College Loves Bedford and points Portas in right direction

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Bedford College is key to the vitality of the High Street, the town centre and economy of the borough, heard a Government Minister and Mary Portas on Monday.

Brandon Lewis MP, the new Minister for High Streets and celebrity Queen of Shops, Mary Portas were in town as part of forum on the future of town centres.

They met Bedford College Principal and CEO Ian Pryce CBE who in 2005 authorised his organisation to back Bedford’s Business Improvement District (BID) and more recently to support the Portas Pilot project.

Most importantly Bedford College staff and students, who number nearly 18,000 in total across various locations, pour into the town centre every weekday putting important pounds in local tills. The College has invested more than £300,000 in the town centre via the BedfordBID Love Bedford shopping vouchers and has loaned premises for events and encouraged students to take part in events. It has two High Street training venues: BROOKS hair and beauty spa and Bedford Learning Centre where various Portas-funded courses have been staged.

On a wider scale, Bedford College brings in millions of pounds of money into the local education scheme through accessing training funds for employers of apprentices, full-time education of those aged 16+, supporting the recently built Bedford Academy and newly opened Bedford Free School – and much more.

Said Ian Pryce: “Most importantly we are preparing people for the world of work as part of a local and national economy where the UK competes on a global scale – basically making sure Bedford is on the employability map.

“On a very local scale we are happy to be recognised as adding value to the High Street, the town centre and Bedford as a whole.”