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Visit to Yattendon Primary School

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Year 5 and 6 pupils at Yattendon Primary School were thrilled to receive a visit from local MP Richard Benyon on Friday 12th June. Mr Benyon arranged a special visit to the school to find out more about their challenge to ‘Make a Difference’ to their local community by entering the Go Givers citizenship project.

The pupils recently drew up an action plan to improve the safety of both pedestrians and drivers using the narrow lane immediately next to Yattendon Village Stores in Yattendon Village square.

The pupils were able to show Mr Benyon a scrapbook packed with photographs and documenting all their work on the project including data analysis in the form of graphs and charts; letters to local businesses and representatives; a press release resulting in coverage in the Newbury Weekly News; and much more.

They were also able to update Mr Benyon on the outcomes of a meeting with a representative from the Highways Department of West Berkshire Council who had also come to visit them at the school on the same day as Mr Benyon’s visit.

Mr Benyon commented, “I am really impressed with the children’s efforts to make a difference to their local community and create a safer environment in the village centre. They have obviously put a lot of effort into this project and deserve some successful outcomes.”

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Newbury’s Member of Parliament is putting himself forward to be elected as Chair of one of the most influential Select Committees in the House of Commons. Select Committees have become much more powerful in recent years and the position of Chair is highly sought after. Richard will face an election, which includes at least two other high calibre candidates, Dr Julian Lewis and Colonel Bob Stewart DSO.

Richard has set out his stall in a letter to MPs of all Parties, in which he outlined the need for structured and effective Armed Forces to combat the ever-changing threats facing our country.

Richard said: “I have set out clearly why I want this post. I believe Britain faces a more dangerous world than at any time since the Cold War. I want to make sure we can defend this country and its interests around the world and we can only do that if we have a clear understanding of what threats we face. We need to show how, with our allies, we can deter and, if necessary, defeat our enemies and make the world more stable and prosperous as a result.”             

Richard in Iraq

Richard in Mali

Richard’s interest in defence stems from his service with the Royal Green Jackets in the 1980s. He serve in Northern Ireland for two years and studied counter-insurgent warfare in the Far East. He was a Founder-Trustee of the military charity Help for Heroes, which has raised over £230 million since 2007. He has campaigned for veterans and the welfare of servicemen and their families. Richard also sits on the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.



The text of Richard’s letter to MPs is as follows:

Select Committees have become an increasingly important in recent years. They succeed in holding the Government to account when they operate as a team with an independent minded and determined Chair. The best Chairs are those who do not see the role as an opportunity to “grandstand” but in public utterances seek to reflect the collective view of the Committee whenever possible. Committees need a Chair who is not looking for ministerial office but who cares deeply about its areas of responsibility.  I hope to convince you that I have these qualities as a Chair of the Defence Select Committee.

This is an important time for the security of this country and the protection of our interests around the world. We need Armed Forces that are structured and equipped for the fast changing threats and challenges we face. The Government’s promised Strategic Defence and Security Review needs to be a thorough and comprehensive study of these threats. It must not duck the tough resource issues that flow from such an analysis. As we examine our ability to influence world affairs post Iraq and Afghanistan, we need to accept that if Britain wants to play a part in shaping a better world it will need strong armed forces. Our Select Committee will be more important than ever in holding the Government to account for the defence of this country.

A word about my experience in Defence matters. I served in the Royal Green Jackets in the 1980s.  My service included two years in Northern Ireland and some time studying counter insurgency warfare in the Far East. More recently I have taken a great interest in veterans’ affairs.  I was a founding Trustee of Help for Heroes, a charity that has raised over £230 million (and spent or allocated over £200 million) for those injured in recent conflicts. Kings College London estimate that there could be around 75,000 veterans who have or could experience health problems as a result of conflict in the post 9/11 period. Help for Heroes “Hidden Wounds” project needs to be supported by the MOD and across Government. Veterans and the welfare of our wounded are a priority for me.

I served on the Defence Select Committee during the last Parliament and I hope my colleagues on that Committee will attest to my ability to work across party lines to produce robust reports and to ask the questions that need asking. With a number of colleagues I sit on the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and am an active member of its Economics and Security Committee.

I am particularly interested in looking at how we can be better served through a smarter model of intervention in troubled regions. This emerging thinking shows how early intervention using many different agencies, particularly soft power, could be so much more effective than the high cost military interventions we have seen in recent decades.  This could be a better, and less costly, way to help stabilise vulnerable regions, with the intention, wherever possible, of avoiding any conflict at all.

The replacement of the nuclear deterrent will be decided in this Parliament. I represent an area which is closely associated with the deterrent. The Atomic Research Establishment at Aldermaston is my constituency’s largest employer. I believe the Committee must openly examine the critical issues relating to the replacement submarine fleet so that the country is confident the right decision is reached.  

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Richard Benyon and the newly appointed Rail Minister, Claire Perry, have this week met in the House of Commons. Richard requested the meeting to raise wider concerns about the rail service and to seek assurances about the new trains and the electrification of the Great Western Mainline.

The Minister, who is the Member of Parliament for neighbouring Devizes, told Richard:

·         The ‘refresh’ of the decision to electrify the line as far as Newbury will conclude over the summer, after which a decision will be made as to whether to run electrification to Bedwyn.

·         The economic review which Richard and Claire pushed for with the previous Rail Minister has concluded that there is an overwhelming economic case to extend electrification to Bedwyn. A ratio of 2.43 (£2.43 of economic benefit for every £1 spent) is a better economic case than HS2 and much of the electrification work taking place in Wales.

·         If electrification stops at Newbury it would almost certainly mean another platform at Newbury Station for smaller shuttle trains running west of the town. The estimated cost for this is £3 million.

·         A decision on new bi-modal trains (trains which can run on electricity or diesel) will be taken within the next 6 weeks. The new rolling stock will offer an improved travelling experience for commuters.

Following the meeting, Richard said: “The Minister was receptive to my questioning of the £75 million cost of extending electrification from Newbury to Bedwyn. It assumes a stand-alone contract, rather than an extension of the existing works where scale and procurement would keep costs down. I am increasingly confident that electrification beyond Newbury, to serve constituents in Kintbury and Hungerford, will be realised.”

He continued: “I am determined to ensure the best service possible for the many thousands who commute from West Berkshire, and I will be raising matters related to performance when I meet with First Great Western shortly.”

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Richard Benyon has today welcomed new figures showing that 1,090 fewer people in the Newbury constituency are claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance compared to 2010 – a 71 per cent drop.

What is more, the Office for National Statistics has this morning published unemployment figures for April 2015. These statistics highlight the total number of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants in the Newbury constituency was 437 people, a fall of 259 people from this time last year.

Richard said: “The Conservatives are committed to full employment, so everyone who wants to work can have the security of a regular pay packet. Supporting local businesses will ensure more good jobs across our region and will serve to renew our country as a place where ambition and hard work is rewarded”.

He continued: “I am pleased, but not complacent with today’s unemployment figures for Newbury. However, an unemployment rate of 0.8 per cent – 621 highest of the 650 constituencies in the UK – highlights the growth of our local economy and the success of our Conservative policies. I said throughout my campaign for re-election that I wanted everyone to feel the benefits of this recovery, and it is important we continue to support those out of work find a job”.

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Richard Benyon has been successfully re-elected as Newbury’s Member of Parliament, following a six week period of hard campaigning.

Richard was declared the victor in the early hours of this morning with an increased majority of 26,368.

Speaking after the declaration, Richard said: “I am incredibly grateful to all those who voted for me and the Conservative Party. It has been a great honour to represent the people of Newbury over these past ten years and I am now excited to get back to work, representing this wonderful constituency”.

He continued: “I would like to thank my team of volunteers, fellow Conservative candidates and of course, my family. Without their efforts and support, this would simply not have been possible. I would like also like to pay tribute to my fellow candidates for the good natured spirit in which this election has been fought”.



1.       Richard was re-elected with 61 per cent of the vote and a majority of 26,368.

When Richard was selected to fight the Newbury constituency in the 1990s, it had a Liberal Democrat majority of over 22,000.

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Richard Benyon was re-elected as the Member of Parliament for Newbury on 7 May 2015, with an increased majority of 26,368. Richard won 61 per cent of the vote share.



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