Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Today is a lovely Spring Day. It is also 1 April but I do not play practical jokes as suggested by Philip Archer who accused me of "celebrating" the new Bedford Unitary Council. Yes I supported the County Council Unitary 2007 bid and its efforts to improve its performance since my election four years ago. However I am also an elected Borough Councillor and a pragmatist who lives in the real world. In May 2005 I was elected to represent 5,500 residents in Elstow & Wilstead and to campaign for higher quality public services, which I did and will continue to do in the new Unitary Council.

Bedfordshire County Council improved from a Poor 0 star Council to a Good 3 star Council but now it has gone. Bedford Borough Unitary Council opened its doors today in Borough Hall and is now a single tier Council responsible for providing all the local government services for local residents.

A Day in the Life of a Local Councillor
This morning I visited Elstow Lower School where I am Vice Chair of Governors. This week is International Week and each class takes a different country and studies its language and customs. On Friday the children will dress up and show off their week's work.

Next I discussed the bus service for Wilstead residents to and from their doctor's surgery in Ampthill with the Borough Bus Transport Manager and Greensands Surgery. We have persuaded Grant Palmer to put on more buses so that pensioners do not get stranded in Ampthill for hours after visiting their doctor.

Then I attended a Princes Trust Award Ceremony to make a brief speech and present Certificates to 9 young people. The Bedford YMCA working for the The Prince's Trust and has just completed its 9th twelve week Personal Development Programme for unemployed young people aged 16-25 years, many of whom have never worked. The Programme increases their skills, raises self esteem, improves self motivation and gets young people into education, training and employemnt.

Nine young people successfully completed the course and most will take up further training eg carpentry, child care, youth work and music technology. Their Community Project was to decorate 2 rooms at the Kempston Centre for Learning Disabilities. During their Challenge Week they took disabled people to a Safari Park.

My next stop was at Borough Hall to discuss a planning issue and join a large social gathering for some of the 6,000 staff now working in the Unitary Council. Then it was
back home to deal with emails, reading and this Blog before attending an evening Conservative Group meeting.

The Prince's Trust
The Prince's Trust was started by the Prince of Wales in 1976 to help disadvantaged young people aged 14-30 who have been in care, are long term unemployed, have struggled at school or been in trouble with the law. Practical and financial support is provided including help with business start ups or courses developing workplace skills such as confidence and motivation.

Since 1976 the Prine's Trust has helped over 575,000 young peopole and supports 100 more every day. 75% of those helped in 2008 moved into work,education or training.
App 20% of young people in the UK are not in work, education or training and youth unemployment costs the UK economy £10 million a day in lost productivity, while youth crime costs £1 billion per year, so this work is vital to our economy.

Tomorrow I will take 2 days off to visit my widowed brother in Chichester, who is still adjusting to living alone and tore a calf muscle last month while playing in the garden with his 2 grandsons.

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