Bedford Elections: Labour mayoral candidate says he will hold a 'comprehensive consultation' over borough's future if elected

"It’s about making vibrant communities where people want to live, work, and be entertained”
Saqhib AliSaqhib Ali
Saqhib Ali

Labour’s mayoral candidate for Bedford has said a ‘comprehensive consultation’ with residents over the future of the borough will take place if he is elected.

Saqhib Ali, explained: “I think it’s really important that we hold these events as part of our regeneration of Bedford borough.”

“These events have to be done in our first six months and then we can prioritise what we can do both within the budget over the following council tax year and the four years before the next elections.

“They’re not going to be one-off events, we’re going to regularly consult with people because it’s not about what mayor Saqhib wants to do to Bedford borough, it’s about what people want.

“It’s also about what businesses need, it’s about making vibrant communities where people want to live, work, and be entertained,” he said.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service asked why these consultations and studies haven’t been completed before the election so actions could be carried out on day one.

“Once we’re in Borough Hall we’ll have access to all the required data, know what the baselines are, and then we can carry out our plans in consultation with residents, ” Saqhib said.

“It’s about providing facilities throughout the borough, there are many villages that need improvement as well,” Saqhib said.

“For example, I live in Wixams, which is on the cusp of being rural yet it’s right next to Bedford town.

“We don’t have anything for our youth to do, we don’t have buses on Sundays or we have intermittent services.

“Again, we’ll talk to residents to see what they want, so it’s not just Bedford and Kempston, it is a borough-wide renewal,” he said.

If elected, Labour has pledged to ‘unlock the town centre’, incentivise people and businesses to spend locally, offer a broader range of cultural activities and local connectivity, reduce homelessness and set up community activities and youth programs.

Speaking about where the money could come from, Saqhib said: “Once we’re in Borough Hall with a Labour-run council and a Labour mayor we’ll get a chance to look at the numbers.

“We’ll be looking to attract more inward investment into Bedford borough, we’ll be looking to see what grants and other initiatives are available.

“We’ll have to prioritise through the unlocking events to see what communities really want.

“I think there’s nothing wrong about being ambitious and having a list of things that before the government cuts over the last 13 years would have been considered as a given.

“But this won’t come at the expense of day-to-day services.” Saqhib added.

A list of all the candidates standing for Bedford mayor can be found here.