With the Government determined to ease Covid-19 restrictions next week, I am concerned about estimates that case rates could rise to 100,000 new cases per day in the coming weeks. Many of my constituents have written to tell me that they share my apprehension.
Many residents are worried about the risks to those who are not protected by the vaccine, either for medical reasons or because they are too young to have been offered both doses. People who are clinically extremely vulnerable will be effectively shut in their homes once again, unable to do their grocery shopping or ride public transport to work because of the heightened risks.
I have also heard from business owners both inside and outside my constituency who are desperate to protect young staff members who have not received a second jab, and those who are clinically vulnerable, by ensuring face masks are worn by customers. Small businesses cannot afford repeated closures due to Covid-related staffing problems. Business owners want the Government to protect their employees, their businesses and their customers by clarifying that they are allowed to insist on customers wearing masks and observing their safety rules.
I have therefore written to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy calling on the Government to give businesses the legal right to require customers to wear face masks on their premises. My Liberal Democrat colleagues are joining me in calling for this policy. To read my letter to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng in full, click here.
I have also written to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to ask that he makes face coverings mandatory across London's public transport system. This will give Londoners the confidence to travel on public transport, and it will protect vulnerable transport workers and customers. You can read my letter to the Mayor here.
Some of my constituents with family abroad have written to me about the lack of integration between our NHS digital vaccine certificates and those of other countries. The Government needs to put reciprocal vaccination certificate arrangements in place with the European Union itself and with non-EU countries. I wrote to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps about this, urging him to resolve this matter as quickly as possible so that people who are protected by an approved vaccine can see their family members again. I also asked him to clarify the status of those who received a Covishield batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine. You can see my letter to the Transport Secretary about these issues here.
NET ZERO MANUFACTURING RECOVERY
I was pleased to have the opportunity to serve as vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group (APMG) inquiry on climate change.
Yesterday we launched the group's latest report, entitled Manufacturing Resilience: Driving recovery towards net zero.
If we are to reach our net zero target, the Government needs to explore ways of using its corporation tax super deduction as a way of incentivising businesses to reduce their carbon emissions. I hope this important report will help them to do so.
OWL APP AVAILABLE TO SHARE CRIME INFORMATION
Richmond Council and the Met Police Safer Neighbourhood Teams are encouraging residents to download the new OWL (Online Watch Link) mobile application to sign up for notifications by the police.
OWL is a crime fighting platform used by the Metropolitan Police and Councils in several London boroughs to send messages, advice and updates directly to the public by email and SMS. OWL has now launched a free mobile app to improve access and provide instant notifications. Notifications will include information on burglaries, car crimes, robberies, missing persons and more. Anything urgent will arrive as an instant notification with others sitting inside the app to be read at leisure.
There is no need to register or share any personal identifiable data. Users will receive information based on current postcode locations. Postcodes of interest can also be added. Users can also share OWL messages on social media. You can download the app by searching for ‘owl crime alerts’ or by using this Google Play link or App Store link.
FREE SCHOOL MEALS OVER THE SUMMER
Richmond Council has announced they will continue their assistance to families entitled to Free School Meals, and those in hardship, with vouchers to cover the summer holidays.
Since October 2020, Richmond Council has funded school holiday food support packages for vulnerable children, so children from the borough’s lowest income families don’t go hungry over the school break. 3,800 children have received vouchers in previous school holidays.
The Council has received an additional £317,042 in Government funding to support vulnerable families affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. In addition to school holiday vouchers, grants will be awarded to local voluntary organisations to support residents struggling to afford food and other essentials.
Families who require assistance, can apply for funding from one of the Council's local partners:
Telephone: 020 8831 6070 Richmond Aid website
Citizens Advice Richmond
Telephone: 080 82 78 78 73 Citizens Advice Richmond website
PROPOSALS TO TRANSFORM KINGSTON TOWN CENTRE SITES
Landscape architects Davies White and The Edible Bus Stop, commissioned to design two new 'Happy Spaces' in Kingston town centre (Memorial Gardens and Eagle Brewery Wharf on the riverside), have created a summary video about the project. Watch the videos here if you want to learn more about the proposals.
SHORT STORY COMPETITION
Kingston Libraries' Short Story Competition is now open for entries and will be open until until 31 October. First Prize is four tickets to the Rose Theatre’s production of Beauty and The Beast! £50 and £20 prizes will also be awarded to the runners up. All longlisted entries will appear in a short story collection published by Kingston University Press. Read more and enter on their website.