In February, I had such a meeting in Sandy, attended by upwards of fifty such public servants from as far apart geographically as Dean and Shelton in the north, to Wrestlingworth and Cockayne Hatley in the east, and Arlesey in the south – my constituency is some size!

Let me give you a feel of what was raised. Housing and planning issues were top of the agenda. Whether the council was Central Beds or Bedford Borough, the pressures on the region for new housing are significant. Much of the discussion was not so much on individual applications, but on the cumulative impact of new developments, with concerns covering ‘soft’ infrastructure such as GPs, and school places, to transport and water. There was also annoyance that new rules for development gain in terms of what used to be s106 monies, were now spent wider afield under the Community Infrastructure Levy, and so did not always benefit people quite as locally as used to be the case.

On transport issues, we discussed the future of the A1 throughout our area. A current Highways Agency study reported in November that the three options under consideration were, unsurprisingly, an upgrade to motorway under a new route, major improvements or minor improvements along the existing line, with more work to do. Let me stress we are a long way from decisions- nothing will be decided soon, nor without much further consultation. The A1 position in Bedfordshire is complicated by work anticipated on the Oxford-Cambridge road expressway, and the new East West Rail which must also be looking for space in the same area. There will be more to come on all these.

More locally people were increasingly worried by inconsiderate parking on estates, and of course, speeding through our villages. This means us, by the way! Most speeding is done by locals! And we closed by discussing NHS issues; hospitals, social care, GPs and musculoskeletal services, plus Broadband, or the lack of it, and drainage.

I will be reporting back on many of these issues, and appreciate very much the involvement of so many people.