Network Rail engineering work will affect Thameslink and East Midlands services this weekend

Network Rail is continuing with work on a £1.5 billion upgrade of the Midland Main Line which will improve journeys for all those using the route.

On 4/5 and 11/12 July, work will take place to commission and test two new substations on the route between Bedford and Ampthill.

This work is part of the Midland Main Line Upgrade and will provide the power needed to allow more trains to run in the future.

RSPCA braces for summer surge in abandonments after 138 calls in Bedfordshire last year

The RSPCA is bracing itself for a surge in abandoned animals and fears the fallout from the COVID crisis could see more owners struggling to keep their pets.

Typically, the charity sees abandonment peak in the summer months. Between June and August 2019, 16,519 animals were reported abandoned to the RSPCA which accounts for 30% of all animals reported abandoned that year.

During the summer months the charity received 138 reports about dumped animals in Bedfordshire.

The RSPCA is braced for an even bigger impact this summer following the easing of lockdown and the financial impact on the coronavirus pandemic.

Developer donation helps fund For Men to Talk sessions

For Men to Talk, founded by Potton resident Luke Newman, has been awarded the donation by Mulberry Homes, which has a development of new homes in the town called Market Reach.
The money is part of the company’s Distinctly Local program through which they pledged over £5,000 to local charities, groups, clubs and societies during 2020 plus another £400 per month to buying gift vouchers for local retailers and service providers.

Established in 2019, For Men to Talk provides its members with an opportunity to talk about men’s mental health during a weekly meeting. They moved from meeting at a café in Biggleswade to online get togethers via Zoom when lockdown was introduced.

Thameslink staff embrace the outdoors in support of Autism Bedfordshire

Staff from across the Thameslink network joined forces to run, walk, jog and cycle throughout the month of June to raise money for Autism Bedfordshire.

Hailed ‘Challenge 50,’ each fundraiser had to complete 50 kilometres of their chosen form of exercise. With usual community events on hold due to the pandemic, Bernie Lee – station manager for Bedford, Flitwick and Harlington – thought it was more important than ever to raise awareness and vital funds for the charity and is thrilled that the team have beaten their £1,000 target

Bedfordshire celebrant supports High Court case for legal recognition of humanist marriages

The humanist couples are taking a case the the High Court to try to compel the UK Government to change the law to
recognise humanist weddings as legally recognised marriages, as is the case with religious weddings
across the UK and humanist weddings in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

A humanist wedding is a non-religious ceremony conducted by a humanist celebrant who shares the
beliefs and values of the couple. It differs from a civil wedding in that it is entirely personalised and
reflective of the humanist beliefs and values of the couple. Humanists UK has provided these
ceremonies for many decades.

Universal Credit: What you need to know as job-hunting rules restart

From today (1 July 2020) people claiming Universal Credit will begin to see a return of job-seeking requirements. These have been paused since 30 March due to COVID-19.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has said work coaches will be calling all claimants to help them prepare for work, although what people will need to do will depend on their Claimant Commitment. This is a document people need to agree to as part of getting Universal Credit.

The types of job-seeking activities people will be asked to do will vary depending on factors. Such as their health, current circumstances and which “conditionality” group they have been placed in.

There are four groups, which set out the tasks they’re expected to complete to receive their full benefit payment.

Woburn Safari Park lioness has her paws full with five new arrivals

Dakota, one of Woburn Safari Park’s lionesses, is set to have her paws full this summer after giving birth to five adorable cubs.

29th June was their first day out, as the mini pride discovered their new playground; the outdoor paddock adjacent to their specially designed house.

The latest arrivals were born to mother Dakota and father Joco in the early hours of the morning, during lockdown on the 24th April. These cubs, along with the pair that were born in July last year to Dakota’s own daughter, Zuri, has seen the pride increase to 13 lions in total.

This is Dakota’s second litter, following the five she gave birth to in 2014,

Mandatory MOT testing to be reintroduced from 1 August 2020

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, drivers were granted a six-month exemption from MOT testing in March to help slow the spread of the virus. However, as restrictions are eased when safe to do so, all drivers whose car, motorcycle or van is due for an MOT test from 1 August 2020 will be required to get a test certificate to continue driving their vehicle.

Charities call for council tax reform ahead of August debt D-Day

The UK’s three largest debt charities – Citizens Advice, Money Advice Trust and Stepchange – have written to the Local Government Minister to call for urgent action on council tax.

The charities are urging the government to implement simple measures that could protect millions of people from the prospect of spiralling council tax debt

Following legislation which comes into effect on Wednesday 24 June, the ban on face-to-face bailiff collection will now come to an end on 23 August.

This is the same day as protections from eviction end for people in the private rented sector and comes at a time when redundancies are expected to rise.

The Great Spiny Norman’s Hedgehog Support 300km fundraiser

Ollie Yates, a Year 9 student from Bedford School, has beat the lockdown blues by setting himself a huge challenge to raise money for Spiny Norman’s Hedgehog Support which rescues and rehabilitates poorly hedgehogs.

His grand finale is to finish with a half marathon ending at Spiny Normans Hedgehog Support in Wyboston on Saturday 27 June. Ollie has visited Spiny Norman’s (which moved from Wixams to larger premises in Wyboston) where he was able to feed some tiny hoglets and meet some of the residents there.

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