• Antonia Ryan

Conservatives say NO to spending money in Houghton Regis

Tonight at the Central Bedfordshire Council I raised an amendment to the Council’s budget for an activities area for Parkside (full speech below). This money would have been taken out of the New Homes Bonus which has been generated from our housing growth, currently this money is sitting in reserves and to date has not been allocated. The Conservatives voted against this amendment, this leaves the money vulnerable to be used in other parts of the Central Bedfordshire.

“Nothing ever happens here, we are the forgotten town, the council never do what they promise”

This is an example of the comments I hear regularly.

I am here today to speak on the amendment to the budget of £100k to be taken out of Houghton Regis’ contribution to the New Homes Bonus, which sits unused in reserves. Houghton Regis is the most deprived area in Central Bedfordshire with Parkside having 34% children living in poverty AND life expectancy significantly lower in comparison to our neighbours.

In the last 4 years we were promised:

  • £125 million for the Legacy Project with top football players

  • A housing infrastructure bid of £128 million, which was deemed the amount needed to make an impact

  • And recently £12 million for a leisure centre.

All have failed …

Covid has taught us that our health should be at the forefront of everything we do, and that our open spaces are more important than ever BUT Houghton Regis has seen a lot of changes over the years with an estimated 12k in housing growth and the Land that was used by cyclists, walkers and runners are now NO GO areas as they are turned into building sites.

This Council has taken away our land, BANKED OUR MONEY, left us without proper infrastructure and false hope.

But here we have an opportunity to use our money.

In the words of Grant Shapps MP about New Homes Bonus:

"Communities will see the economic and social benefits of having the housing they want. Communities could benefit from a redeveloped town centre or a new community centre or play park as a consequence of accepting new homes."

So this amendment speaks to this purpose, £100k is a small amount out of our contribution to New Homes Bonus for an all age group outdoor equipment in Parkside to support the mental health and wellbeing of the most in need area in Central Bedfordshire.

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