From protests against the bypass to a new bus service –a five-year campaign by South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth
In 2005, £60 million was given by central government for building the Linslade Western Bypass while the local bus service had to be cut due to lack of money. Local residents stood up against the Linslade Western Bypass and made the national press with large-scale demonstrations. But the protests turned to talks and negotiations with the help of the national organisation Campaign for Better Transport [http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/], and a new Transport Strategy for Leighton-Linslade was launched.
However, the challenge was still the lack of national funding for buses -so South Beds Friends of the Earth started lobbying central government, with great support from Bucks County Council, Beds County Council, Arriva, the then South Beds District Council and Arnold White Estates, Leighton Linslade Town Council and the Local Strategic Partnership. Together they came up with such a good transport plan for Sandhills, the new housing development in the south of Leighton Buzzard, that central government gave one million pounds to help create a high quality bus service which would support the town centre. The challenge was to get new residents to support and benefit from Leighton Buzzard town centre rather than drive to an out of town retail park. [insert Exemplar Travel plan pdf when possible using ‘transport plan’ in above para for link]
At the time , junior Housing Minister Iain Wright, MP said: “This project will bring real benefits to the people of Leighton Buzzard. As well as improving residents’ health, it will help revitalise the town centre and bring economic benefits for local businesses by getting people out of their cars.”
The Southern Leighton Buzzard developments benefit from a number of innovative features:
- The Dash Direct Bus service, which also services Sandhills. This will increase in frequency as more people use it.
- Real time information screens in all the new houses, so that people can see if the trains are running late and when the next bus is due while they are having breakfast.
- Improvements to Billington Road to make it more pleasant to walk, cycle or take the bus into town.
- Secure cycle parking for all the new houses
- A website with local information, to help new residents and a special travel plan coordinator.
This scheme is organised by a steering group of Arriva, Central Bedfordshire, Arnold White Estates and South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth