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In Which Debs Reads The Sunday Times!

17 Mar

01

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!

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