Working for the future of Bedford & Kempston

Please note: This site covers the period that I was the Member of Parliament for Bedford from May 2010 to June 2017. I am now the Member of Parliament for North East Bedfordshire. Please visit my new website: for the latest news and information.

Bedford & Kempston

When a Government has run out of ideas, run out of policies, run out of money and run out of credibility, its only resorts are smears and unfounded fears.  So it is with this Labour Government and their literature campaign as they gear up for the upcoming election here in Bedford and Kempston.

My support for SureStart in Bedford and Kempston is clear.  I have had the pleasure to visit many of the local centres and was delighted to be able to give my personal assurance and support for their continued funding.  I blogged about this and my commitment is open and clear to see.

Not only that, but David Cameron has pledged his full support too.  Not only do the Conservatives support Sure Start but Mr Cameron has pledged to strengthen it by providing 4,200 new Sure Start health visitors to provide universal support to families with children under five.

So why does the Labour Party here produce a leaflet headlining that Sure Start Centres are under threat?  That is clearly untrue and they know it – but when your record in government is in tatters, when you have nothing positive to say, no vision to offer – smears and unfounded fears are all you have left to offer.  The people deserve better.

Richard and Lucy with some of the replies to the Family Health Survey

Richard and Lucy with some of the replies to the Family Health Survey

Last year, over 1000 residents in Bedford and Kempston participated in my survey of local health services and issues – a huge response rate and one that indicates how important the NHS is to us all.

 A summary of some of the findings from the survey is available here, 2009 Health Survey Feedback.  

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Richard hands over 500 bypass petition signatures to Jan Steel of Bedford Borough Council

Handing over 500 bypass petition signatures to Jan Steel of Bedford Borough Council

While others talked, I collected over 500 signatures in support of the Borough Council’s petition for Government funding to complete the bypass.  Thank you to all of you who signed and joined the effort for this long overdue improvement.  I believe that we need to put pressure on this Government to get them to help finish the job otherwise congestion will get even worse across town.

Jim Lawrence, Chief Financial Officer of Unilever PLC, was my guest at the inaugural meeting of Bedford Futures Business Club.  Unilever is a major local employer and I toured their Colworth facility learning about Unilever’s new conference centre and their advances in ice cream technology!

Jim Lawrence, Chief Financial Officer, Unilever PLC with Richard at the Embankment Hotel, Bedford

Welcoming Jim Lawrence, Chief Financial Officer, Unilever PLC at the Embankment Hotel, Bedford

Jim spoke about Unilever’s recession beating strategies and expressed support for my campaigns to strengthen Bedford as a business location.

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Richard with Lynne Summerfied from Sure Start

I toured local Sure Start centres in Kempston, Cauldwell, Kingsbrook and Bedford town centre with Lynne Summerfield, Programme Manager. For families with kids under 5, Lynne and her dedicated teams provide a range of helpful advice, run self-help groups and offer childcare at their day nurseries. Local charity, Spurgeons, provides additional support for the services. I was very impressed with the commitment of staff and happy to confirm Mr Cameron’s commitment to continue support for Sure Start under the next Conservative Government.

Conservative Party leader, David Cameron, visited Bedford on Tuesday to answer questions from local residents and to get a better impression of the local issues that are important to the people of Bedford and Kempston. 

First stop for Mr Cameron was the Civic Theatre for a spirited meeting with local Party members and supporters.  Well over 100 activists heard Mr Cameron stress how important it was for the Conservatives to win Bedford if Mr Brown is to be removed from Downing Street and the hard work of restoring Britain’s finances is to begin. 

After answering questions, Mr Cameron was off on the short walk to the Harpur Suite for his second meeting.  This time it was a public meeting in the form of an open Question and Answer session.  Over 140 people filled the Harpur Suite and Mr Cameron answered questions for over an hour.  As many told me afterwards, it was hard but to be impressed with his openness and his willingness to offer direct answers to people’s questions.Richard and David Cameron

David-Cameron (2) 

David Cameron will be in Bedford on Tuesday 8 September to answer questions from local residents as he prepares his plans for forming the next Government.

It’s a completely public event for anyone local wanting to attend, whatever their political beliefs. The meeting is taking place at the Harpur Suite in the centre of town from 6:30pm in the evening. 

Places will be limited, so if you would like to attend, send an email to or call 07858 642346 to register.

Bedford has lost its leader and, in many respects, its visionary spirit.  Frank Branston wanted the best for Bedford and he went about achieving his goals with vigour and purpose. 

Over the years – and despite our political differences – Frank always had a willingness to hear a different point of view.  I valued his directness and his entrepreneurial flair – both of which I shall sorely miss.

 I met with Frank last three weeks ago, and his focus was very much on how, despite the recession, he could keep our community moving forward.  At times like these, we badly needed his sense of purpose. 

To Frank’s family and to his many friends across our town and beyond, my sincere condolences on his passing, and on this sad day, may our thoughts and prayers be with them.