The Higgins. Make sure you have your say by 27thSeptember. https://forms.bedford.gov.uk/TCS/

Network Rail and Ashburnham Road footpathBen was concerned on seeing Network Rail work on the pavement near the station car park which was effectively pushing pedestrians right onto the busy road. He complained and quickly got signage improved

Paving repairs in Castle

We’ve reported specific details on a lot of unsafe paving across Castle ward which is a hazard especially to the elderly or disabled. Several spots have already been repaired, at least temporarily, such as Alexandra Road, for example, where vehicles on the pavement had caused slabs to break and tip causing injuries reported by two residents. Rothsay Road north section has also been scheduled for work now. 

How can we help you?We hold monthly councillor advice surgeries on the first Saturday of each month. Next one is Saturday October 7ththe foyer downstairs at Bedford Central Library, 11am-1pm. (If you’d like to suggest another suitable venue within Castle ward which we could perhaps alternate with our library venue, please get in touch).  You can email us on lucy.bywater@bedford.gov.ukben.foley@bedford.gov.uk  You can also find general information on the local Green Party website: https://lutonandbeds.greenparty.org.uk/   

You can also report some routine local problems that need fixing via the Borough website: https://www.bedford.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/website-information/Pay-Report-Request/

 Castle Ward includes most of the town centre and adjoining areas – it stretches from the railway to York Street (inclusive) and from Bromham Road/Goldington Road south to Rope Walk and St John’s roundabout.

News from Councillor Lucy Bywater.

(Green Party councillor for Castle ward), July 2019

I’ve been asked here to report on what Cllr Ben Foley and I have been doing in Castle ward east(or ‘Castle Quarter’), so here are some of the things we’ve been occupied with during July.

Taste Bedford

I attended Taste Bedford food festival, to which Ben and I contributed some ward funds. It was a successful, well-attended event with new efforts to reduce waste especially the use of single-use plastics. I was also there with a very busy Bedfordshire Climate Change Forum stall. Amongst others I was pleased to talk to Nigel at Companions Real Bread. Thanks to the generosity of locals, their funding shortfall is overcome for now. 

Above: with one of the organising team, Erica Roffe

Bromham Road Bridge

A Network Rail information meeting was held at a more suitable location for affected locals (nearer to the railway) after Ben’s request. It was well attended. The temporary footbridge will be up by the end of September. Allow extra time to cross it.

Neighbourhood Watch

Ben and I met with and are supporting a new Neighbourhood Watch group set up by residents in Crown Quay & Sovereign’s Quay, & will join their litter pick on the morning of September 29th . Ben also attended the Bedford Neighbourhood Watch Quarterly Meeting

Houses in Multiple Occupation

Ben and I both attended the HMO study drop in at Borough Hall and managed to speak to residents and some landlords too. While acknowledging the need for HMOs in the housing mix, we support restrictions on new HMOs in Castle ward, as the balance in some areas is having a negative impact on communities. Ben successfully supported local residents in Castle in opposing problematic development (overturning officers’ recommendation) by speaking at a planning committee meeting.

Climate Change

I attended the Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee to request the scrutiny of measures being taken following the March declaration of climate emergency. And put questions to the committee about the recent executive decision to renew the PSPO cycle ban. The fixed penalties (£75) penalise all cyclists in the pedestrian area of town apart fromthe few who cycle dangerously but who do not stop when requested. We want people to be safe but we believe this is only punishing careful cyclists and does not make the town more cycle friendly. See Jeremy Vine’s recent intervention…

Eco Schools

I met with senior staff at Mark Rutherford (which many Castle ward pupils attend) following their request for advice and engagement about making the school more environmentally sustainable and reducing its emissions. A lot of ‘win wins’ discussed. A larger meeting is to be arranged in the Autumn term.

Single-use plastics

Ben has been in talks at Bedford station about a water bottle refill station to cut down the use of plastic bottles. We’re also pleased to see Refill Bedford initiative spreading across Bedford. Do you know any businesses which would like to join, happily allowing free refill of customers’ reusable water bottles? 

Vigil against violence

After the violent attack by teenagers against a fourteen-year-old girl (reported in Bedford Independent), Ben and I joined the 31st July vigil against violence on Castle Mound which was informally organised by a local resident and also attended by some of the girl’s family. Police are investigating.

How can we help you? We hold monthly councillor advice surgeries on the first Saturday of each month. Next one is Saturday September 7ththe foyer downstairs at Bedford Central Library, 11am-1pm. (If you’d like to suggest another suitable venue within Castle ward which we could perhaps alternate with our library venue, please get in touch).  You can email us on lucy.bywater@bedford.gov.ukben.foley@bedford.gov.uk  You can also find general information on the local Green Party website: https://lutonandbeds.greenparty.org.uk/   

You can also report routine some local problems that need fixing via the Borough website: https://highwaysreporting.bedford.gov.uk/

 Castle Ward includes most of the town centre and adjoining areas – it stretches from the railway to York Street (inclusive) and from Bromham Road/Goldington Road south to Rope Walk and St John’s roundabout.

It’s been a busy first 8 weeks as a councillor in Castle ward, working hard with colleague Cllr Ben Foley, meeting other councillors and council officers as well as residents, community groups and charities. We know we have a lot to learn as new members and my priority is listening to residents, focussing on local wellbeing and safety in a broad sense, improving the local environment and providing an independent-minded Green voice. Many people aren’t aware that Castle Ward includes most of the town centre and adjoining areas – it stretches from the railway to York Street (inclusive) and from Bromham Road/Goldington Road south to Rope Walk and St John’s roundabout. I’ve been asked here to report on what I’ve been doing in Castle ward east (or ‘Castle Quarter’), so here are just some of the things I’ve been up to since being elected in May.

Castle Ward

Environment

Ben and I had a wide-ranging and useful meeting with Craig Austin, Director for the Environment at Borough Hall. We discussed issues from street cleanliness to greening the area and biodiversity. We hope to have positive projects soon to discuss.

I paid a visit to Castle Newnham School (south campus!) where I was pleased to meet heads Ruth Wilkes and Jim Balmbra. We talked, amongst other things, about active travel to help incentivise and support means of getting to school other than by car, local air pollution and further enhancing outdoor areas for children. 

Policing

Ben and I both attended the quarterly Police Community Forum, open to all residents, the purpose of which is to help police set the priorities for the next three months. We heard about serious county lines drugs, including some successful police work leading to arrests. We know that drug dealing and addiction is closely connected to local crimes of burglaries, car crime, violent muggings as well as the preying on of vulnerable people, and these affect the whole of our community. We agree with drugs being set as the priority for local police. It’s vital that we all report drug dealing we witness, dates, times, car registrations etc. Call Crime stoppers, 0800 555 111  https://www.bedfORordshire.police.uk/report/Report

Or use our own local link to report drug dealing anonymously, the data from which we have been regularly sharing with police: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScW3AOqGPeMp5kzj_a–dnolIlzZWfGAr04oJcjno3a8Mpxbg/viewform?fbclid=IwAR1a_2U_iDRs-tyYJpH5LUHTdTUH-gCe6_zrPNGiwFG5u4mDvmjNe5T0u7U

Disability/equality

I’ve met with representatives from Access Bedford about advocating for deaf awareness and helping to support a deaf awareness training workshop they’ve arranged and funded, to which all councillors have been invited in September and which I’ll be attending. It’s vital that all councillors are aware of the needs of all residents with disabilities, the challenges and obstacles they face, and the deaf community are sometimes overlooked in this regard. 

Homelessness

Ben Foley and I had a useful meeting with Sam Price, Homeless Inter-Agency Agency, learning about the services available to homeless people and those at risk of becoming homeless in Bedford. And how to make sure they can access those services from a wide variety of agencies. Although homeless figures in Bedford may appear to have decreased, the full picture is not clear. And continuing austerity means a lot of people, including families with children, are in temporary or emergency accommodation. Ben and I want to work to support these agencies as much as we can. Everyone deserves a safe, permanent home. For residents concerned about a homelessness locally, the advice is to acknowledge people affected, report to streetlink and if you’re able, donate cash, resources or useful items to SMART Prebend Street, the night shelter on Clarendon Street. https://www.streetlink.org.uk/

HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation)

A study with a borough-wide consultation is being undertaken on the effects of HMOs, homes that are basically shared by more than one household. Since 2010 a dwelling house can be converted into a small HMO (for not more than 6 residents) or back into a family home without the need for planning permission. (Planning is only needed where the HMO is for 7 or more residents). Should the introduction of an Article 4 be introduced with the requirement for planning permission for all new HMOs before conversion? We know that HMOs provide vital accommodation for those on low incomes and young professionals and those seeking short-term lets but the wrong balance in certain areas can negatively affect areas with pressures on services in the immediate area (bins/parking etc). There may also be separate issues of overcrowding and safety with certain landlords. Ben and I have attended a consultation day and would encourage you to have your say. Let’s get the balance right! https://www.wyg.com/planning/consultations/bedford-hmo-study

Roads/speeding

Ben and I did an evening walk of much of Castle Road and side streets with neighbouring Newnham councillors, Hilde Hendrickx and Jake Sampson. Our focus is safety for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists after a particularly nasty accident involving a local resident last month. We looked at double yellow lines, visibility on narrow street corners and dropped kerbs or the occasional lack of them. We’re also talking about 20 mph zones and where they potentially could be implemented, mindful that Prime Ministers and Poets’ similar residential streets have them, for example. Do they make a difference? 

I’ve also undertaken Speedwatch training along with two others, in order to set up a Castle Speedwatch group. This is a police scheme whereby trained volunteers do spot checks of local speed of motorists in carefully chosen locations. The aim is not to fine motorists exceeding the limit, but to provide police with data that they can use to help educate those motorists, especially if they are repeat ‘offenders’! Please let me know if you’d like to volunteer to join our group and undertake just a straight forward Saturday morning training. We’d like to do several 2 hour sessions at regular intervals around the year. The more volunteers, the more effect we can have! 

Football…

I enjoyed a sunny Sunday afternoon (after days of non-stop rain) watching the Refugee Football Tournament in Russell Park, an event which I’m pleased to have helped by allocating some ward funds for the marking of pitches. This was an all-day event with 12 5-a-side teams who played with passion and skill. The atmosphere was great, bringing together several nationalities as well as players from Luton. 

How can we help you?

Ben Foley and I have already held two councillor surgeries for Castle residents and will continue to do so – on the first Saturday of each month. Our next is Saturday July 6th the foyer downstairs at Bedford Central Library, from 11.00am until 1.00pm. But feel free to email us with issues on lucy.bywater@bedford.gov.uk & ben.foley@bedford.gov.uk  Y ou can also find general information on the local Green Party website: https://lutonandbeds.greenparty.org.uk/   

You can also report routine local problems (not emergency) that need fixing via the Borough website: https://www.bedford.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/website-information/Pay-Report-Request/

A Press Release from Lucy & Ben, New Councillors for Castle Ward

Bedford Green Party is celebrating convincing election wins, gaining two new councillors in Castle Ward. Long-term local campaigners Lucy Bywater and Ben Foley have been elected as the very first Green Party borough councillors in Bedford.

This excellent result for the Green Party locally (and across the region) shows that the Party is ready to build on its near-miss last time to elect an MEP for the Eastern Region on May 23rd. Ben Foley said ‘Green Party Euro candidate Catherine Rowett will make an excellent MEP who will listen to the concerns of the people of Bedford’.

Locally, Lucy and Ben are dedicated to continuing to work for the people of Castle Ward, regardless of whether they voted for them, and regardless of their position on Europe. Lucy said,’We would like to thank the voters of Castle Ward and our committed campaign team, it has been wonderfully inspiring to have so much support. Ben and I have worked consistently hard on issues from air quality outside schools to speeding and safe crossing for pedestrian and cyclists at Bromham Road bridge. On a practical level we have, between us, litter picked from the Embankment to Prebend Street in all weathers! I am confident that, as elected councillors, we can achieve a great deal more for Castle. And we are so pleased to have this opportunity.’
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News from Councillor Luigi Reale

As we get closer to the Local Council and Mayoral Elections, I thought it would be a good idea to review some of the road resurfacing work that I have lobbied for over the last four years. It was just last Thursday (25thApril) that I passed through the St Cuthbert’s Street area to see that the resurfacing on this road plus Howard Street and Lurke Street was nearly complete. 

Even with all the financial cuts imposed by this government, I am proud to be able to say that a total of 14 areas of Castle Ward have seen much needed road resurfacing while I have been a Councillor for Castle Ward. These include:

Mill St, 
Castle Lane,
Ram Yard
Commercial Rd, 
Bushmead Ave, 
High St/St Paul’s Sq, 
St Loyes St , 
Bromham Rd, 
Dane Street & River St.

I will share with you the before and after photos of these roads. 

Luigi

luigi.reale@bedford.gov.uk

Road Works Planned for Lurke Street

Road works are currently planned to start on Friday 12th April and will last about 13 days.

Lurke Street is to be resurfaced from the junction with St Cuthberts Street to the top of Gadsby Street.

The following roads could be affected with closures from 10.00pm – 6.00am. St Peters Street, St Cuthberts Street, Lurke Street, Gadsby Street, Howard Street, Duke Street, High Street, Mill Street and Newnham Street.

Diversions will be in place where possible.

Lulu Now has a Delicious New Cocktail Available at Decant Wine & Cheese Deli.

It’s Only £6.95 and £1.50 from each will be donated to Lulu’s Fight against neuroblastoma

It’s available until July, but why wait? Call in soon, and then the sooner you can come back for a few more.

Opening times are – 

  • Monday & Tuesday 9.30am – 2.30pm
  • Wednesday 9.30am – 2.30pm and 6.00pm – 10.30pm
  • Thursday 9.30am – 2.30pm and 6.00pm – 11.00pm
  • Friday 9.30am – 11.00am and 5.00pm – 1.00am
  • Saturday 12.00pm – 1.00am
  • Sunday 12.00pm – 2.00pm and 6.00pm – 10.30pm 

Decant 20 Castle Lane, Bedford MK40 3US, Phone 01234 327796

News from Councillor Luigi Reale 1st April 2019

Some good news for Castle Ward concerning work completed that I had asked for. I have been waiting quite a while for the Council to carry out some highways work in the Ward. Firstly, the Bus Stop markings on Castle Road itself (either side of Howbury Street) have been repainted and now it is very clear where the bus stops are. 

Secondly, double yellow lines have been installed on the corners of Rosamond Road with Pembroke Street, York Street and Fontwell Close. These were requested by many residents because of safety issues when turning out of these roads and the fact that many drivers parked their cars very close to the corner. Also, with the installation of the crossing points, it became even more important to have double yellow lines at these junctions.

Finally, a disabled parking bay has now been marked out on Pembroke Street close to Fontwell Close requested for one of the residents that lives there. 

Wishing you all Happy Easter holidays.

Luigi

luigi.reale@bedford.gov.uk

From Luigi Reale  – 19/03/19

Out in Castle Ward today and the replacement of paving slabs in Bushmead Ave is well underway – I am happy with how it is looking & cannot wait for it to be completed. See photos of the current progress and the way it was before. Thanks to Highways at the Council. @castleqbedford

Rivercare Clean Up 2019 Takes Place on Saturday 30th March

News from Councillor Luigi Reale

There have been quite a few things happening in Castle Ward in the last couple of months. These are just a few things that I thought you would be particularly interested in.

Castle Lane and Ram Yard – following on from my news that the work on resurfacing Castle Lane has been carried out, I am letting you know that Ram Yard has been resurfaced with good quality York Stone. Please see photos of how this is looking now. This walkway is used by a number of people as a short cut to the town centre and together with Castle Lane was crying out to be resurfaced.

In addition, I have asked for bollards to be installed in front of two entrances to flats (1-22 Castle Quay & 23-34 Castle Quay). There were issues of cars parking close to these doors and driving on the pavements and potentially knocking people down as they exited.

I can report that as part of the Highways Capital Structural Programme 2018-2022 of Bedford Borough Council, slab replacement will take place on The Embankmentfootway (North side only) from its junction with Bushmead Avenue to Albany Road; on Rothsay Road(both sides) between The Embankment and Castle Road; on Bushmead Avenue(both sides) between The Embankment and Castle Road; and, on Kingsway(both sides) between St John’s Street and Melbourne Street. This is all due to happen before the end of this financial year.

Finally, some of the readers will know that I am keen to ensure that we preserve as many of the wonderful trees that we have in Castle Ward. Only this week we managed to confirm Tree Preservation Orders on: a Magnolia, Holm Oak, Silver Birch & Variegated Holly in front of 130 Bromham Road; two Silver Maples & a Plane in front of the former Police Station in Greyfriars; and, a Magnolia & Yew in front of 120 Bromham Road. 

Luigi

luigi.reale@bedford.gov.uk

The 2019 Rubbish Collection Calendar is Now Available

If you need a copy please download a copy Invalid download ID.


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