I recently submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request which revealed that over 600,000 anti-social behaviour reports in London went unattended by police. This is a shocking figure and reflects what I am afraid is the Government’s approach to crime: heavy on rhetoric but light on action. I am calling on the government to adequately fund a return to proper community policing, so officers can be visible, trusted and known personally to local people in every community.
The Met Police wrote to me this week to give me an update on their recent community policing work in Richmond. If you look in my Richmond News section below you can see the kind of work they would like to do more of, with more resources. (They will send me a Kingston report to share with you next week.)
Tackling crime also means investing in youth services, to give our young people opportunities and guidance. I enjoyed a most interesting visit to Oxygen Youth Club in north Kingston yesterday, and spent time with the young people there talking to them about their experiences, as well as hearing about the knife-crime prevention strategy called ‘What’s the Point’ run by club leader John Trend. i am committed to doing more to support this kind of work and provide positive opportunities for young people.
Making our neighbourhoods safer also means using new technology and innovative ideas to stop criminals. I attended a meeting of Kew residents about house burglary where one of the attendees suggested that visible signage highlighting the presence of ULEZ cameras might deter criminals. I wrote to the Mayor of London to recommend this excellent suggestion and we pleased to receive this positive response from him this week.
BEVERLEY BROOK OIL SPILL
I was very sorry to hear about an oil spill last week in Beverley Brook – a river that flows through Richmond Park to the Thames. As of Wednesday, black waste oil and iridescence could be seen along 13kms of the watercourse, posing a serious threat to fish and local wildlife, as well as dogs.
The Environment Agency has told me they are working with their contractors to clean up and have installed booms at Morden Park, World of Golf New Malden and Kingston Vale, where the black waste oil is being boomed off and removed. They are continuing to investigate a possible source of the pollution.
This oil spill is just the latest in a long line of polluting incidents in UK rivers – of which only 14% are judged to be in a good state. The Environment Agency (EA) is are understaffed and underfunded, and is also battling water companies over sewage discharge. I therefore used my question at this week’s PMQs to ask the Prime Minister whether the Government would commit to strengthening the powers of the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP).
This is something the Liberal Democrats also tried to do through the Environment Bill. Disappointingly, the government initially refused to amend the Environment Act to ban sewage discharges, before accepting a change that did not set targets or timescales to end them. Liberal Democrats also attempted to strengthen the Environment Act to give the OEP more powers to hold the government to account, but the Conservatives rejected those attempts.
My question, and the PM’s response, can be viewed here.
I have recently been speaking with the Guardian about the number of planes flying over the UK that are carrying no passengers. Frustratingly it appears no one holds data on this apart from the operators themselves. I feel the clear lack of transparency and accountability is an issue. Operators are able to use empty flights as and when they need to retain desirable take-off and landing slots at airports. This clearly comes at an immense environmental cost. The piece can be read here.
BREXIT TRADE DEAL DELAY
This week the Financial Times revealed that the UK government is exploring a fourth delay in imposing checks on EU imports. This is yet another instance of poor government planning. I asked Defra in February what progress was being made to ensure the necessary infrastructure was in place for these checks to be introduced in July. The response was vague, and we now know why: there was no progress being made.
Clearly, with the economic fallout we’re seeing from the Ukraine crisis, the delay makes sense. However, the facts remain the same: the supply chain crisis that these import checks will aggravate is a product of the government’s damaging Brexit trade deal. This is a crisis of the government’s own making, yet it is British businesses who will now be placed at an unfair disadvantage with EU producers, who remain free to send products into Britain with minimal controls.
VISITS IN THE CONSTITUENCY
Last Friday I was pleased to help bury a time capsule at Galsworthy House, a lovely nursing home on the edge of Richmond Park in north Kingston. I had the pleasure of taking tea with residents and staff in the sunny grounds after enjoying a very meaningful ceremony.
I also visited Kingston mosque for Friday prayers last week, and had the opportunity to speak with mosque members afterwards. I was keen to hear their concerns about housing, safety and national issues. They were kind enough to share their views with me and show me how I can help their community.
Afterwards, I went to the Rose Theatre in Kingston, where Bee Smith, owner of Bee Smith Hats was hosting a Wear a Hat Day to raise money for brain tumour research. If there is a more pleasant way to help raise awareness of brain tumours than by sipping tea while wearing one of Bee's beautiful hats, I don't know what it could be.
Bee is a local milliner based in Kingston and a member of the British Hat Guild. The Brain Tumour Research charity team up with the British Hat Guild every year, for ‘Wear a Hat Day.’ To see her hats go to www.Bee-Smith.co.uk . Thank you to be for hosting this fundraiser.
I was also delighted to visit my constituent Ronald Burnham in his home yesterday on his 100th birthday. It was wonderful to speak with him and he was even kind enough to show me his card from the Queen!
LOCAL ELECTIONS - REGISTER TO VOTE!
On Thursday 5 May all voters will have an opportunity to have their say on who represents them on their local council and runs their local government. I urge all of my constituents to make sure your voice is heard in these elections.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is the importance of local government -- the bedrock of our public services and the heart of our communities. Local government is of the utmost importance to all of us, but especially to the most vulnerable. I believe that local elections are as important as national ones in improving the day to day lives of residents.
In order to vote in May, residents must be on the electoral register. The deadline to register to vote is midnight on Thursday 14 April. It takes just five minutes to apply online at gov.uk/register-to-vote.
HAM PARADE MARKET
Ham Parade Market is back this Saturday 2nd April from 10.00-14.00. This month they are supporting Barnfield Riding for the Disabled Association, a charity providing safe horse riding therapy lessons for children and adults with disabilities in this area. Stop by the charity stall to find out more, and purchase a raffle ticket to raise funds and to be in with a chance of winning a HAMper full of market produce. They will also be showcasing local musical talent from midday. Ham Parade Market takes place on the first Saturday of every month from 10.00-14.00.
POLICING IN RICHMOND
Richmond’s neighbourhood police teams report lots of activity in the last week.
Police have charged Leone Davies of Twickenham, for the offences of murder and possession of an offensive weapon, after the tragic death of Mirko Naramcic in Ham on the 17th of March. Detectives have led this investigation supported by neighbourhood officers, who have also been undertaking visible patrols and engaging with the community. A street briefing in Ham on the 24th of March gave residents the opportunity to meet the ward policing team in person and ask questions regarding ongoing concerns and issues.
The Kew team arrested two 15 year olds in possession of a stolen bicycle. Further searches conducted at their properties recovered another bike believed to be stolen. Both have been released and the investigation remains ongoing. The Kew team has also been patrolling areas highlighted by residents for drug use, resulting in multiple stop and searches. PCSO Lorraine Childs also visited a victim of burglary, and met their Ward Panel to discuss Neighbourhood Watch in the area.
The Barnes team held their Police Liaison Group meeting at the Castlenau Centre on the 28th. They were pleased to hear and respond to residents’ concerns and questions.
They also wanted to tell residents: "Our neighbourhood teams exist to address local crime problems in the community – they are our bobbies on the beat who deal with anti-social behaviour, persistent crime problems and know their areas well. If you have any concerns and want to speak to them you can find them on our website on https://www.met.police.uk/a/your-area/ "
OFSTED PRAISES CHILDREN'S SERVICES
An Ofsted inspection has reported that children in Richmond upon Thames who need help, protection and care receive a good service by Achieving for Children (AfC), Richmond Council’s children’s services. Services received high praise, despite the exceptional challenges and increased pressure on services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The full report is available online.
FREE LIFEGUARD TRAINING
Richmond Council is offering residents the chance to train and gain a National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) free of charge. The NPLQ qualification is a recruitment requirement for a wide array of leisure jobs ranging from Pool Lifeguards to Sport Centre Managers. NPLQ courses are held throughout the year at both Teddington Pool and Fitness Centre and Pools on the Park in Richmond.
Those interested in becoming a lifeguard can apply now to complete the training free of charge.
The course is open to all residents aged 16 and over with free places limited and subject to initial assessment and interview. To register your interest in taking part in the National Pool Lifeguard Qualification please email email@example.com or call 020 3772 2999 for more information.
Find out more about the National Pool Lifeguard Qualification here.
REFURBISHMENT OF QUEEN MARY HALL
In preparation for the regeneration of the Cambridge Road Estate, Kingston Council and their the joint venture partners Countryside have announced the refurbishment of Queen Mary Hall. This comes after engagement with the community and extensive site assessments to identify a site for a temporary community centre to ensure facilities remain available in the neighbourhood during the forthcoming regeneration of the Cambridge Road Estate — where a new community centre will be built.
Queen Mary Hall is positioned directly opposite the Cambridge Road Estate, on a neighbouring estate, Cambridge Gardens. Refurbishing Queen Mary Hall presents an opportunity to make lasting improvements to the site and increase the offer to the wider community.
KINGSTON MAYOR PLANTS JUBILEE TREE
Councillor Sushila Abraham, Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, has joined civic heads across the UK in planting a tree to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The initiative is spearheaded by the National Association of Civic Officers and contributes to the Queen’s Green Canopy, which is a tree planting scheme to mark the Jubilee. The Rowan tree has been planted outside the Guildhall in Kingston town centre.
If you would like to plant a tree yourself to mark the Jubilee, you can find information here.