Williams Trade Supplies and Van Watch meet with Home Secretary

Williams Trade Supplies and Van Watch meet with Home Secretary

Williams Trade Supplies, one of the UK’s largest independent Plumbing & Heating Merchants, recently hosted a constituency visit by Home Secretary Suella Braverman at its site in Fareham, Hampshire.

The MP for Fareham was welcomed by Ray Stafford, Martin Brown and Alex Peacock from Williams and Brett Amphlett from the Builders Merchants Federation. As Mrs Braverman toured the trade counter and southern distribution centre, she chatted with several members of the team.

The Home Secretary engaged with the Williams/BMF team on two core topics; the road to Net Zero in the built environment, and the ongoing issue of tool theft from tradespeople’s vehicles.

Focussing on the push to decarbonise space and water heating in residential properties through the installation of heat pumps through the Clean Heat Market Mechanism, Martin, Ray and Brett underlined the need for policies to stimulate demand, and particularly to close the “spark gap”,  the cost difference between natural gas and electricity prices, as a key requirement to secure the support of property owners and to avoid loss of faith in heat pumps amongst the public.

They also stressed the need to train at least ten times more installers than the current DESNZ target of 6,000 to support the long term heat pump installations target, noting that most newly trained installers would not dedicate all their time to heat pump installations, but would use new skills to widen their offer, whilst still spending most of their time working for existing customers on traditional installations.

Conversation then turned to the issue of tool theft. On behalf of Van Watch, a cross industry, not-for-profit organisation campaigning against tool crime, Ray took the Home Secretary through some statistics around tool crime and expressed appreciation on behalf of victim groups for the recent Equipment Theft (Prevention) Act.

He went on to ask for her help in five key areas: more police resources dedicated to investigating tool crime, changes to sentencing guidelines, pressure on vehicle manufacturers to improve load-space security, requirements on electronic platforms to do more to prevent the reselling of stolen goods, and more consistent police record keeping.

Concluding her visit, Suella Braverman MP said: “It was very useful to meet with a Hampshire business from a sector which will be at the sharp end of delivering the low carbon agenda, and to hear first-hand from Ray, Martin and Brett about some of the practical issues influencing how householders embrace new technologies, and to learn about the real-life challenges in upskilling the workforce to deliver key programs.”

Regarding the Van Watch campaign against tool theft from Tradespeople’s vehicles, the Home Secretary applauded the industry for its initiatives to bring down the frequency and mitigate the harm caused by this type of crime and spoke of the need for improvements in the approach to policing and sentencing of acquisitive crime.

She commented: “All victims of theft deserve more from the police and justice system than simply a crime number, and they should expect all reasonable lines of enquiry should be followed up.”

Ray Stafford, Chair of Williams and founder of Van Watch, stated: “We are delighted to welcome Mrs Braverman both in her capacity as our local MP and in her role as Home Secretary. This is a critical time for our industry, and we look forward to working closely with government on designing a practical programme for decarbonising the nation’s homes, as well as tackling crimes against the livelihoods of the skilled workers who will deliver that programme.”

Mrs Braverman’s visit was another arranged by the BMF as part of its industry and parliament programme. The aim is to show MPs the role, value and importance of merchants in delivering for their communities and creating local jobs & growth.

Williams Trade Supplies recently hosted a constituency visit by Home Secretary Suella Braverman at its site in Fareham, Hampshire.
(L-R) Brett Amphlett from the Builders Merchant Federation with Suella Braverman MP, Williams Chairman Ray Stafford and Williams MD Martin Brown.

Van Watch

Launched in 2022, Van Watch is a not-for-profit cross industry organisation set up by Ray Stafford with the support of a wide range of trade associations, industry charities and commercial organisations within the construction sector.

Van Watch has twin missions, to provide financial, practical and emotional support to the victims of crime, and to campaign for measures to reduce the frequency and impact of tool theft.

For more details, see www.vanwatch.org.uk.

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