The Prime Minister is hosting a global vaccine summit in London today, raising hopes that the UK will take a leadership role in stopping the pandemic with an effective vaccine. We need greater international cooperation to achieve this, and I am again calling on the government to join the WHO Covid Technology Access Pool. We must do all we can to ensure that all countries can vaccinate their citizens for free, by committing the UK to working closely with other nations to develop a patent-free, affordable vaccine.
UPDATE ON HAMMERSMITH BRIDGE
I know that many of my constituents are anxious to hear what is happening with the Hammersmith Bridge repairs, so I have got an update from Transport for London and Hammersmith and Fulham Council.
While there have been some delays as a result of Covid-19, engineers have been able to complete advance works on the west side of the bridge. They have undertaken further assessments and no new underlying problems have been found. Works are continuing with close monitoring of the bridge’s key elements.
The concept design for the bridge repairs has been completed and Hammersmith & Fulham Council is now reviewing it. The design for the temporary walking and cycling bridge is complete and TfL is reviewing the results of their public consultation. They expect to submit a planning application for the temporary bridge in a matter of weeks.
ADDITIONAL FUNDS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
Richmond Council has asked me to let residents know that small businesses that were not eligible for the Government’s Covid19 support grants or extended business rates relief can now apply for a new discretionary business fund. However, the Council warns that there may not be enough to go around. The Government has provided just £2.149m to help these businesses. Richmond Council estimates that there are 12,500 businesses in the borough that employ fewer than 10 employees and may not have been eligible for previous schemes.
From 4 June to 18 June, the types of businesses below will be given priority for grants:
Charity properties in receipt of mandatory charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief.
Small or micro-Businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces with fixed ongoing property costs of up to £22,500 p.a.
Other businesses in shared offices or flexible workspaces, with fixed ongoing property costs between £22,500 and £51,000 p.a., which would otherwise have qualified under the Extended Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Scheme
Regular market traders with ongoing property costs, such as rent or pitch fees, who do not have their own business rates assessment
Bed and breakfast businesses which currently pay Council Tax
Medical businesses excluded from the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Scheme with a rateable value of less than £51,000 or fixed ongoing property costs of less than £51,000 p.a.
River based businesses with ongoing costs for mooring or marina fees
For more information, go to: www.richmond.gov.uk/apply_for_the_discretionary_business_fund
JOIN YOUR NEIGHBOURS FOR THE BIG VIRTUAL LUNCH THIS WEEKEND
The Big Lunch is the UK’s annual celebration of neighbours and communities, led by the Eden Project. It has been adopted by Neighbourhood Watch to kick-off their annual Neighbourhood Watch Week next week.
Richmond Council is encouraging residents to get involved from their doorsteps, by having a picnic or a toast at the same time as their neighbours, or creating an area where people can write messages to the community.
Anyone who would like to play an active role in community safety can sign-up to the Neighbourhood Watch communications platform OWL (Online Watch Link). New OWL members will receive local information as well as Borough or London-wide information. If they choose, members can also report crimes and issues in their areas and respond to alerts with new intelligence.
For more information about the Virtual Big Lunch: www.thebiglunch.com
To sign up to OWL: www.owl.co.uk/met
OPEN WINDOWS 2020 ART EXHIBITION
Throughout lockdown, artwork in windows has become a way to communicate with and inspire each other. With this year's Open Studios event cancelled, Kingston Art Open Studios has introduced Open Windows instead. Kingston's artists will be displaying their work in their windows, so we can all enjoy a free open air exhibition when out for a walk.
You can also check out the winners and commendations of the annual Young Kaos competition which opened earlier in the year for 16-19 year olds.
SHORT STORY COMPETITION
Kingston Libraries is holding a short story competition open to anybody with a library card, which you can easily sign up for online. Each week one entry will be posted on the website, and eventually a winner will be selected from the shortlist across three age categories. More details on how to enter are available on the library service’s facebook page.
RHYME TIME EMPATHY DAY SPECIAL
Kingston Libraries will be providing a special rhyme time for Empathy Day on 9 June, which will focus on building children’s empathetic understanding through literature. You can also tune into an interactive session for parents to help build empathy in their children. See the day’s events here.