This week’s council of the week is one that can be commended for its fantastic provision and improvement of facilities and initiatives for its community.
The parish of Leighton-Linslade comprises the two settlements of Leighton Buzzard and Linslade and is the largest town in the administrative area of Central Bedfordshire.
The parish has an estimated population of just under 40,000 but this is continually growing and set to increase substantially in the coming years. A market has existed since 909AD and continues in the Medieval High Street to this day, on a Tuesday and Saturday. The town also boasts numerous historic buildings, a host of independent businesses, a thriving community spirit and a number of fantastic green spaces for residents to enjoy.
Leighton-Linslade Town Council works with a number of partners to deliver improved facilities for parishioners. A recent example is the provision of no less than five public-access defibrillators at locations throughout the town, which were the result of partnership working, not only with the local authority but also with a number of key community groups including the First Responders, to raise both funds and support for the project and to determine suitable locations.
Another example is in the provision of wildflower sites across the Parish, which were created thanks to South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth’s ‘Keep the Buzz in Leighton Buzzard’ campaign. Working together, the council, South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth and partners including Leighton-Linslade in Bloom and the Greensand Trust, transformed eight sites across the town, which are now maintained by the council in conjunction with a network of volunteers.
A “Bee Friendly” town, Leighton-Linslade was cited as a case study in the Government’s Pollinator Strategy in 2014, following a visit by Lord de Mauley to view several sites in the parish. A clear example of partnership working, the projects encourage residents of all ages - from pre-school onwards – to help protect and encourage wildlife and biodiversity.
One such site is Parson’s Close Recreation Ground, which is located in the heart of the town centre. Owned and maintained by the Town Council, the park provides a green oasis in the centre of the town and boasts a large play area, a skate park, a “splash and play” park and a bandstand which hosts a programme of live band concerts every Sunday during the summer months. Having invested in a temporary beach in 2014, the project proved so popular with both residents and visitors to the town that the Town Council opted to repeat the project in 2015. The beach is well loved by our younger residents but there is also an opportunity for the adults to enjoy it with our weekly “boules” sessions. The Town Council is delighted to have recently been awarded its first Green Flag for the park.
The Music in the Park programme is just one of a number of community initiatives organised by the Town Council. In addition to a number of smaller projects, the Town Council works with local businesses and voluntary organisations to present a “Living History” event each October and a “Christmas Festival Weekend” each November.
However, for many residents and visitors, the highlight of the annual events calendar is the Linslade Canal Festival, which takes place every year on the last Saturday in July and is usually blessed with good weather, attracting some 10,000 attendees each year. The event showcases some ancient rural crafts including bee skep making, basket weaving, love spoons and wattle making. A colourful collection of working and historic narrow boats can be viewed along the towpath and there is an ongoing programme of live music and entertainment throughout the day.
NALC would like to congratulate Leighton-Linslade on its on-going efforts to protect and celebrate its local environment, history and people – through a fantastic range of facilities and events.