The Government has confirmed that they will extend the furlough programme for employees, preventing redundancies over the coming months. This will come as a huge relief to both business owners and workers. They have also opened applications for the Self Employment Income Support Scheme this week, and will begin making payments to self employed people next week. However, far too many self-employed workers are not eligible for the scheme in its current form. Government urgently needs to widen it to cover those who are falling through the gaps.
LAYLA MORAN QUESTIONS GOVERNMENT ON REOPENING SCHOOLS
My colleague Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for education, questioned the government closely today about their announcement that schools will reopen in June. She requested that the government publish the scientific advice behind sending children back to school, in order to assure parents and schools that this was an educational decision and not an economic one. Layla also asked for clarification on a number of points around safety that were not elucidated in the new guidance, and questioned why teachers and schools were not consulted on reopening schools before the decision was taken.
It is important that parents have confidence in the advice being given about returning children to school; many of them continue to be anxious about the risks. I support Layla's call for the government to publish their data so that everyone can understand the basis on which these decisions are being made. I have also written to the Department of Education today to ask what guidance they will be providing to nursery and childcare settings about reopening.
I spoke in the House yesterday about a number of transport-related issues, including protecting transport workers, supporting public transport networks and upgrading our freight movement infrastructure. If you would like to see my remarks, they can be found here: https://bit.ly/2WsL5ml
CYCLING IN RICHMOND PARK
This afternoon I joined with Ed Davey, Member of Parliament for Kingston,
Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, and Caroline Kerr, Leader of Kingston Council, to send a letter to Royal Parks asking them to open the park to cyclists to support local residents cycling to work.
I feel it's important to keep as many people as possible on their bikes so they are not using public transport.
WIDER PAVEMENTS IN RICHMOND AND EAST TWICKENHAM
Several constituents have written to me to express concern about the narrow pavements in Richmond town centre and to ask if Richmond Council could use part of the road to widen them. I am happy to report that the Council has just announced plans to do so. They will be widening sections of pavement in George Street and making changes to the arrangements on and near Richmond Bridge. They have established a Rapid Response Team to look at other pinch points across the Borough, so you may see other temporary traffic measures to support safe cycling and walking in your area soon. More details available here: https://richmond.gov.uk/work_to_start_on_urgent_measures_to_make_our_streets_safer
FIRST WAVE OF COVID RESPONSE GRANTS ISSUED
A panel of Richmond councillors has approved the first wave of grants allocated to community projects addressing the local impact of the Covid-19 crisis. The £100,000 Covid-19 Response Fund was set up to get money quickly to organisations on the ground helping vulnerable people through the crisis. Grants have been approved for:
Hampton and Hampton Hill Voluntary Care
Mortlake Community Association
Richmond Health Watch
Richmond Talking Newspaper
South West London Environment Network
The Real Junk Food Project Twickenham
Further grants will be announced over the next few weeks. More information on financial support for the voluntary and community sector is available here.
COUNCIL LEADER GARETH ROBERTS RESPONDS TO NEW GUIDANCE
Gareth Roberts has posted this clear and useful advice video explaining the Council's new guidance for residents in their day to day activities: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RefO2Lhyvq0&feature=youtu.be
KINGSTON ADULT SOCIAL CARE AWARDED CERTIFICATE OF EXCELLENCE
Kingston Council's Adult Social Care team has been recognised at the Public Sector Transformation Awards, receiving a Certificate of Excellence. The awards recognise and celebrate the best work being done across the country to improve service quality, increase access to essential services and create new ways to support those delivering and receiving care. Adult social care provision has never been more important than it is right now, and I am happy to hear that my constituents in Kingston have access to such excellent provision.
KINGSTON ENTREPRENEURS CLUB
Kingston Shared Enterprise Club is a free support group and service offering help and advice to people who want to discover and develop their entrepreneurial talents and build their own businesses, social enterprises or charities. They aim to empower people – both practically and emotionally – to follow their dreams and work for themselves.
The club meets weekly by Zoom on Tuesdays from 1-3pm for an informal and inclusive workshop.. They can also direct you to other resources including 1-1 sessions with experts.
They are actively recruiting new members. For further information please contact Chantell by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 07853 019704. You can see further information on their website at www.sharedenterprisekingston.org.uk .