The Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, visited Bedford Free School with Richard
Fuller this week to open the new Skyline Hall with Principal Mark Lehain. The extension provides a school hall, changing rooms, drama studio and staff offices.
Justine and Richard along with an audience of parents and friends, were treated to impressive
performances given by the school brass band and the a capella girls quartet. All students at the
school are taught violin and guitar and there were performances from all stages of violin
competence from those who have just started to learn right through to a Bedfordshire Festival
award winning barbershop quartet.
Speaking to the audience, Justine said is was a pleasure to visit a school that is not only a great
example of academic success but also wider musical and arts ability. Justine herself is passionate
about music and plays the violin to a level that is “good enough now for my cat to return home!”.
Richard followed Justine by adding his thanks to the staff of Bedford Free School for the tremendous
work they have done in creating such a successful school and to the parents for making the choice to
send their children here. He said, “I am a huge supporter of parental choice when it comes to education and
Bedford Free School is an important example of the success that can be achieved with parent
power and a dedicated team”.
Richard also thanked the local Salvation Army for their support to the “music for all” programme
which is providing students at BFS free access to music lessons. Richard added, “The Salvation Army are the unsung heroes of this town”.
The Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Andrea Leadsom, visited local family business, Franco’s Ices in Kempston, with Richard Fuller this week. Andrea and Richard were given a tour of the factory by owner Pasquale Tanzarella and had the opportunity to sample some freshly made lollies and ice cream. The factory is home to the renowned Mr Bubble ice lolly and the business was established in 1964.
Speaking after the visit, Andrea said: “It was a huge treat to visit Franco’s Ices – a fabulous local family business. I was spoilt with strawberry splits, the Mr Bubble ice lolly and delicious ice creams of which my favourite was the Gelato Uno Mint Choc Chip. I was particularly impressed with the immaculate standards in the factory and the family atmosphere.
“Richard has long supported Franco’s as a great local business and I congratulate him on his success in supporting local manufacturing.”
Richard added: “Bedford and Kempston is home to many fabulous family-owned businesses so I was delighted to be able to take the Secretary of State to Franco’s as a leading local success story. I want Bedford and Kempston to have many more locally grown companies which is why I launched by Community Business School earlier this year to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs.”
Richard Fuller was reselected to stand as the Conservative candidate for Bedford and Kempston in the upcoming General Election, promising to offer trusted, effective and strong leadership locally on issues such as the NHS and to bring people together behind securing the best deal for Britain from our negotiations with the European Union.
Speaking after his reselection Richard said: “The critical national issue for the next Parliament will be our negotiations with the European Union and Theresa May is the best person to lead those negotiations.
“Locally, I want to continue to be a champion who can work across party lines for important local issues such as keeping key services at our hospital, continuing to ensure parental choice in education and securing further vital investments like the upgraded road and rail links from Bedford to Cambridge.”
The House of Commons’ Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has released its recommendations on how businesses can address mistrust among the public after a series of high profile corporate scandals and failings.
The report recommends a number of actions on executive pay, a new and stronger voluntary code of governance for private companies, better reporting by companies on how directors fulfill their duties and responsibilities and a major expansion of the role and powers of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC).
As a leading member of the Committee and author of the report, Richard said:
“Following our inquiries into BHS and Sports Direct, we are calling for more controls on senior executive pay, toughened up governance rules and a Red/Yellow/Green independent assessment of how company boards work. These measures are essential if we are to maintain the country’s strong international standing in corporate governance.”
On executive pay, the Committee recommends the simplification of executive pay and putting an end to long-term investment plans (LTIPs), which lack transparency and can distort decision-making. The Committee also suggests workers be represented on remuneration committees and for the chairs of remuneration committees to be expected to resign if shareholders fail to approve the company’s pay policy.
On gender diversity, the Committee calls for the Government to set a target that from May 2020 at least half of all new appointments to senior and executive management level positions in the FTSE 350 and all listed companies should be women.
The full report can be read here.
Over the last few weekends, Richard has joined a number of celebrations held by community groups in the town.
Richard took part in the Molisana Association of Bedfordshire’s carnival tradition of breaking the ‘pignata’; he celebrated the 60th anniversary of the independence of Ghana with the Bedford Ghana Union and joined the Ravidassia community for the 640th birth celebrations of Sat Guru Ravidass Maharaj Ji as well as attending the Hindu Society of Bedford’s Holi (festival of colours).
Richard said: “I thoroughly enjoy celebrating the diversity of Bedford and believe it enriches us all. Thank you to all the organisers for putting on such great events”.
Last Wednesday, Richard led a parliamentary debate on the extension of Right to Buy for housing association tenants in Bedford and Kempston.
Richard urged the Minister to fulfil the government’s manifesto pledge to remove the unfairness in law that denies housing association tenants, like those of BPHA, the right to buy their home.
Richard said: “I called this debate in Parliament as a number of local residents have contacted me asking when they will be allowed to purchase their housing association home. This is a popular policy among local residents and I wanted to pass on that enthusiasm to the Housing Minister and ensure the towns of Bedford and Kempston are a priority for future pilots.”
In answering Richard, the Minister reaffirmed the government’s commitment to the policy stating that it is ‘not only about helping people who live in housing association accommodation to….buy the home they live in; it is also a pro-supply policy, because it guarantees that the housing association will provide an additional home with some of the income from the sale of a property’.
The Minister added that he was pleased with the results of the initial pilot schemes and welcomed the Chancellor’s commitment to fund a larger regional pilot, which will allow about 3,000 families to buy their own home stressing that these pilots were important to test key areas of the policy.
Richard pressed the Minister to confirm Bedford as the next pilot area for the scheme, adding that the largest housing association in Bedford, Bedford Pilgrim Housing Association (BPHA) ‘is a strong supporter of the voluntary right to buy, because it sees the benefit in encouraging home ownership as well as the financial benefit to build more good-quality, low-cost housing that people can rent or, ultimately have the right to buy.’
The Minister agreed to pass on Richard’s enthusiasm for Bedford and Kempston to host a pilot scheme to both the Secretary of State and the Treasury.
This week, Richard welcomed members of the Ravidassia community from Bedford and Kempston to a seminar in Parliament to celebrate the teachings and 640th birth anniversary of Sat Guru Ravidass Maharaj Ji.
Richard said: “It was a great pleasure to host the community at the Palace of Westminster and I look forward to joining their celebrations this weekend at the Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha in Bedford.”
The Bill to trigger Article 50 and start the UK’s withdrawal from the EU is currently being debated in Parliament. On Tuesday, Bedford MP, Richard Fuller spoke in the debate, outlining his views about Brexit.
Today, the Government has launched it’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper to address long term challenges to the UK economy.
Richard’s view can be found here:
Richard Fuller on Industrial Strategy
Dido Harding, CEO of Talk Talk Group and former John Lewis CEO, Andy Street headline the upcoming Bedford Community Business School aimed at giving advice and encouragement to anyone who runs, or wants to start, their own small business.
The Business School, which is free of charge, is being organised by Richard over five Thursday evenings in January and February hosted at Kings House, Ampthill Road, Bedford between 6-8pm, starting on the 19th January 2017.
The evenings are open to anyone who is studying business, running a business or thinking of running a business. There is the added incentive that if people register and attend all five sessions they will be entered into a ballot to win an hour of free mentoring with one of the national speakers. Each session will also include speakers from the business community in Bedford and Kempston and an opportunity to network.
• Dido Harding, CEO of Talk Talk Group on Winning Big
• Andy Street, Former Managing Director of John Lewis plc on Selling Successfully
• Margot James MP, Business Minister on Managing People
• Brendan Harris, Former CEO Coca Cola Italy and Coca Cola Africa on Presenting Effectively
• Samuel Kasumu, Founder of Engage Fundraising on Getting Funded
Commenting on the launch of the Business School, Richard said: “This is an exciting opportunity for people who want advice on running their business, or who are thinking of running a business or studying business. The advice will be provided by national business leaders, as well as successful local business people.”
Simon Holley of Kings Arms said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Richard Fuller to host these five leadership evenings at King’s House. It’s always been our dream to see more businesses starting across Bedfordshire and the opportunity to have such high calibre speakers equipping the potential leaders of the future is a real privilege.”
Please register to attend online.