This weekend will be critical for Richmond Park and the country. With cases still rising in London we are looking at an escalating health crisis across the city and a potential move to Tier 3 next week. And with Christmas just two weeks away our local businesses know that it's now or never for them to take in enough revenue to survive. This is a time for all of us to think carefully about what we are doing to help our community through this phase of the crisis.
The arrival of a vaccine this week is certainly cause for celebration, but we are only at the beginning of the several-month project to roll it out to everyone. The vaccine will not help us get this wave of the virus back under control. We need to employ the same tools we used to get past the first wave: good hygiene, social distancing and avoiding risky behaviours.
If we are to have any hope of avoiding moving into Tier 3, and of preventing the NHS from being overwhelmed, it is vital that we all remember the key guidance Hands, Face, Space at all times, and avoid any unnecessary interactions.
Tier 3 restrictions would include the closing of entertainment venues and hospitality settings such as bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants except for takeaway and delivery. I am worried that without the Christmas boost that most hospitality and entertainment businesses were expecting some will not survive into next year. I know that many theatres were counting on the revenue from Christmas shows. I have written a letter to Matt Hancock today asking him to consider a more targeted approach to restrictions if London does need to enter Tier 3. You can see my letter to him here.
In the meantime, if you have Christmas shopping to do, please support the businesses on our high streets this weekend, and please make a plan for how you can shop safely. Many businesses in Kingston are staying open later and report that things are quieter in the late afternoon and into the evening.
Be Richmond has introduced a Safe SPACE initiative in Richmond town centre.
They are spraying public touch points throughout the town and offering
retailers support to comply with Covid-19 measures. You can see more about the programme here. Businesses participating in the programme will be displaying this mark in their window. Please look out for it to make sure you are shopping in the safest environment.
MEETING WITH RICHMOND BID
I learned about the Safe Space initiative in my meeting with BE Richmond today, Richmond's Business Improvement District organisation. In addition to discussing how to help local retailers provide a safe and appealing shopping experience for residents, we discussed some of the longer term issues for high streets. It's important to me that we not lose sight of the areas of concern that will persist after Covid-19.
Yesterday the Government released a new report on the closure of Hammersmith Bridge, which found that earlier assessments of Hammersmith Bridge may have been conservative, and suggested that access to pedestrians and cyclists could be granted once immediate remedial action has been taken.
I warmly welcome this development, although funding has not been announced for the proposed remedial action, except for the stabilisation of the western pedestals, taking place in April 2021.
I have sent a letter to Baroness Vere, Chair of the Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce, requesting further information on funding arrangements for this proposal, including a timeline for completion.
In terms of mitigations, Richmond Council has just announced that they will be putting in additional lighting in the Harrods Wharf area to help those who are walking and cycling while the bridge is closed. Transport for London is also increasing the frequency of the 533 bus to 6 buses an hour, though I am awaiting information on when that is to be implemented.
MUNIRA WILSON SUPPORTING THE EXCLUDED
While we are doing what we can to support the businesses that are able to open, it is important that we not forget about those that are not operating. I was disappointed not to be given the opportunity to speak in this week's debate on Covid-19 financial support, but my colleague Munira Wilson spoke very eloquently on behalf of those left out of Government support schemes. You can learn more about the subject and see clips from Munira's remarks here.
CHANGES TO BUS SERVICES
Transport for London has written to me to let me know about changes to bus services in my constituency, which will be in place from tomorrow. Some of the routes that will be changing are below. More information, including bus frequencies and first and last bus times is available here.
REVISED Route 110 will replace Route 391
Route 110, which currently runs between Hounslow and West Middlesex Hospital, will be diverted at Powder Mill Lane in Twickenham to run to Hammersmith Bus Station via Whitton, Twickenham Stadium, St Margarets Station and Richmond Bridge to Richmond Town Centre then via the current 391 route to Hammersmith Bus Station. Route 391 will be withdrawn and directly replaced by the revised route 110.
Route 110 will provide the same frequency of service as route 391 between Richmond and Hammersmith but with earlier and later buses in both directions on all days of the week.
Route H22, which currently runs between Hounslow and Richmond will be diverted in Twickenham Town Centre to West Middlesex Hospital via London Road, Isleworth and Twickenham Road, replacing route 110 over this section.
Route 493 Route 493 will be shortened to provide a service between St George's Hospital and Richmond Bus Station over its existing route. Route 493 runs via Wimbledon, Southfields, Putney Heath, Roehampton and East Sheen to Richmond Bus Station.
HEATHROW NIGHT FLIGHT CONSULTATION
The government has just opened a new consultation about night flights from London airports. Even with the third runway shelved, aircraft noise remains a subject of huge importance in this area. I encourage all of my constituents to take part in the consultation and make sure the government hears our voices. You can find the consultation, which closes on March 3 here.
I would like to remind parents and carers to protect children aged 2 and 3 from the flu by booking a free, quick and painless nasal spray vaccination via their GP. Children are ‘super spreaders’ of the winter flu virus and the vaccination not only protects them from an uncomfortable illness, but also protects any vulnerable people – such as older grandparents – whom they interact with from a disease that can be life-threatening.
Older children aged 4-11 will receive the quick and painless nasal spray vaccination at school. Make sure you sign and return the consent form as soon as possible to avoid any delay. All children with long-term health conditions are eligible for the free vaccine via their GP.
INVITATION TO CHARITIES ORGANISATIONS TO APPLY FOR CHILDREN'S MENTAL HEALTH FUNDS
Local voluntary and community organisations which provide support for children and young people’s mental health, are invited to apply to be the beneficiary charities for the 2021 Richmond Voluntary Fund Appeal.
The Richmond Voluntary Fund is a charitable trust that was launched in 2020 to collect donations from residents for specific vulnerable groups, where there is a need for additional funding for help and support. The 2020 beneficiaries are Twickenham based charity Off The Record and Richmond Borough Mind and thanks to the generosity of local people, over £100k has been raised over the past year.
The Fund is inviting expressions of interest from charities already supporting children and young people in the borough to be considered as a potential beneficiary. If you are a charity or local organisation and would like to apply to be one of the 2021 beneficiaries, apply here.
COVID-19 COMMEMORATIVE QUILT NOW ON DISPLAY AT THE MUSEUM OF RICHMOND
In response to the complex challenges and emotions raised during this time, the residents of Richmond upon Thames created hand-crafted squares for a unique memorial quilt, which will be on display at the Museum of Richmond from Tuesday 15 December.
Book a visit to see this amazing example of how crafting, creativity and community can create something that truly captures the way that COVID-19 impacted (and continues to impact) our lives.
This Christmas Kingston Town Centre invites you to step into Kingston First’s COVID-19-secure augmented reality trail.
Created with the help of local children, the trail features fantastical creatures and stall-holders, from Elfie Holly the purveyor of wishes, to Rona Rainbow the purveyor of magic clouds for zapping Covid-19.
The trail begins at the ‘out of order’ art installation at the end of Old London Road (the red telephone boxes.) Don’t forget to share your photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram #KingstonMagicalMarket.