RETAINED EU LAW BILL
I have received a great deal of correspondence from constituents concerned about the Government’s plans to scrap thousands of EU laws by the end of 2023 through the Retained EU Law Bill. This Bill could pose a threat to huge swathes of legislation that guarantees workers’ rights and environmental protections.
This week the Government tabled wide-ranging amendments to the legislation in the House of Lords. These amendments mark a dramatic change in approach. The Government is now opting to scrap around 600 laws, rather than the original 4,000 plus. Although I am pleased that the Government have rowed back on their initial proposals, I am still concerned about the uncertainty caused for both businesses and the wider public and also the feasibility of revoking, reforming and replacing so many laws.
I spoke out against this legislation when it was debated in Parliament on 18th January. I criticised the sweeping powers it will grant to Ministers, by-passing all parliamentary scrutiny. A subtitled clip of my contribution is available to view here, along with a longer transcript here. I was also a lead co-signatory to a cross-party amendment which would have required the Government to publish a definitive list of legislation that would be impacted by this Bill and increase Parliamentary oversight.
The Liberal Democrats will continue to oppose this legislation and push to remove as much of this uncertainty as possible, looking closely over the list of regulations due to be scrapped and fighting to retain our environmental protections.
SUICIDE RISK ASSESSMENT
This week, I wrote to the Minister for Mental Health, Maria Caulfield MP, to reiterate my long held ask that a review of all suicide risk assessment tools be included in the upcoming Suicide Prevention Strategy for England, expected this summer. My letter follows the open letter I sent to the former Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid MP, on the same subject last year, in coordination with suicide prevention strategies MIND, Samaritans and Papyrus, on the same subject.
Shockingly, of the 17 people who die by suicide each day in this country, five are in touch with mental health services, and four of those five are assessed as ‘low’ or ‘no risk’, a statistic which has led me to work with constituent Philip Pirie, who tragically lost his son to suicide in 2020, to improve the system.
This week, I had the opportunity to meet with senior local police officers to discuss the issue of crime in Richmond Park and the Met's renewed focus on community policing. I know that residents have been concerned about the rise in car thefts, burglaries, and muggings in our community and I was extremely pleased to hear that the force's leaders are working hard to not only ensure these crimes are investigated but also to put new initiatives in place to prevent criminal activity as part of its turnaround plan.
Our local police force has, despite years of cuts and a significant lack of resources, worked hard to keep the community safe. I am glad that despite the immense pressures on their time, senior officers have made engaging with residents a top priority over the past few months. I was pleased to see them out engaging with the community at one of the street parties I attended last weekend.
One call that officers have reiterated to me again and again is a request for the community to always share any information they have about an incident with the police directly. Concerns raised over social media may not be seen, and local police teams do not have access to community websites such as Nextdoor. If you need to share information with the police, you can do so by calling 101, using their website with the link here, or getting in touch with your local safer neighbourhood team (SNT). If you need to find your local SNTs contact details, please click the link here.
The police have also asked me to remind female residents about their upcoming Women’s Safety Seminar on 17th May at the National Archives. Please see the poster below for details.
I enjoyed attending a number of street parties and public events over the Coronation weekend. All were extremely convivial events with a wonderful community spirit. I was pleased to see the best of British culture on display in our local streets as well as in the national events.
I started my weekend at the Barnes Community Association street party next to Hammersmith Bridge. where an enormous crowd turned out to celebrate, undaunted by rain. I was there with Mayor Julia Cambridge and three of our local councillors to speak with Barnes residents and enjoy the festivities.
On Sunday I was pleased to visit two street parties in my Kingston wards. I had the chance to judge a delightful cake competition at Lancaster Gardens and speak with the police officers out engaging with residents in Buxton Drive. Everyone had a wonderful time and I applaud the organisers of both street parties for providing such a memorable day for their neighbours.
I also managed to get to Canbury bandstand to enjoy the free concert for the community there. Over
400 attended the actual concert and an estimated 1000 were passerby listeners. There are free concerts at Canbury Bandstand every Sunday from 3pm - 5pm all summer long; it's the perfect place to spend a Sunday afternoon in Kingston. You can find the Bandstand in Canbury Gardens between Kingston Bridge and The Boater’s Inn. To see the 2023 programme for these delightful musical events please click here.
COOMBE GIRLS SCHOOL CULTURAL EVENING
It was a great pleasure to attend the inaugural Cultural Evening at Coombe Girls’ School on Wednesday evening, in the presence of the Mayor and Mayoress of Kingston upon Thames. The event was the culmination of a day of celebrations reflecting the rich cultural diversity of the school community. I enjoyed all the artistic performances, particularly the K-Pop performance and the Tamil dancing, reflecting the Korean and Tamil communities in the area. The probable highlight was the fashion show at the end where Year 12 students paraded in their cultural dress.
I was fascinated by the sheer range of different countries represented, which included England, France, Kurdistan, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Morocco, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Jamaica and the Philippines. The students had obviously had a very enjoyable time putting the show together and it was wonderful to see how proud they were to be sharing their heritage with each other.
UPDATE ON ENERGY BILLS SUPPORT SCHEMES FOR HEAT NETWORKS AND PRE-PAYMENT METERS
Earlier this week, officials from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero came to Parliament to answer questions related to issues with energy bill support schemes.
I understand that a number of constituents are facing lengthy delays to receiving support through the Energy Bill Support Scheme (EBSS) Alternative Funding. The civil servants working on this scheme gave assurances that applications are being worked through and the vast majority are processed within the six week timeframe. Any constituents experiencing delays should call the helpline on 0808 175 3287.
EBSS is the £400 discount that was automatically applied to most domestic consumers bill’s from last October. Households who did not receive this discount automatically, such as those on heat networks, are eligible to apply for EBSS Alternative Funding. Eligible constituents are encouraged to apply as soon as possible - applications close on 31 May 2023. Full information and the application portal can be found here.
Households on pre-payment meters have been provided with vouchers to claim the discount of up to £400 on energy costs. Civil servants at the Q&A session said that around 2.4 million vouchers have not yet been redeemed, which accounts for 20% of total vouchers issued. Anyone with outstanding vouchers is strongly encouraged to make use of the discount before the scheme ends on 30 June 2023. Vouchers can be redeemed at a local Post Office or PayPoint. If your vouchers have now expired, you should contact your supplier with a request to re-issue the voucher.
THE NHS JOINT FORWARD PLAN
The NHS in South West London has created a plan describing how it will meet the needs of local people over the next five years. Everyone can give their views using an online survey, which summarises the ideas in the plan. Healthwatch is encouraging all residents engage with the plan and have their say. Your feedback and experiences will make a real difference to what the NHS focuses on over the coming five years. The final version of the plan will be published at the end of June 2023.
CLICK HERE for more information.
CLICK HERE to take the survey.
CLICK HERE to read the full NHS Joint Forward Plan.
CHAMBER MUSIC CONCERT
Leona Gogolicynová, a Czech concert violinist living in London, has asked me to invite constituents to her next chamber music concert on June 2 in Barnes. Leona's professional activities span many fields, most notably solo performance, chamber and session work. She established her own concert series in 2022, called Slavic Soirees, which is aimed at promoting Slavic music and performers. The concerts take place at the Czech Charity Velehrad, 39 Lonsdale Road, SW13 9JP.
On the 2nd of June she will be joined by Australian pianist Rachael Shipard. Together they will be performing works by Philip Glass, Antonín Dvořák and Bedřich Smetana. Tickets can be purchased here and include a glass of wine or a soft drink. Children under 12 come for free.
KEW ROTARY CAMPAIGN FOR UKRAINE
Kew Rotary Club has written to tell me about a new Ukraine campaign. Following the 2004 Eurovision win by Ruslana, she went on to become a UNICEF children's ambassador and an MP. Last year she was part of the team that launched the Moshchun re-building project; the Kew community purchased a mobile home which is now installed there. Earlier this year Robin Jowit, a member of the Rotary Club of Kew Gardens, visited Kyiv and was inspired to try to do more to help schoolchildren there. He's launched a crowdfunding campaign, which you can see more about at www.helpukraineschildren.com
EFFICIENT HOMES SHOW
Kingston Council, Kingston Green Business Community and local organisations have teamed up to create the borough’s first ever Efficient Homes Show, taking place at Hollyfield School in Surbiton on Saturday 20 May. The Show has been developed to help people learn about ways to make their homes energy-efficient while saving money and reducing their impact on the planet.
Over thirty local businesses, universities and organisations have signed up to exhibit and will be showcasing a wide range of technology and services such as solar panels, insulation, electric car chargers and much more. The show offers a unique opportunity for residents to speak with experts to find out what may be suitable for their home and budget, with a variety of talks also planned throughout the day.
Attendees will also be able to learn about training courses for ‘green’ jobs. These jobs will be fundamental to achieving the energy efficiency improvements needed across the capital and encompass design, manufacture, installation, project management and more.
The Efficient Homes Show is open to everyone -- a homeowner, landlord or renter, curious about green-career opportunities or run a business and are looking for opportunities to network.
It will take place from 10.30am to 2.30pm on Saturday 20 May at Hollyfield School in Surbiton. Tickets are free and can be booked online here.