Archive for April, 2010
One of former Mayor Frank Branston’s innovations was to emphasise Bedford as a “town of markets”. With specialty food markets and other events, Frank’s insight has done much to boost the town centre while we wait (and wait) for the much needed regeneration of the bus station area.
So, it was with great delight that I gave Nick Herbert, a tour of the fruit and veg market on Wednesday. Topics we discussed with shoppers and shop owners ranged from the importance of locally grown produce, to preferences for brown versus white eggs, to the increasing cost of weekly shopping. With wages flat and prices increasing, budgets are being squeezed for many of the shoppers in the market.
Posted by Richard | Filed under Bedford & Kempston
In the first week of talking with voters on the doorstep in Bedford and Kempston here are some of the reactions and issues that stuck in my mind. First and foremost, people want change. Bedford and Kempston have not been well served by Labour these past 13 years, and people here know that the government of Mr Brown has had its day. They want change.
People are worried about the recession – no surprises there – but interestingly, people are very curious to know more details of what a Labour or Conservative government will actually do – to promote growth, to nurture the recovery, to protect jobs and key services. People understand that there are savings that can be made in our public services – and people want those savings to be made. They trust the Conservatives to do it and they want to know the details.
Posted by Richard | Filed under Democracy
I thought the first TV debate was excellent television, and that ITV and their host, Alastair Stewart, were the clear winners. The key comparison was between Mr Cameron and Mr Brown as one or either of them will be the Prime Minister. With an easier wicket to play on, I thought Mr Clegg answered some questions well, but he was very vague on details in some areas and was given an easier pass than the other two. Overall, congratulations to all the participants, but especially to the excellent chairmanship of Alistair Stewart.
I am all for cost-saving measures by the Council, but the proposal to convert the Civic Theatre in to a “one stop shop” for council services is daft. The Civic Theatre should remain in its role as a dignified part of our cultural community. Has the Mayor no sense of the value of amateur productions – of plays, of music, of other cultural events? With vast swathes of the town’s retailing locations vacant, is there no other building available? Why wreck the role of a key building when alternatives exist?
Talking with the inspiring Rakesh Ram at Community LD, a town centre group that provides training and support for people seeking employment, I got a clear understanding of what a crushing burden the top down, bureaucracy beloved of Prime Minister Brown can be. Rakesh is local, highly motivated, experienced and capable. In short, he is exactly the sort of person that someone in Bedford would want to turn to get advice and encouragement. However, because of the intrusive, restricting and obsessive requirements of the bureaucracy, Rakesh finds much of his time taken up by the requirements of form filling, and less of his time available for doing what he loves to do –serve the needs of his clients.
As the Prime Minister of this discredited Parliament was heading to the Palace to seek a dissolution, we were looking forward to electing a new Government under David Cameron’s leadership, by winning the key seat of Bedford and Kempston.
Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, highlighted the importance of winning the seat by making Bedford the first stop in his countrywide campaign to stop Labour’s Job Tax. Labour’s proposed tax on jobs would hit local people hard – many are already struggling to find work, with local unemployment way up on the regional average and nearly double what it was when Labour came to power in 1997. Labour’s Job Tax will snuff out, not nurture, the recovery and to listen to Labour ministers claim that it would help employment just goes to show how out of touch they are.