I know that the ongoing conflict in Israel and Gaza has impacted many of my constituents. While the conflict continues, the Government has advised all UK residents to leave the region as quickly as possible.
I have been informed that the Foreign Office is working hard to repatriate anyone still in the area, however, if you have family or loved ones who are trying to return home but are facing issues in transit, please contact me and I will do everything I can to make sure they are able to make their way back to the UK safely.
TRAFFIC IN RICHMOND: MANOR CIRCUS ROUNDABOUT
I am very pleased to say that after extensive lobbying by North Richmond's Ward Councillors Richard Warren, Nancy Baldwin, and Richard Pyne, TfL have agreed to extended working hours at Manor Circus. This will mean that starting on Monday 16th, works should now take place from 8 am to 8 pm Monday to Friday and 8 am to 4 pm on Saturdays.
It is frustrating that TfL initially indicated they would continue works until 11 pm, but rolled back on this statement earlier today. However, I am pleased to say that they still estimate that these extended hours will mean that works should be completed in November rather than the mid December timeframe they initially put forward. I would still urge anyone planning to drive through Richmond to take an alternative route if at all possible as serious delays are still likely until this phase of the works is completed.
As part of the works, it is also good to see a trial of accessible pedestrian crossings taking place at the site. For those who cannot press the button at crossings, TfL have now agreed to test lights that can be alerted to people waiting via an app, wireless button, or tube for those with a tremor that makes pressing the button difficult.
If you would like to know more about the works being conducted at Manor Circus, you can find more information on TfL's website.
HAMMERSMITH BRIDGE: INTERIM ACCESSIBLE TRANSPORT
After multiple delays, it now looks likely that the carriageway for Hammersmith Bridge will be reopened to cyclists in early 2024. While the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham's estimates must be taken with a grain of salt, I do believe that plans should be put in motion to ensure everyone is able to cross the Bridge while negotiations over the full strengthening works continue.
For this reason, I wrote to Seb Dance, Deputy Mayor of London for Transport and Chris Boardman MBE, Commissioner of Active Travel England to ask that they meet with me to discuss an interim transport solution for the bridge. When Hammersmith Bridge first closed, a rickshaw service was put in place by members of the local community. I would like to see this same concept formalised, licensed, and funded by Governmental organisations when the carriageway reopens.
Given that the weight limit on the stabilised bridge is still uncertain and so minibuses or electric vehicles may not be able to cross, I believe this would serve as an elegant, low-cost, high impact solution for older or less mobile residents.
THAMES WATER: TEDDINGTON DRA CONSULTATION
The next phase of Thames Water's consultation on the controversial Teddington Direct River Abstraction at Ham Lands will open next week. This will be the first consultation focused specifically on the proposal itself rather than Thames Water's wider Water Resource Management plan and should include a number of major pieces of information about the specifics of the scheme and its construction.
Thames Water have indicated that they will be informing all residents living close to the proposed scheme about the consultation, and will be holding a number of events as they have done previously where residents can come and share their views. I will provide details of how you can respond to the consultation (once they are available) in my next newsletter and on my social media pages.
In related news, I was also very pleased to see that Richmond Council has voted unanimously on a motion calling on the Government to step in and re-examine the scheme. I believe that this project poses a genuine threat to our community and I am pleased to see representatives on all levels, local, regional, and national working together to challenge it.
ST RICHARD'S CHURCH CABARET EVENING
On Saturday evening, I visited St Richard's Church in Ham for their Cabaret Evening fundraiser. There were some wonderful performances from local musicians and the energy in the room was infectious. I'd strongly recommend anyone in the area join them for their next event when it comes around.
The event was held as part of St Richard's fundraising efforts to repair its iconic six pointed roof which, as far as I know, is unique for a church in the United Kingdom. It is a wonderful space and functions as a hub for community events in Ham and Petersham.
If you would like to contribute to their fundraiser and help preserve this unique piece of Richmond Park's architectural landscape, you can donate with the link here.
VISIT TO KINGSTON UNIVERSITY
On Friday, I met with a group of international students and faculty from Kingston University to discuss the challenges they face studying in the constituency and UK. While we discussed a great many topics, a point that was raised time and time again was the huge cost of coming to and living in the UK. The price of student visas is rising by almost 35% and the new International Health Surcharge will rise from £440 to £776.
International students are a wonderful addition to universities across the country, they bring investment, promote diversity and multi-culturalism in universities, and improve our image across the world when students return home after having spent time here. I know that many of my constituents will have done a year abroad during their time at university or will know a young person who is currently taking part in a similar scheme and it is wonderful to know that our community is helping make those same memories for students from across the globe.
KINGSTON ROTARY CLUB: WALK A MILE TO END POLIO
Walk a Mile to End Polio is simple. You can walk alone or in groups, just get your trainers or walking boots on, head outside and walk a mile or more. Ask your friends and family to walk with you or if you wish, to sponsor you. For every mile you walk you donate £1.00. It's a great way to help keep active and help others at the same time. The funds raised will help immunise millions of children around the world from this horrendous disease and are being matched 2:1 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
If you'd like to take part and want to know more, contact the Kingston Rotary Club.
TREE PLANTING IN KINGSTON
Kingston Council is set to plant 450 new trees this winter, and residents are invited to suggest suitable places where they could be planted. The winter tree planting programme is an annual initiative which aims to boost biodiversity, while safeguarding the borough's natural surroundings. Residents have the opportunity to pick up to three planting spots from a list of available locations and the council's dedicated tree officers will then try to choose at least one location from each response.
The different tree species chosen for this year's planting are both highly suited to the conditions of the borough and complementary to our local wildlife. Residents can suggest planting locations the online engagement platform page and have until 28 October to do so.
RICHMOND RESIDENTS SURVEY
The Richmond Residents Survey will run from the 18th of September until the end of October. Almost a thousand people around the borough are being randomly selected to take part in a face to face survey which will help guide Richmond Council's decisions on where to allocate resources and which issues need to be addressed.
If you are selected to take part, but would like more information, or if you would simply like to know more about how the survey works, you can contact the team at email@example.com or speak to the team on 020 8891 1411.
BIG BARNES PONDER 2023
Ten years on from the first Big Barnes Ponder, the Barnes Community Association is inviting all local residents to come and share their views on what the new vision for Barnes should be in the coming decade. The event will be held at the Barnes Green Day Centre close to the Pond and will be running from 10 am to 4 pm.
If you can't make it to the event in person, but would still like to make your views known, you can use the map here to post an issue you would like to see resolved or an idea you want to see adopted.