On Tuesday evening, I called a debate to demand that the Government ban flights coming into Heathrow between 11 pm and 6 am. There is a growing mountain of evidence, collected by researchers and campaign organisations across the world, that these flights negatively affect the physical and mental health of those living underneath flightpaths, yet the Government refuses to institute a total ban.
I was extremely pleased to be supported in this debate not just by my party colleagues, but also by Labour, SNP, and DUP MPs from across the nation. During my campaign against night flights, I have maintained that this is not a matter of politics but one of public health. I welcome support in this campaign from everyone, whether they are an MP, councillor, or local resident.
Since the debate, Heathrow has pledged to prevent a repeat of the chaos experienced this summer during the Christmas holiday season. If Heathrow is able to keep to this pledge and provide Richmond Park with some respite from unscheduled night flights over the Christmas period, we will have struck a critical blow for everyone living under the flight path. If you would like to see my opening statement at the debate, click here. For the full debate, follow this link and scroll to the debate beginning at 7:04 pm.
You can help support my campaign against night flights by posting on social media with the hashtag #NoNightFlights. Make sure to tag Heathrow, the DfT, and Civil Aviation Authority. You can also make a complaint directly to Heathrow by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, if you have been particularly affected by night flights, please email me your story at email@example.com.
SUPPORTING LOCAL RADIO
This week, I wrote to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport with my Liberal Democrat Parliamentary colleagues to demand that she works with the BBC to amend their current proposals to scrap local radio provision, and preserves the current level of local service. The proposals as they are would see large parts of the country without a specialised local radio service during parts of the day. I feel this would break the vital link between local radio and the specific communities they represent.
These plans would also unfairly affect the elderly and those without access to high-speed broadband, in addition to putting significant numbers of local BBC staff at risk of redundancy. Should you wish to read our letter to the Secretary of State, you can do so here, and if you would like to read more regarding the proposed changes, you can do so here.
REPRESENTING THE TAMIL COMMUNITY IN PARLIAMENT.
I was very pleased to secure a debate in Parliament this Wednesday on the UK Government’s response to the human rights abuses and economic situation in Sri Lanka. I secured this debate alongside my colleagues on the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils.
Tamils are a minority community in Sri Lanka who have faced years of oppression at the hands of the Sri Lankan government. Richmond Park is home to a vibrant Tamil community (Kingston borough is home to 12,000 Tamils) so I was proud to represent my Tamil constituents in the debate. In my speech, I highlighted the ongoing human rights atrocities against the Tamil community in Sri Lanka and called on the UK Government to work with international partners to support democratic and political reform.
As a key stakeholder in the International Monetary Fund, the UK should be using its position to call for conditions to be imposed on any IMF assistance to Sri Lanka. The UK should also take the vital step of finally recognising the crimes committed against the Tamils as a genocide. You can watch a clip of my contribution here, and read a full transcript of the debate here.
During my adjournment debate on Tuesday night, I also had the chance to welcome Richard Holden MP to his new role in the Department for Transport. As the Minister for Roads and Local Transport, he will be responsible for pushing forward the stabilisation and strengthening works to Hammersmith Bridge.
The government's lack of attention to the bridge has been appalling. At every step, they have delayed progress and only taken action when other organisations have forced their hand. I was therefore pleased when the new minister, in his first week in office, provided a response to a letter I had sent the DfT more than six weeks ago. While he has not committed to an immediate meeting of the Hammersmith Bridge Task Force, he has at least pledged that it will meet once the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham has submitted their Outline Business Case.
There will be Remembrance Day ceremonies this Sunday at a number of war memorials across the boroughs of Kingston and Richmond. Most of these events will consist of a parade of Armed Forces veterans, civic dignitaries and religious officials followed by a service and a two-minute silence. I look forward to commemorating the contributions of British service personnel in both boroughs.
In The Royal Borough of Kingston services will be held in Kingston, Surbiton, Chessington and New Malden. Details of locations and times can be found on here.
In the London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames, there will be services in Richmond, East Sheen, Ham and Barnes as well as several on the Twickenham side of the river. You can see the details here.
VISIT TO FIFTH KINGSTON BROWNIES
On Wednesday I was delighted to spend an evening with the Fifth Kingston Brownies and their leader Caitlin. The girls had worked hard on wonderful presentations, and in addition to asking me some very perceptive questions, they had a number of imaginative and positive ideas to share with me. You can see how much fun we had in the photo below!
COFFEE MORNING IN EAST SHEEN
On Thursday I held a coffee morning at the Plough in East Sheen, where dozens of my constituents came to speak with me about local and national issues. In addition to talking about Sheen Gate in Richmond Park and Hammersmith Bridge, we talked about support for family carers, public transport, the chaos at the Home Office and the compounding problems of Brexit and the pandemic.
Thank you to Sonia and her staff at the Plough for a warm welcome to us at the pub!
RIVER THAMES SCHEME CONSULTATION
The River Thames Scheme is running a public consultation until Tuesday 20th December.
The Scheme represents a new landscape-based approach to creating healthier, more resilient, and more sustainable communities by reducing the risk of flooding and creating high quality natural environments. Since the previous consultation in 2016, the Scheme has changed into a more integrated scheme which responds to the challenges of flooding. It creates more access to green open spaces and sustainable travel routes. In addition the project will encourage inclusive economic growth, increase biodiversity and respond to the dual challenges of climate change and nature recovery.
During the forthcoming public consultation, the RTS will host a number of information events across the route of the Scheme. There will be a public exhibition in Teddington on Tuesday 29th November 2022, at the Peter and Paul Centre, 4 Church Rd, Teddington TW11 8PB from 1-7pm. Details of all the locations they will visiting, and more information about the scheme, can be found here.
CHANGES TO ROYAL MAIL STAMPS
From 1 February the new barcoded version of the Definitive stamps, (the regular “everyday” stamps featuring the profile of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth) will be the only type of Definitive Stamps valid for postage. Royal Mail is encouraging customers to use up their non-barcoded stamps when sending Christmas cards and parcels to family and friends.
Customers who are unable to use up their stock of non-barcoded stamps may exchange them for the equivalent in barcoded stamps. They can be sent, with a completed form, to Royal Mail using their FREEPOST address. There is no charge to exchange unused stamps. Forms are available from www.royalmail.com/barcodedstamps or call 03457 740740 and request a form be posted to you.
Special Stamps – those that are issued to commemorate special occasions or to celebrate British achievement – will not be barcoded and remain valid for use. Non-barcoded Christmas stamps also remain valid for use throughout the year. These stamps cannot be exchanged.
RICHMOND AND KINGSTON CLIMATE PROJECT FUNDING FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
The Youth Council is reintroducing the Kingston and Richmond Climate Change Youth Fund (KRCCYF) to support projects designed to help address the climate emergency. Young people aged 11-19 are encouraged to apply for a grant of up to £1,500 to develop their ideas on how to reduce the impact of climate change and mitigate its effects. The fund aims to help young people become environmental advocates within their community and empower them to participate in climate action.
Applicants can apply until 9 December 2022. Learn more about the criteria and apply here.
HOMESTART CHRISTMAS CONCERT
Home Start Richmond, Kingston and Hounslow is delighted to invite residents to this year's Cheer for Children Concert on Nov 30th in St Mary’s Church, Barnes. They are working with the church's Musical Director and choir, the St Osmunds School choir and other musicians and celebrities to create an exciting programme. Mulled wine, mince pies, celebrity readings and festive music will make for a special evening, all in aid of struggling local families. Click here for details.
CHRISTMAS DINNER FOR CARE LEAVERS
Richmond Christmas Day Dinner is calling for help from the local community to create the best Christmas ever for care-leavers. Each year since 2017, young care leavers from Richmond, Kingston and Hounslow boroughs have come together to enjoy a Christmas packed with food, gifts and fun. Having left the care system they now live in flats, bedsits, halls of residence or in semi-independent living (hostels). As December nears, the organisers are asking Richmond, Kingston, and Hounslow businesses and residents to help create something magical for those who might otherwise spend Christmas alone.
If you want to contribute, you can buy a present for a young person from the ‘ChristmasDayRichmond’ wishlist on Amazon here, or visit The Hare and The Moon, Church Street, Twickenham to shop the specially curated gift list in store or online here, or donate to their funds here.
ROAD WORKS UPDATE
My Richmond constituents might like to know that Richmond Council sends out a roadworks update every Friday afternoon. Residents can sign-up to it here. It includes information about local road closures that might help you plan how you get around the area.
SUPPORT FOR UNPAID CARERS
Richmond and Hillcroft Adult Community College invites family carers to Join a free wellbeing course, make new friends, learn digital skills, and get 1:1 help from Learning Advisors to choose a new career or interest. The RHACC Carers’ Hub provides a range of activities and services including:
• FREE wellbeing courses (terms and conditions apply)
• FREE digital workshops
• Information, advice and guidance sessions
• Online learning options
• Access to our Learning Resource Centres
• Learning and other support provided to people who have a disability or other support needs
• Help with travel costs and childcare available
KINGSTON CHRISTMAS MARKET
On Thursday 10 November, the lights will switch on and Kingston will welcome back the annual Christmas Market. There are some new additions this year: you can try out curling in the Alpine Village, or discover new light installations and a Candy Cane Forest. Later in December, you can join the free family Christmas Trail. You can see the events in the town centre on the Kingston First website.
SEWING ANGELS CHRISTMAS CRAFT SALE
Kingston's Sewing Angels will be holding a Christmas Craft Sale on Saturday 26 November from 10:00am to 3:00pm outside the Co-Op on Kings Road in Kingston. You can find beautiful handmade gifts, cards and decorations and all profits will go to local charities.
NORTH KINGSTON CHRISTMAS FAIR
North Kingston and Norbiton traders' association have been busy preparing for Christmas this December. There will be a 'welcoming in December' short carol-singing session by Alexandra school KS2 pupila on December 1, and the trees will be lit all along Park Road and Coombe Road.
On December 3, between 10am and 3pm, shops along Park Road and Coombe Road will be joined by local makers and crafters, including the Sewing Angels and Not my Beautiful House (Kingston University Art students). Local school and singing groups will perform throughout the day at both Park Road and Coombe road.
All the shops will have Christmas offers, and you can have your dog's photo taken with a Christmas background, ready for your Christmas card, at Wags in Style. ART-K will run a workshops outdoors, a street paella will be on offer at the Pottery, and l'Assagino will be offering free prosecco at 5pm with live music. And of course you can order your Christmas specials at Jefferys the butcher and your fish at Jarvis.
You can see all the participants in the Christmas Trail flyer below.