Monthly Column: Changing things for the better

Bedford town centre. Image: Bedford Borough Council
Bedford town centre. Image: Bedford Borough Council

If you believe that outcomes are independent of your actions, you’ll stop trying to overcome challenges – nothing you do matters and it’s always someone else’s fault.

In a nutshell, that has been modus operandi for Bedford Borough Council in the last decade and that’s what we inherited when we took office in May last year.

A Council that had been neutered, unwilling to tackle challenges head-on with a cut-now pay-later approach, a Council that didn’t believe in its own power to change things for the better.

But things are changing for the better with the new Conservative administration. Instead of focusing on cuts, we’re investing in our community, our people and most of all our residents.

So, what have we been up to? What have we changed or are changing to make a positive difference to our residents?

  • We have concluded a successful 4-hour free parking trial, to improve access to our Town Centre, help residents save money and support our local businesses.
  • The trial was a success, four hours free parking in Allhallows is now permanent, and next we will be introducing four hours free parking for four months at Lurke Street during the Christmas period.
  • Reinvigorated the Council’s business team to encourage more businesses into the Town Centre, with new businesses opening in the past year reaching double digits.
  • £4m invested into our leisure centres which were left in a poor state of disrepair. Now our leisure centres are opening back up, being cleaner and safer than ever before.
  • £9m invested into getting GP surgeries off the ground and started, with residents potentially seeing the benefits of this sooner then they would think.
  • Recruitment drives to restaff services such as homelessness and Adults which have been savaged by years of cuts. With 22 new housing staff recently starting in Homelessness and many more in the pipeline for Adults.
  • Improved and revamped the maintenance cycle of the Town Centre and Bus station, ensuring these areas remain clean and a point of civic pride for Bedford.

These are just some examples of the positive changes happening as we shift away from the slash-and-burn strategy we inherited.

By investing in the Council, businesses, and people, we can create a brighter future together and when I walk through the Town and meet the residents of Bedford Borough there appears to be a change taking place as people become more optimistic for the future of our Borough.

Bedford’s bests days are ahead of it.

This is a monthly guest column provided by elected
Mayor Tom Wootton (Conservative). It is published unedited and
does not reflect the views of the Bedford Independent.

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