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Minister Eric Pickles visits Dunstable

4 December 2014

Eric Pickles learnt about Central Bedfordshire Council’s ambitious plans for managing growth and working with businesses during a visit to the area. 
 
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government attended the launch of a new distribution centre at Prologis Park, in Boscombe Way, Dunstable, which could provide around 550 jobs when it is occupied. 
 
The 310,000 square foot distribution centre was built speculatively by Prologis, meaning it was done without a specific client in mind. The firm has worked very closely with Central Bedfordshire Council to make the project a reality since being granted detailed planning permission for two facilities on the 32-acre site last year. 
 
Mr Pickles was told that it is just one of a number of ambitious schemes taking place in the area with Central Bedfordshire fast becoming a go-to destination for businesses. With the Woodside Link, which will connect Houghton Regis and the industrial estates in Dunstable with the new junction 11a on the M1 motorway, and the A5-M1 link due to be completed in late 2016, it will make the region even more accessible for businesses across the UK. 
 
Cllr James Jamieson, Leader of Central Bedfordshire Council, was among a number of members from the local authority to meet Mr Pickles on Friday. He said: “I am grateful to the Secretary of State for taking the time to visit Central Bedfordshire and find out more about the ambitious plans we have for the area, and how we are improving services while freezing council tax. 
 
“We have been working hard to improve our market towns, in particular regenerating Dunstable, which is designed to both bring business to the area, helping to create jobs for residents, but also to restore the character of this traditional market town by diverting traffic away from the centre. 
 
“Schemes such as the £4.5million investment planned for the White Lion business park, which is already attracting the attention of leading high street names, the £15million that is being spent to develop and refurbish Central Bedfordshire College and the major investment planned for the leisure centre show that we are beginning to see real progress on the ground. 
 
“With families and businesses fast realising that Central Bedfordshire really is a great place to live and work, we are working hard to deliver 31,000 new homes over the next 20 years and 27,000 jobs to meet local needs up to 2031, while maintaining the unique character of Central Bedfordshire.” 
 
Robin Woodbridge, Senior Vice President of Prologis, told Mr Pickles that the firm was looking to double its investment in Central Bedfordshire in the next five years. 
 
He said: “With our parks in Dunstable and at Marston Gate, we have already invested £350million in Central Bedfordshire and are working on doubling that in the next four or five years. Prologis has a very good relationship with Central Bedfordshire Council. We work very, very hard to maintain good relationships with local authorities, because if things don’t work for any reason, then we have that relationship to fall back on. There’s a certainty – you know where conversations are going.” 
 
Mr Pickles said: “I was delighted to visit Central Bedfordshire and find out more about some of the many exciting and innovative schemes taking place there. It is clearly an area which is developing rapidly, both in terms of population and as a destination for businesses. 
 
“The council is clearly working hard to attract top-name firms to the area, providing investment and much-needed jobs for local people, while at the same time looking to mitigate the impact of any industrial developments on the lives of residents. The new link roads to the M1 can only help to do this, and I look forward to finding out more about the exciting visions and developments coming out of Central Bedfordshire in the future. 
 
“I applaud the council for freezing council tax for hard-working local people and hope it will take up the government’s offer of additional funding to freeze families’ bills again this coming year.” 

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