Dean is the Member of Parliament for Watford and has strong ties to the town. He has lived in Hertfordshire for over two decades and is married to his Watford born wife with roots in Watford going back over 130 years. Dean's daughter was born in Watford General, and they live in Watford.
Dean is originally from the West Midlands, from a working class family. His father was a HGV driver and Dean has spoken in Parliament about his experiences working part time as a student in a variety of jobs including as a ceramics technician, cleaner, cashier, refuse collector and night-time patrolman. Dean often talks to schools about how, as a child, he didn't expect 'someone like him' would ever be able to be an MP and hopes to inspire young people from all backgrounds to take part in politics and in their community - at local and national level.
Dean is never afraid of rolling-his-sleeves up to get work done, which is why he set-up his initiative to 'Put Dean On Your Team' to work a short shift in local businesses and charities and understand what local organisations do first-hand which has included cleaning coaches at MET Coaches, working in reception at Wenta business hub to working behind the counters at British Heart Foundation and RSPCA and much more.
From Physicist To Children's Book Author
At University Dean studied a Physics and Business Studies degree at De Montfort University followed by an MPhil in Physics and Material Science mostly at the Synchrotron Radiation Source (SRS) at the Daresbury Laboratory. His thesis on Gallium Nitride and other Group III Nitrides predicted the role of LED's and semiconductors in driving towards a 'less wasteful' society. Dean also co-authored a publication into a facility he helped develop called Hi-Prexx - an 'In situ EXAFS, X-ray diffraction and photoluminescence for high-pressure studies' facility which was later used at the Diamond Synchrotron in Cambridge.
Alongside his passion for science, Dean is an artist and has had 4 Prime Ministers sign his portraits over the years and have been auctioned for a range of good causes and events. He is also a children's book author with four published books including 'Mouse and the Moon Made of Cheese'.
Dean is also proud to be an Ambassador for the Nelson Mandela Memorial Book, winner of the prestigious distinguished leadership award at the Euroknowledge Leadership Awards and recently won an Unsung Hero Award for Services to the Conservative Party and Community.
Dean has had a varied career working in digital, communications and business strategy mostly working at communications agencies. In one of his first roles in the digital sector Dean was a leading voice in raising concerns around the digital divide and promoting online accessibility - ensuring people with disabilities could have equal access to the World Wide Web. He lead the development of the world's first online accessible 'Flash' game with RNIB and authored the UK's first professional course on online accessibility. He toured the country to raise awareness and help businesses learn how to make sure their websites were accessible
Over his career he worked with many brands and small businesses around the world. He regularly shared his experience through lecturing including at Ashridge (Hult) Business School and the University of Hertfordshire. Dean also used his experience in public speaking to help others learn confidence in presenting and pitching, this included writing a book on how to win pitches. Dean enjoys mentoring and motivational speaking and continues to help others today. Prior to being elected he partnered with Hertfordshire County Council to train foster care leavers in presenting for job interviews and confidence at the University of Hertfordshire and has continued to perform mentoring sessions at the Watford Job Centre for people entering into self employment and starting a new business.
Tackling Mental Health Stigma
Dean has been active in challenging the stigma of mental health for many years and was appointed as an official ambassador for the mental health campaign 'Where's Your Head At?!' and co-chair of the Mental Health All-Party Parliamentary Group amongst other groups and initiatives. When proposing his Ten Minute Rule Bill for making Mental Health First Aid in the Workplace mandatory, Dean spoke about his early experiences when a family friend sadly died by suicide, and how this affected him and drove his work to tackle stigma around mental health and wellbeing.
As part of his election in 2019, Dean made a long-term pledge to train a thousand Watford residents in Mental Health First Aid Awareness to help make Watford a Wellbeing Town. Thanks to support from Camelot, Watford and West Herts Chamber of Commerce and local volunteers, there have already been over 600 people trained.
A Passion for Volunteering
Dean has been active in the charity sector including writing a regular column for Third Sector magazine and training charities with the Media Trust. Along with regular volunteering throughout his life, Dean has also performed charity missions outside the UK. This includes work in the Philippines as part of a programme to build a new village in the Filipino jungle to support families who lost everything when Typhoon Haiyan devastated the area. Dean also volunteered with the Starkey Hearing Foundation when he spent time giving the gift of hearing to children by fitting hearing aids so they could hear for the first time.
His passion for volunteering has continued as an MP in Watford, including volunteering regularly (including on Christmas Day) at Watford General Hospital during the pandemic and regularly with local charities including One Vision, Hand on Heart, Small Acts of Kindness, Salvation Army and Goods For Good amongst others.
Saving Film Industry Jobs during COVID
Dean is a keen film and music fan and was one of the original founders of the student radio station Demon FM now (Demon Media) at De Montfort University in 1995 and he has continued his passion for music and local radio ever since. Dean was a regular contributor to a film entertainment magazine and a judge for the British Association for Screen Entertainment for over 14 years.
His understanding of the importance of the film industry, and especially the 'long tail' of film production which includes carpenters, hairdressers and digital designers, helped inform Dean's actions during the the first lockdown in 2020.
Dean was asked to help the Mission Impossible movie producers to ensure filming could continue at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden during the pandemic. Dean successfully lobbied for changes to create ‘film bubbles’ so filming could continue safely and arranged for actor Tom Cruise to virtually meet with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to raise the importance of the rule changes directly. Dean's intervention led to new specific film and production industry rules during COVID which countries around the world soon followed. His actions led to Tom Cruise lobbying the global film industry to put similar changes in place in other countries ensuring movies and TV shows could film safely.
Dean's intervention helped to protect many jobs in the industry, including many jobs in the production industry in Watford and he continues to champion the industry.
Ending Rough Sleeping in Watford
Dean has had a passion for tackling rough sleeping for many years and has worked with people who are homeless since he was at University. His first essay when elected for a report on housing explored the importance of the 'Housing First' model to ensure wrap around care for people who are homeless.
At the start of the pandemic, Dean was instrumental in working directly with the Minister for Homelessness and local charities including New Hope to ensure funding for rough sleepers would be allocated to ensure accommodation could be secured as part of the Government's 'Everybody In' initiative. Dean's actions to secure Government funding throughout the past 3 years has ensured the hard work of local organisations on the ground in Watford could continue, and has meant that Watford, for the first time in our history, has had almost no rough sleepers since the start of the pandemic. Dean continues to work to secure ongoing funding to ensure this continues long term with the most recent announcement of a further £1m announced in December 2022 (with the overall total amount Dean has helped secured for Watford to end rough sleeping totalling over £4.5m).
Supporting Our Local NHS
Along with his continued work with Government to secure funding for Watford General Hospital, Dean has also been actively engaged in the health arena including raising awareness of digital health. He served on the Health and Social Care Select Committee where he regularly used his experience volunteering at Watford General to raise questions from the front line to Committee witnesses; these included Professor Whitty, Sir Patrick Valance, the Secretary of State and Ministers for Health and Social Care along with senior NHS executives and many more.
One example of Dean’s activities included raising the need for better mental health support for NHS workers and their families. Dean spoke to a member of staff at Watford General when volunteering and shared the concerns in the Select Committee. His enquiry raised awareness of concerns by staff and helped lead to an announcement in late 2020 for a Mental Health Winter Fund for NHS staff with additional guidance for their families. Dean also promoted the importance of encouraging NHS volunteering in his co-authored report 'Connecting Communities' and through a Prime Minister's Question. The activity led to the Government announcing the expansion of a new 'NHS Reserves' scheme, where Dean (and colleague Alan Mak MP) were both name checked by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care for their role in launching the programme.
Promoting Small Business and our Night-time Economy
Dean has always had a passion for small businesses including acting as a Start-Up Mentor, with London & Partners, and as a Vice Chair of the Hertfordshire Federation of Small Business prior to being an MP. He has continued to use his expertise for Watford and in Parliament, including as a Small Business Ambassador and in his time as Minister for Enterprise and Markets. Dean regularly meets and engages with businesses across Watford, raising their concerns, requests and successes with Government and in Parliament.
This experience was particularly important when Dean worked with Pryzm nightclub to raise concerns about the proposed closure of the nightclub for housing to be built on the site. Dean recognised the risk of the nightclub closing for local businesses in the Watford night-time economy including local shops, take-aways, restaurants and taxis. Dean successfully raised concerns in Parliament to ensure awareness of the risks to Watford were heard loud and clear. Following the campaign, the initial planning application was refused and a new extended lease was signed for Pryzm to remain open.
Tips Bill and Standing Up For Workers Rights
Along with protecting the night-time economy, Dean has been a strong advocate for workers rights - especially in the hospitality sector in Watford - which led him to campaign for his 'Tips Bill'; a change in legislation to ensure workers have the legal right to keep their tips and gratuities.
Dean first tried to implement his 'Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill' in 2021 after noticing the rise in credit card payments for tips and gratuities at local hospitality venues which meant that workers may lose out if the business decided to keep the money given as a thank you to staff. His first attempt failed due to Parliamentary changes, so he tried again when he successfully secured a Private Members Bill and successfully secured Government backing ensuring it passed through Second Reading.
During the passing of the Tips Bill, Dean was made the Minister for the Bill and asked Virginia Crosbie MP to take the Bill through the following stages as a backbench MP. Dean successfully ensured the Tips Bill passed Committee stage as Minister, with Virginia Crosbie and Dean ensuring the bill successfully secured cross-Party support for the Third Reading. The Bill is currently passing the Lords, and if successful will become Law in 2023.
In addition to the Tips Bill, Dean was also the Minister for the several Private Members Bills which gained Government support including the Carers Leave Bill and the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill. He also actively supported the Neonatal Care Bill where he spoke in Parliament in support of the legislation and jointed the committee to support the passage through Parliament.
Using Creativity To Support Local Charities
Dean is a keen artist and supporter of the arts. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce and was asked to be the Chair of the Speakers Works of Art Advisory Committee by Mr Speaker. As an artist, Dean has produced a number of paintings for local charities and schools to help raise funds. This includes a portrait of Luther Blissett, which was auctioned and donated to the Watford Museum and a painting of Sir Captain Tom Moore, which was also auctioned and donated back to Watford General Hospital - and can be viewed in the reception area at the Hospital.
Roles in Parliament
Along with Dean's roles as a member of the Health and Social Care Select Committee and Chair of the Speakers Works Of Art Committee he was also a member of the Joint Committee for Human Rights.
Within Government he served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.
Dean was also the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy as Minister for Enterprise and Markets - also known as the Small Business Minister.
Dean has also been active in several All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) including as former Chair for the Digital Health APPG, Digital ID APPG and Film and Production APPG
Securing Zach's Law
As a Member of the Joint Committee for Online Safety and subsequent Online Safety Committees, Dean used his experience in digital to scrutinise the bill and make recommendations as part of the Joint Committee for Online Safety report. As part of the Committee, Dean was made aware of Zach's Law to stop the despicable act of trolling people with epilepsy to trigger seizures. Dean worked with Suzanne Webb MP along with the Epilepsy Society and Zach Eagling to successfully secure an amendment to the Online Safety Bill which was later adopted by the Government. The Bill is currently passing through the Lords and should this be successful will be law before the end of 2023.
Watford's Local Champion
From attending events to pop-up surgeries, knocking on doors to engaging with businesses and charities. Dean enjoys being accessible and available for constituents.
Since being elected Dean has been focussed on listening-to and delivering-for Watford. That is why he hasn't given up on ensuring the Width Restriction at Woodmere Avenue was finally fixed after a decade of inaction, to raising concerns about buses in Parliament after holding community events for bus users, from standing up against the tall towers imposed by the local council to submitting a petition to save Pryzm nightclub in the House of Commons.
As the town’s MP, Dean uses his experience to help constituents daily across Watford and represent the town in Parliament. He puts people before politics and can be regularly seen at community events or volunteering.
If you could like to contact Dean, please get in touch and he will be glad to help.