Tag Archives: Bedford Tourist Information Centre

In Which Debs Reads The Sunday Times!

17 Mar


Eagle-eyed readers of the Sunday Times will have spotted Bedford’s modest entry in their 50 best urban places to live in Britain 2015.  I thought of doing a blog about this until I realised that no one would believe me – but now it’s all over the front page of local paper the Times & Citizen, so here goes.

Always plenty to see on warm summer night!

Always plenty to see on warm summer night!

The original article starts off cautiously, stating that Buckinghamshire has the cash, Cambridge the brains, and Bedford is the less-favoured piggy-in-the-middle.  The local university is so-so and the architecture is humdrum, but we ought to pay more attention to this overlooked market town.  Not exactly bigging the place up, there’s usually a good reason why a place is overlooked – and the Sunday Times has just given several.  However – it only takes 40 minutes to get to London by train, Castle Ward has cafés, gastropubs, museums and desirable Victorian housing which is cheaper than the Cambridge equivalent – a five bed house here is the price of a three bed there – and Bedford School has climbed from 180th to 154th in a ranking of private schools.  The local paper baulks at the Sunday Times use of the word “gentrification” – Castle Ward has always been regarded as a good place to live, never exactly a post-industrial hell hole – but apart from that, it’s all good.  The Times & Citizen misses out the cautious beginning, and lists all the features that the Sunday Times has carelessly omitted, like a growing cultural scene, green spaces and attractive surrounding villages. You know, stuff that no other town has.  So – the reasons Bedford has made the list:

  1. it’s quick and easy to escape to London if you have to work there or when you can’t stand Bedford any longer.
  2. The brainiacs of Cambridge can buy up comparatively cheaper housing in desirable Castle Ward, leaving less for the locals and pushing up average house prices higher than the already ludicrous £261,879.
  3. Bedford School is slightly less of an also-ran than it was last year. Never mind that it is a private school for boys, so of no interest to people who don’t have school age sons or who don’t have the means or inclination to go private – league tables are sooo vital.
Mayor Dave personally greets every visitor each Saturday!

Mayor Dave personally greets every visitor each Saturday!

The Sunday Times ends with the damning with faint praise – “The perennial wallflower is gradually coming into bloom”.  Will all this make the slightest bit of difference? Last year, one of the Bedfordshire villages made the list of 50 best rural places to live in Britain.  A similar song and dance happened in the local paper, then it soon died down.  I tried to Google it as I’d forgotten the name of the village, but only subscribers to the Sunday Times are allowed to access the site, so that was me scuppered.  Never mind, it’s all good clean fun and Bedford really could be one of the 50 best urban places to live in Britain.  We won’t let it go to our heads.

(Apparently our usual Editor is Wales somewhere!)

Eeeh...when I was a lass!

Eeeh…when I was a lass!


Creative Writing!

23 Apr

Blogging can be real easy to start with and then you go through barren patches. To get round this we have an archive of random thoughts that are typed up on foolscap and stored in a big suitcase that “Skip” Hunter found in a…er…skip behind my bike. The skip wasn’t behind my bike it was somewhere near Biggleswade when Skip chanced upon it but is now behind my bike.

Southport won Britain in Bloom!

Southport won Britain in Bloom!

Some months later when things are fallow something comes along that by itself isn’t all that relevant but when you add several bits together from the suitcae of delights and half sketched out ideas things take shape!

Mr Mayor Hodgson has been busy wanting to add to the list of things that are forbidden in Bedford and soon it will be deemed naughty if you take a wee in public! £75 if caught! Spitting is on the list as well. Dave the Mayor has said so and to show he’s not wrong two cases from Waltham Forest are quoted in the press release and the piss-poor Bedford Times and Citizen have duly obliged and reported. I don’t know about clearing ones nasal track onto the pavement.

Nottingham, home of Robin Hood. Allegedly!

Nottingham, home of Robin Hood. Allegedly!

Our Mayor’s determination to stamp out weeing and gobbing reached ITV and Bedford was on the telly again. A treat usually reserved for when someone has been murdered, kicked senseless or dragged dead from the river but this time we seem to be attracting people by announcing that our streets are paved with gob! The odd thing is that you can already be carted off if caught weeing in public in fact to our credit a 72 year old homeless man with bowel cancer was fined a few years back and one of our drug addicts has been collared several times however in this case the Mayor has found another bandwagon to jump on. Nothing more nothing less!

Given that the noble team of people that have the “lucky” job of dishing out fines to miscreants on the street are feeling well “pissed” off with Mayor for getting rid of people including long term staffer Larissa it’s an easy win for him. Publicity for free knowing that he doesn’t have to get involved except getting his mush on both the council website and his own personal “Vote for Dave” site!

He’s also been mouthing off tough words in the direction of gypsies who have left piles of crap in several localities around town however it’s nothing new! Gypsies come, stay until the bailiffs are due then move on leaving their spoils behind and I don’t like it. I don’t like litter and I don’t like spitting. But equally I don’t like politicians that use any situation to push their face and “strength” at us when the opportunity arises and in this case after the event and knowing full well that even the police won’t act in these type of situations. How they are going to deal with a parent dangling a four year old over a drain while junior has a pee will be amusing and will the enforcement team be out at 2.30am when the pissers and gobbers are at their maximum. I doubt it!


And what started this off? Well when you enter into many towns you find the council has used the street sign to say what it is proud of, what sums the area up, how we sell ourselves and make people feel they are visiting somewhere of note, a famous name or an award..”Hay on Wye…Town of Books”, Nottingham and Robin Hood. How does Bedford use the spare bit of a road sign? Bunyan’s Birthplace, Town of Markets” no…See for yourselves!

Bedford Tourist Information

Bedford Tourist Information

In the meantime see if you can spot the difference below




Margaret Smith (above) says that cleaning up spit makes her feel sick. Credit: ITV News Anglia

You can’t clear it up.”– Margaret Smith, Street cleaner (still above)

Bedford Borough: Town of Fines!

12 Mar

And now we take you close up to the white sentinels. The CCTV vans so beloved by Mayor Dave Hodgson and ex cop now man of god Cllr Charles Royden, there’s two vans, this has a 2010 plate, the other is 2007 and surely up for replacement?. Both the Mayor and his Deputy are Liberal Democrats, a party that supposedly  champions civil liberties and common sense but both of them seem to be rabid champions of fining people to the point where these two vans are running at a loss despite them stalking the boulevards of Bedford till 9.30pm most nights. Regardless of what they get up to the traffic round town most weekdays is comparable to London!  The signs that greet you when you cross the Borough boundary say quite boldly “Average Speed Cameras” which just about sums Bedford up, is that all we have to offer?  Most towns have something nice on their signs like “Hay on Wye: Town of Books” “East Drayton..Home of Nicholas Hawkesmoor”. We just want to fine people!

That's were your money goes!

That’s were your money goes!

Oddly enough, I’ve sort of made pals with one of the traffic wardens, quite funny given the circumstance. Say no more! Just a normal person, bills to pay, doesn’t like the job, doesn’t like the way they are managed, looked on by the townsfolk as pariahs. Some of them are officious jumped up parasites on power trips, others will think their way round problems. They all have to write tickets out and the easy option is to go for soft targets safe in the knowledge that when the vehicle owner / driver writes in they’ll get they stand a good chance of getting the ticket overturned. Some will advise said miscreants what to say!  They have a “favourites” list, shops that they look after, not so much turning a blind eye to someone delivering stuff, more turning round and heading in another direction.

Close up. What a dispiriting job it sounds like!

Close up. What a dispiriting job it sounds like!

When told (by me) that head council honcho Stewart Briggs pulls in circa £130,000 a year, my traffic warden “buddy” looked resigned to knowing their place in the grand scheme. Small people given a degree of power start acting like important people!

And Earlier in the Day…

16 Oct

Before the Twat in the Hat showed us all that people can still walk about having had a total lobotomy I called into the Tourist Information Centre to tell them about our forthcoming event whereby a load of people who grow and make things get together to sell them.

I have mentioned before that the first thing to greet any visitor to the Tourist Info Centre is a metal sign offering you cheap train tickets to go somewhere else and that’s the theme here but having reminded you..best read on. In the TIC there was a small queue but I could tell the people waiting to be served were getting a bit tetchy but resigned to my fate I joined the line of people desperate to know what nice things Bedford had to offer them. There were two servers dealing with people so I opted to look at the leaflets but no so much as to lose my space!

Now after five minutes I started earwigging as one does although I will admit it was hearing the word “Adelphi” that did it. The Adelphi is a hotel in Liverpool and it turned out that the couple being served rather than seeking the highlights of Bedford were planning a trip to Liverpool where I was born. I felt like telling them to avoid the Adelphi. Then it turns out the other person being attended to was getting a guided tour of a map of the London Underground. By

Bedford Bypass...it takes you some place else!

Bedford Bypass…it takes you some place else!

now I’ve spent 10 minutes and not moved anywhere.

The Tourist Information Centre is moving to the Bus Station (providing the big redevelopment happens) and so if and when it does anyone visting the TIC won’t have as far to travel before the depart Bedford for pastures new!

Bedford’s very own Twat in the Hat!

16 Oct
All that is wrong with Bedford in one little image!

All that is wrong with Bedford in one little image!

Here we show all that is wrong with Bedford under the current Mayor Dave Hodgson. It shows a large vehicle being booked for the act of delivering leaflets to the er…council. Now I went into the Tourist Info office and when I came out the wagon had just pulled up, the driver got out went to the back and using a pump truck started to get the pallet of boxes off. Cue the Twat with the Hat! The driver literally pleads two minutes grace but no…said Twat with the Hat does his duty and slaps a ticket, quotes something about the unloading regulations 1857 and then saunters off to presumably seek out other evil people! In total the wagon was parked, delivered and gone in I’d say 7 minutes, if not for the Twat he’d have been about 5 mins and as our man on the street suggested he was only trying to do his job! So am I said the Twat. None of the traffic wardens sem to last that long, always new faces, I guess the guilt builds up and they realise that all they are doing for their pittance is helping add to the wages of council whallers like Stewart Briggs (£130,000 per annum approx) whin is the boss of the whole parking outfit!

Now this guys a one off, most of the other wardens have an ounce of common sense but not this guy. I hope the Mayor and maybe Phil Simpkins will call him in and pat his little head!

Visit Bedford and go to Brighton!

1 Aug

Selling Bedford...downstream?

Selling Bedford…downstream?

One of the first things to greet any visitor to the Tourist Information Centre isn’t a sign for the museum or a walk down the Embankment! No it’s a sign offering cheap tickets to go somewhere else! Actually its two signs and you can’t miss them!
Now I must be slacking as one of our regular readers had to point this blindingly obvious amusing fact out to me! Surely not I thought! So me and Debs went into town last Saturday parking at Bedford College for a mighty fine £2.00 and….
Now taking the bull by the horns, it’s actually a good way of getting locals into the Tourist Info Centre but by its very name its main purpose is to attract visitors in, people that might be staying in the hotels and it seems a little “ill thought out” when its primary purpose is to get people to visit and stay in Bedford! Perhaps you agree with me?
The Tourist Info Centre is moving at some point into the new bus station which to me seems a negative as it needs to be smack bang in the middle of town rather at the place that seems to be deluged with people trying to leave each Saturday morning! Still what do I know!