Bedford replies: ‘We are NOT stupid, Mr Prescott.’

In a recent article, former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott was quoted to say that the Bedfordshire town of Bedford, should be given a “stupid award” owing to its local planning committee opposing the construction of wind farms on aesthetic grounds. While the implications of this opposition are duly noted, the recently formed community initiative Transition Bedford, part of the larger Transition Town Network of over 1500 local initiatives worldwide, replies, “Look deeper, Mr Prescott, and you will find that the people of  Bedford are not at all stupid in matters to do with climate change and peak oil.”

To illustrate Bedford’s intelligence and to increase public awareness on these important issues, Transition Bedford will be hosting a free viewing of the film “In Transition” at the Ent Shed on Castle Road, MK40 3QY, on Wednesday 9 Sept 2009 at 7.30pm. Special guest at the event will be Chris Keene, a member of the “Zero Carbon Caravan”, a troop that is currently cycling and sailing from Wales to the UNFCCC talks in Copenhagen.

BEDFORD, BEDFORDSHIRE – 1 September 2009 – Former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott thinks Bedford is “stupid.”

At least that is what he was quoted as having said in a recent article published by Business Green and The Evening Standard. According to the article, Mr Prescott said the planning committee in Bedford, whose wider borough is estimated to have a population of more than 150,000 people, should be given a “Stupid Award” (named after the recently released environmental film “The Age of Stupid”), calling the committee, “stupid nimbys” and saying “I hope they get upset about it.”

But a group of local Bedfordians, who are members of the recently formed initiative Transition Bedford, invite Mr Prescott to look a little bit deeper, beyond the surface of local planning committees, to see the real Bedford. 

“And if he does,” says current Chair of Transition Bedford initiating group, Lynn Serafinn, “he would see an informed, passionate and proactive side to Bedford, where people are at the cutting edge on the issue of climate change.”

Transition Bedford is a part of the larger Transition Town Network, founded in 2006, which is now comprised of thousands of other towns, villages and urban neighbourhoods who are taking definitive, community driven, grass-roots action in response to climate change and the impending impact of peak oil upon our lifestyle. They describe themselves as a “social experiment on a massive scale” saying, “if we wait for the governments, it’ll be too little, too late; if we act as individuals, it’ll be too little; but if we act as communities, it might just be enough, just in time.” Their ultimate aim is to move from oil dependency to a “low energy, highly vibrant and fulfilling future.”

“Although Transition Bedford is a newly formed initiative,” says Ms Serafinn, “Bedford has been acting on these issues for some time now. Over the past few years, local groups like Zero Carbon Castle (founded in 2006) have really raised awareness and made great changes in the area of local carbon emissions, and various local permaculture experts and food growers have helped residents understand how and why it is vital we know about growing and harvesting local food sources.”

Ms Serafinn, a Bedford-based life coach, personal development trainer and bestselling author, also speaks about what the Transition Network refers to as “the inner transition.”

“What is important to understand,” she explains, “is that no one is going to agree to make changes to their current lifestyle unless they have a compelling reason to do so. Feeding people scary statistics about climate change may motivate some, but it is more likely to turn off others and make them apathetic or perhaps even hopeless. And while government action is certainly very important, truly lasting social change cannot occur simply via planning initiatives. The most effective means to lasting, positive change is to raise public awareness and to help re-establish people’s emotional connection to the planet on which we live, so they will want to make the transition out of a genuine sense of desire and purpose, rather than from a feeling of panic and need. The issue of climate change is an opportunity for all of us to educate, re-skill and reconnect our communities, and create a more meaningful and harmonious world.”

When asked how she will personally be involved in Transition Bedford, Lynn says that her primary focus will be on the “inner” side of this initiative, dealing with people, beliefs and wellbeing. Many others in the network are experts in the “outer” transition, being highly skilled experts in skills such as developing new energy sources, transport, conservation, food production, permaculture and other key areas. 

One such expert on the Transition Bedford panel is Shane Hughes of Carbon Accounting Systems, and one of the initiators of Zero Carbon Castle. About the current and future state of local awareness in Bedford Mr Hughes says, “One of the smartest things that the Bedford Borough Council is currently proposing is a renewable hydro-electric energy project, which, if successful, could benefit the town in diverse ways. It would not only create a massive carbon saving for the town, but it would also be of great educational value as an exemplar for people around the country to appreciate and imitate. But in addition to that, we hope to turn the project into a truly innovative investment fund in which people of the town can become share-holders, creating a flowing and renewable fund of money that can be re-invested in other zero-carbon energy projects. This is the kind of community-driven creativity that the Transition Town Network, and Transition Bedford, is all about.”

Mr Hughes continues, “Something I would like people to realise is that Transition Bedford will not just be looking at ways to become carbon-neutral. We will also looking at how our local economies can become more sound and self-reliant. A recent study done down in Totnes, Devon (the original Transition Town), has revealed that if we made the shift of ensuring that even a small percentage of our building materials for new housing projects came from local sources, millions of pounds would go into our local economies, while at the same time reducing carbon emissions. Again, it is this kind of win-win scenario that Transition Bedford hopes to create here in the town of Bedford in every aspect of life.”

Ms Serafinn adds to this, “And the ultimate irony of Mr Prescott’s comment is that Shane’s Bedford-based company Carbon Accounting provided the makers of the film “The Age of Stupid” with their carbon auditing services. If you go to the bottom of their web page on their 14 March entry, you will see Shane’s company name right there. In fact, their whole media angle of the UK premier being a 1% carbon event is based upon Shane’s audit.

“So the bottom line is, people really should take the time to look a little deeper, and you’ll always find that there is more to any story—or to a town.”

Transition Bedford, whose official launch will be announced early in the New Year, will be working closely together with groups like Zero Carbon Castle, Sustainable Oakley, Goldington Golden Gardens, the Global Wellness Circle, Mile End Allotments and many others, as well as with Bedford College through their Education for Sustainable Development programme. The long-term goal will be to develop educational programmes, skills training and community projects that will not only raise public awareness, but will also help the town make the transition towards a more vibrant and self-reliant community in such areas of food and energy production, natural health, economy and environment.

Transition Bedford invite any and all members of the greater Bedford community, whether individuals, groups or businesses, to contact Shane Hughes at and get involved. You can also visit their blog at

To show just how “smart” Bedford is on the issue of climate change, Transition Bedford is hosting a viewing of the film “In Transition”, which is an uplifting rebuttal to the sense of hopelessness and helplessness many feel when they think about the challenges of climate change. The film offers a healthy dose of inspiration about what communities of people, just like the people in Transition Bedford, are doing all across the globe to make the transition towards a sustainable, resilient and vibrant society, to restore our balance and harmony with the Earth.

“In Transition” will be shown at the Ent Shed (next to the Gordon Arms) on Castle Road, MK40 3QY on 9 Sept 2009. Doors open at 730 PM, and discussions and drinks will follow at end of programme. While this programme is free and open to the public, donations will be gratefully accepted to help cover the cost of room hire.

In addition to the film, special guest at this event will be Chris Keene, a member of the “Zero Carbon Caravan”, a troop that is currently cycling and sailing from Wales to the UNFCCC talks in Copenhagen. Mr Keene says, “We are making our way to Copenhagen without using fossil fuel transportation. Along the route we’ll connect with local groups to establish an itinerary of ‘zero carbon conferences’ to build momentum for zero carbon awareness.” Bedford is one of those local groups.

That’s very smart of you, Bedford.


Charlsworth, Andrew. 26 August 2009. “Prescott proposes stupidity awards for wind farm ‘nimbys’”. Accessed from Business Green website at 

 Evening Standard. 26 August 2009. ‘Prescott Slams “Nimby” Councils’ Accessed from Evening Standard website at 

Contact:         Shane Hughes or Lynn Serafinn
Email: (Shane Hughes)
Email:  (Lynn Serafinn)
Tel:                44+ (0)7809 882 077 (Shane Hughes)
Tel:                44+ (0)845 880 25 28 (Lynn Serafinn)





Tel:                44+ (0)7809 882 077

Phone:         44+ (0)845 880 25 28 (business)
Mobile:         44+ (0)771 84 94 234


Contact:       Lesley Grahame or Chris Keene
Email:    (Lesley Grahame)
Tel:                01603 920 801
Mobile:           07711 298 214

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