Latest news for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Milton Keynes and Northants.
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Good evening. In the programme tonight, four men from Luton are
jailed for a total of more than 30 years after talking about blowing
up this Territorial Army base. The price of bread -- bed blocking.
This is not about throwing people out of hospital before they are
ready. Nobody will leave hospital until they are absolutely ready to
go. Say no to new travellers sites. Campaigners gather to make their
voices heard. And the Essex man whose record is not broken by
Apology for the loss of subtitles for 604 seconds
Four men have been jailed for a Hello. First tonight, protesters
have turned out for a meeting in central Bedfordshire to voice their
anger over plans for seven new travellers' sites in the area.
Proposals for the sites will go before full council tonight for
approval but campaigners argue the locations have not been properly
assessed. Anna Todd is outside the meeting now.
Yes, as you can see, there are still a large handful of
enthusiastic young protesters. But most people have now gone into the
council chamber behind me for yet another meeting in this lengthy and
controversial process of finding new travellers' sites for
Bedfordshire. They are now seven sites on the shortlist, that has
been whittled down from 150 a couple of months ago. Earlier, I
spoke to one campaigner who lives near a proposed site. Obviously, we
have used on travellers and how they react with the local community
but if it is in the right place with the right family, why not have
a traveller in your community? But this is the wrong side, wrong
village, wrong place. What is the - - what has the council had to say
about this? It does have an obligation to provide sites.
council received more than 3,000 representations ahead of a meeting
in February. Tonight 22 people, members of the public, will speak
at the meeting for three minutes each. It will be quite a long
evening. The council does have a statutory obligation. They have to
provide 66 pitches for travellers in the next 10 years. And up to 180
by 2031. The fact is, in central Bedfordshire, we have a large gypsy
and traveller population. Than been the vast majority, there are no
problems. But there is a public perception that there might be.
the shortlist is given a Yes vote tonight, that will call to public
consultation in May. The Dalai Lama will pay his third visit to
Cambridge in 40 years. The Tibetan spiritual leader hasn't been to the
city since 1993. He'll give a talk at St John's College. Students
wrote to him asking him to come to the university.
It's just two weeks to go until the local elections. In
Northamptonshire the big election issue is of course, the cuts. The
Conservative run county council has started a four year programme to
slash �170 million from its budgets. Currently the Conservatives hold 54
seats, the Lib Dems are in second place with 10 and Labour have just
six. But with the number of seats being slashed by 16, how will the
council chamber look after May the second? Stuart Ratcliffe reports.
Northamptonshire is a county of contrast, rolling countryside of
food -- dotted with large centres of population. Traditional
industries co-existing alongside motorsport and high-tech
Engineering. Like all councils, it has had to make cuts. Street lights
have been switched off and lollipop patrols axed and it is these issues
which Labour feel will deliver results. People are fed up with
this happening in Northamptonshire. If we cannot make gains and take
control now, then I don't think we can ever. The Liberal-Democrats
also feel that the axe has cut too deeply but they also feel under the
stewardship of the Conservatives, standards in the county's children
services have dropped to an acceptable levels. We have had
disastrous reports. The report into how they look after young children.
We have been warning for years that these were cut too far. And here we
are, we have the county council inadequate in all four categories.
That is disgraceful. But the Conservatives say overall they have
a record to be proud of. The county was recently voted the most
enterprising in England. And despite having to make cuts, they
say they have done all they can to limit the impact. As a result of
that, we have had for eight years the lowest council tax in England.
We have not increased the county council tax for the last four years
at all. Although certain -- sort of things weigh on people thinking
about their own livelihood and their own housekeeping. But this
year's elections will be very different because of boundary
changes, the number and it -- the number of councils Elek --
councillors elected will be reduced. Predicting the outcome will be
harder than ever. To some extent, these changes are dictating the way
the parties are fighting these elections. Labour will be targeting
Northampton, Kettering and Corby. In the rural areas, both the
Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats will be working hard to
maintain support as well as in some urban strongholds. But the real
challenge to all three parties is managing the potential impact of
the UK Independence Party. Voter apathy could also throw up some
surprising results. For more information on the local elections
and a full list of the candidates in your area: And a reminder that
this week's Sunday Politics featuring the leader of the Green
Party will be on at the later time of 2pm on BBC1.
Retail expert Mary Portas chose it as one of 12 towns to take part in
her high street revolution. Now almost a year on more money is
being ploughed into regenerating Bedford's High Street. The �3
million investment by the council, lottery and local firms aims to
boost local business. Hidden behind scaffolding, this building dates
back to around 1,800. It used to be almshouses known as Duke's role.
Today the shopfront is damaged and in need of repair but it is being
restored with the help of an old photograph. When it is finished, it
will be very good. It will enhance the High Street as well. It will
bring in more customers. It will be better for the tenants. Upstairs,
the vacant first floor is also being transformed into a flat. It
is part of a �3 million heritage initiative funded jointly by the
council, the lottery and local businesses. That is good because
the town is dying. We do have retail parks. I think that has
taken away business. I suppose anything that can help with the
town is good. There are a lot more things they could be doing far
better than that, like something to draw tourists in. Not just make the
place look pretty. Recently, Bedford was picked as one of 12
pilot errors in the Mary Portas project, a scheme to boost high
street trade. Shopkeepers are now lose -- using the internet to boost
sales. But so far, only �13,000 has been spent. It is important it has
been allocated correctly. We need the shopkeepers to undergo
retraining. That -- -- that has to be at a suitable time for them.
These things take longer than we want but I am pleased it has
started. A further nine properties will be refurbished. A spelling
mistake on a war memorial in Cambridgeshire is finally going to
be corrected, more than 90 years after it was made. When the
memorial was put up in the village of Shepreth, the name of George