Monthly column: Happy new year and River Festival 2022!

Bedford River Festival regatta The Embankment
Bedford River Festival returns in 2022

2021 was a difficult year with COVID-19 dominating and various restrictions and lockdowns taking place throughout the year.

Sadly 2022 hasn’t got off to a much better start with the Omicron variant arriving in the UK in December.

I would like to thank everyone across Bedford Borough for following the restrictions and protecting themselves, their family, friends and each other. We will need to continue this for a bit longer yet.

The Government has announced face coverings should be worn in classrooms in secondary schools, in England, to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant. You can read the full guidance here.

I would also like to thank everyone who has had their COVID vaccinations and booster. Being vaccinated doesn’t just help you but helps everyone in our communities.

If you haven’t had the vaccination or booster yet, you can find out more information including where you can receive the vaccination or booster here.

Not everything is doom or gloom though, during December we saw lots of festive fun across the Borough. We have had three weekends of activities in Bedford town centre and many of our villages held Christmas Fairs and Christmas Light switch-on events.

Bedford High Street has now re-opened to traffic and is looking much nicer and is more accessible to pedestrians. We have seen new shops and businesses open in Bedford town centre and in the last few weeks, including a new B&M in the old Marks and Spencer store and Foxy Wings open in Riverside. We should see even more new additions to the town centre next year.

We have also frozen car park charges in Council car parks for the fifth successive year. This decision also includes the two hours free parking deal, which was introduced in 2013.

As well as two hours free on Saturdays in council town-centre car parks, Queen Street car park is free for the first two hours every weekday as well. This decision will also provide a major boost to Bedford town centre, attracting shoppers to our local businesses.

We will also welcome back the River Festival this summer, on 23rd and 24th July. Keep an eye on the River Festival website for the latest information. There are still a number of sponsorship and trader opportunities available as well as the chance to participate in a number of events.

This is a monthly guest column provided by
Mayor Dave Hodgson. It is published unedited and
does not reflect the views of the Bedford Independent.