The Borough of Bedford was awarded Charter status by Henry II in 1166, and includes the county town of Bedford, the urban area of Kempston and 43 rural villages - an area of around 120,000 acres. Its population is approximately 160,000 and is one of the most cosmopolitan in the UK, with some 60 ethnic groups being represented.
Situated on the arc between Oxford and Cambridge and with easy access to London and Milton Keynes, Bedford has the advantage of close proximity to both the M1 and the A1, and has excellent transport links. Our location has attracted many major logistics companies to the area and ASDA (Wal-Mart), Fuji and Argos Direct have all chosen Bedford as their operational base.
Bedford is a significant growth area and approximately 10,500 new homes are planned by 2021 with expectations that the borough’s population will reach around 171,000 by that time. It’s important that this growth is managed in a sustainable way, and that the infrastructure and local economy is strong enough to support the growing population.
Directly elected mayor
Bedford Borough Council is one of only 15 Councils in the country to have a directly elected mayor. Unlike the more traditional ceremonial mayors, directly elected mayors have wide decision making powers and Mayor Dave Hodgson provides the political leadership of the Council as well as being the Borough’s First Citizen. Together with the Councillors he has appointed to his Executive, Mayor Hodgson is responsible for the majority of Council Services.
Leisure and culture
Bedford and Kempston make up the urban centre of the district - a centre noted for its excellent shops, wide range of high quality housing, first class educational facilities and unrivalled recreational amenities. The River Great Ouse is a central and attractive feature of the town.
Today, Bedford is a lively market town with plenty of opportunities and a cultural diversity. The villages of north Bedfordshire are without doubt among the most picturesque in this part of the country and well worth a visit.
- Bedford town centre map and 'Did you know' trail 2014
- Bedford and surrounding area map
To find out more about how to spend your time in Bedford, please view our Leisure and Culture pages