RESPONSE TO THE QUEEN'S SPEECH
On Wednesday I responded to the Queen’s Speech in the Chamber, focusing on its lack of strong plans for businesses. While I recognise that Government support has been critical been for many firms throughout the pandemic, this year's Queen’s Speech lacked any comprehensive long-term strategy for economic growth. Its reliance on freeports is misguided and will prove ineffective.
I am calling for a green strategy that can generate jobs and make good on our environmental obligations. I also urged the Government to explain how it intends to replace the Green Homes Grant. We need measures in place that will not only encourage householders to invest in zero carbon homes, but also encourage the construction industry to invest in the skills, apprenticeships and workforce to deliver it.
HAMMERSMITH BRIDGE UPDATE
Also on Wednesday, I joined Fleur Anderson, MP for Putney, Andy Slaughter, MP for Hammersmith and Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford and Isleworth, in meeting Baroness Vere, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport and Chair of the Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce. We urged Baroness Vere to see that the Department for Transport (DfT) responds to London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham’s (LBHF) funding proposal immediately. The funding proposal was submitted to DfT by LBHF exactly 12 weeks ago today. So far, neither the DfT nor the Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce have publicly responded to the LBHF proposal.
The meeting was incredibly disappointing and offered no reassurances that the Government was prepared to come to the table. The Government line appears to be that LBHF must now come to Transport for London (TfL) with one preferred and fully-costed proposal. Following Wednesday’s meeting, Fleur, Andy, Ruth and I will be writing to Heidi Alexander, Deputy Mayor of London for Transport, to explore ways in which TfL might be able to expedite the process and help restore access across the River.
I also raised the question of the funding proposals at this week's Public Accounts Committee meeting, where I asked Bernadette Kelly CB, Permanent Secretary in the Department for Transport, for further information about what the Department is doing about the proposals.
Her reply was not very informative, but you can see it here.
I was, however, pleased to hear that, upon the announcement of TfL’s latest funding settlement next Tuesday, we should receive an overarching framework for both the funding and practicalities of reopening the Bridge, as agreed by the DfT, TfL and LBHF.
COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS EASING
I am sure you are all aware that we are taking another big step out of lockdown on Monday. Indoor hospitality and entertainment venues will open to groups of up to six people or two households, and the same rule applies to social gatherings in homes. Up to 30 people can now meet in outside spaces.
This is a reflection of the continuing success of our vaccination programme, which is now open for booking for anyone who is age 38 or older. If you are above that age and have not been vaccinated yet I urge you to book your first vaccination here
MY CHARITY RUN FOR MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK!
I will be running the Richmond Running Festival Air:10K Run in Kew Gardens tomorrow as a fundraiser for Richmond Mind. Richmond Mind does vital work supporter my constituents at their most vulnerable time, and I am keen to mark Mental Health Awareness Week by raising funds for them. If you would like to sponsor me, you can see my donations page here.
NEXT VIRTUAL COFFEE MORNING WEDNESDAY MAY 19
I will be holding my next Virtual Coffee Morning for constituents next Wednesday, May 19, and there are a few spaces left. If you would like to join me for a brief update on what I have been doing as your MP, followed by informal conversation about local and national issues, please sign up here.
WALK TO SCHOOL WEEK: 17-21 MAY
Next week is Walk to School week, and I encourage all of my constituents who normally drive their children to school to give walking a try. Living Streets, the charity for everyday walking, has been campaigning for a better walking environment for over 90 years and were behind the UK’s first zebra crossings and speed limits. Today, they campaign for better streets, and work with schools, communities, and workplaces to get people walking.
Walking is the oldest, cheapest and greenest transport there is. It improves mental and physical health, and reduces air pollution and carbon emissions. One in five cars in the morning peak are on the school run – so the journey to school is a great place to start.
DEMENTIA ACTION WEEK: 17-23 MAY
Next week is also Dementia Action Week, a national event led by the Alzheimer’s Society encouraging people to take action to improve the lives of people affected by dementia.
On Tuesday 18 May from10am-1pm Kingston residents can join the Alzheimer’s Society to hear about personalised care and meet Dementia Professionals working in Kingston. Followed by a Dementia Friends session: www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/NHSD5J/
And on Wednesday 19 May from 2pm-5pm you can find out more about supporting a loved one with dementia and staying safe at home: www.dementiaactionweek.eventbrite.co.uk
Richmond residents can see information about the Borough's Dementia Friendly initiative and their Dementia Week events in the Richmond News section below.
NEW 'TALK RICHMOND' PODCAST ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT
I encourage all of my constituents to listen to London Fire Brigade firefighter, Georgina Mann, based at Twickenham fire station, share her expert knowledge and personal experiences about Public Sexual Harassment with Talk Richmond podcast host Jim Millard.
The conversation is in response to Sarah Everard’s death and the thousands of women across the UK who shared their stories on the precautions they take every day to protect themselves from male violence and harassment on the street. Georgina uses her specialist knowledge to clearly explain exactly what Public Sexual Harassment is, the impact it has on women and girls' lives and mental health, the importance of education, and what the Fire Brigade is doing to help create safe spaces. She also shares her personal experiences of being harassed.
Georgina wants women to know that fire stations are open at 24/7, 365 days a year. If you are being followed, harassed or threatened, please knock on the door of a fire station for help. If you are suffering domestic abuse, and don't know where else to go, please come to the fire station.
There are two fire stations in the Richmond Park constituency - Richmond Fire Station on the A316 between Chalkers Corner and Manor Circus, and Kingston Fire Station on RIchmond Road in Ham, between Ham Parade and Lower Ham Road.
The Talk Richmond episode can be found here or by searching for ‘Talk Richmond’ on your podcast application and downloading the latest episode.
DEMENTIA FRIENDLY COMMUNITIES
Richmond Council is inviting businesses and residents to support the borough's effort to become more Dementia friendly by attending one of Age UK Richmond’s events this Dementia Action Week.
A Dementia Friendly borough is an inclusive place where all residents affected by dementia are empowered and supported to live well. This is one of the Council’s key priorities, and businesses and organisations are strongly encouraged to take this opportunity to learn about the changes they can make to support the imitative. An example of Dementia Friendly Communities Richmond in action is the Friendly Parks for All model, which aims to make the borough's parks accessible to everyone by installing extra measures such as extra seating and multisensory paths and trails.
Anyone affected by dementia, or any organisations or businesses that are keen to find out how they can help, are encouraged to attend one of the below online events.
· Online meeting of Dementia Friendly Communities Richmond members and for anyone interested in joining the initiative – Monday 17 May, 2.00-3.00pm - to register your interest, email firstname.lastname@example.org
· Online event on Dementia and Paying for Care – Tuesday 18 May, 2.00-3.00pm - to book a ticket, click here. Please note this is limited to 20 places.
· Online webinar on the symptoms of Dementia and the current research which aims to tackle the disease – Wednesday 19 May, 2.00-3.00pm - to register your interest, email email@example.com
WILDWAYS DROP-IN SESSION NEXT WEEK
To help boost local biodiversity and introduce some much needed colour to Kingston's highways, the Council is trialling a new approach to how they manage our roadside grass verges. Eight ‘WildWays’ sites have been introduced across the borough. Over time, rich wildflower meadows will form within them, providing a great source of forage for a wealth of local butterflies and bumblebees.
If you are interested in finding out more about the scheme, or have any questions, register to attend their virtual drop-in session, taking place on Monday 17 May, from 4pm-6pm. The Council's Biodiversity Officer, Elliot Newton, will be providing a brief overview of the scheme at 4, 4.30, 5 and 5.30pm, but you are welcome to join at any time.
KINGSTON-BASED CHELSEA WOMEN'S TEAM WIN WOMEN'S SUPER LEAGUE
I am delighted to congratulate Chelsea F.C. Women on winning the Women's Super League (WSL) again. The Kingston-based club is the most successful women's football team in England and a wonderful source of inspiration to other sportswomen and girls in southwest London.
Chelsea Women also won the FA Women's League Cup in March this year, and hope to lift the Champions League trophy as well this Sunday.
Photo: Tim Harrison, The Good Life
COMMUNITY ACTION IN KINGSTON 2021
If you have been supporting those in need in your community during the COVID-19 crisis by joining an informal WhatsApp or Mutual Aid group please come along to the Community Action in Kingston Summit on Wednesday 19 May, from 9.45am – 1pm.
This online event is being organised by the Volunteering Working Group (Communities Task Force), which is set up by the Royal Borough of Kingston in response to COVID-19 and led by Kingston Voluntary Action and Volunteering Kingston. They want to thank you for everything you have achieved in the last year, but also to hear from you about your aspirations, hopes and ideas for your local area. We would like to know if you are interested in working with each other and if they can support you in any way. You can also learn about Connected Kingston, the local community digital platform.
URBAN TREE FESTIVAL TOMORROW
On May 15 (tomorrow!) you are invited join the many wonderful events of the Urban Tree Festival.
Would you like to help create, update and improve Wikipedia articles about all things arboreal, including notable trees from history and literature? In addition to editing articles, if you are a photographer you might consider adding your tree photos to Wikimedia Commons, so these images can be used to illustrate Wikipedia articles.