Latest Stories

Sue_Oliver.jpg

Local Labour Councillors back Homelessness Reduction Bill

Bedford Borough Labour Councillors are backing new cross-party homelessness legislation, but say Government must fairly fund Local Councils so they can meet their increased obligations as proposed in the Bill.

The Homelessness Reduction Bill, aims to bring down high levels of homelessness by placing stronger duties on councils to help people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness at an earlier stage. Bedford Borough Labour Group supports the Bill but has warned that any new rules must be fully funded.

Across England since 2010, the number of homeless people sleeping rough on the streets has doubled and headline or ‘statutory’ homelessness has increased by 44%. Under the Labour government from 1997-2010, rough sleeping fell by 75% and statutory homelessness was reduced by nearly two-thirds.

Between 2009/10 and 2015/16  in Bedford Borough, statutory homelessness has increased from 141 to 287 households and rough sleeping has increased from 12 to 51 people.

Labour has warned that homelessness will not be significantly reduced unless the causes of rising homelessness in the last six years are addressed. The Party has released analysis showing how Conservative cuts and decisions since 2010 have led directly to higher homelessness:

  • cuts to housing benefit support worth over £5bn since 2010 – thirteen separate cuts to housing benefit over the last five years, including the bedroom tax and breaking the link between housing benefit for private renters (local housing allowance) and private rents;
  • cuts to ‘supporting people’ which funds homelessness services – the National Audit Office have revealed that this vital funding fell by 45% between 2010 and 2015; 
  • soaring private rents - averaging more than £2000 extra each year than at the same point 2010; 
  • the loss of affordable homes – with over 140,000 fewer council homes than in 2010, and the number of new government funded homes for started for social rent falling from nearly 40,000 in 2009/10 to less than 1,000 last year.

In Bedford Borough the ‘Help for Single Homeless’ initiative had provided a robust assessment process applied by Noah Enterprise and other agencies and enabled early identification of those new to the streets. It helped to fund deposits and rent in advance so people could access private rented sector properties. The funding to deliver ‘Help for Single Homeless’ came from Central Government and ended in July 2016 without a replacement. The loss of this service has had a significant impact on our ability to assist rough sleepers in Bedford.

Bedford Borough Labour Group Leader Sue Oliver said; “We back the cross-party Homelessness Reduction Bill to help get to grips with the scandal of rising homelessness across the country.  However, between 2015/16 to 2019/20, the main Government grant to Bedford Borough Council will be cut from £30million to £5.8million – an 80% reduction. The Bill would strengthen the duties local councils have to people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness – and rightly so – but we need to receive adequate funding to carry out these duties.  This Bill must not be used as an excuse for the Conservative Government to devolve responsibilities to councils without proper funding, or to shift the blame to councils for the government’s failure on homelessness.”

“Ministers must also act now to tackle the root causes of rising homelessness – build more affordable housing, act on private renting and re-think the crude cuts to housing benefit for the most vulnerable.”

 

Labour Councillors back Homelessness Reduction Bill

Local Labour Councillors back Homelessness Reduction Bill Bedford Borough Labour Councillors are backing new cross-party homelessness legislation, but say Government must fairly fund Local Councils so they can meet their...

Luigi_Reale.jpg

Labour Councillor hits back at MP’s hypocrisy

Dr Luigi Reale, Labour Councillor for Castle Ward, has accused Richard Fuller MP of betraying the Italian community in Bedford.

Recently, Richard Fuller posed a question to the House of Commons about the speed at which Italian passports were being approved for Bedford residents. He said "There has been a sustained and large demand for Italian passports and the capacity of the Italian embassy I am told is limited”.

 

Dr Reale said: “Richard Fuller MP has been talking again about the Italian community in Bedford - hoping that they will forgive him for his love of Brexit. What he does not explain is that this surge in demand for Italian passports by British Nationals (of Italian origin) has been directly caused by the shambles that is Brexit. Mr Fuller was a fervent supporter of the Leave campaign and presented a particular stance against European communities living in the UK – a move that many of the Italians in his constituency of Bedford & Kempston saw as close to traitorous.”

 

He continued: “It is unbelievable that the same man now asks for the Italian Government to speed things up. If his stance against European communities had not happened, all these British Nationals would now not be panicking to get Italian passports – to ensure they can remain in the EU. Apparently, the same thing is happening with British Nationals of Irish background.”

 

It is not the first time Mr Fuller has let down the Italian community. In 2012 Dr Reale led the campaign which united thousands of Italian Bedfordians in a bid to save their Consulate services, and ensured that at least the town could have an Honorary Consul’s Office. 

 

Cllr Reale stated; “When the Italian Government closed the vice-Consulate’s office in Bedford, Mr Fuller did not lift a finger to help the campaign to restore these services to Bedford. He now talks ‘proudly’ about the community! Richard Fuller needs to acknowledge that his views, his actions and his distorted vision of Bedford without the EU, trickles fear in otherwise peaceful communities.”

Labour Councillor hits back at MP's hypocrisy

Labour Councillor hits back at MP’s hypocrisy Dr Luigi Reale, Labour Councillor for Castle Ward, has accused Richard Fuller MP of betraying the Italian community in Bedford. Recently, Richard Fuller...

2016_08_Nawaz_at_Walcourt_Road_traffic_lights.jpgCllr Mohammed Nawaz has good news for Kempston residents.

"After listening to concerns of many residents, and observing the rapid build-up of queues of traffic by the Keep in Kempston, I've worked with the council's highways officers to make improvements to the traffic flow on Bedford Road.

The traffic lights at the junctions of Walcourt Road and Marlborough Park are to be upgraded and, by the end of September, the overhead detectors on site will be replaced with a more modern and reliable type that are placed in the carriageway. In addition, the signal controller will also be upgraded and will be programmed using the latest traffic flow data as a model which will make minor adjustments to the timings of the lights to give greater priority to Bedford Road based on morning and evening traffic flows.

A CCTV camera on site will then monitor traffic conditions. I hope that this will help the traffic flow more smoothly and reduce the congestion, especially at peak times."

Cllr Mohammed Nawaz, Borough Councillor for Kempston Central & East

 

Improvements to traffic lights at Walcourt Road and Marlborough Park, Kempston

Cllr Mohammed Nawaz has good news for Kempston residents. "After listening to concerns of many residents, and observing the rapid build-up of queues of traffic by the Keep in Kempston,...

More Stories >

The Labour Party will place cookies on your computer to help us make this website better.

Please read this to review the updates about which cookies we use and what information we collect on our site.

To find out more about these cookies, see our privacy notice. Use of this site confirms your acceptance of these cookies.