Mayor urges vaccination catch up as talks continue over problematic third site


Two more vaccination centres are due to open in Bedford in the next few weeks although a meeting heard that one has been delayed because of concerns over traffic problems.

Borough mayor Dave Hodgson has urged his colleagues in the NHS to show how they can can catch up following delays to the start to the campaign.

Covid-19 (coronavirus) vaccinations started earlier this week at King’s House Conference Centre in Ampthill Road, and more are due to start at the Sikh Guru Nanak Gurdwara Temple, in Queens Park, next week.

A third site under consideration is Bedford Heights, former HQ of Texas Instruments, off Manton Lane, but councillors yesterday (Thursday) were told that this has already slipped back three times.

Matthew D’Archambaud, the council’s chief officer for transport, highways and engineering told councillors that his department is trying to deal with traffic implications.

“We are in discussions with the clinical commissioning group (CCG) and other colleagues within the NHS and it’s been a bit of a moving feast as and when these locations will come online,” he told the environment and sustainable communities overview and scrutiny committee.

Cllr Graeme Coombes (Cons, Wilshamstead) asked whether the old Texas Instruments building in Manton Lane was still being considered.

He said he thought it was an “odd choice because of all the roadworks in the area”.

“Has Manton Lane been knocked on the head?”

Mr D’Archambaud said the current plan is to open that site at the end of January or early February.

But it had been due to “come on line” at the start of December, before slipping to “late December, then mid January.”

He said King’s House went live on Wednesday and staff completed 390 vaccinations. He said the Sikh temple is due to “go online” next week.

“They are confident about those two but Manton lane seems to be slipping to the right.

“In terms of locations, Manton Lane was one that we had concerns about but right now it seems to be slipping. It has not been ruled out completely but has slipped three times,” he added.

Cllr Coombes asked whether the Bunyan Centre could be considered.

Mr D’Archambaud said: “We have politely offered a number of locations that we feel are a bit more centrally located, with parking another factor, but as I understand it these are based on target postcodes.”

At the council’s executive committee meeting on Wednesday, Lib-Dem mayor, Dave Hodgson, welcomed the first 400 jabs but the initial delay means the borough is lagging behind its fair share of the Government’s target.

“Four hundred a day is good but if we are to hit the Government’s two million a week, as we’ve been promised, and we get our fair share, that’s 728 per day needed in Bedford every day and that is without the catch up,” he said.

He told the executive that he wants reassurances on the town catching up and for the Government to admit when things go wrong.

by David Tooley
Local Democracy Reporter