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Richmond Park News: 11 May 2021

I was so sorry to hear today that the young minke whale that appeared near Richmond Lock, and later in the river between Ham and Teddington, has had to be put down. British Divers Marine Life Rescue and representatives from Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme concluded that it would not survive and that the best course of action would be to end its suffering. While glad that these groups, assisted by river authorities, were on hand to do their best for this beautiful creature, I am sure I speak for all of my constituents in saying how sorry I am that the whale couldn't be saved and restored to its natural habitat.


Today was the State Opening of Parliament, with Her Majesty the Queen sitting alone on a single throne in the House of Lords for the first time in her reign. It was reassuring to see the traditions of the State Opening maintained after the turbulence of the past year, for the country as a whole, but also, of course, for the Queen personally.

This year's Queen's Speech proposed a number of changes to property rights. I welcome reforms to leasehold laws that will make it easier and fairer for leaseholders to extend their lease or buy their freehold. But I have grave concerns about the proposed changes to the planning system referenced in today's Speech. These changes will further erode the power of local authorities to act in the best interests of their communities through the planning process. I believe deeply that residents should have a say in what happens in their towns and villages. The Government's Planning for the Future white paper centralises power in a way that takes control away from them.

Earlier today I spoke with the BBC to comment on the Government’s legislative agenda. While I welcomed their commitment to skills training, I have grave concerns about proposed measures designed to consolidate power in the Government's own hands. I will work to preserve the integrity of our democracy by opposing both the plans for voter ID cards and the bill to repeal the Fixed Term Parliament Act. You can see my interview here.


It's Mental Health Awareness Week, and I am running the Richmond RunFest Kew Gardens 10K Run this weekend to raise money for Richmond Mind. Richmond Mind does vital work helping my constituents and I am eager to do everything I can to support them. If you would like to make a donation to them by sponsoring me you can see my fundraising page here.

The Mental Health Foundation’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week this year is ‘Nature’, inspired by research throughout the pandemic showing that spending time outside was one of people’s top coping strategies. Kew Gardens is home to an amazing variety of natural environments, so it's the perfect place for me to mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2021. The Mental Health Foundation lists some top tips on connecting with nature here.

Richmond Borough Mind’s helpline offers a safe place where you can speak to someone who will listen, offer you support and guide you to further help if needed. The service is for anyone over 18 years old living in the borough. The emotional support line is available on 0203 137 9590.