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Richmond Park News: 11 August 2023

Updated: Sep 17, 2023

SUMMER BRIEFINGS


On Thursday and Friday last week I had the pleasure of visiting Barnes and Coombe Hill for the last two of my five Summer Briefings. With more than 100 people attending the two events, it was great to hear so many considered and thoughtful views from across the community.


As I expected, the main topic of discussion during my briefing in Barnes was the continued closure of Hammersmith Bridge. Since 2019, the crossing has been a monument to government gridlock, and while I do believe we are moving closer to a resolution, it will still be years before the work to strengthen the bridge can begin. I was also very sorry to receive the results of a Freedom of Information request which confirmed reports that the carriageway will be closed to cyclists until ‘early 2024’.


In Coombe Hill, I was pleased to be joined by Paul Richard from Royal Parks, the Park Manager for Richmond Park, for my Coombe Hill briefing. Paul was kind enough to come along and give residents an update on what has been happening in the Park, including the new refreshment kiosks at Ham Gate and Pen Ponds. We all appreciated hearing Paul's inside knowledge on their plans for the future. Residents might like to check out the What's on in the Royal Parks page to find out about exciting events happening in Richmond Park and the other Royal Parks this summer.


I want to extend my sincere thanks to Simon Danciger and all the staff at OSO Arts Centre in Barnes, who kindly hosted my event in Barnes, and to the very welcoming vicar and church secretary at St John the Baptist in Coombe Hill, whose hall we hired for the final event. And I would also like to thank Cllrs Julia Cambridge and Marjie Millum for joining me for my Barnes event to share their ward activities in Barnes and East Sheen respectively, and Cllr Farshid Sadr-Hashemi for joining me for the Coombe Hill event.




ACTIONS FOLLOWING MY SUMMER BRIEFINGS


After my summer briefings, I took away a long list of issues, queries and concerns to follow up on, and wanted to share some additional information with constituents and report back on my actions since the briefings.


During my visit to Richmond, I received an interesting question regarding the felling of trees across the constituency. There was some concern that this was taking place without due process and so I thought I would take the opportunity to share a link to Richmond Council’s website showing all planned tree surgeries and pruning and a link to their tree policy document.


If you have a concern that a tree is being felled without proper license or reason in Richmond borough, I recommend checking the council's environment webpage and if the works are not listed calling Richmond upon Thames Council on 020 8891 1411. Kingston residents can see more information about tree removal policy on this page about council-owned trees.


The next day at Tiffin Girls School in Tudor, I received a number of questions related to the ULEZ expansion. The ULEZ is set to expand across our community come the beginning of September and while there has been an enormous information campaign across London, I am concerned that many key workers who travel into the capital might be caught out by the charges. Additionally, while I welcome the change to the scrappage scheme allowing all Londoners to be compensated, I was surprised by the Mayor's decision not to offer compensation to those people who had already handed in their vehicles.


For this reason I have reached out to my colleagues in the GLA to ask for two adjustments to the scheme. First, I would like to see an initial grace period instituted across London, where if a person driving a non-compliant vehicle enters the zone, they are alerted but not subjected to a fine. Second, I have asked if it would be possible for those people who complied with the Mayor’s request and gave up their vehicle earlier this year can also be compensated. If you have not already checked TfL’s website to confirm whether your vehicle will comply with ULEZ standards, I would urge you to do so as soon as you can before the zone is expanded at the beginning of September.


On Wednesday night in Kew, while we discussed a wide range of different topics, I was particularly concerned to hear about an ongoing issue with fly tipping at the Homebase Manor Road Development Site. I am pleased to say that after a successful intervention by North Richmond’s ward councillors, supported by my office, the site developers have had a Section 215 notice issued against them demanding the site be cleared of all rubbish and litter. I know many residents have had concerns about the skips the site’s owner has been using to block access to the area becoming an environmental health hazard and I understand these will be removed quickly.


Criminal activity was also on many residents minds in Kew and I also thought that I would highlight that Richmond's police force have organised a bike marking event on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th of August between 11 am and 2 pm outside Pools on the Park, Old Deer Park, TW9 2SF. This kind of mark can help with identifying stolen bikes when they are recovered and I would recommend going along with your bicycle if you have the time.


After our discussion of Hammersmith Bridge in Barnes, I wrote to Richard Holden MP, the Minister responsible for Hammersmith Bridge to highlight the chaos caused by the twin closures of Hammersmith and Wandsworth Bridge. In this letter I also requested that the minister visit the area to understand the damage his refusal to fund the bridge repairs has caused. Further, once Parliament is recalled, I will be seeking an opportunity to raise the continuing issues with the Bridge in the House. Residents have been waiting far too long and while some information can be prised from the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, we need genuine transparency over the condition of the bridge and status of repairs.


During the final evening of my summer briefings in Coombe Hill, I had a constituent raise the fact that over the past few months, traffic in the area has been almost permanently gridlocked due to endless roadworks and repairs. While Clifton Road was highlighted in particular, I know this has been an issue across the community. After receiving these complaints, I have written to both the Council and TfL, calling for better coordination between agencies when planning road closures. While some closures are unavoidable, the scale and frequency of planned works must be reconsidered.


POLICE COMMUNITY EVENT IN KINGSTON

It was fantastic to welcome Met Police Commissioner Mark Rowley to Kingston Guildhall on Monday for a public meeting to discuss the Met’s new two year reform plan to rebuild trust, improve standards and reduce crime entitled ‘A New Met for London’. This plan builds on feedback from the draft Turnaround Plan, published earlier this year, and includes a response to the Baroness Casey Review into standards of behaviour and internal culture of the Met.

Central to ‘A New Met for London’ is an increased focus on neighbourhood policing, measures to drive cultural change within the police force, and also better training and equipment for officers to ensure they have the tools they need to keep the public safe. A summary of A New Met for London, together with the full plan, can be found online.

In addition to discussing the Met’s London-wide priorities, it was great to have the opportunity to hear about some of the progress the local police are making in reducing crime across Kingston. I was very pleased to hear that following a successful initiative by specialists from the Southwest London Basic Command Unit, catalytic converter theft, which has been plaguing this constituency, has fallen dramatically.


The Met has made it their mission to listen to the community and act on their suggestions. If you have views on how policing is conducted and about what needs to change, please do share them with the force and make your voice heard.



MANOR CIRCUS DEVELOPMENT


I am very pleased to say that the Manor Circus roundabout will finally be receiving an upgrade from TfL. These works were originally scheduled for the summer of 2020 but have been pushed back repeatedly due to delays during the pandemic. As part of the repairs, pedestrian crossings will be upgraded, the surrounding roads will be resurfaced, and new trees and bushes will be planted to help improve the look of the roundabout.


While it is great to see TfL finally taking responsibility for Manor Circus, I am aware there are other parts of our constituency in need of attention. If you have a concern about a road which has become a hazard, I would urge you to contact your ward councillors. If you need assistance reaching them, or have a concern related to a main road managed by TfL, please write to me at office@saraholney.com.



VISIT TO SHOOTING STAR HOSPICE


I was invited to Hampton last week to visit Shooting Star Children's Hospice, which provides vital support to families in my constituency and across south and southwest London.

Shooting Star is a full-range hospice centre, providing respite care for families of children with life-limiting conditions as well as palliative and end of life care, both at their centres in Hampton and Guildford and in the family home. They also provide bereavement support for all families who endure the loss of a child, including to siblings and grandparents.


It was a privilege to meet the staff and speak with them about their important work, which I know is deeply treasured by the families they care for. I discussed ways I can try to help them further develop their work and will do all I can to assist them both locally and in Parliament.





Please note that I will be taking a break from sending out my newsletter for

the next two weeks. I look forward to sharing my next update on September 1, just before Parliament returns from summer recess.


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