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Richard Fuller, MP for Bedford and Kempston, has expressed his disgust at the actions of local health groups that has resulted in the cancellation of a much needed improvement to mental health services in Bedford.
In 2010, Bedfordshire PCT, the forerunner of local commissioning groups, agreed a contract with mental health provider SEPT that included a commitment for SEPT to invest £17.9m to upgrade the facilities in Bedfordshire and Luton.
In the first three years, SEPT invested £10m in “direct upgrading and re-provision of mental health and learning disabilities services” with the majority of this, £5.9m, being spent in Luton.
The move followed an amendment by local MP, Richard Fuller, and a public consultation that endorsed an increase. As a result, the maximum sentence will increase from just two years to fourteen years under provisions in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill.
Speaking after the final Commons debate on the Bill, Richard said:
“I was appalled to learn that the average sentence given to a dog owner when their out of control dog kills a child was just eight weeks.
“I am glad that the Government has listened and has now brought the maximum sentence in line with that for causing death by dangerous driving.
“What people need to know is if you own a dog which kills or seriously harms someone, you are responsible.”
The release of national school results lets me recognise the dedication, hard work and results of teachers, and the support staff, at our schools in Bedford and Kempston.
In 2010, local schools were 13 percentage points behind the national average for the proportion of students achieving 5+ A*-C GCSEs including English and Maths.
Now, that gap is down to 8.8%, and 52% of students achieve that standard in Bedford and Kempston schools compared to just 42% in 2010.
Though not always consistent, each step of progress has to be hard won.
Following on from his own energy advice events in December, local MP Richard Fuller has this week shown his support for Big Energy Saving Week, which will help people in Bedford and Kempston to cut hundreds of pounds from their energy bills.
The campaign, which runs from 27-31 January 2014, gives practical advice to consumers on how to save money by checking, switching and insulating their homes. Citizens Advice Bureaux are running over 500 events to help consumers get advice on how to cut their bills during the week.
Big Energy Saving Week is run by Citizens Advice and supported by charities, the Government and the energy industry. By following the advice, consumers could save:
- - £100 average saving paying by direct debit rather than cash or cheque
- Up to £200 saving for switching tariff or supplier if you have never switched before
- £320 average saving from insulation and other energy saving measures
“Big Energy Saving Week is a great opportunity to take action and cut your energy costs. I encourage everyone to see what they could do to reduce their bills and make sure they aren’t paying more than they need to.”
Consumers can visit the Big Energy Saving Week stall in the Harpur Centre in Bedford today (Wednesday) or they can drop in to the CAB on St Paul’s Square on Thursday.
People can also get help and advice online at www.bigenergysavingweek.org.uk, or can join in a CAB twitter chat on Thursday 30 January. You can see a full list of events at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/besw_events.htm.
The Chancellor, George Osborne, visited a small business in Kempston on 9th January to launch the countdown to the introduction of the Employment Allowance, which will wipe out up to £2,000 off the total National Insurance bill of every business. This is equivalent to £200 per employee by the end of the Parliament.
Local MP, Richard Fuller, greeted Mr Osborne at the Chiff-Chaff Cafe in Kempston and they joined owners Beth Pestell and Mahmoud Mehdizadeh for a coffee and a slice of cake. Beth and Mahmoud heard how the Employment Allowance will help their business by wiping out their Employer National Insurance Contributions altogether.
The Chancellor also took the time to congratulate Richard on the initiatives he has launched to help small business, including the Bedford Business Fund and the ‘speed-dating for jobs’ event.
Commenting, the Chancellor said,
“Small businesses make a vital contribution to our economy, creating jobs and stimulating growth. The ones I have visited today want to expand, take on new staff and make new investments so the actions we have taken to cut the jobs tax will be a real boost to them.
“With three months to go until the introduction of the Employment Allowance, I am shining a spotlight on this scheme which demonstrates our support for small businesses and enterprise.”
Local MPs, Alistair Burt and Richard Fuller today gave a cautious welcome to the findings of the independent inquiry into the events that led to the withdrawal of paediatric services from Bedford Hospital last year.
Bedford and Kempston MP, Richard Fuller said “Make no mistake, this report is damning in its criticism of persistent and widespread failures by those in responsible positions at the Hospital; failures which directly led to the dramatic changes in services last year. The Hospital was described as having an ‘at best… muted, and at worst non-existent’ response to concerns about training and ‘a complete absence of reference to the standards of medical education and training‘”.
“I am encouraged that December’s inspection of the hospital noted ‘significant improvements’ and I am glad that most paediatric services have now returned to the hospital. But there is still much work to be done and I shall continue my efforts to secure the return of a full range of safe, sustainable and modern paediatric services.”
Alistair Burt MP added “The openness and willingness of Bedford Hospital to accept criticism is a vital part of the process of moving forward. Constituents are entitled to the best and safest care, and the hospital must continue to do all it can to build on the inquiry into an unhappy period, and support the highest standards that all those working at the hospital are keen to deliver.”
The number of apprenticeships started in Bedford and Kempston has increased by over 2 and a half times since 2010, according to figures from the National Apprenticeships Service. This is the tenth largest increase in apprenticeships in the country.
The news was welcomed by local MP, Richard Fuller, who said “It’s great news to see such a fantastic increase in the number of apprenticeships, and this constituency ranks in the top 10 in terms of rate of increase across the country.
“At the jobs fair I hosted in July, many local employers were learning of the benefits of the apprenticeship scheme for the first time and there was real enthusiasm about taking on motivated young people.”
The Government recently announced plans to improve the apprenticeship scheme even further by basing apprenticeships on standards designed by employers to meet their needs. They will be simpler and easier to access for small businesses, and will reflect the Government’s focus on quality.
On Friday, the Bunyan Meeting was the venue for local MP, Richard Fuller’s ‘drop-in’ for advice on cutting fuel bills, switching suppliers and assistance for vulnerable people finding it hard to heat their homes.
E.ON, uSwitch, Age UK, Home Heat Helpline, Carillion, Citizens Advice Bureau, Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation, and Bedford Borough Council all showed up to offer their assistance and expertise to people with concerns about energy. Many people came away with free energy saving devices too!
Commenting after the event, Richard said:
“When it comes to the cost of electricity and gas, people need practical advice, not gimmicks. The Government is playing its part and providing real help by reducing the cost of green levies, and I am doing what I can locally to get people the information and assistance they need.”
Kempston residents got the opportunity to ask tough questions of the boss of E.ON, one of the country’s largest energy suppliers, when he visited the town on Friday.
At a public meeting arranged by Richard Fuller MP, Dr Tony Cocker answered a wide range of questions on price increases, renewable energy, fracking and investment in power generation capacity.
Richard Fuller said that he felt Dr Cocker provided thoughtful responses and didn’t dodge the tough questions.
Earlier in the day Richard visited E.ON’s call centre on Goldington Road to meet with local staff and discuss their ideas on energy advice.