While we often are engrossed in day-to-day activities, I believe one of the biggest contributions a council can make is to think of the long term. How can we shape our communities to better meet the needs of future generations?
With house prices rising, like many parents I wonder how my children will manage to get their foot on the housing ladder and whether they’d be able to find a home or job locally. Considerations such as these are at the heart of the Development Strategy for Central Bedfordshire which goes out to consultation at the end of this month.
The Strategy aims to provide 31,000 new homes and 27,000 jobs up to 2031 to meet future needs. It also seeks to make sure that growth happens in a planned way so that we preserve and enhance our area’s character and that we put in place the right infrastructure and services to cope with added demands created by new homes.
But it is also about how we ensure new developments are not just about buildings, but about people - creating and enhancing communities that are self sustaining and supportive. There is a real opportunity to regenerate our town and village centres.
I was at a fantastic event recently which looked at how the council and a host of other health and social care organisations could work collectively to improve the health and wellbeing of frail older people living in and around Biggleswade and Sandy. It was great to see so much expertise and passion in one room and a shared commitment to make sure that people over 75 get the care and support they need to remain independent, stay out of hospital and ultimately keep healthy and happy. I look forward to seeing the local plan that is being developed as a result.
The ‘Caring Together’ event was one of the ways in which we’re seizing on new funding opportunities through the government’s ‘Better Care’ funding to join up and enhance health and care services. I hope to bring further news later this year.