Bedford Free School smashes it out of the park – congratulations!

It is fantastic news to hear that Bedford Free School (BFS), with so many Kempston pupils, has achieved fantastic results on its first ever original cohort of GCSE examinees. The results are the best state school results in Bedford & Kempston and the second best within the whole of Bedford Borough. See the headline figures here:

  • 57% achieved 5 or more A*-Cs including English & maths (the Borough average is 52% and the national average is 53%)
  • 27% achieved 5 or more A*-Bs and just under 10% achieved 5 or more A*-A
  • 80% achieved a C or better in English; 65% C or better in Maths
  • Incredibly strong progress in the fundamental subjects of English and Maths
  • Top performing student achieved 11 A* and 1 A; half a dozen on track for Oxbridge
  • Fantastic performances by students from all starting points

The Free School policy, brought in by the Conservative-led government in the last parliament, is a defining characteristic of the modern political dividing lines within our country. Whereas Labour, nationally and locally, are opposed to giving families the opportunity to break free from the clutches of the ‘put up with what you’re given’ mentality, Conservatives have allowed communities to provide alternative options and freedom of choice to families.

People such as Mark Lehain, BFS’s Principal, and those who have supported this new school have taken the opportunity to effect positive change in their local communities rather than indefinitely put up with what children are given – their attitude of action and improvement is a phenomenal credit to the teaching profession. Suddenly, under a Conservative government, the opportunity to have greater choice and access to higher quality standards of education is not just the luxury of wealthy Labour Councillors sending their children to public school – people now have a greater chance to break free from the control of politicians and local authorities and try something different and potentially better for their children.

Given local Labour and Lib Dem Councillors fought tooth and nail to block BFS from even existing, and are politically opposed to providing choice to families who could not otherwise afford it, I doubt you’ll hear much bluster from them following this fantastic news for BFS’s pupils.

For all those pupils now with A*s and As running through their CVs, and indeed those on Cs rather than Es, and Bs rather than Ds: what a brighter future they have now achieved. I’m proud to serve some Kempston families with exceptionally talented and gifted children at all schools, and I’m proud to support a party that is willing to relinquish politicians’ central power, offering them choice and the opportunity of activism within our local community. On this score, I’m really looking forward to seeing Hastingsbury become an Academy soon.

My Labour predecessor as Borough Councillor publically suggested that Mark Lehain should give up on the project of BFS altogether and settle for applying for a headship in a mainstream school. For the sake of all those children with those higher grades and brighter futures, thank God people are tired of the outdated, languid socialism that held them back for so long. Thank God Lehain didn’t listen.

Congratulations to all pupils of Bedford Free School, and particularly those from Kempston! Also, congratulations to the great successes of a number of Hastingsbury pupils, including Amber Morris with a whopping 9 A/A* grades, and those studying even further afield!

Labour is in trouble – its farcical leadership race shows that

labour leadership contenders 2

Less than three months into a long, drawn out Labour leadership contest, you’d be forgiven for sympathising with the Conservatives’ election message that the Labour Party equates one thing: chaos. One of my personally favourite statements about the whole debacle was a tweet from @ChrisDeerin, who asked if someone could switch the Labour Party off and then on again (to which @GoldKonig responded that simply switching them off would suffice).

This was all supposed to be an expansive process of looking into those personalities vying for Labour leadership, giving them maximum publicity so that Labour could ‘reach out’ to those vast swathes of the general public, millions of whom positively voted against their agenda for chaos on May 7th. Rather like the 2005 Conservative leadership race, it was a grand attempt to engage the public with the party, and get the electorate at whole to look into options for its future. But in contrast to the Conservative leadership race a decade ago, Labour’s equivalent never quite had the personalities or potential to deliver; looking into options for Labour’s future, the party is having a nervous breakdown as the public looks on in astonishment.

Back in 2005, the Conservative race comprised of David Davis, with cross-party credibility as a political bruiser who at the time had weight behind his punch; Ken Clarke, previously the Chancellor who, for all his eurofanatisism, bequeathed to New Labour the strongest economic foundations any government has ever inherited; Sir Malcolm Rifkind who, despite more recent negative stories, was at the time a highly respected and capable politician and international statesman; Dr Liam Fox, a credible and persuasive bulwark of the party’s Right; and David Cameron, a young, fresh talent who excited public imagination and went on to lead the party back to government, winning a higher share of the vote in his second election being leader of the party than in his first.

In contrast, Labour have four candidates whose collective and individual magnetism appears to be having the opposite effect, repelling potential voters even after this, a particularly sour electoral failure for the party.

First, we have Andy Burnham, the Health Secretary who presided over deaths and disaster at Mid-Staffordshire Hospital, and who has incredulously attacked Conservatives for ‘privatising the NHS’ after having himself tendered to market the largest single transferal of NHS assets into private hands in the organisation’s history. Secondly, there is Yvette Cooper, the other dull, “everything was fine under Brown and Miliband – the public are wrong” candidate, whose elfish charm fails to inspire the hearts of Labour supporters, let alone the general public. There is Liz Kendall, whose naïve political manoeuvres and mannerisms thus far fail to arouse a belief that she is the new ‘heir to Blair’, a politician whose political shapeshifting and Machiavellianism led Labour to their only electoral successes in the last four decades. And then there is Jeremy Corbyn, whose parliamentary nominators have publically regretted their erstwhile backing for his candidacy after having been called ‘morons’ by an advisor to Labour’s erstwhile government. Corbyn’s clapped out, statist politics died off, really, with the collapse of the Berlin Wall – a miserable epitaph to the failed and fatal formula of socialism that had once held this nation back from its potential, as well as plummeting half the world into economic, cultural, and social darkness. And yet still, this final obscure candidate has taken the lead in so many private polls and constituency party nominations.

From this, there are two things that can be said: firstly, the Parliamentary Labour Party obviously lacks any girth of talent, and has been left with a ‘least worst’ shortlist. That shortlist comprises of Andy and Yvette – more of the same in terms of recent themes and failures – Liz, lacking in political credibility to drag the party kicking and screaming back towards the centre ground, and Jez, a clapped out socialist who is to the left of Michael Foot, Labour’s most catastrophically out-of-touch leader, possible ever.

michael foot

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, this illustrates that the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) had underestimated quite how barmy those Labour supporters who remain aboard the Red Titanic have become. MPs have admitted to supporting Corbyn’s candidacy in order to help the party have a debate, without truly hoping he becomes leader. Margaret Beckett, who once stood in as leader of the party following John Smith’s death, has publically come out as regretting nominating the socialist CND-er – she, and other nominators, clearly didn’t believe that their membership would be so unwise as to vote for this odd breed of 1970s soviet socialism, and are regretting having given that option to them. But they are.

Rather than being the ‘debate-worthy’ academic inclusion to procedures envisaged by Labour’s elite, Corbyn has consistently claimed the support of vast swathes of Labour’s loony stormtroopers. In late July, a leaked private poll showed Corbyn claiming 42 per cent of first preference votes to Yvette Cooper’s second place on 22.5 per cent. Out of all Labour Constituency Parties, Corbyn was endorsed by 162 with Cooper, again, coming second with 121. The PLP is now concentrated on withdrawing shadow cabinet members’ involvement in the event of a Corbyn victory, and is busily infighting with the party at large.

Whoever wins the leadership contest, Labour is in trouble. A process that was designed to include the public has left them in stunned silence as the party publically rips itself apart, furthering the impression that it is not currently a potential party of power, and more of an estranged and conflicting pressure group whose clients consist of middle class students, public sector managers, and the inhabitants of Benefit Streets across the land. While the PLP glibly debates between the slender merits of Blairism, Brownism, and Milibandism (I really don’t think the last ‘ism’ was ever going to gain traction), the membership at large has moved further back, so enraged by so-called austerity – at a time when overall government spending has actually increased – and so obsessed by the idea that we are in the grips of some neoliberal conspiracy to slash their beloved state benefits, that they are left debating between Kinnock, Foot, Che Guevara and Stalin. Wolfie Smith and the Tooting Popular Front would be proud of their Labour Constituency Party comrades in the leafy, Three Counties market town of Bedford, for instance, who nominated the self-styled seventies socialist, Corbyn, for leadership of the party. Everyone else just thinks they’re bonkers.

Jeremy-Corbyn-10_3328947b

Labour needs to realise that they are the only group of people left believing this claptrap, and that the electorate backed the Conservatives’ more sensible approach already in 2015. The truth is that government spending as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP) is currently still higher than at any point under New Labour pre-crisis levels, and it is around £100 billion higher than it was in 2010. Whilst the Conservatives are trying to eliminate our deficit, the idea that we are going through some sort of stone age of welfare destruction is plainly ludicrous, and people know it. The idea that we have suffered a tidal wave of ‘austerity’ is incredible.

Furthermore, the idea that we are in the midst of a neoliberal conspiracy is also plainly wrong. The theory goes that, “in 1979, Margaret Thatcher set about liberalising the financial services sector and slashing the state; the recent financial crisis was caused by the former and justifies furthering the latter”. It’s wrong. Firstly, the deregulation mantra is little more than a myth. Thatcher presided over a government that actually illegalised insider trading, introduced regulation of the life insurance industry after a century of next to no regulation whatsoever, introduced bank deposit insurance, regulated the sale of insurance and investment products for the first time ever, and oversaw the first ever regulation of UK bank capital under Basel I, agreed during that Conservative government. The central tenet for which Thatcher was attacked was her government’s commitment to controlling money supply in the economy as a key priority. It was a Labour government under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown that saw the money multiplier in the financial services sector rise to over £30 for every £1 put in after having introduced incentives for banks to lend unsustainably from the 1990s onwards – the money multiplier almost doubled under their tenure. The same people who attacked the Thatcher governments for keeping too tight a control over money supply are now claiming that money gushed too freely due to those governments: they were wrong then, and they are wrong now.

Neither Thatcher, Major nor Cameron would ever have taken Britain into the most recent global financial crisis with a larger budget deficit than that which we had coming out of the previous crisis. But Labour did. During a recession, economists expect the deficit to increase via automatic stabilisers as tax receipts diminish and spending increases. Despite that, the reason for cutbacks in some elements of spending is because Labour governments accrued a mammoth deficit, larger going into 2007/2008 after years of growth than that in the early 1990s, coming out of a global crisis. We were on track to get to Greek levels of deficit disaster in 2010, and people know in their bones that this would have been catastrophic for Britain.

The Labour membership is wrong about their diagnosis of Britain’s woes, and so they are failing to provide the prognosis. The PLP is slightly closer to reality (although still a fair mile off), and so they are more aware of the problems that lie ahead for them in terms of definition of strategy and message – given the lack of talent, no-one appears to have stepped forward to offer to do that for them and to bring the membership with him or her.

Until Labour gets real about the problems they caused, and the disastrous consequences of the alternative to what is actually quite a relaxed deficit reduction programme under this government, they cannot, will not, and should not be trusted with a single penny of taxpayers’ money. Perhaps someone will have to switch the Labour party off and on again to achieve this. Or maybe their problem is too ingrained and permanent. As Hayek said: “if socialists understood economics, they wouldn’t be socialist.” The British people know in their bones that any breed of socialism would be disastrous for Britain, and most erstwhile moderate Labour voters know in their heads that the heydays of picket lines, trade union hegemony, state ownership of industry, and limitless spending are inconsistent with the needs of a modern world and aspirant population. If the die-hard lot that remains as the Labour party membership cannot feel in their hearts that 1980s-style, opposition-based politics is internally cacophonous and jarring with modern Britain, then perhaps Blair – their only leader to have won an election in over 40 years – is right: they will need a transplant. Whoever wins, Labour is in trouble.

blair leaving

Two months after the election: what I’ve been up to!

Election celebrations

Tomorrow is two months after the election, and I wanted to give you an update on where we are with things.

Road and pavement surfacing:

The quality of Kempston’s roads and pavements has deteriorated in recent years, as other parts of Bedford Borough have seen improvements.

I have now put a whole host of Kempston’s worse roads and pavements onto the Bedford Borough list of priorities, and have agreed with the Council to have all of those suggested areas examined by the team. We won’t get every pothole filled and every road resurfaced, but we are now pushing harder and getting programmes for improvement onto the agenda.

roadworks

Traffic solutions:

I have been in conversation with Council Officers regarding the woeful traffic problems in Kempston. I am pleased to say that they are now undergoing a review of which solutions could be considered.

Those potential solutions range from a small bridge from the Retail Park onto the closed road to ease traffic flow, to the widening of Cow Bridge – a key area of concern for Kempston residents – to allow for better flow regarding the yellow chevrons. I am glad we now have a review, and will be pushing for whichever options help ease untenable pressure on Kempston’s traffic.

Saxon Centre:

Kempston residents have been excluded from backroom conversations regarding the Saxon Centre’s future.

Since being elected Councillor, I have managed to get the area’s future onto the agenda for the Corporate Services Overview & Scrutiny Committee. I am determined that Kempston residents should benefit from the deal, improving our environment, business-friendliness, and aesthetics, including reversing the recent neglect of the area.

saxon centre bad                         saxon centre new

Antisocial and criminal behaviour: 

During 2015, Kempston has suffered an unprecedented amount of unacceptable behaviour in our town, emanating from one particular area.

After having worked with the Police, Antisocial Behaviour Council Officers and others in Borough Hall, Acceptable Behaviour Contracts have been issued and CCTV cameras have been moved to a particular hotspot for this. I am far from finished in terms of my commitment to pressing ahead with further measures, but we have seen some progress in joining functions that had previously been acting independently of one another.

Everything else:

On top of these concerns, I have also pushed for an extension of the yellow lines on the Ashdale/Spring Road junction to make things safer for pedestrians and bikers, and will hear back from the team regarding this soon. I have dealt with several individuals’ confidential concerns and continue to work with the Officers to solve as many of those problems as possible.

The Conservatives are back in Kempston, challenging Labour’s monopoly in our town. I hope we can deliver a better deal for you in the next four years.

If I hear that people would be interested, I am considering holding a community meeting either every 6 or 12 months to discuss what is going on, take questions, and hear ideas about how we can better our town. Let me know if you would be interested in this way of getting together as a community to discuss our local area. Email: anthony.boutall@bedford.gov.uk .

kempston conservative logo

Less than Three Weeks in: problems and solutions

It is now almost three weeks after the election, and I would like to share what positive actions and approaches I have already taken in response to three specific problems – both old and new – for our town:

Problem #1

The Lib Dem Mayor, Dave Hodgson, failed to offer the Conservative Group a single seat in his Executive, despite the fact that we are the largest Group across the Borough, and many more people voted for us than his Lib Dem candidates. Across Borough and Town Councillor elections throughout Kempston, the Conservatives received 15,557 votes; the Lib Dems received just 1,787.  This is plainly undemocratic, and could lead to another four years of Kempston being a forgotten neighbour of Bedford.

Solutions:

  • Kempston now has representation in terms of scrutiny of that Executive, as I have already taken on additional responsibilities to join the Budget Scrutiny Committee and Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee.
  • I will be organising a series of petitions to put extra pressure on the Executive in securing a better deal for Kempston. If they won’t listen to the peoples’ wishes, we will just have to shout a bit louder! I have already started one petition, and will begin another one soon.
  • Fundamentally, I won’t make ‘being in Opposition’ an excuse for not getting things done in Kempston – we will work and fight where necessary to get a better deal for Kempston.

notiH049 - door must be kept closed

Problem #2 

The majority of decision-making regarding the proposed sale of the Saxon Centre to a Joint Venture has happened behind closed doors, and the plans are both unclear and new for the people of Kempston.

Solutions:

  • The other night, I made sure I sat on the Working Group determining what would be proposed for discussion at the Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee – through this, I have opened up discussion of the Saxon Centre deal to the first Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee following the election.
  • Fundamentally, I don’t buy any excuses for making these discussions private and hidden, and have already pushed for public scrutiny of the decisions being made.

saxon centre bad

Problem #3

Kempston is still dominated by Labour representation, both at Borough Council and Town/Parish Council level. Although I was able to break through the Labour monopoly at Borough level, and Richard Hyde and David Clarke were able to do the same at Town Council level, Kempston is still dominated by a deeply political strand of Labour. Therefore the majority of people who have presided over Kempston’s becoming a forgotten neighbour of Bedford are still in place.

Solutions:

  • I will work with the more conscientious and effective Labour Councillors who genuinely put effort into representing their local area, finding cross-party unity where possible.
  • I will hold the rest of them to account, as I have already begun doing by visiting the Town Council’s annual meeting last week to scrutinise expenditure plans on behalf of Kempston’s taxpayers – they didn’t like the new added scrutiny, and some of them took particular offence when I pointed out obvious savings.
  • Fundamentally, I will fight for value for money at all levels on behalf of Kempston’s taxpayers – Labour can work with me or against me on that.wasted-money

As I hope you can see from this list, I have already been quite busy getting stuck in on behalf of Kempston’s taxpayers. I will continue to do so for the remainder of the four years you have given me to serve our area, and will continue fighting for Kempston across the board!

‘Blitz spirit’ descends on Kempston as we suffer a frustrating burst water main

This morning, Kempston suffered a burst water main, which stopped the supply of water to the majority of homes, schools, and businesses in our town. It was very frustrating, and has caused real disruption, particularly with schools closing either partially or fully. I am glad to hear that year 6 pupils were still asked to go in, especially given the importance of their stage of education with regards to Key Stage 2 SATs.

I got on the phone to Anglian Water early this morning to ask when we should expect the problem to be sorted, and to add my name to calls for urgent action; I was told that we should expect the mains to be fixed by 2pm, and it appears to be the case that a gentle trickle has started again throughout Kempston at around 11am. Water pressure should be back to normal later this evening (at around 9pm at the latest) and, if not, please do call Anglian Water on 03457 145 145 – we are expecting everything to be normalised later.

Things we can learn from this going forward are that schools should be encouraged to use their text service ASAP to give as ready an alert as possible and that the Borough Council website should be updated more quickly – all parents were eventually informed, but it appears that some parents felt the reliance on social media as opposed to earlier direct communication was less useful. While we should encourage quicker and more joined-up responses to these types of emergencies in some cases, we should also appreciate the early efforts of staff at local schools, most of which were able to get the message out quickly and effectively.

We should also take joy in the fact that, on social media outlets, people in Kempston whose water supply had not been affected were quick to offer help and access to precious H2O for those in need. Out of such a frustrating situation, it was great to see an almost ‘blitz spirit’ emerge, especially so soon after the 70th anniversary of VE Day! It really does show you that – despite the gloomy media naysayers – we are still predominantly a great nation of people, and a great community in Kempston, even all these years after our finest hour.

There are lessons to be learned, and frustrations and disruption is still raw – but we should also be proud to have the type of people in our community who generously offered access to their water supply; whose first instinct is to help others.

We won the election; now to win the cultural battle – why in 2020, it should be Proud Tories and Shy Labour

david cameron

It is 2015 and David Cameron has been returned as Prime Minister, with the Conservatives securing a majority of seats in Parliament. Despite all the gloomy polls; despite the threat of UKIP splitting our vote; despite an electoral disaster in 2010 for Labour where ‘things could only get better’ for them; despite woefully uneven constituency sizes that favour Labour’s fortunes; we won! The British people came out in their swathes to back our party and our plan for Britain to continue with the recovery and enjoy the fruits of our country’s hard work to turn the corner in recent years.

It is an important moment for our party. Many of us had feared we were fighting an unwinnable battle. Many of us wanted Cameron to change course to attract UKIP voters back to the fold; many of us wanted grand gestures and became frustrated with all those odds against our return to government.

Those concerns were proved wrong; Cameron was proved right. As with the wets who wanted Thatcher to change course in the early-80s, dangerous friction had occurred on several occasions. But as with 1983, the British people stepped up to the plate in May and saved our country from the calamity that would have ensued from a hopelessly out-of-touch, deranged, and oblivious Labour Party being anywhere near the levers of government.

The only times Labour has won elections for decades is when they have pursued a Conservative-looking agenda, sympathetic to the concerns of an aspirational, proud nation whose peoples’ instincts are generally conservative. It is amazing to think that Labour hasn’t won a single general election in over forty years for which Tony Blair was not their leader.

kinnock

It is now time for the broader family of conservatives to unite around Cameron’s leadership and the Conservative Party’s battle to win the hearts and minds of modern Britain. Labour pursued a poisonously envy-fuelled campaign directed at securing the 35% of the vote needed for them to get back into government. We fought a battle across 100% of Britain to win the backing of people from all walks of life who had a common belief in Britain’s future, and who had the courage to secure it. We won that battle, and Britain will benefit from the result.

Having finally secured another majority, it is now our key political task to press ahead and ensure that we reverse the phenomenon of ‘shy Tories’, who end up backing us in the booth but fail to admit their allegiance publically. That way, more people will come to the fold – we will reach out to more voters and more of Britain. People should be ashamed to have supported Labour, not the Conservatives. Our records are starkly different, and our record is just so much better.

Going two centuries back, it was a Conservative, William Wilberforce, who led the abolishment of slavery in Britain. It was a Conservative, Benjamin Disraeli, who extended the vote to working men, and Conservatives in power who opened the vote to women and then equalised the voting age for women. It was a Conservative, Winston Churchill, who led the defence of common civilisation against barbaric fascism, liberating millions from the tyranny of Nazism. It was a Conservative, Harold MacMillan, who introduced the concept of a property owning democracy, and another Conservative, Margaret Thatcher, who realised that dream, extending the right to own your own house to people who had never dared dream of such a privilege. She went on to help end the Cold War, freeing millions of the world’s most oppressed from the clutches of Soviet oppression after years of Labour’s appeasement and sometimes reverence of this failed and miserable human experiment. We have produced the first female Prime Minister and the first British Asian Secretary of State; Labour has produced neither.

Over the last five years, we have helped with the creation of some 2 million jobs, enhancing self-worth and opportunity for some of the most vulnerable in our society. We have raised the income tax threshold so that low-and-middle-income earners pay no tax whatsoever on over £10,000 of their earnings. We have gained greater control over public finances, ensuring that families were spared from the desperate desolation that would have followed from Labour’s woeful mismanagement of the country’s finances in preceding years. We have opened up choice and raised standards in state-sponsored education, ensuring that not having enough money doesn’t necessarily preclude you from providing a better start in life for your child.

On the other hand, Labour left this country in a ruinous mess, harming peoples’ lives. We were on track to have a larger deficit than that of Greece’s under Labour; small businesses and families had been bankrupted by their economic ineptitude. Sudden public spending savings that had to be found without the preparation of time after years of Labour’s splurging of taxpayers’ money harmed some of the weakest and most vulnerable in our society. They cut the NHS in Wales, destroying services in that area of the UK; they destroyed Britain’s ability to compete in the world and to create more jobs for the unemployed; they stuck perfectly able people onto the drip of state dependency, sapping the life out of communities and families even before the economy turned sour under their stewardship.

If anyone should be ashamed of their record, it must be Labour, which has left this country with higher unemployment and a harmful economic climate every single time they have left office.

In the wake of the Conservatives’ electoral victory, it was so-called ‘anti-Tory protestors’ who disgracefully defaced a war memorial to the dead women of the Second World War. These people should be publically held to account, and the smug self-righteousness of this malicious part of the modern British Left should be exposed for what it is.

memorial tory scum

If the likes of Russell Brand and Eddie Izzard spent more of their time coming out in outrage against this type of appalling behaviour and less time making vague and imprecise attacks against ‘the Tories’, how much more the majority of us might respect them when they sincerely try to enter the political stage and attempt to argue a point.

A politics based on envy is not inclusive. A class-based politics built from hatred is not pleasant. A politics propped up by economic insanity is not benign.

Next time our country goes to the polls, frankly, I hope there aren’t any Labour supporters left. And I believe that those who are left would have every reason to be shy. Next time, I hope the Conservatives will have proved our worth to the British people, and that we will be talking about proud, not shy, Tories. We have just won the election; now we should aim to re-win the cultural battle, bringing the British people on side in an open, positive way.

Thank you, Kempston, for the opportunity to serve

Election celebrations

I just wanted to say a big thank you to all those people in Kempston Central & East who backed me and others from our team on Thursday. I am so chuffed to have become your Borough Councillor, and will strive to ensure the best deal for Kempston. Commiserations to those who lost, and congratulations to others who won.

As well as the news of becoming Borough Councillor, I am also very pleased to share the news that we also have two additions to Kempston Town Council: Richard Hyde, who has a wealth of great experience, having previously served as Town and Borough Councillor in Kempston; and David Clarke, whose personal connections across our town will help provide insightful representation.

Across Town Council and Borough Council elections, many of our team were painfully close – sometimes having slashed large majorities elsewhere. I hope they will all remain involved, and help us as we fight to create a better future for Kempston.

I will inform you all of surgeries and plans once settled in, and I don’t want to become a stranger for the next four years now the election’s over! However you voted, please feel free to get involved at surgeries and with ideas for improving Kempston once all the initial paperwork has been completed.

Thank you again. There is now work to be done!

Visit to my old school, Camestone

Camestone

Earlier today, I visited Camestone Lower School – the school I attended as a young child – to see recent progress and learn how the school can be better helped at a local level. In its most recent Ofsted report, Camestone was graded as a good school, and I was impressed to learn just how far education has come on over recent years. In every classroom that I visited, I was greeted by smiling, happy children who were genuinely engaged in their learning.

By a pleasant twist of fate, I was greeted by an old school friend, Miss Ducker, who has gone on to lead Key Stage 2 learning in the school; it was also lovely to see another old school friend, Mrs Gillespie, who has gone on to teach at the school, and who has also taken on special responsibilities.

The school has understandably changed quite a bit since I was there a couple of decades ago. A particularly nice addition to the school is an exciting ‘outside classroom’, hidden in the trees and shrubbery, which looks like an idyllic spot for summertime reading.

It was particularly interesting to hear how recent curriculum changes are being practically implemented in the classroom, and how they are helping children engage with each stage of learning more fully as opposed to being pushed through to the next stage without having fully grasped comprehension of each topic. This has had a really positive impact on children’s education, and I was pleased to hear from Camestone staff how important it is for the school to provide a solid foundation for Kempston children’s education.

Let’s support this good school in any way we can.

Camestone 2

 

Visit to Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara

Gurdwara

I visited the Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara on Sunday, 19 April, to partake in the Gurdwara’s ongoing Vaisakhi celebrations. Also in attendance were Richard Fuller, Conservative PPC for Bedford & Kempston, Jas Parmar, Conservative Mayoral candidate for Bedford Borough, and Kuldip Singh, my running mate for Kempston Central & East.

Visiting the Gurdwara is a highly worthwhile experience if you have not already visited. In accordance with the teachings and remit of Sikhism, any individual is welcome in the building, regardless of your personal religious beliefs. During worship, shoes should be removed from your feet and your head should be covered. In a show of humility before the Guru Granth Sahib, people of all social stations sit on the floor – humility being a very attractive aspect of the religion. The more general thinking is that, without removing the obstacle of the ego and self-service, you would be incapable of ordering your life more fully in line the oneness of the divinity.

Regardless of your religious beliefs, you are welcome to partake in the delicious food served after worship – the Gurdwara is well worth a visit!

Gurdwara 2