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Protection against Unauthorised Encampments Set to be Extended as Lib Dems Fight to Support Local Neighbourhoods

February 2, 2009 4:15 PM

A range of measures to protect and improve the local environment in neighbourhoods in Bedford Borough are set to be carried out after Liberal Democrat proposals were incorporated in the proposed first budget of the Unitary Council. The measures include further protection of open spaces from unauthorised encampments and action to tackle the problem of ugly, churned-up grass verges caused by local parking difficulties.

The additional £35,000 included in the proposed budget for the protection of council land will allow for physical measures to be put in place at more vulnerable sites. This follows work undertaken in the past year thanks to the Lib Dems at a number of locations including Wentworth Drive and Fenlake Meadows. Commenting on the issue, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Goldington Ward Phil Merryman said: "The protective measures that we were able to get put in place last year have been very successful at those sites which have benefited from them. However, the number of encampments at a number of extremely unsuitable sites across the Borough last year highlighted the need for the council to do more to protect vulnerable open spaces. This is essential as one part of the action needed to stop the merry-go-round movement of traveller encampments.'

Cllr Merryman also welcomed the addition in the recommended budget of the Lib Dem proposal for £40,000 to be allocated for action to tackle the problem of verge parking. Commenting, he said: "While reducing council spending on PR and ceremonial events, we have been able to secure more money in the budget for crucial issues such as the problem of ugly, churned-up verges which sadly is all too obvious in many of our local neighbourhoods. This will allow the council to help neighbourhoods overcome the problem by finding the right solutions for local streets. For example, more verges could be protected using a plastic mesh which allows grass to grow through it, while other unwanted narrow verges could simply be replaced with a suitable hard surface. Additional parking could also be provided in some locations where residents are in favour and space permits.'

"These are the kind of solutions the council needs to be prepared to implement to improve the local environment and allow residents to take pride in their neighbourhood."

The Lib Dems' plans will go forward as part of the budget presented to the Full Council at its meeting on 4th February. In addition to measures to protect open spaces from unauthorised encampments and tackle verge parking problems, the Lib Dem proposals to improve the local environment include extra funding to repair damaged or vandalised bus shelters.