Central Bedfordshire Council agreed their overall spending and savings package in February 2011.
This will see a total of £180 million invested on local services including roads, libraries, support for schools, social care, planning and leisure services.
In line with the council’s commitment to meeting the needs of the most vulnerable people in Central Bedfordshire, an extra £2million will be invested in children’s services and social care for older people in response to increased demands.
Faced with having to make unprecedented spending cuts as part of the national effort to tackle the country’s debt, Councillors have been consulting with residents and local communities on proposals to further reduce spending by over £19 million for 2011/12.
Councillors voted for a two per cent cut in their allowances for 2011/12, mirroring proposals currently out for consultation with Central Bedfordshire employees and unions for a two per cent reduction in council workers’ pay from April.
‘Protect public facing services…’
These and other cost cutting measures will make up almost £13 million of ‘efficiency’ savings which have been made to protect public facing services.
In response to comments from many residents, funding for school crossing patrols will now be retained until July 2012 to give time for the council to explore alternative provision with community and other groups.
The council has started discussions with parish and town councils about the future delivery of services where funding is being cut. These are showing encouraging signs for developing new ways of working in the future.
In Sandy a range of interest groups are joining forces to look at ways of protecting the future of the community sports facility linked to the Upper School. In Leighton Linslade the Town Council is looking to take on the homework club facility that operates from Leighton Buzzard Library.
Central Bedfordshire Council has developed a balanced budget that not only protects vital services, but also ensures that householders in Central Bedfordshire will not see an increase in the council tax they pay for Central Bedfordshire Council services.
Do you have a burning issue that you’d like to share? Would you like to get involved in decisions that effect your community?
Launched by Central Bedfordshire Together in January 2011, Let’s Talk Together community meetings are for local residents to come along and speak to the organisations who supply public services, share views on local issues and help shape community safety priorities.
The next event will take place on:
Tuesday 22 March 2011 – 7-9pm
Toddington Fire Station, Dunstable Road, Toddington, Beds. LU5 6DR
The meeting will be chaired by Councillor Tom Nicols from Central Bedfordshire Council.
There’s no need to book, just drop in when you can. For the first half of the meeting public service providers will be on hand to answer your questions. In the second half of the meeting we will set the local community safety priorities for the area together.
Please come along and tell us what matters to you!
Councillor Richard Stay, Deputy Leader of Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “The Let’s Talk Together meetings are taking place as we work with reduced budgets and face difficult decisions about how services will be run on the future.
“We need to have meaningful conversations with our residents about the issues that impact their lives and their priorities, hopes and concerns.
“I hope as many people as possible will be able to come along to the meetings to find out more about our work, have their say on the issues that matter to them and help us to set our priorities for the future.”
What have people been talking about?
Why not visit our Let’s Talk Together pages to see what people have been talking about?
For further information contact Sarah Hughes, Community Engagement Manager, Central Bedfordshire Council.
A new project is aiming to reach out to isolated residents across Central Bedfordshire – helping them to access information on social care, health and housing.
Central Bedfordshire Council, together with Aragon Housing Association and the Older People’s Reference Group, will be visiting towns and villages across Central Bedfordshire as part of the project called ‘Just Ask’.
The project team will take to the roads in the brightly coloured RAVE bus (which stands for Rural Area Vehicle for Education), a mobile educational outreach resource that will park up in various locations in Central Bedfordshire.
Information will be available to anyone visiting the bus on services provided by public and voluntary organisations and staff will be on hand to offer advice and support.
All enquiries will be noted and any queries that staff can’t answer immediately will be sent to staff of the relevant organisation for a direct response.
‘Please come on board…!’
Cllr Carole Hegley, Central Bedfordshire Council Portfolio Holder for Social Care and Health, said: “I would like to encourage all residents who want to know more about the range of services available to come along. People needn’t go out of their way, as the RAVE bus will park in a prominent location, allowing them to visit the bus while they are out doing their shopping. Please come on board and find out more for you, a family member, friend or neighbour!”
This project builds on the success of Central Bedfordshire Council’s ‘Full of Life’ events held in September 2010, which celebrated the contribution older people make to society.
Why not take a look below to find out when ‘Just Ask’ will be in your area?
Young Inspectors are young people who look at services provided by the Council and its partners and suggest ways in which they can be improved.
Young Inspectors were recently invited to inspect Plan B’s head office in Bedford. Some of the key findings and recommendations from the inspection were about the website, opening times and advertising.
The Young Inspectors felt that it was difficult to find the website and information about the service because it is linked to another part of the organisation CAN. They did think the information on the website was very good and kept up to date. Their recommendation was for Plan B to have their own website as it would make it easier for young people to find when looking for help.
They also thought it be a good idea if young people were involved in the design of the website so that they could suggest ways of making it easy for young people to navigate around and ensure that young people were involved in the decision making process for a service that is aimed at young people.
The Young Inspectors felt that although there were a wide range of posters and leaflets on display and information for clients to take home, these should be made more visible. Their recommendation was that posters and information leaflets should be available in schools, libraries and local centres so that young people who are experiencing problems are more likely to find the help and support they need.
The service also provides support for young people who have family members experiencing problems with drug and/or alcohol misuse. Having the information around school may encourage them to use th support available for them.
The Young Inspectors noted that the service does not open weekends and it was felt that this should be changed so that young people could drop in for access to support.
Although the service does ask clients about their experience at the end of a session, Young Inspectors recommended that a confidential questionnaire could be made available to clients as well.
Young inspector Stevie Cox said “The treatment rooms that you can have acupuncture in are excellent they make you feel relaxed” and Young Inspector Dean Harper said “I would recommend the service to any friends that needed to use a drug and alcohol service.”
The Young Inspectors would also like to inspect the satellite centres in Central Bedfordshire to support Plan B further in continuing to make their service an excellent support network for young people.
All clients interviewed during the inspection said that they felt listened to, they received a lot of support from all the staff and everyone felt that the service had helped them change their life style.
Like to find out more?
For more information about Plan B – the free drug and alcohol service for young people aged 10 -19 in Bedfordshire – visit the Plan B website here
7 February 2011 saw the launch of an innovative and uncompromising new film to raise awareness of domestic abuse and the help and support available to victims in Bedfordshire.
‘Don’t suffer in silence’ is a documentary showing the lives of three real life survivors of domestic abuse, using our services within Bedfordshire. The documentary was suggested and put together by the three women based on their own experiences.
More than 80 people from statutory and voluntary organisations attended the screening which was followed by a short monologue about domestic abuse. The three women who featured in the film were also present to see the film and share their experiences.
‘It was quite an experience…’
One of the victims, Susan Smith, who lives in Central Bedfordshire said: “It was quite an experience to see the final film on the ‘big screen’ in the council chamber, and it was clear that it had a big impact.”
“We want to let people who are suffering from domestic abuse know that there is help out there and the three of us are proof that you can get away from a violent relationship.”
“Women and men need to remember that they do not have to tolerate a violent partner and help is on hand. You can call the 24hr Freephone National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 and start getting that help now.”
‘Help and support is available…’
Cllr David McVicar, Portfolio Holder for Safer Communities and Healthier Lifestyles at Central Bedfordshire Council, added: “It was very moving to see and hear what these three brave women went through and it was good to meet them and see that they have moved on so successfully with their lives.”
“You have to be so courageous to get away from a violent relationship, but to then go on and tell your story to a wider audience is even braver. These women are an inspiration to us all.”
“The clear message is that if you are a victim of domestic abuse, please don’t suffer in silence as help and support is available now.”
”Don’t suffer in silence’ has been produced by The Bedfordshire Domestic Abuse Partnership, a partnership that brings together the main statutory and voluntary agencies who are working together to tackle domestic abuse across Bedfordshire, including Central Bedfordshire Council and Bedford Borough Council. The film was produced with support from the University of Bedfordshire’s Media Train Department.
‘Don’t suffer in silence’ will be distributed on DVD as a training resource for groups working with domestic abuse survivors in Bedfordshire and made available on request to similar groups elsewhere.
For further information contact Clare Churchley, Domestic Abuse Co-ordinator for Central Bedfordshire Council and Bedford Borough Council on 0300 300 5168.
The residents of Flitwick now have better access to their local Credit Union, with the opening on 12 January 2011 of the Bedford Credit Union’s latest Collection Point.
The new facility was opened by the Chief Executive of Grand Union Housing Alan Humphreys in the presence of the Flitwick Mayor Ann Kelly.
Credit unions are financial co-operatives owned and controlled by their members. They offer savings and great value loans plus they are local, ethical and know what their members want.
The Flitwick Collection Point operates every Wednesday between 10.00am and 12.00pm, at Ellenshaw Court on Hinksley Road, Flitwick and is run by enthusiastic local volunteers.
Working in partnership with Aragon Housing Association, (part of the Grand Union Group) who have provided the venue, the Flitwick Collection Point is an important part of the Credit Union’s ongoing programme of promoting the Credit Union to the Flitwick community.
The programme also includes working with other local organisations such as the Children’s Centre and Sacred Heart Church, and the very successful opening in January 2011 of a School Savings Club at Templefield Lower School.
For further information visit the Bedford Credit Union website, contact the Bedford Credit Union on 01234-316352 or come along to the Collection Point.
Like to get involved?
If you’d like to find out more about volunteering for the Credit Union, visit their volunteering web pages here
Children’s Trust priorities for the next three years were agreed at the Children’s Trust Board meeting on 17 February 2011.
The priorities are:
1. Helping children and young people achieve more and transforming our relationship with schools
2. Protecting children and keeping them safe
3. Reducing child poverty and the effects for those living in poverty and improving early intervention and prevention
4. Targeting the most deprived areas and vulnerable groups to improve children’s emotional and physical health.
These can be found in the new Children and Young People’s Plan which can be downloaded here:
We listened to what you told us…
4,275 children and young people helped shape the new plan by:
• Responding to consultations through youth clubs and the Youth Parliament;
• Taking part in workshops and events such as Anti-bullying week, Black History Month and Local Democracy Week;
• Responding to both paper and online surveys for parents, stakeholders and children.
The 86 adults who filled in the questionnaire on the website also told us that they thought the priorities in the plan were important.
Reducing child poverty is one of the key Children’s Trust priorities. A strategy is currently being developed to show how this will be done. The draft strategy sets out the following four objectives which also feature as objectives within the new Children and Young People’s plan:
Maximise opportunities for families in poverty to access employment which will have the outcome of more families working and thus reducing levels of family and child poverty
Ensure families in poverty are accessing all available financial assistance with the outcome that non-working families move from worklessness into work in the meantime accessing appropriate benefits
To improve life chances of children and families by intervening early to prevent poor outcomes and raising educational achievements and aspirations with the outcome that children from poor households gain better qualifications to ensure their access to the labour market so that the cycle of intergenerational poverty is broken.
Work with colleagues from all sectors and agencies to improve the environmental factors which exacerbate the effects of poverty, harnessing the resources of the third sector and services across the council in order to achieve priorities, with the outcome that poor families develop healthier lifestyles to prolong life expectancy and live in an improved environment.
The draft Strategy can be downloaded here:
Like to find out more?
For further information on the Children and Young People’s Plan, or the Children’s Trust draft poverty strategy, contact Karen Oellermann, Head of Partnerships, Performance and Workforce Development, Central Bedfordshire Council on 0300 300 5265.
Voluntary and Community Action / Volunteer Centre Central Bedfordshire have been awarded the Volunteer Centre Quality Accreditation mark by Volunteering England.
Strong evidence of good practice was submitted from areas including brokerage, marketing, good practice development, developing volunteering opportunities, policy response and campaigning and the strategic development of volunteering.
Volunteering England had this to say about the quality
of their work …..
- ‘There was clear evidence that the Volunteer Centre has a sound understanding of the local environment in which they operate and their work priorities are evidence based.’
- ‘This is an impressive submission and demonstrates high quality planning, performance management and evaluation.’
- ‘There is clear and strong evidence of excellent practice.’
This is the third time the Volunteer Centre has been awarded the accreditation and licensed to operate as a Volunteer Centre, which is valid for three years.
Like to get involved?
Find out how you can get involved in volunteering by visiting the Voluntary and Community Action website.
Following on from our feature on Community Payback in our Winter 2010 edition, Totternhoe Parish Council contacted us to tell us about their very positive experience with the scheme.
Peter Tasker, Chairman of Totternhoe Parish Council had this to say. “Totternhoe Parish Council has a large piece of land on our Church End Allotments, which for over 40 years was rented out to a resident of the village who kept sheep, chickens and other small livestock on the land.
When the resident sadly passed away in late 2009, the Parish Council was left with numerous barns, sheds and rubbish that needed clearing from the land. So, we approached Bedfordshire Probation Trust to see if they could help us with this type of clearance work.
We had a visit from the Trust’s local Community Payback project manager in August 2010, who looked at the land and agreed that this was exactly the kind of project the Trust could help us with. It was agreed that work would start in September, with a team visiting once or twice a week.
‘They worked very hard…’
The team consisted of offenders who had been sentenced by the courts to carry out Community Payback – unpaid work for the benefit of the local community. They all worked very hard to clear the site by knocking down the barns, burning the timber, digging up large pieces of concrete and putting rubbish into piles for removal from the site by the Council’s contractors. The team worked under the control of a Probation Team supervisor.
The work was finished by the end of January 2011, and we are very satisfied with all that they have done. We now have the team working on other projects in the village to clean up footpaths, paint recreation ground equipment and other similar work.
We feel that Community Payback teams are of real value to communities, and that a little praise goes a long way in helping them with their rehabilitation.”
Community Payback in your community?
Local projects looking to benefit from Community Payback can be community based or for the good of a charity or charitable organisation.
For more information on how to nominate a Community Payback project, go to the Bedfordshire Probation website, or phone them on 01582 735153.
Find out what else is going on in Totternhoe – visit their website here
Ladies – have you ever fancied driving a fire engine, a spot of off-roading, or even having a go around a skid- pan?
On 27 March 2011, The Fire Fighters Charity will visit Alconbury Airfield, near Huntingdon, Cambs to give women a once in a lifetime chance to drive a variety of large and unusual vehicles in the ‘Ladies Driving Challenge’.
Participants will be able to try their hand at manoeuvring a range of different vehicles such as Fire Engines, 4×4′s off road, Plant, Construction, Agricultural and even a Skid Pan spin - all thanks to organisations such as Asda, Donarbon, Alconbury Driving School, HE Services and Spartan Rescue.
Event Organiser, Laura Harden, said “The Ladies Driving Challenge promises to be an exciting day, with the chance to operate a fantastic collection of vehicles often only associated with male drivers.
The women-only challenge is focused on handling vehicles with skill, enjoying a new experience, as well as raising money for a good cause.”
All women over the age of 17 with a full driving licence are welcome to join in during the morning or afternoon sessions. Registration costs £10 and entrants are asked to raise a minimum of £90 in sponsorship.
All proceeds from the event will go to The Fire Fighters Charity.
Laura explained, “Behind the fun, there is a very serious message that we are supporting a charity which helps support injured fire fighters through physical and emothional trauma. The Fire Fighters Charity is the only charity dedicated to supporting firefighters and their families in times of need.”
Like to get involved?
A student from Shuttleworth College has achieved a prestigious award that is internationally recognised as one of the top achievements in the field of horticulture.
Caroline Corkett from Ampthill faced stiff competition from other candidates across the UK to win the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) Hector Harrison Award. This award is given to the highest scoring candidate who took the RHS Level 3 Advanced Certificate in Horticulture during an academic year.
Shuttleworth College Centre Director Mike Johnston said “We are delighted that Caroline has achieved the highest exam score in the country for her RHS course this year.
“This is an outstanding achievement for both Caroline and for Shuttleworth College and is an indication of the high standards of excellence that we set for our students and their commitment and dedication.”
The horticulture centre at Shuttleworth College was started by Ann Waring (Lecturer in Horticulture) in 1998 and has since gone from success to success with a full range of full and part time courses available. Students who study horticulture at the College range from budding gardeners to head gardeners, people wanting to start their own gardening businesses or who want a change of career. Their exam success and talent can be seen blooming in the gardens and landscapes of Bedfordshire and beyond.
Ann explained “We care about our students and want to see them achieve the best that they can in their studies. Although the College has grown it still has a family atmosphere where students can learn in the beautiful surroundings of Shuttleworth. They then take that experience with them as they take up careers in horticulture world-wide.”
Award winning Caroline Corkett has her own gardening business where she maintains gardens for clients with a variety of gardens from the smallest to 4 acres. She added “I was surprised and delighted to receive the award. You have to be self motivated and committed to take on the RHS course but it definitely worth all the hard work and effort. Especially when studying at evening classes!
“A crucial part of success is the learning environment and at Shuttleworth College it is excellent. Ann Waring has offered encouragement and help every step of the way.
‘Hard work but good fun…’
“I have loved studying here and meeting other people on the course. As a gardener you often work alone and it has been fascinating to meeting other gardeners to share ideas and experiences. It’s been hard work but good fun.
“Studying at Shuttleworth College has given me the impetus to carry on learning and I am now keen to study for the RHS diploma.”
As part of the award Caroline received £15 of horticulture books which ws presented at the RHS Awards Ceremony in London.
To find out more about the courses on offer visit the Shuttleworth College website or ring 01767 626 222.