Category Archives: Employment

Supporting Enterprise

Mark Reckless (centre) with Cllr Rupert Turpin and Stephan Williamson

Mark Reckless (centre) with Cllr Rupert Turpin and Stephan Williamson

Mark Reckless was recently delighted to meet Mr Stephan Williamson and inspect the small furniture items he was making from reconditioned packing pallets.

Pallets used for transporting heavy goods would otherwise be thrown away, so it is fantastic to see Stephan recycling them to make valuable items, a living for himself, and a new business in the Medway Towns.

Stephan Williamson is receiving support from the enterprise allowance scheme. This provides someone who might otherwise be unemployed with an allowance of £65pw for 13 weeks followed by a reduced allowance of £33pw for a further 7 weeks. This allows the recipient to start up a business and receive support through the early stages before they begin making money.

Mark said:

“I was impressed with the quality of what Stephan is making, his relatively low prices of £20-60, and the environmental sustainability of his business. I may be commissioning him to make something for my own household. I would encourage others to get in touch to see what he might offer them on 07843165587.”

Click here for Stephan’s Facebook page

Mark Reckless MP: more jobs means more security for hardworking people in Rochester and Strood

Mark Reckless attends recent jobs fair in Chatham's Pentagon Centre

Mark Reckless attends recent jobs fair in Chatham’s Pentagon Centre

Mark Reckless has welcomed new statistics which show that the number of people in work in the South East has increased by 216,000 since the last election – meaning more families in Rochester and Strood have the security of a pay packet at the end of the month.

Hardworking people in Rochester and Strood have benefitted from new jobs and opportunities being created recently across the Medway Towns.

Mark Reckless MP said:

“It is great news that there are 216,000 more people in work in the South East since 2010. That means 216,000 more hardworking people bringing home a regular pay packet, giving them and their family more financial security for the future.

“There is still more to do, but these figures show that the Conservatives’ long-term economic plan is working. We need to stick to the plan, which is getting people off benefits and into work, and delivering a more secure future for people in Rochester and Strood who want to work hard and get on in life.”

MP welcomes £600,000 funding for High Street regeneration

WP_20140311_002Mark Reckless MP has welcomed the announcement that a scheme which aims to regenerate and revitalise a significant stretch of Rochester and Chatham High Street is to receive a substantial government grant.

Medway Council has been successful in its bid to the Coastal Communities Fund for funding of £598,525 which should deliver a huge boost for the cultural and creative scene in Medway alongside potentially providing up to 140 new jobs.

The two key sites on which the scheme will be focusing are the disused railways arches at Bath Hard Lane, which will be transformed into a cultural hub with studio and performance spaces, and Sun Pier House, which will benefit from a new lift to improve access for the disabled.

Speaking after hearing news of the grant, Mark Reckless said:

“I welcome the announcement that Medway Council has been successful in its bid for funding. The lower end of the High Street which runs between Rochester and Chatham has long been a priority for investment. I look forward to seeing the improvements which are made and the jobs and training opportunities which are created as a result of this investment into my constituency and our historic High Street.

My congratulations to everyone involved in the successful bid.”

Cllr Andrew Mackness, Conservative member for River ward, added:

“This further investment in the development of the Riverside area and High Street areas of Chatham and Rochester  is welcomed. It follows continued efforts by Cllr Mackinlay and myself to ensure that investment and the creation of jobs in  River ward is at the forefront of the work of the Conservative administration in Medway .We will continue to challenge colleagues to build on the exciting opportunities which exist in Medway for all its residents.”

Fort Horsted: A hidden gem in my constituency


Mark Reckless joins Horsted Park residents and Rochester South and Horsted councillors for visit to Fort Horsted

Mark Reckless was delighted to visit Fort Horsted Business Centre, one of Kent and Medway’s best kept secrets.

Work on Fort Horsted, the largest of the five local forts constructed to defend Chatham dockyard (the others being Darland, Twydall, Luton and Bridgewoods – also known as Palmerston’s follies), commenced in 1880 using a convict labour force from the newly constructed Borstal prison and supervised by the Royal Engineers. Fort Horsted lies approximately three miles away from the principle target of Chatham dockyard meaning invaders would have to get through the ring to attack the target.


Mark Reckless with Rochester South and Horsted ward councillors

For the next 60 years the Fort remained in military hands with a small garrison from the Royal Ordnance Corps and latterly the Royal Artillery in continuous occupation. By the early sixties however the military no longer had any use for the Fort and it was sold for £10,000 to a development company in 1963.

During the next 34 years the Fort had a variety of owners and tenants and by the early 1990s the Fort was all but deserted, derelict and in much need of attention. English Heritage and the Environment Agency issued an enforcement notice on the legal owners with a £1,000,000 liability to clear up the site. Instead, the owners put up the Fort for auction and it was bought by Avondale Environmental Services Ltd in 1997.

Having decided that the future for this historic monument lay in it being able to sustain itself in terms of income generation and investment, a business plan was put to English Heritage and the Environment Agency to not only clear the site but also to develop it into small business units. By staying within government guidelines for the restoration and renovation of historic sites and keeping all works in character, English Heritage relaxed its normally strict rules and considered relatively modern proposals.

English Heritage continued to support Avondale during the next four years as it cleared the tyres and put the Fort back to a habitable condition. Avondale was finally able to occupy the Fort in August 2001 and begin the next chapter in its long life.

On April 26th 2007, Phase One of Fort Horsted Business Centre was officially opened for business. 6 refurbished business units became available on flexible lease terms together with state of the art conference facilities and a reception area.


Mark Reckless enjoys the panoramic views over Medway with Fort Horsted owner Andy Back and Paul Coutts-Smith

Speaking after his visit, Mark Reckless said:

“I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit Fort Horsted which truly is a hidden gem within my constituency.

The site has enjoyed something of a chequered past so it was pleasing to see how the current owners have invested in the Fort and are breathing new life into this ancient monument. As well as offering business units and conference facilities to rent or hire on very attractive terms, it is also enjoying a new lease of life as an attraction for groups of visitors, hosting fashion shows, ghost hunts and exclusive parties.

I was hugely impressed by the vision shown by the current owner of the site, Andy Back. A huge amount of time, effort and money has been invested in Fort Horsted with the objective of using it to its full potential as a unique business centre creating an island of excellence in partnership with other local agencies such as the nearby Innovation Centre.

I was very impressed with the work which they have done so far and I wish them continued success for the future. My thanks also to our hard working ward councillors in Rochester South and Horsted, who are working closely with Fort Horsted and local residents in Horsted Park, for organising our visit.”

WP_20140308_027Rochester South and Horsted ward councillor, Cllr Trevor Clarke, added:

“It was a pleasure to have Mark join us for another of our tours of the Fort together with some of the ward’s newest residents from the neighbouring Horsted Park development. We have been working closely with Fort Horsted for the last couple of years to enhance connections with the local community and business sector and this has afforded opportunities for our residents to enjoy this wonderfully quirky old fort that is tucked away on the edge of The Horsted Valley.

As part of this community tie-up, our local schools will later this year be offered for the first time ever, the chance to visit and undertake exciting science and history projects there. As ward councillors, we very much appreciate the commitment of the Fort’s owners to working with and supporting the local community.”

For more information on Fort Horsted Business Centre – Click Here

VIDEO: Supporting the national minimum wage

Mark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood, and Robert Halfon, MP for Harlow, join Jeremy Paxman on BBC’s Newsnight to discuss the merits of the national minimum wage. Transmitted 7th January 2014.

Mark Reckless MP welcomes business rates help for 6000 local businesses

7157341586_a62339326c_c6000 business properties in Medway will benefit from a package to help the high street and support businesses at the Autumn Statement today.

Mark Reckless MP has welcomed the news which will boost jobs and growth in Rochester and Strood.

The package includes a business rate discount of up to £1,000 for retail premises, including shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants, as help for the high street.

Measures announced include:

  • A 2 per cent cap on everyone’s business rate increases.
  • £1,000 off business rate bills for all retail premises with a rateable value up to £50,000 for 2014/15 and 2015/16. This includes shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.
  • A new reoccupation relief, which will halve the rates bills of businesses taking over premises empty for over a year.
  • The doubling of Small Business Rate Relief is being extended to April 2015 and expanded.

Mark Reckless MP commented:

“I wanted the Government to listen to calls from local businesses and they have.

“That’s why this help for our high streets is such good news. Six thousand businesses in Medway will benefit from the overall package of support – especially the shops, pubs, and cafes on our high streets.

“High street businesses are an important part of local life. We are backing local businesses all the way. With Small Business Saturday this weekend Conservatives are giving businesses in Rochester and Strood the help they need to grow and create jobs.”

MP welcomes continuing fall in unemployment in Rochester and Strood

200241_10150165354751068_5938208_nMark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood, has welcomed Office for National Statistics figures which show that unemployment in Rochester and Strood has continued to fall in line with the national trend.

The most recent figures show that the percentage of people claiming Jobseekers Allowance has fallen to 3.5%, down from 4.5% when Mark was elected in May 2010. It is the eighth consecutive fall in unemployment in Rochester and Strood this year and the first time that the claimant count has fallen below 2,000 since the general election (currently 1,917).

Mark, who opened last month’s Medway Jobs Fair alongside his colleague Tracey Crouch, also welcomed the continuing fall in youth unemployment in the constituency, down from 6.9% in May 2010 to 5.3% which means that there are now 180 more young people in work or training since Mark was elected.

Speaking of the latest ONS data, Mark said:

“It is great news that unemployment continues to fall in Rochester and Strood, in line with the national trend. Unemployment has been falling consistently in recent months and is now a full one percent lower than it was in May 2010 under the last Government.

I am also delighted that youth unemployment in the constituency has fallen by 1.6% to 5.3%, which compares favourably to the national average of 5.6%. I would like to thank everyone at Jobcentre Plus, Medway Council and all of the other local organisations who are working hard to get people off welfare and into training or work.

The most important thing for me is to ensure that my constituents feel the full benefit of the economic recovery, and this fall in unemployment is welcome. There is, however, always more to do and I will continue to work as hard as I possibly can to ensure that we finish the job which we have begun.”


Supporting Medway jobs and apprenticeships


From left: Sue Harrison (Employer, Provision and Partnership Manager for Medway, Jobcentre Plus) with Mark Reckless and Tracey Crouch

Since the General Election in May 2010, unemployment in Rochester and Strood has fallen from a rate of 4.5% claiming Jobseekers Allowance to 3.9% currently. While this compares favourably with the national average of 4.4%, it is obvious that there is still more to do to get people, particularly our young people and the long-term unemployed, into work or training. More employers in the private sector are starting to create full-time, permanent jobs, moving away from the part-time, low-paid jobs which we’d seen previously, and, nationally, employment has risen by 80,000 in the past three months alone.

So I welcomed the opportunity last Friday to attend two events in Medway which highlighted the fantastic work which is being done in both the public and private sector to increase the employment and training opportunities which are available.

From left: Mark Reckless MP, Mike Rayner (Early Intervention Office, KCC), Tessa Oversby (Head of Employability, Barclays), Jade Dellbridge (Cashier, Barclays) and Marin Adamson (Senior Barclays Business Manager)

From left: Mark Reckless MP, Mike Rayner (Early Intervention Office, KCC), Tessa Oversby (Head of Employability, Barclays), Jade Dellbridge (Cashier, Barclays) and Martin Adamson (Senior Barclays Business Manager)

First up was the Barclays LifeSkills breakfast meeting where I met the extraordinarily impressive Jade Dellbridge who joined Barclays as an apprentice, and has progressed to becoming a cashier at their Chatham branch. Jade was a most persuasive ambassador for the Barclays apprenticeship scheme.

Launched in 2012, Barclays has already employed over 1,000 apprentices, with the hope of another 1,000 to come, and is aspiring to get another 10,000 additional apprenticeships created in the wider business community through their LifeSkills Bridges into Work programme.

I am really encouraged that a large national employer like Barclays, one of the banks which declined to be bailed out at the taxpayers’ expense, is creating opportunities for our young people locally through its apprenticeship scheme, and I hope that other companies, particularly those which have benefited from public money, will follow their lead.


I then popped over to the Pentagon Shopping Centre in Chatham to open the Medway Jobs and Apprenticeship Fair 2013, along with my colleague in Chatham and Aylesford, Tracey Crouch.

Organised by Medway Council and Jobcentre Plus, the Jobs Fair attracted businesses from across Kent who were looking to recruit staff, and I was pleased to see so much interest from the public.

With a number of important indicators pointing towards a faster than hoped for recovery thanks to the actions which Conservatives have taken in government, it is important that we ensure that everyone benefits from the increased opportunities presented as our country turns the corner.

In his speech at the Conservative Party conference earlier this week, David Cameron stated:

Aspiration, opportunity: these are our words, our dreams. So today I want to talk about our one, abiding mission. I believe it is the great Conservative mission. That as our economy starts to recover, we build a land of opportunity in our country today.

As the recovery takes hold, we must ensure that we build a land of opportunity for the many, not just the few, and it is vitally important that nobody gets left behind or condemned to a life on welfare and handouts.

My congratulations to everyone involved in organising the jobs fair, and to all of those working to provide the jobs, training and opportunities which benefit our whole country.

Letter from minister regarding Medway Insolvency Service



Update on proposed Insolvency Service changes

Following representations from Mark Reckless and Tracey Crouch amongst others, Norman Lamb MP has now further advised that The Insolvency Office has communicated to staff in the 3 affected offices – Bournemouth, Medway and Stockton – that before taking a firm decision on the future of the individual offices, they need to take stock.

As a result, the decision regarding the future of the Medway office has been deferred until the Autumn and could possibly lead to re-consideration of the proposed closure plan.

Welcoming the news, Mark Reckless said:

“While the Minister recognises in his letter that this does not provide the workers at the Medway office with the certainty they need, I still welcome the decision to look again at the impact which the proposed closures could have, not just in Medway, but on The Insolvency Service as a whole.

I would like to thank everybody who made representations to the Minister, particularly the PCS Union which on this occasion has campaigned so effectively on behalf of its members at the Medway office.”

Kevin Etheridge, Assistant Secretary of the PCS Union BIS Group, added:

“On behalf of my members at the Medway office which is currently under public consultation, I should like to thank Tracey Crouch MP and Mark Reckless MP for the representations they made to Norman Lamb Minister at our recent meeting in London to retain the office.

I wish to put on record my thanks and appreciation to Tracey and Mark for their joint, effective approach in writing to Ministers and supporting the staff and service at the Medway office.”