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Have your say on local rivers
26 February 2014
In 2013 BRCC was successful in securing funding from the Environment Agency to host the ‘Ivel Catchment Partnership’ and we are now pleased to announce that widespread consultation is underway.  We want to hear from any individuals, organisations, landowners or community groups who would like a say in the future of river and water management and the wider environment in the Ivel Catchment.

To go straight to the survey please click here.

Catchment Partnerships are a Defra initiative to assist in the delivery of the European Water Framework Directive.  Their purpose is to engage with local communities and stakeholder organisations to identify issues and solutions relating to water quality within a given catchment.

For the next few weeks, an on-line survey will be open for all who wish to comment on a range of issues. Based on the results of the on-line survey, we plan to hold workshops to enable a more detailed discussion of issues and possible solutions – do please let us know if you would like to be invited to these.

Local knowledge is crucial and we want to discover the main issues for groups and individuals relating to our rivers, streams, canals, ponds and lakes; and identify improvements which will benefit both wildlife and people.  We want to hear your thoughts about your local stretch of water - what you like about it, what you don't like, what would help you love it more; and finally what you can suggest be done to improve it.

The Ivel Catchment can broadly be described as the eastern half of Central Beds and the northern part of Hertfordshire.  Its main watercourses include the Rivers Ivel, Hiz, Hit and Flit – please see map (PDF 1.9MB).  We are sharing this survey with the Greensand Trust who are undertaking parallel work for the Bedfordshire section of the River Ouzel.  If you live or work in either of these areas, please do take the time to complete our survey. 

The results of the consultation exercises will be fed into an action plan for both the local Ivel area, but also into a wider Catchment Plan for the Bedford and Upper Ouse Catchment.  It is anticipated that the plans will have a list of projects and activities to be undertaken both by large organisation such as the EA and Anglia Water; and local-level community groups and individuals - all aimed at making our local environment healthier and more enjoyable for all.

For more information, contact Cliff Andrews at cliffa@bedsrcc.org.uk or on 01234 832617

Wootton Good Neighbour Scheme launches into action…
12 February 2014

The latest addition to BRCC’s network of Good Neighbour schemes, in Wootton, has launched recently. After just a couple of weeks volunteers have already gained 6 clients and carried out a range of transport, shopping and DIY related jobs – a really impressive start!

BRCC funded the group’s first leaflet drop across Wootton through its Wheels in Motion project, which is aiming to set up rural community transport services, supported by the Big Lottery Fund. Wootton Parish Council provided a start-up grant, enabling the group to pay for their insurance and phone, and has helped to publicize the group through the parish magazine. The local Fox and Duck pub has held a raffle and had a collection box for donations on behalf of the group, raising £128. The local Waldens Estate Agents has donated £100.

The group is a great example of the Wootton community working well together, with volunteers tapping into a wealth of local skills and generosity. A local cake maker has baked beautifully decorated cupcakes especially for the launch, and a young designer has created eye-catching T shirts for the volunteers to wear while out with clients or at local events.

For further information please visit: woottonpc.bedsparishes.gov.uk/noticeboard/


…along with several new Good Neighbour schemes in Central Bedfordshire
12 February 2014

BRCC continues to make good progress against its target of at least one Good Neighbour scheme (otherwise known as Care Schemes) in every Central Bedfordshire ward. As of this winter, people in Aspley Guise, Meppershall, Shefford and Stotfold can now call upon local volunteers if they need a bit of extra help, now that good neighbour groups have launched here.

The groups are already in action, busy helping with all the things a neighbour might do for another. Not surprisingly for a rural area, transport is proving to be the biggest request. However, the groups are there for drivers too – with one group having supplied a volunteer to sit with a driver in his new automatic car providing moral support while he got familiar with the unusual controls.

The volunteers were all very keen to launch ready to help residents during the winter and have worked hard to get everything in place in time. So far the weather has been relatively mild but if snow – or floods – should ever arrive, residents can now call on their local good neighbour group to help them safely through.

You can find out more about our Good Neighbour scheme Network here:

Artists required for ambitious public art project in Biggleswade
12 February 2014

BRCC’s creative arts programme, HAPPEN, has been appointed by Taylor Wimpey and Martin Grant Homes to manage and implement an ambitious Public Art programme at the King’s Reach development, Biggleswade.

kings reach public art

The programme will deliver up to four principal artworks, with linked multiple satellite pieces by up to three individual artists; integrated as far as possible with the overall design of the public realm.

You can find further information here: www.happen.org.uk

New contact number for Community Transport Brokerage
12 February 2014

The Bedfordshire Community Transport Brokerage has now been subsumed into BRCC’s Door to Door community transport operation at the London Road depot in Bedford.

It will have a new phone number from 17th February: 01234 346832.
The e-mail address remains unchanged: ctb@bedsrcc.org.uk

Please contact the team for access to minibuses and volunteer drivers across the county at reasonable rates.

BRCC seeks new Community Transport Project Officer
12 February 2014

We are recruiting for a new Community Transport Project Officer to deliver our Wheels in Motion project, which has been running since November 2013.

Further information can be found on the BRCC home page: www.bedsrcc.org.uk

HRH is the ‘Pride of Houghton’
12 February 2014

Houghton Regis Helpers (HRH), part of BRCC’s network of Good Neighbour schemes, has won the prestigious ‘Pride of Houghton’ award for community groups in the town. It was nominated by a wide cross section of the local community, including clients, residents and organisations keen to see HRH’s valuable work recognised.

Launched only just over two years ago, HRH has been busy helping residents with everything from lifts to hospital through to popping round with emergency food supplies during bad winter weather. Volunteers also help out during the year at local events. At the town’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations they provided teas for over 300 visitors and last November they were backstage at the theatre helping to ensure that the town’s ‘Celebration of Christmas’ performances went smoothly.

HRH provide ongoing support to residents at local sheltered accommodation and also deliver the town magazine to over 3300 households. This variety of activities mean that HRH has managed to touch the lives of most Houghton Regis residents in one way or another - so it’s perhaps hardly surprising that such a range of local people voted for HRH as their ‘Pride of Houghton’.

You can find further information about HRH here:
Landfill tax credits funding still available in parts of Bedfordshire
12 February 2014

WREN has funding available for community projects within a 10 mile radius of their Buckden and Bletchley sites.  This includes a number of villages to the north east and west of Bedfordshire.  WREN is currently experiencing a relative shortage of applications, so it is a good time to apply. 


You can check eligibility and find further information at: www.wren.org.uk

Beds and Cambs Rural Support Group awarded funding from Prince of Wales charity

12 February 2014

The Beds and Cambs Rural Support Group, a local charity that is dedicated to combating hardship and disadvantage in the area, has been awarded £27,229 by the Prince’s Countryside Fund. The two year project will fund the existing work of the group and aims to improve the quality of life in rural communities and the security and viability of small tenant farms by providing information and advice, practical help and guidance and professional support to farmers and families suffering hardship.

You can find out more about this here: www.princescountrysidefund.org.uk
ACRE calls for key outcomes from Commons transport inquiry
12 February 2014

ACRE, the umbrella body for Rural Community Councils, gave evidence recently to the Transport Select Committee about the challenges and opportunities of providing passenger transport to isolated communities.

After the meeting Janice Banks, chief executive of ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England), said:

“Many rural dwellers who don’t have access to a car are finding it a real challenge to reach the services they need - whether that’s a hospital, post office, bank or shop – because of cuts in public transport.

“Most members of our nationwide network of rural community councils run community transport schemes which try to plug the gaps left by traditional services. Many of these schemes are very well-used but, even so, some are struggling financially and finding it hard to recruit volunteers.

Only 42% of households in the most rural areas have a regular bus service – compared with 96% of urban households, while rural dwellers travel 10,000 miles each year compared with 6,400 by their urban counterparts.

“The Government must take a joined-up approach to rural transport services before people living in rural communities become even more isolated and disadvantaged.”

This story was featured in the Daily Telegraph: www.telegraph.co.uk

Please complete the national Village Halls survey 2013/4

12 February 2014

ACRE has compiled a short, online survey for hall management committees to complete, which will build on the findings of the comprehensive survey of December 2009.

ACRE is aiming to establish an All-Party Parliamentary Group on village halls and will use the findings of the survey to keep the work of hall volunteers and the challenges they face in the spotlight with Government departments, MPs and the media.  The more information they have, the better they are able to lobby on issues that affect the sustainability and survival of our village halls.

You can complete the survey here

The deadline is 24 March 2014.


Funding available for rural broadband innovation

12 February 2014

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is making £10m available to fund projects that will help to identify which broadband technologies will be most cost effective and commercially viable in reaching the 5% hardest to reach premises (generally in the most remote rural areas).

Potential technologies that could be piloted under the new fund:

  • Using 4G mobile signal to deliver ‘fixed wireless’ superfast broadband’
  • Using fibre direct to premises
  • Taking fibre from broadband cabinets to a distribution point further down the network, increasing speeds by reducing the reliance on copper
  • Satellite technology
Suppliers will be able to bid for funding, and will need to provide a description of their proposed project, including the costs and the outputs. 

The fund will open for bids on 17th March.

Suppliers who are interested in taking part can register their interest here.

Hear2listen looking for projects

12 February 2014

Now in its third year, the National Citizenship Service (NCS) brings together young people from different backgrounds and helps them to develop greater confidence, self-awareness and responsibility. It encourages personal and social development for young people by working on skills such as leadership, teamwork, and communication. Participants develop a social action project that deals with a local issue they are passionate about, and spend 30 hours putting the project into action in their local community. 

Hear2listen runs the NCS across Bedfordshire, and is looking for projects to which teams of 15 young people could contribute.  If you have any projects or would like any further information, please email hear2listen@mail.com 


Committee members needed for Bedford Area Bus Users Society (BABUS)

12 February 2014

The Society has had a busy year.  There have been the usual quarterly liaison meetings with Bedford Borough, Central Beds Council and the bus companies, but also extra planning meetings helping to minimise the inevitable disruption whilst Bedford Bus Station is rebuilt.

2014 will be a challenging year with the local authorities required to make further savings.  BABUS will seek to ensure that outlying areas are not left stranded without a bus service to take residents to work, to the shops and markets and to health facilities.

New committee members with an interest in keeping Bedfordshire well connected by public transport would be very welcome. 

For more information visit www.babus.org.uk 


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