Richard Fuller, MP for Bedford and Kempston, today met with local ‘mumpreneur’ Jemma Hough and husband and business partner, Jon.
Jemma and Jon started their business, A Class Kitchens of Bedford, with the help of a Start Up Loan from the government-backed Start Up Loan Company. After becoming a mother, Jemma felt the best way to combine spending time with her daughter and working was to start her own business. After testing the market, Jemma and her husband Jon, who was working for a kitchen company, received lots of local support and decided to go it alone.
The business is going from strength to strength and is now approaching 50 kitchen installations with bookings mounting up into the spring of 2015.
They are looking to expand the business and are currently beginning a recruitment drive to recruit an installations manager to coordinate the installation process and build a larger fitting team, which will mean that in 2015 they will be able to provide more customers with an A Class Kitchen.
Bedford MP Richard Fuller celebrated the success of a local business during a visit to Kempston-based Newnorth Print Ltd this week. He brought leading Euro MP, Vicky Ford, to meet employees and hear how the company has invested and grown the business.
Newnorth Print was founded in 1971 and offers smart e-commerce printing solutions as well as traditional printing and merchandise products.
Richard and Vicky toured the facilities in Kempston and heard about the barriers to trade that small and medium sized businesses face when trading in the single market.
During the tour of the company’s facilities, the MP and MEP saw the new printing equipment in which the company has recently invested over £2 million.
Richard Fuller MP commented “It’s great to see this local business growing and investing in new technology. Supporting small businesses is a crucial part of our long-term economic plan, creating more jobs and increasing the country’s economic security.”
Vicky Ford added “Small and medium sized companies are the backbone of our economy and it’s good to see small firms like Newnorth Print taking advantage of the stronger economy to invest and grow. The printing sector has seen rapid change and companies have needed to be flexible to survive. It is important not to overload them with red tape and bureaucracy.”
Bedford MP Richard Fuller stressed the need to address the issue of gender inequality within the Houses of Parliament, when speaking to Bedford Girls’ School students on Friday.
In a wide-ranging talk to the school’s Politics Society, Mr Fuller stressed how significant barriers remain to be tackled whilst low proportions of women in senior positions in business and politics persist.
Mr Fuller said: “I’ll be the first to admit that there’s a clear shortage of female MPs in the Houses of Parliament. When I look at Parliament it’s still a male dominated world.
“Unless you start at the top and appoint women in respected positions such as a large corporate company CEOs – nothing will change.”
Reflecting on his political career and an MP’s role in both Parliament and their constituency, Mr Fuller went on to highlight the importance of political figures having ‘life experience’ outside of politics.
“We live at a time when too many MPs have only ever been involved in politics, which leads to intellectually narrow world views,” said the Bedford MP, who worked overseas in the business sector before returning to the town in 2004.
“Being leaders in professions ranging from charity work to science to teaching gives someone that all-important life experience that can make for a more effective, better grounded, representative in Parliament.”
After taking part in the National Citizen Service (NCS), Ben Handysides from Kempston was selected as one of just 100 young people across the country, from more than 40,000, to become a national ambassador for NCS.
Established in 2011 to create a more responsible, cohesive and engaged society, NCS is a three week programme that brings 16 & 17 year olds from a range of backgrounds together to face outdoor challenges, learn skills for life and work, extend their social networks and make their mark on their community – spending 30 hours delivering a volunteer project of their choice.
Ben Handysides, a pupil at Hastingsbury Business and Enterprise College, spent his half term taking part in an intensive, week-long leadership programme at a London College– designed to provide top teens with the opportunity to fully realise their potential and develop a national network whilst giving them the skills, insight and ability to help encourage other teens to deliver positive change in the community through the power of social action.
As part of the prestigious leadership programme, Ben took part in a number of workshops focusing on personal and social development, including presenting, debating and problem solving skills delivered by partners including Sky Skills Academy, Barclays Life Skills, Mozilla Digital Champions and EY (formerly Ernst and Young).
As part of the week, Ben also had the opportunity to meet his MP, Richard Fuller, at the House of Commons.
Richard said, “I was delighted to meet Ben at the reception in Parliament and recognise what a tremendous achievement it is for him to become an NCS Leader.”
NCS ambassadors are selected not only for their ability and enthusiasm, but for demonstrating development during the programme and overcoming personal challenges or supporting others to do the same.
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, joined local MP Richard Fuller in Bedford town centre on Thursday. The pair sampled local food at the Gourmet Market, with Boris enjoying a Bedfordshire Clanger. They also made an impromptu stop at a local bookshop where Boris went to sign copies of his new book.
Boris proved a popular visitor with Bedfordians who swamped him with requests for selfies and autographs throughout the visit.
Richard commented, “I have never in my life seen a more popular response from the public to a politician of any party than Boris got here in Bedford.”
Earlier this month, Richard opened the newly refurbished post office on Putnoe Street.
Richard cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony to mark the store’s refurbishment and launch of new services, which includes seven days a week opening with postal services available on Sundays; a new Car Tax service and more bureau de change currencies available.
Richard said, “I am really impressed by the changes that have been made throughout the store. Putnoe Street Post Office is at the heart of the community and I want to congratulate John and Pat Pinner, who have run Putnoe Street Post for 27 years, on their vital community role. The earlier opening hours and Sunday opening make it far more convenient for customers to visit. The addition of the car tax service at this branch is also very handy.
“This post office was a favourite place of mine to buy comics and sweets when I was a little boy and went to pick up books from Putnoe Library. It is great to see these changes and modernisation.”
Under the current Parliament the Government has committed £1.34bn for the Post Office network to make sure there is no programme of Post Office closures and to update branches; in November the Government announced a further £640m investment in the Post Office network, from 2015 to 2018. Nationwide the investment programme will see up to 8,000 branches modernised with additional investment in over 3,000 community and outreach branches.
Last week, Richard ran a session for Access Bedford on our electoral systems and why it is important to vote.
Access Bedford is a group which aims to make Bedford accessible to deaf and hard of hearing residents.
A number of people attended the session and found the evening at the Salvation Army Cafe to be both useful and informative.
For more information on Access Bedford, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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.