Friday, November 27, 2009


On Monday 30 November the Friends of Elstow Abbey are organising a Christmas Concert. Our main performers will be the famous Luton Male Voice Choir, who sang so beautifully in Elstow Abbey earlier this year.

To launch the concert we have a joint Choir of 50 children from Elstow Lower School and Abbey Middle School singing for 30 minutes. Everyone is welcome and tickets are only £7.50 (£5 for pensioners) and children are free. Come along and enjoy some splendid music and start the Christmas celebrations early.

I am Chairman of the Friends of Elstow Abbey and we have raised £42,000 in 14 years to refurbish and restore our lovely Abbey Church, founded as a Benedictine Nunnery in 1078 by Countess Judith, neice of William the Conqueror. Last year we paid for the organ to be repaired - costing over £2,000.


Parvez Akhtar and Nicky Attenborough

Hi folks I am back after a few weeks away. I have been repairing my damaged leg with physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and sports therapy. I still limp but am much more mobile than I was a few weeks ago, wearing the big black boot.

Now that I am not a Councillor, I thougt I would not be missed, but I was wrong and have received some reader comments. Sadly, the Conservatives lost the Bedford Mayoral election, due to the disloyalty of Nicky Attenborough, who briefed the press against Parvez Akhtar after he won the Open Primary. Liberal Democrats gleefully used all her comments in their election literature, and the result is that we now have a rather dull Liberal Democrat Mayor in charge of Bedford.

The photos say it all - old Conservative v. new Conservative. Parvez Akhtar is an exceptional young man - a well educated, charming senior design engineer at the Ford Motor Company. He grew up in Bedford and his 5 children attend Bedford schools. We did not have enough time to introduce Parvez to all our rural supporters and Nicky Attenborough sabotaged him, because she refused to accept her defeat gracefully.

Nicky deserved to be suspended by the Conservative Party and was lucky not to be expelled. She was a poor Conservative Group Leader who drove several Conservatives out of the Group. She slavishly followed Frank Branston's Independent agenda, instead of a Conservative agenda for years, especially as Deputy Mayor.

Thank you to Tony Williamson of Texas, USA, for his kind comments about Bedford. It is a lovely town, especially along the Embankment, and I am especially proud of Elstow village, where I live.

Monday, October 12, 2009



Our Conservative campaign to elect Parvez Akhtar as the Mayor of Bedford is proving successful. Parvez outshone the other 5 candidates on the Sunday BBC Politics Show and at the Wootton Upper School Debate last Thursday evening. David Cameron, Leader of the Conservative Party, came to Bedford today to support Parvez' campaingn and Eric Pickles, Party Chairman is coming here tomorrow.

Parvez is a highly intelligent and well educated senior Ford Engineer. He is one of "Thatcher's children" whose father came to England to work in the Stewartby Brickworks. Parvex is a living example of social mobility, fostered by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980's, which has almost disappeared over the last 12 years under an incompetent and spendthrift Labour Government.

Parve is a modest, unassuming family man with a gentle charm and polite manner. He cares deeply about Bedford and its people and will be an excellent Mayor. As a father of 5 children, all at Bedford schools, he is passionate about education as the key to future success in life. It is time we had a fresh pair of eyes and brain leading Bedford Borough, instead of the same old politicians who have run Bedford Borough Council for 20 years and failed to solve our major transport, infrastructure, policing and employment problems.

I fully support Parvez' campaign and have worked hard over the past 10 days organising the delivery of 7,200 leaflets to the villages of Elstow and Wilstead. Election Day is in just 3 days' time........

Vote for Parvez Akhtar on Thursday for strong leadership and a vibrant Bedford Borough in which we can all be proud to live.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Parvez Akhtar, Chairman of Queens Park Urban Community Council was chosen to be our Conservative Mayoral candate by a large majority at a packed Open Primary meeting in Bedford last week, attended by over 400 local residents of all political colours. Parvez is now campaigning actively across the whole of Bedford Borough.

Today I took Parvez to a MacMillan Cancer Support Coffee Morning hosted by a keen Conservative, Pat Johnson, at her Wilstead home. We also met a group of young trainee Police Officers who were enjoying meeting local Wilstead residents.

I am delighted to support Parvez Akhtar, as he will bring a new kind of politics to Bedford, similar to the changes brought by Barack Obama in the USA. Like Obama, Parvez is a highly intelligent, thoughtful family man with high moral principles.

Parvez cares deeply about multicultural Bedford Borough and its diverse communities in the urban and rural areas. He has pledged to represent all the 153,000 residents of Bedford Borough, including the often forgotten 43 rural parishes. Parvez is also
firmly committed to getting better value for council taxpayers, cutting costs and improving efficiency, while actively listening to the views of the local community.

Bedford Borough needs a Mayor who will raise the profile of Bedford Borough nationally and revitalise the community and Parvez Akhtar will be an excellent Mayor.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009



Jessica Ennis, 23, has just become the 2009 World Heptathlon Champion in Berlin, only the 6th British woman ever to win a World Championship Gold. In 2008 Jessica was unable to compete in the Beijing Olympics due to multiple stress fractures in her rightfoot and ankle, and she had to learn to use her left foot for the Long Jump.

Today Sheffield born psychology graduate Jessica is a shining example of someone who has overcome adversity in just 12 months to become a World Champion. Her parents, Jamaican born Vinnie Ennis and Alison Powell lost a fortune in 2008 after booking booked flights and accommodation for the Beijing Olympics before Jessica had to pull out. They are understandably delighted with their daughter's success this time.

Congratulations to Jessica on her fantastic achievement. She is now tipped to be the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. It brings back memories of the sensational successes of British athletes in the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics, and augurs well for London 2012. Britain can hold its head up again in world sport.



This is Boot I have been wearing for 7 weeks on my right leg to help repair the ruptured Achilles Tendon (see the diagram on the right) which I damaged at the end of my doomed June Election Campaign.

Initially diagnosed as a strain, an ultra sound scan after 4 weeks showed a rupture. My orthopaedic consultant decided not to operate but told me to wear the Boot for 8 weeks. Five weeks later I saw him again - for all of 6 minutes! - and extended the period to 11 weeks. I have to wear the Boot all day and am banned from driving, so I am largely confined to the house.

I have managed to get out quite often, thanks to family and friends and have been away twice - to visit friends in Norway and to the Isle of Wight with the granddaughters. My four walls became quite claustrophobic and besides I am a 'traveloholic' having visited or lived in 80 countries across 5 continents.

Temporary immobility concentrates the mind and has made me value my freedom and my car, living on an estate of 470 houses with no bus service. I remain cheerful and am grateful to still have 2 legs. My daughter's mother in law had a leg amputated in 2007 after a stroke due to an infection acquired in Hemel Hempstead Hospital. She is now permanently wheelchair bound so who am I to complain?

Also I am still alive! I have been to 2 funerals recently - Councillor Dave Lewis and my friend Sam Clark, Chairman of Elstow Parish Council and local farmer. Other Bedford Borough Council colleagues have died, including the Mayor of Bedford 11 days ago, Bob Elford and and Mohammed Khan. At present we hear nightly of our brave
young soldiers dying and being blown up by the Taleban bombs in Afghanistan - 204 so far - some of them barely 18 years old. What a tragedy for their grieving families.

Today I took a taxi to Bedford to sit on a 3-day DDA (Disability Discrimination) Employment Tribunal and the young Claimant has been disabled all her life. In 2006/7 I had 3 operations in one year in Bedford Hospital and Addenbrookes in Cambridge, where I met patients who had spent all their lives in and out of hospitals

Life is good - I may no longer be a Councillor but I have a wonderful family and friends, my health (apart from the injured leg!) religious and political freedom, a nice home, possessions and food on the table - benefits not enjoyed by millions of people across the world.

Monday, August 17, 2009



Last week I took my two granddaughters, Emma, 7 and Jessica, 6 on a traditional seaside holiday with a church group from Elstow Abbey. We lived on Sandown's sandy beach, paddling, building sandcastles, eating icecreams and getting sand everywhere! We stayed at The Carlton, a traditional seaside hotel - dinner at 6pm and lots of pensioners in residence - but the staff were helpful and friendly.

I grew up in Southsea, Portsmouth,and the Isle of Wight was our favourite family holiday destination - all England in miniature with wonderful sandy beaches, yachts, castles, and lots of interesting places to visit in a small geographical area.

One day we visited Carisbrooke Castle and watched a donkey walking on the wheel connnected to an old well. The children ran round the castle walls with my daughter Helen who joined us for the last 2 days with Oliver, aged 4. I allowed the children one gift from the souvenir shop, so predictably the girls chose a donkey while Oliver chose a toy axe - boys will be boys! We also visited the Godshill Model Village, but car parking was tricky and walking 3 young children along a main road (no pavements) dodging heavy traffic was a nightmare.

Today most families prefer to take their children overseas for more exotic holidays, although the economic recession has created a new breed of "staycationers". My own belief is that most young children are happier sitting on any sandy beach with a bucket and spade. It does not matter if the weather is windy or cool and is safer in England as they do not get fair skins sunburnt as easily as in hotter countries.

At least if it rains there are always lots of indoor activites. There is nothing worse than being stuck overseas in wet and windy weather, with nothing else to do - that has happened to be in Greece, Florida and Majorca. My children loved our holidays 25 years ago in Bridlington, Yorkshire, staying with Grannie and spent many happy hours on a shingle beach, bundled up in anoraks against the East winds. We even had one rare sunny Easter weekend in Great Yarmouth on a deserted 5 mile sandy beach.

Every cloud has a silver lining, and the economic recession has given a new lease of life top the British seaside resort as more families rediscover the pleasures of an English holiday, avoiding the traumas of dragging their children half way across the world and spending hours waiting for delayed planes at crowded airports.

Money cannot buy happiness and many British children are now rediscovering the simple pleasures of sandy beaches, walking, climbing and simple creative outdoor play.