Sunday, March 29, 2009


Today as County Council Vice Chairman I attended a Thanksgiving Service at St. Paul's Church, Bedford to celebrate 120 years of Bedfordshire County Council from 1889 until 31 March 2009 when the County Council is abolished. The Salvation Army played and we sang the famous John Bunyan hymn "He who would valiant be". The County Council motto "Constant Be" on the crest above is taken from this hymn which has a special meaning for me as I live in Elstow, home of John Bunyan. The Chief Executive gave an address on the Council's long history and the Bishop of Bedford preached the sermon.

Afterwards we had tea at County Hall before watching the Minden Band of The Queen's Division conduct a Sunset and Beating Retreat ceremony. Then the Bedfordshire County Council flag was lowered for the last time by Bedford Sea Cadets. It was an emotional occasion for County Councillors and staff, some of whom do not know if they will have a job after 1 April. Many senior staff are leaving on 31 March.

The Minden Band consists of 35 talented musicians including 3 women, and are based at Bassingbourn Barracks in Royston near Cambridge. The Band supports 3 Regiments of the Queen's Division - The Royal Anglian, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and The Prince of Wales Royal Regiment and perform at high profile civilian events.

Bedfordshire County Council is handing over its services to Bedford Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire in excellent order. For example, during March the Highways Department have filled over 1,000 potholes across the County caused by the recent severe weather, investing £400,000 to put the roads in good order for the new Councils. Recently I visited Hertfordshire where the local paper said that Herts County Council was still surveying its potholes so Bedfordshire was ahead of the pack once again.

On 1 April Bedford Borough Council takes on 5,5000 new staff and responsibility for many new services - Children's Services including 79 schools, fostering and adoption and the youth service, Adult Services including residential care and mental health, highways, waste management, strategic planning, archives & records, libraries, etc.

The present 54 Bedford Borough Councillors will remain in post for two months until Thursday 4 June when Unitary Elections take place. Then there will be only 36 Unitary Councillors taking over the current 72 County and Borough Council roles.

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