Please note: This site covers the period that I was a Member of Parliament from May 2010 to June 2017.
Bedford & Kempston
Club Towers was officially opened this week by Richard Fuller and the former British tennis player and 1997 Sports Personality of the Year, Greg Rusedski. The club has been open for use for a year now and prides itself on providing a state of the art gym, group exercise classes, swimming, spa, tennis and squash facilities with focus on a family friendly and social environment.
Speaking to an audience of club members and supporters, Greg said how impressive the facilities are and how much he had enjoyed playing on the indoor courts all afternoon with members of all ages. He also emphasised how important it is that clubs like this exist for whole families to enjoy together, as well as being a health club for individuals.
Richard followed by sharing his memory of a very early conversation in 2012 with owner Matthew Towers when Matthew talked through his vision of the club and wanted to discuss how to make that a reality.
Matthew finished by adding his thanks to Richard for his encouragement and the direction it gave and everyone involved since in progressing that vision forward, not least his committed staff and ever supportive wife, Ann.
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.”
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.”
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.
Richard Fuller today welcomed the announcement by Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport to enable fast track completion of the rail link from Oxford to Cambridge via Bedford and Milton Keynes.
In his statement to the House of Commons, Mr Grayling said, “I want to bring new skills into the challenge of upgrading our railways. I will begin by looking at the reopening of the link from Oxford to Cambridge, to support a range of opportunities including housing, science, technology and innovation. I am going to establish East West Rail as a new and separate organisation, to accelerate the permissions needed to reopen the route, and to secure private sector involvement to design, build and operate the route as an integrated organisation. This East West Rail organisation will be established early in the New Year and chaired by the former Chief Executive of Chiltern Rail, Rob Brighouse.”
Responding to the announcement, Richard said, “Completing this important rail link, especially from Bedford to Cambridge, was at serious risk of getting stuck in an over-committed Network Rail, leading to delays and potentially cancellation if government changed investment priorities in the future. I will continue to press the Secretary of State to ensure that his plans will deliver this rail line ahead of time, on budget and to the highest safety standards.”
Chancellor Philip Hammond in his Autumn Statement this week allocated £100m to accelerate the building of the Western Section of the East West Rail Project, the Bedford–Oxford line, and a further £10m was allocated to continue development work to identify a preferred route for the line to extend east of Bedford, via Sandy, to Cambridge. He also gave a commitment to deliver the new dualled Oxford to Cambridge Expressway, via Bedford.
After listening to the announcement in the House of Commons, Richard said: “I am delighted that the Government is investing in new road and rail links for Bedford. This investment will unlock economic growth in and around our town by further improving connectivity and our attractiveness for businesses to invest. This will bring more, local jobs making Bedford an even better place to live and work.”
In the Autumn Statement, Mr Hammond said: “This project can be more than just a transport link. It can become a transformational tech-corridor, drawing on the world-class research strengths of our two best-known universities.”