I hope you were able to enjoy a happy Christmas with family and loved ones. I’m acutely conscious that for people in Gaza, for the families of the hostages and for people in Ukraine and many other parts of the world, this would have been a very difficult Christmas. We now have ships from 50 nations which have been attacked in the Red Sea and as 90% of UK trade comes by sea, it is right that the UK stands up for freedom of navigation on all shipping routes.
Before Christmas, as promised, the Leighton Buzzard police community team moved into a larger and more suitable premises in Bossard House. We will see more response officers based in Bossard House and I also want to see more of our junior officers being trained in the town and not just in Luton and Bedford. For many years, there has been widespread support for a volunteer staffed front desk and I look forward to this being rolled out as well. This is certainly not the limit of our ambitions for policing in Leighton Buzzard but it is a very welcome move forward.
Last week I accompanied a young mother on a walk from her home in Bidwell West up Bedford Road and saw what it’s like for parents with young children pushing buggies over crossings close to blind bends and navigating narrow pavements right next to speeding traffic. We have not got this road right for pedestrians yet and I would welcome an acknowledgement by Central Bedfordshire Council that it very much remains unfinished business.
I had helpful discussions with the Department for Environment to understand the impact of their biodiversity net gain policy on the capital receipt from the 4 acres of land off Vandyke Road which will help pay for increased primary care facilities in Leighton Buzzard and we are in a better place as a result.
I also met with Royal Mail senior managers earlier this month to ask what action they had taken to improve the service after I was inundated with people from Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard and Houghton Regis telling me that the service had been poor. I understand that a very large number of the walk routes have been reviewed and the sickness absence has now reduced. Please continue to let me know what your postal service is like so I can take up your concerns.
As a result of Mr Bates vs The Post Office, one former sub postmaster has now come forward as a victim from Studham. I am working to help him and want to see justice for all the sub postmasters for all those responsible at the Post Office and the speedy compensation provided not least from Fujitsu itself.
I’m also in dialogue with Central Bedfordshire Council about the need for as much accountability, transparency and scrutiny as possible on how the additional money provided by the Government to repair potholes is being used. This remains a huge issue of concern to local residents which is why this transparency is so important.
Last week I raised the concerns of parents with children with special educational needs. The increased funding has not kept up with the increased demand and we have a particular issue with the length of time it takes to get an appointment at the Edwin Lobo Centre which I am working to try to improve.
I also visited flood affected victims in Leighton Buzzard earlier this month and I’m working with the Leader of Central Bedfordshire Council to see what further government support can be provided. One issue which did arise was the need for sandbags to be speedily and readily available to residents who need them and I’m also following that up.