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Dave Hodgson with Town Bridge behind

What a Difference a Dave Makes!

Examples of just some of the successes from Dave Hodgson's record of delivery for local residents during his short period as Mayor

May 2011

Environment

  • Launched the free loan of household Energy Monitors through the Borough's Libraries
  • Signed up to 10:10 Climate Change Campaign
  • Following Mayor's intervention, the Council is now composting leaves, where previously they were being landfilled. Over 100 tonnes of leaves which would have been landfilled were diverted to composting in the first few weeks
  • Rolled out more glass recycling banks where they are required, for example at the Horse and Jockey Pub in Ravensden
  • Launched the Mayor's £550,000 Climate Change Fund, to which Charities, schools and community groups can bid to help fund carbon-cutting projects. This has seen funding awarded for a string of exciting projects across the Borough, all of which will help protect our environment and cut energy bills for local community groups.
  • The Council has a new 'Green Procurement Code,' meaning that for the first time the Council has to ensure that all procurement decisions accord with sound environmental principles.
  • New investment to both improve tree care (£120,000) in local neighbourhoods and to plant new trees (£60,000) in the Borough. The Tory County Council spent just £1.66 per tree in Bedford and Kempston - that figure has gone up to over £11 under Dave Hodgson.
  • The Council has expanded the recycling collection scheme, and for the first time is now collecting batteries for recycling from households.
  • Dave Hodgson has ensured the Council practices what it preaches on recycling - it has installed new recycling bins around council buildings, amongst a raft of measures to improve internal recycling performance
  • Carried out a continuing programme of improvements at blocks of flats to support all residents to take part in the recycling collection scheme
  • The Mayor has introduced recycling litter bins in the town centre in order to enable people to recycle 'on-the-go.'
  • Launched trials of methane-fuelled vehicles for introduction into the Council's fleet. These vehicles are powered by waste which would otherwise be landfilled.
  • Protecting green spaces - 300 green spaces protected in the Council's draft Allocations and Designations Plan
  • Doubled the recycling capacity for households. Now, if residents want an extra recycling bin, they can have one for a small fee.
  • Mayor Dave Hodgson has banned the use of bottled water for Council meetings and staff events. Tap water will instead be used where required, helping the environment and saving £1,373.52.
  • Dave Hodgson has launched a new scheme of enhancements to the first phase of the 'Green Wheel' project. This is the cycle and foot path which, in this first 8.6km long phase, links Priory Country Park with Mowsbury Park, taking in the emerging River Valley Park. The Council made a successful bid for over £11,000 of grant funding to help pay for a £13,000 project to install new signage and waymarking for the route to make it usable, to install seating on the route and to produce two interpretation boards.
  • A new energy contract signed by the Council in August 2010 means all 14,000 Council streetlights are now be powered using renewable energy. This will save approximately 3,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.
  • As part of the same new contract agreed in August 2010, the Council has also secured the installation of meters which will allow automatic meter readings to be taken for electricity and gas. This will help to monitor, control and reduce energy usage. (Link Above).
  • Thanks to the range of actions by Dave Hodgson and the Liberal Democrats to work with local residents and help them recycle, the recycling rate is up to around a record 40%.
  • Dave is working with the Forest of Marston Vale Trust in support of the exciting and ambitious River Valley Park Project. This will see a vast area to the east of Bedford turned into public woodland and parkland. Under Dave Hodgson, the Council has enabled the Trust to begin planting on Council land in the park area. Mayor Dave attended the event to mark the beginning of the planting and to take part.
  • Dave Hodgson has launched a new Household battery recycling collection scheme. Bedford Borough already has one of the most comprehensive and straightforward recycling schemes around - now Mayor Dave has extended it even further.
  • Launched the 'Why Would You?' environmental enforcement campaign, backing up advice, guidance and information on littering, dog fouling, fly-tipping and other antisocial behaviour which blights our environment with a zero tolerance enforcement approach. In the early weeks of the enforcement campaign in Spring 2011, twelve Fixed Penalty Notices have been issued
  • Dave is committed to cutting the Council's carbon emissions by 40% by 2015. The fully-costed measures to achieve this are all set out in the Carbon Management Plan. The measures will save local taxpayers £1.5 million each year by the end of the plan period in 2015

Transport and Parking

  • The Council has introduced an innovative new method of parking enforcement to cut down on unlawful, dangerous parking across Bedford Borough, in particular outside schools. A mobile CCTV Camera is mounted on to an existing Bedford Borough Council fleet vehicle, and operates by collecting the registration numbers of vehicles parked illegally and processing this information to create Penalty Charge Notices (PCN) for offenders.
  • Dave Hodgson has launched a trial which sees bus lanes in Bedford Borough open to bicycles, motorbikes, taxis and private hire vehicles. If the 18-month trial proves beneficial in terms of safety and congestion, the change will be made permanent in order to help cut congestion, improve air quality and to make it easier for people to use sustainable forms of transport in Bedford.
  • Introduced 'Pay-by-phone' facility for both on-street parking and council car parks. This allows convenience of paying by mobile phone (or iPhone app!) for parking, giving residents and visitors greater flexibility and making it easier for people to park in Bedford.
  • Launched a radical extension of Sunday bus services. To date Sunday buses in Bedford have been very infrequent and also confusing, due to the fact they serve different routes to those which run Monday - Saturday. Dave Hodgson has stepped in and ensured that the same routes will run 7 days a week, with a minimum hourly frequency. This extension to the route
  • Retaining the Full Concessionary Fares Scheme for Bedford Borough Residents, including during peak hours before 9.30am. Central Beds and many other Councils are cutting the scheme so that it applies only during off-peak hours. Despite the current financial climate, Dave Hodgson has preserved the full scheme for all Borough residents with a Concessionary pass.
  • Under Dave Hodgson, Bedford Borough Council is retaining and improving rural bus routes, in defiance of the trend across the region and nationwide for savage cuts to rural routes. Instead of taking the axe to supported services, Dave Hodgson and Bedford Borough Council have gone out and consulting with rural communities, with the result that rural access to bus services will be protected and even improved.
  • With Bedford Borough Council protecting rural bus routes, Dave has stepped in to save rural residents' access to services where the cuts of neighbouring authorities have threatened cross-boundary routes. For example, the Council has reached agreement with the operator for the 152 bus serving rural villages in the north-east of the borough to run through to Kimbolton in order that residents can access the family doctors and others services, despite the unilateral cut of all funding for the service by Tory-run Cambridgeshire County Council.
  • Under Mayor Dave the Council will shortly be installing 8 'plug-in' charging posts for electric vehicles in public places around Bedford Borough, after successfully bringing in external funding for the posts and the electricity supply.
  • Introduced a new bus route to Brickhill - the No 10 - which serves the Woodland Estate and travels into town via Park Avenue and Roff Avenue.
  • Dave has introduced a new common sense approach to parking

Efficiency - Looking after Council Taxpayers' Money

  • Over £9 million of savings identified for the 10/11 budget, following a rigorous efficiency drive. Mayor Dave Hodgson, Cllr Michael Headley and Colleagues had a severely curtailed period of time in which to put together a budget due to the October by-election. They inherited a predicted council tax increase of 11.5%, and brought it down to a below-inflation 2.3% while protecting frontline services.
  • Looking for new and innovative ways to maximise benefit to the taxpayer - Sold the Council Limo inherited from the County Council on Ebay, for almost double the normal price which would have been achieved. Old County Council road signs an d bus stop 'flags' have also been sold to the highest bidders on Ebay.
  • The property and design related services currently undertaken at Council-owned property by the outside contractor Mouchel will be brought in-house when the contract expires on 30 September 2010. This will bring estimated savings of around £100,000.
  • Scrapped the Council newsletter 'Borough News,' saving around £50,000 for local taxpayers.
  • Inherited a predicted £4 million overspend in 09-10 when elected halfway through the year, and brought it down by the end of the financial year to £1.5 million.
  • Bedford Borough Council is one of the first in the country to publish its proposals to achieve the savings required to achieve a balanced budget in 2011-12, in order to enable a genuine, open consultation on the plans to save over £10 million. The majority of the proposed savings were found through identifying new ways of working, for example updating bin collection routes, saving £260,000, and merging HR and Payroll back office systems, saving £50,000.
  • A senior management restructuring for 2011-12 onwards will save £1.2 million annually for local taxpayers, and cut the number of senior managers in the Council.
  • Dave has been ruthless with Council waste and inefficiency, stripping out waste and slashing back office costs. He has focused savings in Borough Hall, not out in the community where services are provided.
  • Bedford Borough Council has cut the Members' Allowances budget for 2011-12 by £10,000, despite the fact that there will be 4 more Councillors following a review of ward boundaries.
  • Despite a requirement to find £16 million of savings, thanks to a rigorous efficiency drive which focused savings on back office functions within Borough Hall, not services out in the community, Bedford Borough Council is cutting Council tax by 0.7% while avoiding the widespread cuts to frontline services seen elsewhere. It is also investing in Dave's priorities, with a £41 million investment plan for our schools over 4 years, and continuing the fight back against years of neglect of our roads and pavements.
  • A national survey by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy reported Bedford Borough Council's £8.91 as the largest Council tax cut in England. The survey, to which over 80% of authorities responded, showed that the average Band D reduction is 35 pence, with Bedford Borough one of only two 'upper tier' authorities to cut Council tax by anything more than a few pence. This year's council tax cut marks the first time in recent history that Council tax bills in Bedford Borough are going down instead of up.

Economic Development/Town Centre

  • Dave approved free parking in the run up to Christmas in both 2009 and 2010
  • Dave struck a deal with Stagecoach for £67,000 of improvements at Bedford bus station, including an ongoing commitment to high standards of ongoing maintenance
  • Under Dave, the Council was successful in leading a partnership project to deliver around 200 new short-term local jobs to help long-term unemployed young people back into work
  • Moved the Bus Station Development a step closer, after taking ownership of Gwynn and Patteshull Court buildings and demolishing them in order to the Town Centre West Development.
  • Sainsbury's has signed up to open a new distribution centre at the former Woolworths Distribution Centre at Marsh Leys Business Park, creating 300 new jobs.
  • Pursued an Investor Development Programme, working with existing employers in Bedford Borough to help retain them in the Borough and enable them to grow and succeed.
  • Run a pre-apprenticeship training project for young people Not in Education, Employment or Training ('NEET'). Nov 2010 update - 40 participants recruited
  • Re-introduced free Council Tax Payments at the Post Office, after their disgraceful removal by the other parties in 2006. Dave Hodgson and the Liberal Democrats have now removed the unfair levy on those who use their local post office.
  • Pursuing a £3 million regeneration project for the High Street, which will see buildings restored with the support of an £850,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, revitalising the area and making it a more attractive place to shop and to spend time in.
  • For the first time, the High Street was pedestrianised for the weekend of the Victorian Christmas Fair, with stalls and crowds of local residents and visitors enjoying the extended market replacing traffic. The town centre saw a 70% increase in footfall for the town centre, compared to the previous year's fair!
  • Offered free parking in town centre multi-storey car parks on Boxing Day and New Year's Day to boost local shops and shoppers, following the dreadful weather before Christmas
  • Announced that the Council is looking to introduce punts and other leisure craft on the river, and opened a tender process for operators. Mayor Dave Hodgson wants to give more residents and visitors the chance to enjoy our river
  • Frozen Car Park Charges for 2011/12, meaning the Council is covering the cost of VAT, inflation and other rises in costs e.g. energy in order to help boost the town centre and to support shoppers. Again, this is in stark contrast to the many Councils raising fees and charges in excess of inflation in order to pass on the effects of funding cuts.
  • Dave Hodgson is pressing ahead with an exciting redevelopment of the 'Riverside North' area, taking in the current Town Hall office block site and along all the way to the western edge of the Horne Lane surface car park. This regeneration scheme will draw more people into town and to the river, and will open up the riverside from the town centre.
  • Morrisons have announced their plans for a new store, within a wider retail development, on Ampthill Road at the former Camford Works site. The development is set to create up to 670 new jobs. This exciting news for the area is another example that major firms are investing in Bedford Borough under Dave Hodgson.
  • Waitrose are coming to Bedford, with planning permission now granted for their plans to move into the former Courts building off Goldington Road. Dave has spoke to a large number of residents who have told him that they would like to have a Waitrose in Bedford, and now the business-friendly approach he has introduced is attracting such high quality retailers.

Community Safety

  • Play.Live Scheme - diversionary, enjoyable activities for young people targeted at areas with higher incidence of anti-social behaviour.
  • Ran a scheme to offer designated drivers coming into Bedford Town Centre over the festive period free soft drinks.
  • The Council's CCTV won a national award in 2010 for its excellent performance. Unlike Conservative Central Beds Council, which will not monitor its CCTV at certain times in yet another cut, Bedford Borough's CCTV under Mayor Dave Hodgson is targeted, responsive and, crucially, protected from any cut by a Mayor who wants to help people stay safe
  • Mayor Dave Hodgson is undertaking a process of making the roads outside all schools subject to a 20 mph speed limit in the interests of the safety of schoolchildren outside the school gates.
  • Dave Hodgson has launched a major review of speed limits across the Borough. He is asking communities to come forward with any proposal for reducing speed limits to help road users and pedestrians stay safe.
  • Institute of Offender Management Programme Launched. A major partnership programme with the police and other agencies make a real difference in cutting re-offending by prolific offending. Under Mayor Dave Hodgson, Bedford Borough Council has worked to make this crucial crime-cutting programme a reality

Leisure and Culture

  • Struck a deal with the Philharmonia Orchestra which saw them continue with their season in Bedford in 2010-11 and now in 2011-12
  • Welcomed 6 world class Kenyan Athletes for a week-long visit to help inspire local athletes and children and young people to take up sports
  • Launched 'Bedford Schools Art Month' for the first time in July 2010, which sees an exhibition of schools art in the Town Hall and co-ordination and promotion of public exhibitions of students' work in all Upper Schools.
  • The Council's £6 million plans for a major redevelopment of the Bedford Museum and Cecil Higgins Art Gallery is set to begin.
  • Put the River Festival, which attracts over 300,000 people into Bedford over one weekend every two years, onto the Council's base budget for the first time in its 32 year history, helping secure the future of this hugely popular event.
  • Agreed the 2011/12 and 2012/13 budget allocations for the River Festival early in order to enable early planning and to secure suppliers and services at a time, just a week before the Olympics, when they will be stretched
  • Mayor Dave has been instrumental in helping to achieve real progress on the planned Bedford Rowing and Watersports Lake near Willington.
  • Unlike in Conservative Central Beds and many other authorities around the country, Bedford Borough Council is retaining all of its leisure facilities in spite of the financial climate. This is thanks to the rigorous, ongoing approach to driving out efficiency savings across the authority under Mayor Dave Hodgson, protecting the front-line.

Opening up the Council

  • Dave Hodgson holds monthly 'walk-up' surgeries on Saturdays in locations around the Borough. He also holds monthly surgeries at Borough Hall
  • Under Dave Hodgson's Leadership, Bedford Borough Council became one of the first Councils in the country to publish all of its payments to suppliers of £1,000 or more online in April 2010. The threshold has since been reduced to £500
  • Members of the public are able to turn up at Council meetings and ask questions of Dave Hodgson and Members of his Executive directly, thanks to the Lib Dems, who removed the requirement to submit questions formally in the week before Council meetings. As a result, many more public questions have been asked at Council meetings.
  • Dave Hodgson has launched a series of 'Pints in the Parishes' events, in order to enable residents in the rural areas to speak to him directly about the issues that matter to them, in a relaxed environment in their local area.
  • Dave Hodgson has introduced regular reports by himself and Members of his Cabinet to Public meetings of Full Council, in order to increase transparency and accountability.
  • Dave has opened up the Council's civic and ceremonial assets to local residents - the Mayor's Parlour now hosts an average of two visits a week by local groups such as school classes, charitable groups or social clubs. Groups receive a talk on the history of the Borough and are shown the civic regalia kept in the Parlour.
  • Dave has introduced reforms restricting the Council's own ability to spy on local residents using the sweeping 'snoopers' charter' for councils, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. He has restricted the number of staff who can authorise use of the powers severely to only the most senior officers, and has ensured that the system will for the first time be opened up to oversight by elected representatives and the public, with quarterly reports of every use of RIPA to public meetings of the Executive.
  • Dave has introduced a new 'Scores on the Doors' scheme, involving the publication of food safety inspections for food outlets in the Borough, including restaurants and takeaways. All outlets are given a grade out of five, and details of the health inspections are published online, where they are available for public viewing.

Increasing Opportunities for Children and Young People

  • Running a comprehensive programme of summer playschemes and gameschemes for children and young people.
  • Pursued the 'Get Boys Reading' programme, a borough-wide initiative which aims to improve boys' attitudes to reading and to raise their achievement, as well as promoting reading as an enjoyable, rewarding pastime.
  • Dave Hodgson has a £41 million investment plan for our schools over four years.
  • Worked with schools to drive up standards, as part of the ongoing efforts to turn around years of the acceptance by the Conservative County Council of standards far too low for Bedford Borough.

Equalities

  • Launched a 'Keep the Path Clear' Campaign in partnership with Sight Concern Bedford and the RNIB to encourage residents to put away their wheelie bins after collection, making pavements safer for blind and partially sighted people.
  • Dave Hodgson has launched a monthly series of face-to-face sessions with Black and Minority Ethnic community groups in Bedford Borough. He began the series with Black and Minority Question Time session in Queen's Park in April, and has since met with a range of BME groups.
  • Launched the 'Show Racism the Red Card' campaign in Bedford Borough's Schools. This sees anti-racist education materials and lessons run based around the theme of sports and physical activity, with ex-leading professional footballers running sessions in local schools.
  • Produced a joint strategy with NHS Bedfordshire for people with sensory impairment in the borough to help them sustain the best possible quality of life.
  • Carried out a consultation with deaf and hearing impaired residents to find out how they would like the council to communicate with them. Rather than imposing on deaf and hearing impaired people the means of communication it thinks is best for them, the Council is giving them the chance to tell it how they want to communicate. They know better than the Council what is best for them!
  • Launched a series of events and activities to mark Black History Month in September. Events took place at the Library, at Bedford Gallery and in the Borough's schools.

Making our Roads and Paths Safer

  • Bedford Borough Council was widely praised for the way it handled the 'Big Freeze' in 2009/10 and did all it could to keep Bedford Borough moving while making local roads and paths as safe as possible. Dave Hodgson allocated an additional £200,000 of emergency funding to tackle the damage to the roads caused by 2009/10's coldest winter in 30 years.
  • Following the worst winter conditions in 30 years in January and February 2010, Dave worked through the spring to identify salt supplies to ensure Bedford Borough is in the best possible position come this winter. With a severe shortage in Britain, a Swedish source was identified and an additional 3,000 tonnes procured, taking stocks from a previous maximum of 5,000 tonnes up to 8,000 tonnes. The repeated bad weather this winter saw Dave widely praised for ensuring the Council was well stocked and was able to continue gritting all planned routes, in contrast to the many areas which were forced to ration supplies.
  • Mayor Dave's £1 million funding boost for extra funding for road and pavement repairs and resurfacing in autumn 2010 took to £4 million the level of additional investment on road maintenance in Bedford Borough over and above the level of funding under the Tory County Council within two years.
  • Launched the new Pothole Hit Squad, with four crews out on the street every day responding swiftly and efficiently to reports of potholes thanks to new 'hot box' equipment which allows them to carry out permanent repairs 'on the move.'
  • Bedford Borough Council has expanded the number of roads it will clear in heavy snow by a further 45. Dave Hodgson has listened to residents who have told the Council that their road became impassable in the heavy snow around Christmas 2010 and has added the extra 45 roads to those to which snow ploughs are sent to ensure a safe, clear path in heavy snow.
  • Launched a campaign to rid Bedford Borough of unnecessary street 'clutter,' with over 80 out-of-date or superfluous signs on the Mayor's 'hit list' for removal.

Devolving Power Out of Borough Hall and into Local Communities

  • Mile Road Allotments transferred to Mile Road Allotments Association
  • Granted a seven year lease for the management of Haynes Field Allotments to the Haynes Field Allotment Association at a nominal charge of £1 per year.
  • Set a new 'Community Asset Transfer Policy,' under which the Council can transfer assets to local community groups.
  • Under the new Community Asset transfer policy, the Council has transferred Waveney Green and Brickhill community centre to Brickhill Parish Council