Central Bedfordshire Council

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Hundreds of art packs going to underprivileged children

Alex Pope

BBC News Online

Vounteers handing out art boxes
Bedford Creative Arts

A "dream team" of volunteers are today sorting out 1,500 packs of arts materials for underprivileged children.

Bedford Creative Arts (BCA) said they were going to homes across the county.

The Let's Create scheme, funded by Arts Council England, is for families who would not usually have art resources at home and includes worksheets from local artists.

Art supplies
Bedford Creative Arts

Kayte Judge, from BCA, said: "With many children at home for extended periods we know that art resources will help families provide positive activities as we move into the summer, so we had to make this happen here and we are pleased to have had the partnerships in place to have let us do so."

Sixteen volunteers were working hard sorting out three pallets of materials at Elstow Abbey, the charity said.

Safari park 'confused' as why it cannot reopen

Alex Pope

BBC News Online

Woburn Safari Park

A safari park has said it is "sad and confused by the government guidance", that means it has to stay closed.

Woburn Safari Park, in Bedfordshire, said it does not understand how car showrooms and drive-through fast food outlets have reopened, but its park, where you can be socially distanced in cars, cannot welcome back visitors.

"Central Bedfordshire Council, our licencing authority, has visited for an inspection and has confirmed that the drive-through has passed all Covid-19 requirements," a statement said.

"And there are so many new arrivals at the park that we cannot wait for you to meet," it added.

Councils to refund parents cost of driving kids to school

Some councils are to reimburse parents any costs they might incur for taking their children to school from next week.

School books and bell

Social distancing rules has meant pupils should avoid public transport (including school transport) and either walk, cycle, or use their own car to get to school.

"If your child is eligible for home to school transport assistance and normally travels on a school bus or coach, but you are planning to drive them to and from school instead, we can refund you for the mileage you drive," Central Bedfordshire Council said on its website.

It will be offering 36p per mile but Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire county councils will be paying more, at 45p. All will be offering a reduced school bus service.

School transport will still be provided in the usual way for those pupils that cannot make their own way to school, though with a reduced number of seats due to social distancing rules," said Sue Clark, of Central Bedfordshire.

Essex County Council said it would not be reimbursing parents who chose to make their own arrangements as they would still be providing "tax-payer funded" buses.

Council to pay parents to drive children to school

Simon Oxley

BBC Three Counties Radio

A local education authority is planning to pay parents to drive their children to school in a bid to reduce numbers on school buses.

School sign

Central Bedfordshire Council will be offering parents a mileage reimbursement when schools return from half term on Monday - if their child is eligible for home to school transport assistance and normally travels on a school bus.

The mileage rate of 36p per mile is from home to school, and can be claimed for four journeys a day - driving to and from school twice. Schools will be asked to verify any expenses claims by parents.

The council said parents of children who currently travel by bus, coach or taxi are strongly encouraged to accept this offer so social distancing rules can be maintained on buses.

Where children can't walk, cycle or be driven by parents, the council will still provide transport in the usual way.

Another testing centre for key workers set up

A temporary testing centre for key workers is operating in Bedfordshire.

The Army is running the site at Cedars Upper School in Leighton Buzzard, until 17:00.

It is only for key workers displaying symptoms of Covid-19 and it is also open tomorrow.

Testing centre
Central Beds CPT

Hotel to become temporary shelter for homeless

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Days Inn hotel, Sandy

A former hotel by the A1 is due to be turned into temporary accommodation for homeless people.

The Days Inn at Sandy in Bedfordshire has been bought by Central Bedfordshire Council as part of a scheme to provide transitional housing for local residents.

A change-of-use application for 42 rooms, with a shared kitchen and dining room, is being prepared by the local authority for approval by its development management committee.

The property would include family rooms, as well as accommodation for couples and single people, and would be owned and run by the council.

District councils get more of government share of money

Andy Holmes

BBC Three Counties Radio political reporter

Councils across Beds, Herts and Bucks have received details of their latest round of emergency funding from the government to help deal with the pandemic.

In the second £1.6bn handout, Luton Council, which has said the shutdown at Luton Airport will leave them with a £45m shortfall, will get a further £5.8m, which is a slight increase.

Hertfordshire County Council is getting less this time around and the government has said this payment is not ring-fenced for adult social care like the first round of funding, so the council could spend it on whatever it wants.

After the first allocation, there were concerns from district councils that they had missed out, having arguably lost more since the start of the pandemic because they get a lot of funds from car park charges and revenue from leisure centres that are currently closed.

This time, the districts have got a much larger share, some having gone from thousands to more than £1m.

  • Bedford Borough: £4.7m - up £600,000
  • Broxbourne Borough: £958,000 - up £917,000
  • Bucks Unitary Authority*: £14.9m - up £4.5m
  • Central Beds: £7.9m - up £2.4m
  • Dacorum District: £1.5m - up £1,447,000
  • East Herts District: £1.4m - up £1,353,000
  • Herts County Council: £21.7m - down £4.4m
  • Hertsmere Borough: £1m - up £953,000
  • Luton Borough: £5.8m - up £400,000
  • Milton Keynes Borough: £7.4m - up £1.4m
  • North Herts District: £1.3m - up £1,252,000
  • St Albans City and District: £1.4m - up £1,356,000
  • Stevenage Borough: £871,000 - up £826,000
  • Three Rivers District: £920,000 - up £885,000
  • Watford Borough: £959,000 - up £909,000
  • Welwyn Hatfield Borough: £1.2m - £1,149,000

* the Bucks Unitary Authority replaced Bucks County Council, Aylesbury Vale DC, Chiltern DC, South Bucks DC and Wycombe DC on 1 April.