Hundreds back call for upgrade of Kempston’s Saxon Centre

Councillor James Valentine and supporters collect signatures on a petition to regenerate the Saxon Centre, Kempston PNL-160224-134052001
Councillor James Valentine and supporters collect signatures on a petition to regenerate the Saxon Centre, Kempston PNL-160224-134052001

A petition has been launched calling for improvements to the ‘neglected’ Saxon Shopping Centre in Kempston.

Residents and councillors are angry that the site has been allowed to fall into disrepair and are calling for an urgent makeover.

The group, led by Kempston Town Councillor James Valentine, said: “Despite being the main shopping area in Kempston, with a long-established supermarket and numerous other shops, the busy area is in a bad state.

“Many promises have been made in recent years, but the Saxon Centre is still undeveloped,” he added.

“Kempston residents are fed up with the appearance of this area, and have health and safety concerns too.

“There are broken paving slabs, derelict buildings, and insufficient lighting.

“On rainy days poor drainage leads to deep puddles everywhere and the whole area has an air of general neglect.”

He added: “It lacks any of the features and amenities that a main shopping centre might expect and is the “poor relation” of Bedford town centre which has attracted heavy investment over the years.”

The move is supported by the borough’s Kempston Central and East Councillor Mohammed Nawaz. He added: “We’d also like to hear what amenities people would like to have in the area.

“We want to keep the successful market on Thursdays but what else would people like to see here?”

The petition attracted more than 200 signatures in the first week the councillors campaigned in the area.

Cllr Valentine handed the petition to Bedford Borough Council at its full council meeting last night, prompting a debate on the centre’s future to be held at the next meeting on March 23.

The borough council is currently trying to sell the centre to private investors.

A Bedford Borough Council spokesperson said: “Saxon Centre is subject to a commercial negotiation in which the council is seeking to achieve maximum value and the delivery of regeneration of the site as swiftly as possible.”

Mr Valentine said: “The number of people who have signed the petition in such a short space of time shows the strength of feeling about this.”