Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category
Bedford and Kempston MP, Richard Fuller, has joined calls for a freeze in beer duty in the March Budget by sending a special ‘message in a barrel’ to the Chancellor at an event in Parliament.
The hand-crafted oak barrel, an iconic symbol of Britain’s world-renowned brewing and pub industry, is a reminder of how important brewing and pubs are to the Bedford and Kempston constituency, says Richard.
The barrel, with its calls for a freeze in beer duty, was later delivered to the Treasury by MPs and representatives of the British Beer & Pub Association, CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) and SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers).
“I strongly support calls for a duty freeze, and I hope the Chancellor will listen. The brewing and pub industries are incredibly important to our town. The Charles Wells brewery was founded in 1876 in Bedford and is still going strong nearly 140 years later. Nearly 2,000 local people are employed by the industry and I do not want any further increases in duty to put any of these jobs in jeopardy.”
Brigid Simmonds Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, which organised the event, added:
“I want to thank Richard for championing beer and pubs in Bedford. Beer tax hikes are not raising more revenues for the Government, and with a duty freeze we can create many more local jobs.”
During the recent debate on the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, Richard called on the Government to do more to support business and to encourage job creation:
“Enterprise and regulatory reform, part of the title of the Bill, are words to bring succour to those who work in the engine room of the British economy — words that can take a thousand ideas for a new business, which have been discussed over a pint or sketched out on paper, and transform them into job-making, wealth-creating vehicles of growth.
“The anticipation for the Bill is almost tangible, but I fear that it will fall short of fulfilling the hopeful expectations. Where is the rolling back of the myriad fees and charges that are blithely imposed on businesses; where is the relief for shopkeepers from the sky-high rateable values set at the peak of Labour’s boom-cum-bust; and where is the implementation of our policy to roll back job-destroying EU regulation?
“The Bill’s proceedings should have started with a rallying call to our businesses that this Government are unambiguously on their side; a statement cherishing the principles of the free market as the most liberating force for social good; a determination to embrace, defend and expand the global free market that has lifted hundreds of millions of people from poverty, to which too many were consigned by the misguided socialist policies of the past; a rebuttal of the insidious assumption, which too often underlies Government intervention, that, left to their own devices, people who run their own business cannot be trusted. That assumption should be replaced by a presumption of trust that in starting and growing businesses, people are doing the essential work of a grateful nation, burdened by its debts and seeking the wealth to maintain its cherished public services.
When I raised the need for criminal prosecutions in financial services at Prime Minister’s Question Time in the House of Commons last December, I did not believe we would come so far, so fast.
Yet I feel that we have only just seen the tip of the iceberg of potential wrong doings in the financial sector during the financial crisis.
That is why I welcome the call for a Parliamentary inquiry into professional standards in financial services.
Put bluntly, people want these issues sorted out quickly, and they don’t expect to fork out a fortune to get the job done. The public wants to be engaged. If I draw one conclusion from recent judicial led enquiries, it is that they distance, rather than engage the public from the resolution of the issues that concerns them.
People want to know and see that those responsible are held to account and that those who acted criminally are imprisoned.
Parliament would have been weakened if, yet again, when a major issue of concern needed resolution, MPs had voted to pass it off to someone else.
Parliament has democratic accountability. Members of Parliament are responsible to our constituents and Parliament has the power to reshape the laws of our land.
It is time that Parliament stood up to these responsibilities and stopped contracting them out to others. The vote this week, and the willingness of the Opposition to engage constructively, is a positive development.
We are living through times not only of great economic uncertainty but also of great doubt about the veracity and legitimacy of major institutions that impact our daily lives: the media: the banks; the European Union and, indeed, Parliament itself.
In a democratic society, the pathway to recovering people’s faith in these major institutions – and Parliament itself – is for Parliament to assert its authority, to find its voice, and to work together to get the public’s work done. I am pleased we have started the job.
Twelve town centres across the country – including Bedford – will have a unique opportunity to revitalise their high streets after being selected to be the first Portas Pilots.
Richard was delighted to learn that the Bedford ”Town Team”, led by BedfordBID and created to bid for Mary Portas cash, has been awarded £50,000. Richard welcomed the announcement as another positive piece of news for Bedford that will bring a much needed boost to our town centre and he congratulated the Town Team for their “enthusiasm and vision, which clearly came across in the application”.
Local Government Minister, Grant Shapps, praised the exceptional quality of the winning bids, which will each receive funding and a tailored package of support from both the Minister and retail guru Mary Portas.
The winning video submission can be found here.
The Opposition front bench believe the Coalition Government has exaggerated the problem in the public finances. “Too far, too fast” is their easy, guiltless mantra.
In a culture – media and political – that has become used to “solving problems” with public money and leaving future generations to pick up the bill, every step the Chancellor is taking to reduce the deficit is met with varying degrees of hyperbole, with predictions of disaster ahead or fairness undone.
In truth, the concern should be that by focusing on deficit reduction rather than debt reduction, the Coalition government has not yet gone far enough in creating the conditions for stable, long term growth. The greater imbalance in the economy is not between sectors, it is between what we demand and our ability to pay – an imbalance between generations.
Prospective investors were introduced to the Advisory Board of The Bedford Business Fund at an event at Colworth Science Park last Tuesday.
The Bedford Business EIS Fund, which will be managed by the FSE Group, will seek to raise £500K to invest in businesses in the Bedford area over the next two years.
The Advisory Board, which will provide the local input and knowledge to guide the fund managers, is made up of Bedford business leaders. At the event, the Board members were introduced by Chairman, Justin Phillimore. They are:-
• Justin Phillimore – Group Finance Director, Charles Wells Ltd (Chairman)
• Dougie Hunter – Chief Executive, Aircraft Research Association (Deputy Chairman)
• Ian Carlisle – former Managing Director, Autoglass Ltd
• Nick Kier – Founding Partner, Lane & Holmes Estate Agents
• William Naylor – former Commercial Director, Gibbs and Dandy Group
“We believe the Bedford Business Fund is an important initiative to address the financing gap so many small companies are experiencing. Bedford is a great location to start a business and we think there is an important role we can play as a local community to support the next generation of business owners.”
During the evening, the appointed Fund Managers – the FSE Group – presented the fund prospectus and answered questions from the floor about the mechanics of the fund and the organisation’s track record in managing investments.
Summing up the evening, Richard called on local people with an interest to invest to “step up” to make Bedford the “best place in the country to start a new business”.
“Future jobs will come from entrepreneurs employing small numbers of people and we should do all we can to support those who have the courage to start something new and create local employment.”
For the fund prospectus and contact details, please visit:
New data shows that 600 Apprenticeships have been delivered in Bedford & Kempston in the last year, up 70% on the previous year.
Richard, who recently visited Ultra Precision Engineering in Kempston, where they have just taken on two new apprentices from the Bedford Training Group, said that the record rise in apprenticeship numbers shows commitment to helping employers train the skilled workers they need to build a stronger, growing economy. He added that companies like Ultra Precision Engineering are providing a vital role in skills development.
He was also delighted with the Government’s announcement that it will offer cash bonuses to employers for taking on an apprentice aged between 16 and 24 and urges companies in Bedford and Kempston to take up this opportunity.
For more information on apprenticeships, please visit this link.
Richard met with the founders of the Castle Quarter initiative, Karen Fryc and Sam Price, last Friday to discuss their plans for the east side of Bedford.
Karen & Sam talked through their manifesto for Castle Quarter, the area in and around the Embankment, St Cuthbert’s, Castle Road and Mill Street which is aiming to celebrate and promote the quarter to attract people from outside the town to visit.
“My views are completely aligned with what the Castle Quarter group are trying to achieve. A few years ago, I wrote to the then Mayor, Frank Branston, about the town centre redevelopment suggesting that Bedford needed a unique offering that reflected the special characteristics of the town and that we should promote area clusters with their own special identities. This is precisely what Castle Quarter is trying to achieve.
“In tough economic times, with family budgets tight, we need to nurture and support our local shops. Castle Quarter is a great step forward and a model the rest of the town can follow.”
Richard Fuller has welcomed Tuesday’s announcement by the Chancellor that funding for East West Rail will be made available.
In a powerful Autumn Statement, which focused on supporting growth while maintaining the budget discipline that keeps our interest rates low, the Chancellor announced that a new East West Rail link will go ahead.
Restoring the rail link between Bedford and Oxford (via Milton Keynes) is the key first step in the East West rail project, which ultimately aims to add Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich to the line, and is supported by MPs from all along the proposed route. The project forms part of the Government’s investment in infrastructure to boost growth, and will create 12,000 new jobs in the region.
“Future increases in fuel duty should be reconsidered to help family budgets” was the message in Parliament from Richard Fuller this week. A parliamentary debate had been called asking for fairer prices at the pumps, after over 100,000 people had signed an e-petition asking for the topic to be discussed.
Richard said that it was unacceptable to force through further rapid increases in duty when the average family budget is already under pressure. Richard said: “The Coalition government needs to be fairer to motorists than the last government and with 10 percent of family budgets going on petrol, stopping further increases would be a major help.”
Earlier this week, Richard lent his support for investment in the East West Rail link, arguing that it would give a lift to job creation in Bedford and Kempston. The debate was called to urge the government to set aside £250m for the Bedford to Oxford link in the 2014-19 rail plans.
Richard commented: “A regular fast rail service to Oxford, linked with a direct route to Central Milton Keynes, will reinforce Bedford’s position as a natural hub for the rail network, further improving our attractiveness for new businesses and bringing more, local jobs.”