Monthly column: If you want a politics that serves you… this is your year

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Leader of the Bedford Labour Group, Cllr Carl Meader. Image: Bedford Labour Group

We start the new year with hope that 2024 will bring great things not just to us as individuals but for our Borough and the country.

The policies of government affect us all on a daily basis and impact on how the council operates.

It has been a difficult fourteen years of Tory austerity, with financial cuts to funding for local authorities leading to increasing strain on council officers and the essential services they provide. We desperately need change.

I welcomed the positivity with which Kier Starmer made his first speech of 2024, a year in which, sooner or later, a General Election will be held, giving us all a chance to have our say on who runs our country.

After a succession of unelected and divisive Conservative Prime Ministers, we need a change, fresh ideas and energised politicians who are in politics for the greater good, not in it for themselves.

To quote Kier Starmer – if you want a politics that serves you – then make no mistake, this is your year. The opportunity to shape our country’s future rests in your hands.

Whether the election is in May, as I feel it should be, or in November as Rishi Sunak has hinted, we will finally be able to cast a vote for change.

It is our chance to rebuild our public services and boost the morale of our nation again, after years of austerity and chaotic policies that crashed the economy on the whim of an unelected think-tank.

Unnecessary negativity

Locally, we can all pitch in to help in our communities, and support those who are starting out with new business ventures, especially the small independents that Bedford Borough is renowned for.

I tire of the negative posts on social media such as ‘not another coffee shop’ when they are now a massive part of our way of life, and the number of them that are thriving means there is room for others perhaps offering a little something different in addition to the espresso or flat white.

Mason Le Votre has just opened in Silver Street, Marcio’s Brazilian Food on Mill Street, and there are no doubt others I may have missed.

Another new business called Putt Putt Noodle offers a totally new combination of crazy golf and Japanese food right in the heart of the town centre in Midland Road.

We are fortunate to have the new cafes and businesses in Castle Road area, plus events like the Flea Market.

In Kempston, the King William IV has had a welcome refurbishment, and the newly opened Hen Pen in Cleveland Street appears to be thriving.

Many residents in Kempston have made it very clear that they would love to see a café in Addison Howard Park as it is the largest of the Borough’s parks without such a facility.

Our local Kempston Councillors are working with Borough Officers in the hope of delivering it.

We also have the tantalising possibility of Universal making a massive investment and building a theme park in the Borough that could ensure greater prosperity and improvements to infrastructure in the area in coming years.

We all want to live in a country that feels like it is working again and has a future to look forward to, so let’s all start the year with hope that 2024 will bring the change we need.

This is a monthly guest column provided by
Cllr Carl Meader, leader of the Bedford Labour Group.
It is published unedited and does not reflect the
views of the Bedford Independent.