Monday, April 27, 2009


Moot Hall and Elstow Abbey

Elstow is Bedfordshire's most historic village with its Abbey Church, built in 1078 by William the Conqueror's niece Countess Judith and our 15th Century Moot Hall. John Bunyan was born nearby and was baptised and married in Elstow Abbey. Elstow is a unique piece of our heritage which must be preserved for present and future generations to enjoy, including many visitors from the USA and other countries.

At present Elstow is under threat of disappearing into urban Bedford and losing its separate identity as a village, because the narrow green strip of land dividing Elstow from Bedford is included in Bedford Borough Council's Bedford Development Framework, listing 300 sites with housing development potential.

Since August 2008 I have been campaigning for this Council owned strip of land to be removed from the list of sites and have had meetings with the Mayor of Bedford and Planners, without success. Therefore I started a petition and so far 220 residents in Elstow and elsewhere have supported my campaign and signed the petition.

On 1 April after the demise of Bedfordshire County Council ownership of Moot Hall and Elstow Village Green transferred to Bedford Borough Council so I hoped that the Mayor and officers might have a change of heart as the new landowners - no such luck!

All Parish Councils were asked in February to invite the Mayor to visit them. Therefore in March Elstow Parish Council invited him to the Annual Elstow Parish Open Meeting on 16 April, requesting him to address resident concerns on the Elstow green field issue and to bring a planning officer with him. The Mayor turned up one hour late, dressed casually, without a planning officer or briefing notes and gave bland and inadequate responses to questions from the public. The residents present were underwhelmed by his apparent indifference to their concerns.

The Campaign will continue and I will not rest until this site is removed from the site list in Bedford Development Framework. We also hope to persuade the Borough Council to allow us to create a proper park with trees, benches, landscaping and play equipment for use of local residents, including all the elderly people in the Bunyans Mead sheltered complex which backs on to this small green field.

If you support my campaign please sign my petition in Elstow Post Office or respond to this Blog.

Tomorrow the Bedford Unitary Election Campaign starts so I may be blogging and tweeting less often until after Thursday 4 June.

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