Francis Maude: innovative ways to boost our economy

As I do occasionally, I thought I’d let readers know about some of the meetings and visits I made last Friday.

I was delighted to be joined by Becky Ward, a student from Millais School. Becky wanted to shadow me to learn more about what a busy constituency MP gets up to. But, as with all my exchanges, these things are a two-way street – it was a great opportunity to speak to Becky about being a student in Horsham and her plans for the future.

First was a visit to Ringway/Eurovia – a group of businesses with their headquarters in Horsham. They are a national group specialising in, among other things, road-marking, asphalt production, resurfacing and vehicle graphics.

I was there to learn more about their innovative scheme to reduce collisions and ‘near misses’ between HGVs and cyclists and other road-users. Their mix of proximity sensors, cameras and display monitors has proved successful. It was interesting stuff and I think it could make a real difference if more vehicles used the technology.

Just before lunch I made a speedy visit to The College of Richard Collyer to record my part in a film being produced by the Opportunity for All Group of the Horsham District Community Partnership to promote Horsham as a great place to do business. It wasn’t hard to come up with any number of reasons why Horsham is a great place to work, invest, start up a business and, indeed, live. I was pleased to contribute to something that could boost our local economy.

Continuing my local business theme I was pleased to have a bite to eat with the CEO of another business headquartered in Horsham. It was really useful to chat about the local, national and, indeed, international business economy. All MPs find such meetings with local business people important – it’s a useful way to understand the issues affecting businesses. As a cabinet minister I’m able to feed what I’ve learned into discussions with my cabinet colleagues.

Later in the afternoon I met with the divisional manager for Victim Support in Surrey and Sussex. I found this meeting a really useful opportunity to learn more about this amazing organisation and the good they do for local victims of crime. I’m going to build on my new-found links with them as I occasionally see people at my advice surgeries who could make great use of their services. If anyone reading this would like to know more about what Victim Support does, their website victimsupport.org.uk will prove useful.

So, a busy day, which I hope Becky found useful when thinking about future career choices!