Don Foster MP
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Don Foster MP - Bath's #1 Supporter

Don congratulates local award-winning business

October 31, 2014 by Don Foster MP in Don in Bath, News.

Bath MP, Don Foster, has met with Martin Freeman and Rebecca Coates of local business properECO to congraulate them on the company’s success in a recent national business.

PropertECO

Don with propertECO’s Rebecca Coates & Martin Freeman

Don is a keen supporter of local businesses and was impressed by propertECO’s achievements over the last three years, which have recently seen the company being named “Britain’s best small business of 2014″. The judges of the UK’s biggest competition for small businesses, The Pitch, praised propertECO for their solid business model and management and were pleased to award the winner’s title to a company that is not only doing well financially, but that is also doing good within the community.

As leading UK experts in reducing exposure to harmful levels of radon (the naturally occurring gas that escapes from the ground and can accumulate unnoticed in properties), the work that propertECO carries out will ultimately save lives.

Mr Foster said, “I was delighted to learn of propertECO’s success. It is great to see a Bath company being recognised nationally for the fantastic work they do in radon gas testing and remediation. With radon being the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, the work propertECO do is invaluable.

“I would like to congratulate all of the team on their success and thank them for their hard work.”

Don has long championed the need for better awareness of radon for several years, in particular when he was a Minister at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) between September 2012 – October 2013. During this period, he instigated an update of the Building Regulations and associated guidance that affords improved protection from radon for new buildings.

propertECO Managing Director, Martin Freeman said “I’m incredibly proud of the success that propertECO has enjoyed in recent years. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to run a business with a life-saving focus. We spend a lot of time disseminating information on radon so that members of the public can be made aware of this often overlooked health risk. Many victims of radon-induced lung cancer were not previously aware of the hazard that they were exposed to daily whilst in their homes or workplaces, and raising awareness of the issue is key to reducing the number of avoidable lung cancer deaths that occur every year in the UK.”

Rebecca Coates, propertECO Commercial Director added, “I am so grateful to Mr Foster for his valuable contribution to the landscape of radon awareness and protection, and I look forward to a time when people no longer ask “Radon? What’s that?”.

You can find out more about the great work that propertECO do by clicking here.

New initiatives to protect and fight against Fraud

October 31, 2014 by Don Foster MP in Don in Bath, Press

A fraud awareness campaign has been launched in the Avon and Somerset area today (20 October) with the help of local residents to target doorstep fraud as well as phone and online scams.

The Spot It, Stop It campaign has been developed following input from local people across the force area.

Residents have taken part in focus groups as well as a survey to help identify the ways in which they currently protect themselves from different types of fraud and the kinds of advice they want to receive.

fraudleafletThe campaign, a Home Office initiative piloted in Avon and Somerset and supported by the police, is aimed particularly at those aged over 60 following research showing this age group is particularly vulnerable to fraudsters.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of the types of tactics fraudsters use and provide advice on how people can prevent it. It is supported by Action Fraud, Trading Standards, Victim Support, Crimestoppers and Neighbourhood Watch.

The launch of the campaign coincides with Get Safe Online Week and the Home Office’s Cyber Streetwise campaign, which aim to raise awareness of online scams to all age groups.

Leaflets and other materials are being distributed across the force area and an advert campaign is also being run in local newspapers.

Kirstie Cogram, head of the Economic Crime Unit at Avon and Somerset Police, said: “Fraud, whether it is online, telephone or doorstep crime, is a horrible experience for the victim.  Fraud techniques can be very convincing and can be costly and extremely upsetting for those affected.

“We would encourage everyone to familiarise themselves with the fraud prevention advice and also to pass it on to their friends and family.

Karen Bradley, Minister for Modern Slavery and Organised Crime, said: “This government is committed to protecting people at risk of becoming the victims of serious and organised crime. Fraud against the public is believed to cost about £9 billion a year, but the real cost to victim’s lives is far greater. That’s why we’re fully supportive of this initiative, which provides straightforward advice on how to protect yourself from fraud.”

Don statement on Recall of MPs Bill

I have been contacted by many constituents on the issue and I would like to take this opportunity to explain why I voted against the amendments put forward by Zac Goldsmith MP.

Don FosterI agree that the public must be able to hold their Member of Parliament to account. The ballot box at a General Election is of course the place where voters can make their judgement on the policy decisions their MP has made, or their stance on controversial matters such as going to war, during the previous Parliament.

I believe it is essential that if an MP fails to meet the standards of conduct expected of MPs and commits serious wrongdoing, constituents should have the option to remove their MP before the next General Election. But I think it would be wrong for an MP to face a constant stream of recall petitions, because he or she had voted a certain way or because they were supporting unpopular causes.  This would have been the effect of Zac Goldsmith’s amendments.

This is what happens in the USA where supporters of gun control have been recalled and ejected, following well-funded campaigns to oust them.  This would make MPs, particularly those in marginal seats, very wary of speaking out on controversial matters or taking tough, but necessary decisions.  This would be very unhealthy for our democracy.

Zac Goldsmith’s proposals would not guarantee that an MP who received a prison sentence would face a recall petition.  His four stage process, if implemented, would take over twice as long to conclude as the Government’s. And he acknowledges that his proposals, because of high thresholds – 20% would need to sign a petition, then 51% would need to vote for the MP to be recalled in a referendum – are very unlikely to lead to recall.

There is one important area however where the Government, responding to an all-party amendment led by two Liberal Democrat MPs, David Heath and Julian Huppert, is going to carry out further work.  This is a proposal which would provide members of the public with the ability to trigger a recall petition themselves, without reference to Parliament, if they felt their MP had committed serious wrongdoing or misconduct in public office.  The Government hopes to be able to bring back an amendment of this nature at Report Stage in the Commons.

The Bill strikes a fair balance between holding to account those who commit serious wrong-doing or a serious offence and giving MPs the freedom to do their job and make difficult decisions where necessary.  I am pleased that at Committee Stage, on a free vote, the Government’s proposals for recall received a large majority.

I hope this has helped to clarify my position.

Don