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Richmond Park News: 15 July 2022

HEAT WAVE NEXT WEEK

With the weather heating up in the next few days the NHS has shared some top tips for coping in hot weather, which include:

1. Look out for others - especially older people, young children and babies, and those with underlying health issues such as heart problems, breathing and respiratory issues.

2. Drink plenty of fluids - to stay hydrated and reduce alcohol consumption.

3. Close curtains or blinds - to keep rooms cooler and remember that it may be cooler outside.

4. Stay safe outdoors - apply sunscreen regularly, stay in the shade where possible and avoid exercising at the hottest parts of the day.

For more health information, advice and support, visit www.nhs.uk



ONLINE SAFETY BILL

I have received a great deal of correspondence from constituents on the Online Safety Bill which is currently making its way through Parliament. This Bill is designed to regulate certain internet services to reduce the spread of illegal and harmful content online. However, I know that many constituents have concerns around various aspects of the Bill, specifically regarding the potential of the Bill to impede freedom of expression. Other constituents have also raised concerns that the Bill does not go far enough to target the spread of misinformation, and doesn't introduce strong enough safeguards for children.

Although I support the overall thrust of the Bill to crackdown on harmful activity on social media, I acknowledge and share concerns around some aspects. Therefore, I tabled four amendments to the Bill alongside my Liberal Democrat colleagues which I believe address the concerns that constituents have raised to me. These amendments would have: protected user privacy through safeguarding end-to-end encryption, imposed a stronger media literacy duty on Ofcom, ensured that all internet services are safe by design, and required the Government to commission an independent evaluation on whether all providers of internet services likely to be accessed by children should be subject to child safety duties.

Unfortunately these amendments were not selected for a vote, and the Bill has now been put on hold until a new Prime Minister is in place in the Autumn. I will continue to follow the Bill as it progresses through Parliament and update constituents who have raised concerns about the Bill.


SPEAKING UP FOR TAMILS IN PARLIAMENT

There is a vibrant Tamil community in Kingston, and I have held multiple meetings with Tamil representatives since becoming an MP, to discuss how I can support the community and raise their concerns with the Government.


Last week, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigned following months of demonstrations over widespread corruption and economic mismanagement. There are also multiple allegations of human rights abuses and atrocities levelled against Rajapaksa, which have been targeted at minority groups across the country, and in particular the Tamil community.

On Wednesday, I spoke in Parliament to raise the issue of heavy handed policing of the protests in Sri Lanka, and the unacceptable treatment of the Tamil community at the hands of the police and security forces. I asked the Minister to confirm whether Sri Lankan forces are still receiving funding from the UK Government, and I am pleased that she was able to confirm that the UK’s funding has been directed at supporting the role of women in the police force and that Police Scotland will not participate in any future programmes in Sri Lanka. You can see a clip of my contribution here.


PET THEFT


Over the last three years, instances of pet theft have risen dramatically. This national trend was brought tragically close to home in late June, when Sura, a green tipped Macaw and beloved feature of the local community was stolen. Sura was later returned to the site of his abduction, but was too weak to return home, dying later that evening.


A new bill in Parliament will tighten the laws around stealing dogs but makes no provision for other animals. For this reason, I wrote to George Eustice, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to urge him to extend the protections that will be afforded to dogs to all animals commonly kept as pets. You can read the full story behind Sura’s case here.



AIRCRAFT NOISE


Last week, I wrote to Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps to demand that his department disavow the rumours that they would relax restrictions on night flights over the summer. I am pleased to say the Department for Transport (DfT) has stated that they are not planning to change the overall night flight quota in response to the chaos this summer.


Delayed flights arriving in the small hours of the morning are however still an issue. I have tabled a number of Parliamentary Questions asking for more data on this subject and I will keep residents informed once I receive further information. You can read more about my challenge to the DfT and Heathrow here.



HAMMERSMITH BRIDGE


Engineers will be working around the clock to keep Hammersmith Bridge open during the extreme temperatures expected next week. The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (LBHF) has reassured me that the engineering teams have been provided with all available resources to keep the bridge open to foot traffic.


While I am glad that LBHF is doing everything they can to protect the bridge, the fact that these measures are necessary drives home how urgently repairs are needed. It's time the government commits the funds needed to fix the bridge and does more than offer empty words of support. You can read more about the effect of extreme heat on the bridge here.



RAIL STRIKES


On Wednesday 27th of July, workers from South Western Railway (SWR), Network Rail, and a number of other train operators across the country, will be participating in 24 hours of planned strikes. The disruption caused by these strikes will have knock-on consequences for those travelling Thursday 28th and customers should expect severe delays on both days. It is vital that the government does not stand on the sidelines during negotiations. All parties must return to the table and create a long-term solution that gets the country moving again. You can read more about the planned strikes here.



RICKSHAWS MEETING WITH TRANSPORT MINISTER

Yesterday I met with Transport Minister Trudy Harrison to discuss the regulation of rickshaws, sometimes called pedicabs, which is expected to be included in an upcoming Transport Bill. Rickshaws are most commonly used in London on the West End, and are currently not subject any regulation due to a legal anomaly. This causes many issues in central London and raises concerns around safety of passengers, noise pollution and overpriced fares.

With regulation, I believe that rickshaws could offer a great form of alternative public transport across Richmond Park, especially for those who may otherwise be unable to participate in active travel. I had a positive meeting with the Minister about the issue, and I look forward to working with the Department to support their efforts to introduce a regulatory framework for rickshaws - one that addresses current concerns and also acknowledges their potential as a carbon-free form of public transport.


THE MITRE PUB NOMINATED FOR AWARD


The Mitre on St. Mary's Grove in Richmond has won notoriety as a landmark green enterprise in Richmond over the last few months. By using an electric pizza oven and delivery bike, switching to renewable electricity, and using only recycled glassware and takeaway packaging, the Mitre is on its way to becoming fully carbon neutral.


I am impressed by the Mitre’s entrepreneurial spirit in leading the green revolution in Richmond. They are a great example of the change we really need to see right across the hospitality industry. In May I nominated the Mitre for the 2022 APCRG National Responsible Business Champion award, and it was my pleasure to meet Chris French, owner of the pub, in Parliament this week. Learn more about the APCRG and the work they do here.



SAFETY OUTSIDE THOMSON HOUSE SCHOOL


On Wednesday, I had a very productive meeting with representatives from Network Rail, Richmond Council, and Thomson House School regarding the Mortlake level crossing.


We discussed a number of ideas at length, including moving bollards to create a wider space for pedestrians, new signage, and clearer demarcation of pedestrian crossings. I was pleased to see that Network Rail and Richmond Council are coordinating with each other to make the sure the crossing becomes safer for all road users. I look forward to seeing improvements implemented.




CONSTITUENCY EVENTS


Last Friday, I was delighted to be asked to present Learner of the Year Awards at Richmond and Hillcroft Adult Community College. These awards recognise outstanding students at the college. Nominees are selected by their course tutors, or by the students themselves, for their achievement, effort and/or resilience in continuing to complete their course. I offer my warmest congratulations to all of the students who finished courses this year.


Following that event I enjoyed a visit to a new exhibition at Turner's House in Twickenham. The house, known as Sandycombe Lodge at the time, was built by 1813 to the designs of England’s great landscape painter, J.M.W. Turner, and is now a museum and gallery. The new exhibition "Between the Sheets: Turner's Nudes" runs to 31 October. You can see more about the house, and about this exhibition of his most intimate work here.


My last event last Friday was presenting awards at the Richmond Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Awards, where I was invited by Anne Newton, CEO of Richmond Chamber of Commerce to give out awards to the best businesses in the borough. It is always a pleasure to attend Chamber of Commerce events and hear about the exceptional businesses we are lucky enough to have in Richmond. the overall winner of the awards was Minesoft, and I offer the company my heartiest congratulations.



MOMENTUM CHILDREN'S CHARITY FUNDRAISING


Momentum Children’s Charity is on a mission to raise £25,000 to revamp the children’s garden at Kingston Hospital. Using bright, friendly artwork they want to create a fun space that encourages outdoor play and helps sick children stay positive. If you donate through The Big Give between 4th-17th July every donation will be matched, DOUBLING your donation!



DO YOU HAVE EXPERIENCE OF MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES IN SW LONDON?


The NHS in South West London is developing a new three-year all-age mental health strategy and they want your views. They want to hear from a range of people to make sure the strategy reflects what matters most to people who use mental health services, and the people who care for them. The survey asks about your experiences of mental health services, how you look after your mental wellbeing, and your ideas about how things could be better. Everyone that completes the survey can choose to take part in a prize draw to win a £50 shopping voucher.


Click here for the survey. which is open until 31 July.



KINGSTON NEWS


TEA AND TREATS


Tea and Treats is in full swing, having welcomed fifty guests in June. The organisers are very much looking forward to welcoming new and regular visitors to their next session on Friday 5th August at Swinnerton Hall, 62, Gibbon Road, Kingston, KT2 6AB, from 11am -2pm.


Tea and Treats offers a warm, welcoming, and inclusive space where people come together to meet others from the area. They welcome people who live on their own and feel like a change of scenery, want a place to visit for a free cuppa, carers wanting to take dependent friend or relative out, newcomers to the area, new parents, refugees, people living in hostels, or people who just want to sit on their own and enjoy a free lunch of nutritious soup followed by delicious homemade cake. They have welcomed guests aged 4 weeks to 91 years old and all those in-between!


FREE CONCERTS AT CANBURY GARDENS BANDSTAND


Come to the bandstand at Canbury Gardens for free concerts every Sunday this Summer from 3pm to 5pm. Enjoy a picnic by the river with family or friends and great music.

The Bandstand is in Canbury Gardens between Kingston Bridge and The Boater’s Inn. Upcoming concerts:

  • 24th July Soul Rites

  • 31th July The New MUGs

  • 7th August Voice of Hope Choir

  • 14th August Perrin Jazz Collective

  • 28th August West London Brass

  • 4th September Allegra Concert Band

  • 11th September Two Meters Apart

  • 25th September Barnes Concert Band


RICHMOND NEWS


SAFER SPACE RICHMOND


I was pleased to hear that Richmond's Met Police Safer Neighbourhood Teams have created “Safer Space Richmond”, a joint initiative with British Transport Police (BTP), Richmond Council's Community Safety Service, South Western Railway Rail Community Officers and Street Pastors.

The initiative is intended to create a safe space for women and girls, or anyone else who is feeling vulnerable, when they are out in Richmond town centre. The safe space is in the pedestrian area outside Richmond railway station near to the bus stop, under the gazebo. Staff from all the above agencies will be there from 21:00 – 01:00am every Friday and Saturday night to help ensure a safe environment for everyone enjoying the night time economy in Richmond. If you feel at all worried about your safety, or someone else's, please stop in and see the team in front of the station.



PLAY STREETS INITIATIVE

Families in Richmond upon Thames are invited to come out and play as part of Car Free Day this September, with a scheme aimed at encouraging children to play outside in their streets.   Richmond Council is encouraging people to hold a play street on Saturday 24 or Sunday 25 September 2022, closing their roads to through traffic for up to four hours. Children will be able to play outside and have fun with their friends, family and neighbours.   

To encourage as many streets as possible to take part, the Council is waiving the administration costs for the road closures. They hope to build on the success of this year’s Jubilee celebrations which saw over 300 street parties held across the borough.  For more information and to apply for a road closure, click here.



THEATRE FOR ADULTS AND CHILDREN AT KEW GARDENS


Sixteenfeet Productions are bringing two magical shows to Kew Gardens this summer. The Jungle Book by Andrew Walsh, with music and lyrics by Guy Holden, is a 70 minute coming of age story for the whole family. Mowgli meets the wise Bagheera, the noble Akela and the irrepressible Baloo on her journey through the jungle. Help Mowgli trick the sneaky Grey Apes, keep an eye open for Kaa the python, escape the clutches of the terrible tiger Shere Khan and try to save the jungle home of her new friends. Drama workshops are available after some performances for 6-11 year olds. Recommended for ages 5+.


Brought into a 1930's setting. Shakespeare's bittersweet comedy Twelfth Night offers the perfect excuse for a picnic with friends set against Kew's beautiful background. The house band ‘The Food of Love’ will start playing classics from the swing era just after 7.00. Join us for an evening where the air is filled with passion and poetry, music, and laughter. Hampers are also available to order!


More details and book tickets here.


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