CBC Ward Councillor Steve Dixon Annual Report 2021-2022

As we hopefully see the restrictions of Covid-19 lift from the country, it seems appropriate to start with a reflection on what we have had to endure over the past 24 months or so.

The resilience and spirit of residents throughout Fairfield, Central Bedfordshire and indeed the country, has been incredible. The challenges Covid-19 has placed before us all has set new boundaries in our ability to adapt to fast moving circumstances and we should all take a moment to reflect on the fantastic community Fairfield has shown during this time. The work locally of organisations such as the Need Project and many other groups that support the village has been exceptional and shown the true values our community has. But our thoughts are also with those who have lost loved ones to the pandemic, as we look to return to a more recognisable way of life. We welcome many new residents to Central Bedfordshire who have chosen to move to the area in the last 12 months and enjoy the balanced lifestyle offered locally.

The Stotfold, Langford and Fairfield ward has regularly been placed in the top quartile of Covid cases shared with communities across the authority. This has been as a consequence of the size of the ward and the good behaviour of residents in being prepared to test rather than ignore the circumstances we have faced. We thank all residents for their support for those challenges and while we need to appreciate that Covid-19 isn’t perhaps completely behind us, we hopefully are past the worst.

Despite the pandemics best efforts to distract our attentions during the past 12 months, the need to continue to operate as many frontline services as possible by CBC has existed. From caring for the vulnerable to collecting the bins have had to continue regardless. We have continued to work with residents and Fairfield Parish Council on planning matters in particular, in a period where planning applications have risen by some 30 percent. The CBC Local Plan has been adopted in the last 12 months and we continue to fight rogue applications despite the attempts of certain developers to bulldoze through their unwelcome schemes.

The commitment to a more sustainable CBC has also remained a focus during the year. More emphasis on active travel is gaining traction across our area and the missing links to allow connected walking and cycling options are nearing complete. Plans will soon be available that show the ambition to offer safer walking and cycling routes from the village. A contract for the rollout of electric vehicle charging points (EVCP) across CBC owned assets has recently been let and this will aid confidence in anyone looking to transition to an electric vehicle. Indeed, the procurement of all capital projects in CBC will now have a positive sustainability focus, as seen with the construction of Pix Brook Academy in Stotfold and across many other new build projects.

While setting budgets for 2022/23 we are mindful of the increasing pressures all households are likely to face in the next couple of years. We have sought to protect frontline services and invest in opportunities to reduce long term costs to the authority. A taskforce looking at the fairness of opportunity to all residents has just been launched and we suspect the challenges households face will feature heavily in the early months of its existence. An ambitious capital expenditure programme has been set with major investments in infrastructure featuring heavily. These decisions are never easy, but we hope the scrutiny of our objectives will be appreciated as putting our residents first and supporting the communities we represent.

It was pleasing to see Fairfield leading the way in sponsoring of Ukrainian refugees recently. A motion condemning the invasion of Ukraine was recently tabled by Councillor Saunders and supported by the Council. Every effort will be made to work with refugees from any circumstance to settle in Central Bedfordshire. We continue to work with sponsoring residents and passport on the government’s financial assistance as quickly as possible. Any resident wanting help with sponsorship is welcome to contact us.

Thank you again for your resilience and please do keep in touch.

Councillor Steve Dixon
Stotfold, Langford, Fairfield & Astwick
Ward CBC Councillor

19th May 2022