Earlier this month, Richard attended an open day to celebrate the 30th anniversary of BELA Electronics – a company started by local entrepreneur, Mike Lafratta, which is regarded as one of the market leaders in its field with a strong reputation in the design and manufacture of printed circuit board assemblies.
Based in Kempston, the company has now grown to 30 employees and has recently invested in an apprentice scheme aimed at developing new skills within the industry and securing the firm’s future for another 30 years.
Richard said, “BELA Electronics is another Bedford and Kempston success story, providing employment to a skilled local workforce. I was also delighted to see BELA investing in the futures of young people – a key focus for this government which has created 1.8 million new apprenticeships since 2010. For many, an apprenticeship is the key to realising their potential and securing a better future, helping them to get on in life.”
In his column in the Bedford Times and Citizen, MP for Bedford and Kempston, Richard Fuller has spoken out about the consequences of the Scottish independence referendum. He wrote:
The Scottish referendum was a great expression of democracy and the will of the Scots is that Scotland will remain part of the United Kingdom.
With more powers – over taxation and spending – being devolved to the Scottish Parliament, we should grab this opportunity to remove unfair anomalies over the treatment of other parts of our United Kingdom.
Currently, as your MP, I do not have a vote on issues already devolved to the Scottish Parliament, but Scottish MPs can vote on each of those same issues as they affect England and Wales. It is a matter of simple fairness that this anomaly should be ended and that only English MPs vote on those issues for England.
To many this is a simple point, but already some politicians are trying to confuse and complicate the issue, dressing up their party’s wishes as constitutional principles.
Let’s have no time for them, nor for delay. Some will ask for devolution to English regions or a constitutional convention but these are either distractions or different issues for another time.
Other countries have debated, written and agreed entire constitutions in just a few months, so we should be capable of resolving these amendments to how we are governed in time to meet the promises made during the referendum campaign.
We should look again at the current agreement whereby Scotland is given more tax revenues per head of population than the rest of the UK. In a union of equals, that too, is anomalous. Separately, but straight away, we should start seeking a new system of allocation that respects the Union but also the principles of self-reliance, fiscal prudence and social support that makes our United Kingdom great.
Bedford MP, Richard Fuller, paid a visit to St Joseph’s Lower School earlier this month to open their new school kitchen.
Richard visited as part of a new government policy to give every child in reception and Years 1 and 2 a free, nutritious meal every lunch time. The move will benefit 1.89 million children at 16,500 schools across the country, saving families up to £400 per year and helping children to do better in the classroom and improve their daily diet.
Richard helped serve the school lunch and then joined the children for a delicious meal of chicken fricassée with vegetables and mash.
Richard said: “It has been shown that when children eat a nutritious lunch their concentration and learning is better in the afternoon. I was delighted to open the new kitchen and I am glad that children at St Joseph’s will be able to enjoy a healthy, cooked meal every day.”
After lunch, Richard was interviewed by some of the students who asked him what his favourite school meal was and he said that he had always enjoyed fish and chips at school.
On Saturday, Richard waved off some of the cyclists who took part in this year’s Beds and Herts Historic Churches Trust Bike ‘n’ Hike day. The group set off from St Paul’s Church in Bedford and cycled to Cambridge and back, stopping off at a number of churches along the way.
The Beds and Herts Historic Churches Trust provides a helping hand when repair costs are beyond the resources of a local congregation. Half of the money raised from the annual Bike ’n’ Hike goes towards grants, the remaining 50% is returned to the sponsored church for their own use.
The group, which included Mr Waine, who teaches mathematics at Mark Rutherford School, Dr Waine who is Head of Key Stage 5 Chemistry at Wootton Upper School and Kimberley STEM College, and Holly Barnard, who is a support worker for children with Special Educational Needs at Central Bedfordshire Council, was also waved off by Madeline Russell, the organiser of the Beds and Herts Bike ‘n’ Hike Day and Reverend Kevin Goss, the new vicar of St Paul’s. The group raised almost £800 between them.
This week, Richard visited Creative Graphics International (CGI) – a Kempston-based business that produces external graphics, self-adhesive branding information and safety labels for the automotive and aerospace industries to global customers such as Ford, Virgin Atlantic and VW.
CGI employs over 40 staff locally and has twenty years of export experience.
Richard was shown around the site by CEO, Peter Owen and Commercial Director, Mel Goodliffe. Richard commented: “This government has been working hard to boost exports and I’m delighted to see another successful local business exporting and providing services to prestigious global companies.”
More than 600 people stepped out in the fight against dementia last weekend when they took part in the Bedford Memory Walk. The event, at Priory Park, was started by Bedford MP Richard Fuller and Jamie Anderson, son of late Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson.
After getting warmed up with a Zumba workout, MP Richard welcomed the crowd. He said:
“I am heartened to see so many people here to fundraise and help spread the word about the condition. I am very pleased to be doing my bit to help. New figures released by Alzheimer’s Society this week reveal there are now 6,880 people with dementia in Bedfordshire, it’s a very important health issue for us all to be focusing on.”
On Friday, Bedford MP, Richard Fuller joined the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on a visit to Bedford cemetery to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.
Richard visited the Commonwealth War Graves at Bedford’s Foster Hill Road cemetery and at St Mary’s Church in Goldington and was told some of the stories of those who died by CWGC Regional Supervisor, Alan Dracup.
The visit was part of a series of events organised by the CWGC to encourage people to visit their local Commonwealth War Graves and to learn more about the impact of the Great War.
Deirdre Mills, CWGC’s Director for the UK Area explained that:
“The Centenary is an opportune time for us to re-engage and connect with local communities and young people, and explain how the people who are buried in our graves got to be there, who they were, and where they were from. More than 300,000 Commonwealth servicemen and women are commemorated in the UK. Many died in military hospitals whilst being treated for their wounds or fell victim to the flu pandemic as the conflict drew to a close. Their graves reflect both the local impact of the war but also its wider historical significance.”
CWGC has launched an online Virtual Cemetery education portal that provides schools and teachers with a comprehensive range of resources and support materials linked to the graves and memorials in their home town. The virtual cemetery website www.cwgc-virtual-cemetery.org is an interactive tool which enables pupils and teachers to view images and videos, learn more about CWGC’s work across the globe, and – most importantly – the people that are commemorated in its cemeteries and memorials.
Last week, Richard took part in Tesco’s Eat Happy Project in partnership with the Children’s Food Trust, which offered free cooking classes in 50 stores across the country over the summer holidays.
Richard joined a group of 8-10 year olds in a cooking class at the Tesco Extra Store on Cardington Road, which was designed to help the children learn essential skills for eating healthily and preparing food from scratch.
Richard said, “I was delighted to join local children in the cooking class. It‘s a great initiative to help tackle our increasing long term diet-related health problems and to help children have positive associations with healthy food.”
Richard Fuller, MP for Bedford got behind the food counter in Kempston Sainsbury’s store to learn more about preparing food and serving local customers.
Richard was welcomed by Michelle Booth at the Fish counter. During their time on the job they covered the importance of safety and hygiene while preparing food as well as getting a few tips from trained colleagues on how to fillet a fish. The day was designed to highlight the various career opportunities retail offers, and the training available to colleagues.
Richard said “I’ve had a great day accompanying Michelle. It’s interesting to see how passionate the staff are, and to meet local customers.”
Michelle adds: “It’s not every day you have your local MP in to work with you – I really enjoyed sharing some of the skills I’ve learnt and having an extra pair of hands.”
This year Sainsbury’s was awarded its second consecutive Gold Investors in People accreditation for supporting, developing and motivating its staff. Over 22,000 staff who work on the fresh food counters, bakeries and cafés have received job-specific City & Guilds-accredited training in the seven Food Colleges across the UK.
Bedford Doctors On Call (BEDOC) were presented with the prestigious Social Enterprise Mark when Richard Fuller MP recently visited their centre based at Bedford Hospital.
BEDOC is a social enterprise providing out of hours GP services to people in the Bedford area. The Social Enterprise Mark independently certifies that a business or organisation puts profits towards social or environmental good.
Debbie Martin, CEO at BEDOC commented; “We are thrilled to have been presented with this award, it reflects an organisation who have always strived to meet the needs of their patients. Our passion at BEDOC is being in business to use profits to enhance or improve our services. That’s why receiving the Social Enterprise Mark is a great honour for BEDOC. It is an independent guarantee of why we’re in business, how we use our profits and a testament for our future direction.”
Richard Fuller MP was delighted to present the BEDOC team with the Mark at a recent visit he made to the BEDOC Centre. He was a keen supporter of the Social Value Act 2012, which promoted social enterprises, and indeed stated: “Starting up a social enterprise is one of the noblest endeavours that one can undertake… People do it because there is something inside them. It may be creativity, drive and the sense of trying to create something for themselves, their family and their community. It is a noble endeavour, and it is an important endeavour to promote.”