A Council plan for the decongestion of the Ampthill Road Corridor in and out of Bedford has won the backing of the South East Midlands local enterprise partnership (SEMLEP). The £5.1 million scheme will now go forward to government amongst SEMLEP'S chosen projects under its bid for government funding for transport improvements.
It's time to book your place at the Liberal Democrats' autumn conference, to be held in Brighton (17 to 20 September). Information can be found at http://www.libdems.org.uk/autumn-conference. The outline agenda has already been announced. As well as topics related to party governance and administration, internal reporting, and Q&A sessions, the following items are lined up:
Bedford Borough Council will pursue a plan to make greater use of digital technology to save £10 million per year. In a speech presenting the plans at a recent meeting of the Council's Executive, Mayor Dave Hodgson described the pursuit of a digital operating model as vital in order to prevent service cuts which would 'change the Council beyond all recognition'.
Liberal Democrat European Union spokesperson and former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has launched the first briefing paper of his Brexit Challenge project, which analyses the options facing the Government if it intends for Britain to retain significant access to the Single Market.
While Single Market access is essential to the British economy, and retaining access remains the best of a series of bad options for the economy post-Brexit, it comes with significant challenges and trade-offs. The analysis shows that even if the Government were able to achieve concessions on freedom of movement, seeking to retain significant access to the Single Market would still mean adherence to its rules and regulations, while not having any control or influence over them. It also concludes that the biggest benefit of Single Market access is the removal of non-tariff barriers, such as shared rules and harmonised standards, as opposed to tariffs.
Mayor Dave Hodgson is joining forces with other Council leaders to demand a better service for beleaguered rail users on the Govia Thameslink and Great Northern routes. The group of Councils north of London, representing well over a million people, are calling on the Government to ensure Govia raises standards on behalf of passengers across the routes.
In his column for the July edition of the Bedford Bulletin, Mayor Dave Hodgson wrote of his disgust at the plans to close maternity services at Bedford Hospital and to force the 3,000-plus mothers who give birth there every year to travel longer distances away from home and from family to Milton Keynes.
The combination of extremely warm and very wet weather we have experienced this year has of course caused rapid growth of weeds on roads and pavements. Mayor Dave Hodgson has today announced a 'War on Weeds' programme of targeted action by the Council to tackle this extraordinarily rapid growth.
Over the next three weeks the whole of the Borough's highways will be sprayed with environmentally-friendly weed killer spray. In addition, a Council Hit Squad will be sent out manually ripping weeds out of the ground.
Unity broke out at the most recent County Council meeting as a Lib Dem motion condemning racist attacks and hate crime was seconded by the Conservatives and Labour spoke strongly in favour.
Liberal Democrat Leader Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst called on the council to publicly condemn all acts of racism and hatred and to ensure that local bodies and programmes have the support and resources to tackle the issue. The motion received unanimous support.
The Conservatives seconded the motion and the Labour Group Leader spoke in support of it. All county councillors present voted in favour of it.
Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst said, "I am proud that here in Hertfordshire and the UK we live in a diverse and tolerant society in which racism, xenophobia and hate crimes have no place.
"We wanted to reassure all people living in Hertfordshire that they are valued members of our community, irrespective of their beliefs, nationality or ethnic origins, or gender. They all make a great contribution to this diverse and vibrant area and they are very welcome here.
"We also wanted to make clear that should there be any acts of this nature, they should be reported and the Police Commissioner has assured residents that any reports will be taken very seriously and acted upon.
"Any of us who sees or witnesses any example of intolerant attitudes has a duty to say it's unacceptable in this day and age and will not be tolerated," Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst concluded.
Whilst the UK population took the decision on 23 June to vote to leave the EU, there are still countries which are looking to join the bloc. The UK had been a champion of EU enlargement, looking to extend the single market and also to widen the EU's membership. In spite of the UK referendum decision, EU enlargement will continue for the time being, although 'enlargement fatigue' within the EU will need to contended with, where the rise of populist parties has made enlargement, and subsequent immigration from newer to older member states, a less popular policy for EU governments to pursue.
Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) is the organisation responsible for treating mental illness in Suffolk and Norfolk. This is a service that is currently in Special Measures, making it the first and only mental health trust in the country to be put into this. Even more worrying is the recent announcement that 90 jobs are set to be cut across the trust.