I wrote today to Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps, asking him to reverse plans to scrap free bus travel for the under 18's. I was joined in this by other London Liberal Democrats. Our young people’s prospects have been severely damaged by the shutdown and I believe that our resources should be targeted towards them as we come out of the lockdown. You can see my letter here:
The Department of Health and Social Care has written to me today about antibody testing. They believe a national antibody testing programme will provide a critical role in the next phase of this pandemic. The value of antibody tests is limited to answering the question of whether someone has had the virus in the past or not. The Government is starting the national roll-out in the NHS and care sector where there are clear needs to know who has had the virus. Tests will be offered to all NHS staff regardless of role. NHS regions in England will roll out the test, prioritising in accordance with local needs. The care sector will then be phased in according to local need and in consultation with local authorities.
NHS SEACOLE TAKES FIRST PATIENTS
The first patients have been admitted to NHS Seacole, the new COVID-19 rehabilitation centre at Headley Court, a former rehabilitation centre for injured soldiers. Its patients will be recovering from Covid-19 and the effects of interventions they may have needed. They may receive treatment for tracheostomy wounds from having a breathing tube inserted, or require respiratory therapy or muscle therapy. Some may also need psychological or social care. You can see more info here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-surrey-52839103
GOVERNMENT GUIDELINES EXPLAINED
If you are not sure of what you can and cannot do under the new relaxed rules, please have a look at the updated social distancing guidance here And you can see an updated Frequently Asked Questions sheet on what you can and can’t do here
KEW GARDENS REOPENS TODAY
From today, Royal Botanical Gardens are reopening the gardens at Kew and Wakehurst for a limited number of visitors who book online in advance and who can get to the Gardens safely. With acres of botanic gardens to explore, you can enjoy the Great Broad Walk Borders and Japanese Garden at Kew Gardens, although the greenhouses, shops, gallery and restaurants are closed. You must book your ticket and time slot online before you visit, otherwise you will be turned away. Book a ticket to Kew Gardens
THE BIG (VIRTUAL) LUNCH
The Big Lunch is an annual National Lottery-funded event that brings people and communities together across the country to help reconnect people with one another and their communities. This year's Big Lunch will become The Big ‘Virtual’ Lunch, with events running online, on the phone and on our doorsteps on the weekend 6-7 June. You can find out how to get involved at TheBigLunch.com
AIR QUALITY STATISTICS
Richmond Borough officers have written to me to say that, comparing March-April 2019 to March- April 2020 we are seeing a reduction of around 37% in levels of NO2 in the Borough, mainly due to drop in traffic. Apart from the lockdown, other things affecting this number include the introduction of the central London ULEZ and the closure of Hammersmith Bridge, altering traffic flows. I am doing everything I can to ensure that the end of lockdown does not mean a return to poor air quality in the constituency.
VINEYARD FOODBANK APPEAL: KEW ROTARY CLUB MATCHING DONATIONS
To help the five Vineyard food banks in Richmond-upon-Thames meet increased demand triggered by COVID 19, the Rotary Club of Kew Gardens have launched a fund-raising campaign. Rotary will be matching the first £1800 of donations in the appeal. Full details at: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/emergency-food-for-local-people
In total, 49% of schools in Kingston are currently planning to open for all specified year groups from today onwards, at least on a part time basis. I would like to join Caroline Kerr, Leader of Kingston Council, in thanking all the staff members in schools and governing bodies for finding ways of helping as many children as possible get back to school.
TOWN CENTRE REOPENING PLANS
Kingston Council has also relayed news that they are working with Kingston First to look at ways of reopening the town centre safely. They will also look to reopen public toilets as soon as they can, and encourage businesses to work with us to make the town centre as pleasant and safe as possible for everyone. The Chamber of Commerce and Kingston Business Forum are helping the Council reach and involve as many businesses as possible to offer support for reopening.