18/04/2013 Look East - West


18/04/2013

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

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jailed for a total of more than 30 years after talking about blowing

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up this Territorial Army base. The price of bread -- bed blocking.

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This is not about throwing people out of hospital before they are

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ready. Nobody will leave hospital until they are absolutely ready to

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go. Say no to new travellers sites. Campaigners gather to make their

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voices heard. And the Essex man whose record is not broken by

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 604 seconds

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Four men have been jailed for a Hello. First tonight, protesters

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have turned out for a meeting in central Bedfordshire to voice their

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anger over plans for seven new travellers' sites in the area.

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Proposals for the sites will go before full council tonight for

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approval but campaigners argue the locations have not been properly

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assessed. Anna Todd is outside the meeting now.

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Yes, as you can see, there are still a large handful of

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enthusiastic young protesters. But most people have now gone into the

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council chamber behind me for yet another meeting in this lengthy and

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controversial process of finding new travellers' sites for

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Bedfordshire. They are now seven sites on the shortlist, that has

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been whittled down from 150 a couple of months ago. Earlier, I

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spoke to one campaigner who lives near a proposed site. Obviously, we

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have used on travellers and how they react with the local community

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but if it is in the right place with the right family, why not have

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a traveller in your community? But this is the wrong side, wrong

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village, wrong place. What is the - - what has the council had to say

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about this? It does have an obligation to provide sites.

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council received more than 3,000 representations ahead of a meeting

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in February. Tonight 22 people, members of the public, will speak

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at the meeting for three minutes each. It will be quite a long

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evening. The council does have a statutory obligation. They have to

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provide 66 pitches for travellers in the next 10 years. And up to 180

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by 2031. The fact is, in central Bedfordshire, we have a large gypsy

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and traveller population. Than been the vast majority, there are no

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problems. But there is a public perception that there might be.

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the shortlist is given a Yes vote tonight, that will call to public

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consultation in May. The Dalai Lama will pay his third visit to

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Cambridge in 40 years. The Tibetan spiritual leader hasn't been to the

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city since 1993. He'll give a talk at St John's College. Students

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wrote to him asking him to come to the university.

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It's just two weeks to go until the local elections. In

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Northamptonshire the big election issue is of course, the cuts. The

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Conservative run county council has started a four year programme to

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slash �170 million from its budgets. Currently the Conservatives hold 54

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seats, the Lib Dems are in second place with 10 and Labour have just

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six. But with the number of seats being slashed by 16, how will the

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council chamber look after May the second? Stuart Ratcliffe reports.

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Northamptonshire is a county of contrast, rolling countryside of

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food -- dotted with large centres of population. Traditional

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industries co-existing alongside motorsport and high-tech

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Engineering. Like all councils, it has had to make cuts. Street lights

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have been switched off and lollipop patrols axed and it is these issues

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which Labour feel will deliver results. People are fed up with

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this happening in Northamptonshire. If we cannot make gains and take

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control now, then I don't think we can ever. The Liberal-Democrats

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also feel that the axe has cut too deeply but they also feel under the

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stewardship of the Conservatives, standards in the county's children

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services have dropped to an acceptable levels. We have had

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disastrous reports. The report into how they look after young children.

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We have been warning for years that these were cut too far. And here we

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are, we have the county council inadequate in all four categories.

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That is disgraceful. But the Conservatives say overall they have

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a record to be proud of. The county was recently voted the most

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enterprising in England. And despite having to make cuts, they

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say they have done all they can to limit the impact. As a result of

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that, we have had for eight years the lowest council tax in England.

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We have not increased the county council tax for the last four years

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at all. Although certain -- sort of things weigh on people thinking

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about their own livelihood and their own housekeeping. But this

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year's elections will be very different because of boundary

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changes, the number and it -- the number of councils Elek --

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councillors elected will be reduced. Predicting the outcome will be

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harder than ever. To some extent, these changes are dictating the way

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the parties are fighting these elections. Labour will be targeting

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Northampton, Kettering and Corby. In the rural areas, both the

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Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats will be working hard to

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maintain support as well as in some urban strongholds. But the real

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challenge to all three parties is managing the potential impact of

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the UK Independence Party. Voter apathy could also throw up some

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surprising results. For more information on the local elections

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and a full list of the candidates in your area: And a reminder that

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this week's Sunday Politics featuring the leader of the Green

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Party will be on at the later time of 2pm on BBC1.

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Retail expert Mary Portas chose it as one of 12 towns to take part in

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her high street revolution. Now almost a year on more money is

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being ploughed into regenerating Bedford's High Street. The �3

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million investment by the council, lottery and local firms aims to

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boost local business. Hidden behind scaffolding, this building dates

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back to around 1,800. It used to be almshouses known as Duke's role.

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Today the shopfront is damaged and in need of repair but it is being

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restored with the help of an old photograph. When it is finished, it

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will be very good. It will enhance the High Street as well. It will

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bring in more customers. It will be better for the tenants. Upstairs,

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the vacant first floor is also being transformed into a flat. It

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is part of a �3 million heritage initiative funded jointly by the

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council, the lottery and local businesses. That is good because

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the town is dying. We do have retail parks. I think that has

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taken away business. I suppose anything that can help with the

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town is good. There are a lot more things they could be doing far

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better than that, like something to draw tourists in. Not just make the

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place look pretty. Recently, Bedford was picked as one of 12

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pilot errors in the Mary Portas project, a scheme to boost high

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street trade. Shopkeepers are now lose -- using the internet to boost

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sales. But so far, only �13,000 has been spent. It is important it has

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been allocated correctly. We need the shopkeepers to undergo

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retraining. That -- -- that has to be at a suitable time for them.

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These things take longer than we want but I am pleased it has

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started. A further nine properties will be refurbished. A spelling

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mistake on a war memorial in Cambridgeshire is finally going to

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be corrected, more than 90 years after it was made. When the

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memorial was put up in the village of Shepreth, the name of George

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