First Anniversary Of New Councils

It's a year since Bedford Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council took over the powers of the old Bedfordshire County Council.

The change which saw the end of the two-tier council system meant services like schools and waste management, which had been run by the old council, were passed down to the new unitary authorities.

That has lead to some big decisions for them.  Not least in Bedford, where the Borough Council voted to change the area's school structure from three tier to two tier in November.

Both councils were working together this time last year on the Bedfordshire Energy and Recycling Project (Bear).  However, issues over how much the scheme would cost led to Bedford Borough Council pulling out of the scheme, leaving Central Bedfordshire to go it alone in finding a way to deal with their waste.

It's also been a tough year financially for both authorities.  Central Bedfordshire are on course to overspend by millions of pounds, whilst Bedford Borough say they've had to find millions in efficiency savings.

Tricia Turner, leader of Central Bedfordshire Council said: "It is difficult but we're having to do it because otherwise we cannot afford to run our most critical services, which are of course caring for the most vulnerable in our society and to improve our children's attainment in schools across the council area.

"It's a place where our valuable businesses want to be, and we welcome them to the area.  We have to do that to match the growth agenda.  So there's a lot of work going on, but we are also absolutely certain to be making savings along the way."

You can listen to Mathew Williams' full interview with the Mayor of Bedford, Dave Hodgson and the Chief Executive of Bedford Borough Council by clicking here...

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