Opinion: Be part of the solution not part of the problem

Bedford Town Centre from above
Bedford Town Centre Image: Bedford Borough Council

In the last 48 hours, two of our most popular stories have been about new businesses choosing Bedford to make bold, ambitious and dynamic change.

The installation of Bedford’s first living wall has been – judging by comments on social media – universally applauded.

It’s being set up by Rosanna who owns The Store, Bedford’s first refill shop. When we wrote about the launch of The Store back in 2019, it was one of the most widely-read stories of the year.

And since it’s launch, Rosanna’s business has gone from strength to strength, thriving even during a global pandemic.

This morning, Foxy Wings & Beerfly hit their crowdfunder target less than three days after launching.

They were asking Bedfordians to get behind their business & donate the final £20k they needed to open their new restaurant and bar in Riverside North.

Countless more people read and engaged with that story than the news that Debenhams had announced its closure date.

Foxy Wings reaching £20,000 target screenshot
Foxy Wings and Beerfly reached their £20,000 crowdfunder target just 48 hours after it was launched.

What Rosanna and the Foxy team have in common is that they love Bedford and are willing to put blood, sweat, tears and money into helping the town reach its potential.

When Riverside North was being built, numerous vocal locals were already predicting its demise. “White elephant”, “Mayor’s vanity project”, “not what Bedford needs.”

But thanks to the investment and vision of indie businesses like Bridges Espresso Bar and Naughty Pizza, who have joined Albero Lounge, Wagamama and Zizzi, it is thriving – despite the cinema and hotel still being closed.

And thanks to the positivity of hundreds of Bedfordians and the ambition of a small but dedicated group of people, Foxy Wings will be heading to Riverside North this summer.

The dynamic businesses that make Bedford unique have all identified  something special about our town and have gone above and beyond to bring something different.

From Queens Park to Goldington, the villages to the town centre, there are people with drive and ambition willing to invest in where they live.

Of course, if you were to simply read the comments of Facebook, you wouldn’t know any of this.

The negative comments always far outweigh the positives for one very good reason.

The people making a difference are too busy making a difference to spend all their time on social media.

They are actually out there, spending money in the town centre, running their businesses in the town centre and creating the Bedford they want to live in.

Perhaps they also know that businesses looking to invest in a town will read social media. If all they see is negativity, they’re less likely to invest.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if the very people moaning that Bedford is a ghost town are the very people responsible for driving nails into its coffin?