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Richmond Park News: 15 September

It has been a challenging week for all of us living in Richmond Park. Increased congestion due to works by TfL and Thames Water, intermittent water supply in some areas, and anti-social behaviour on Richmond Green have caused problems for many local people. My team and I have been doing everything we can to support residents, but I would also like to thank all the dedicated councillors, council workers, and police officers who have been working around the clock to improve the situation.



PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE SESSION ON RAAC

In my role as a member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), I attended an evidence session on Monday regarding the RAAC situation in schools across the country. This follows a previous session in July as part of our inquiry into the condition of school buildings. RAAC stands for Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete and was primarily used between from the 1950’s to the 1990s. However, it has recently been brought to the public's attention that RAAC has serious structural limitations and is prone to collapse overtime.

During the committee meeting, my colleagues and I questioned officials from the Department for Education (DfE) regarding their progress in identifying and combating RAAC in schools. I focussed my questioning on whether the Department believe that sending schools a questionnaire to fill out themselves is the most robust mechanism for ensuring that they’ve captured the necessary information regarding RAAC. Although DfE are now going to undertake sample check of survey respondents, I am still concerned that there could be an unknown number of schools with RAAC.

Unfortunately, we were not able to obtain much useful information from the officials during the PAC meeting. I therefore hope to see much more progress on the identification of at-risk buildings moving forward and will continue to keep a close eye as this situation unfolds. You can read a transcript of the PAC session here.



NUTRIENT NEUTRALITY

This week, the Government attempted to scrap regulations that protect British rivers from pollution - so called ‘nutrient neutrality’ rules - in order to build more houses. The removal of these rules could potentially impact water quality across the country by leading to even more pollution filling our rivers. On Wednesday, the Liberal Democrats in the Lords successfully protected nutrient neutrality laws by voting against the Government's dangerous proposals. We are calling for housebuilders to continue to prove that new homes will not contaminate rivers, alongside demanding proper guidance be issued to housebuilders and local authorities so our waterways are protected from the impact of new developments in our communities.


CANCER WAITING TIMES - MACMILLAN COFFEE MORNING

On Wednesday, Sir Ed Davey challenged Rishi Sunak on his failure to tackle NHS wait times for cancer patients at PMQs. The Government has never hit its targets in this area, and tragically, with every day that a patient waits for treatment their chance of recovery declines. It is vital that Sunak and the Department for Health tackle these backlogs as soon as possible.


The need for urgent action on cancer wait times was driven home for me when I attended Macmillan's Coffee Morning in Parliament later that day where I was fortunate to speak to healthcare practitioners and campaigners about what Macmillan are doing to support patients across the UK.

Over half a million people with suspected cancer waited more than two weeks to see a specialist despite an urgent GP referral. I am therefore pleased to support Macmillan’s new campaign called ‘What Are We Waiting For?’. This campaign calls for an emergency package to tackle the long wait times for cancer treatments and to make sure that the NHS has the adequate funding and support they need to reduce cancer care delays.


Please visit the Macmillan website for more information on their campaign and the work they do to support people living with cancer.




MANOR CIRCUS ROUNDABOUT ROADWORKS


The major renovation of Manor Circus roundabout and the nearby railway bridge has caused serious issues across the constituency this week. In order to conduct this work, contractors have reduced the Lower Mortlake Road by one lane on both sides resulting in severe congestion and extreme delays.


I have been supporting North Richmond's ward councillors in their efforts to challenge TfL's management of the project and I am pleased to say that they have had some success so far. Additional signage will be put in place, HGV's will be banned from using Manor Grove, and TfL will increase its efforts to alert drivers to the issues in the area so that they can plan alternative routes. The organisation will also investigate 24 hour working patterns to ensure the job is finished as soon as possible.


TfL are publishing regular updates on their website and I would urge residents not living in the area to avoid the junction and surrounding roads if at all possible.


THAMES WATER EMERGENCY WORKS


On Sunday evening, a major water main on the junction of Derwent Avenue burst, necessitating the closure of one lane on Robin Hood Way. Tankers have been moved in to ensure sewage can still be cleared from the network, but major congestion in the area is expected until the work can be completed. Given the severity of the burst, Thames Water do not currently have a time frame for when the works will be complete, but I have requested regular updates and will be following the situation closely.


Over in Barnes, I am very pleased to report that the emergency works causing severe congestion and bus diversions in the northeast of the ward have been completed. I'd like to offer my particular thanks to Cllr Marjie Millum and her Barnes colleagues, as well as Mortlake and Barnes Common Cllr Tony Patterson, for their work in getting the 419 and 33 re-established during the closure.


If you have been affected by these closures or have any concerns about the works, I would urge you to contact Thames Water on 0800 316 9800.



THAMES WATER DIRECT RIVER ABSTRACTION


Last night, residents from across Ham and North Richmond came together at an event organised by Save Ham Lands and River to oppose the Teddington Direct River Abstraction plan, an initiative put forward by Thames Water which intends to dump millions of litres of effluent a day into the river during times of drought.


This plan could pose a very real threat to the ecology of Thames and involves destroying acres of Ham Lands as part of the project's construction. Last week, I spoke in a debate on this proposal alongside my colleagues Munira Wilson MP and Sir Ed Davey MP, and following the minister's inadequate response we have written to Minister Rebecca Pow MP asking that she meet with us to answer the community's concerns.



EAST SHEEN COFFEE MORNING


Next week, I will be updating residents in East Sheen on my recent work in Parliament and in the constituency at one of my regular coffee mornings. If you live in the area and would like to raise a concern or have an issue, I hope you will join me on Thursday between 10 am and 11:30 am. Due to security concerns, I am asking all attendees to register in advance on my website.


If you cannot join me on Thursday but would still like to speak to me about an issue, please don't hesitate to write to me at office@saraholney.com.



BII SUSTAINABILITY CHAMPIONS - RECOGNISING RICHMOND PARK'S PUBS


I was extremely pleased to learn that this week local Richmond pubs, The Plough, The Prince's Head, The Queen's Head, The Red Lion and the Tap on the Line were awarded the BII Sustainability Champion Award. This award recognises those landlords who are taking sustainability in their businesses seriously, whilst supporting local communities, their teams and local supply chains. Where possible they try to use local suppliers, which in turn reduces food mileage and they take pride in their food composting, attempting to avoid single-use plastics at all costs.


Pubs across Richmond have been doing their bit to cut carbon emissions in recent years and I am very glad to see even more businesses working to improve their business practices.



KINGSTON NEWS


KINGSTON RECYCLING HACKATHON


Tomorrow, groups from across Kingston will be coming together at The cornerHOUSE Arts Centre from 11 am to 3 pm to brainstorm ideas, share learning, and develop projects to help create innovative projects that will help enhance recycling in the borough.


If you've ever had any thoughts about how we can improve the way our waste is dealt with in the community, I would urge you to go along and share your ideas. The event is free and open to all but organisers are requesting that attendees register in advance with the link here.




RICHMOND NEWS


NEW EVENTS FOR BARNES BOOKFEST 2023


Barnes Bookfest 2023 runs from 22-24 September and this year's festival is a wonderful line-up of some of Britain's most thought provoking and occasionally controversial writers. Sir Anthony Seldon and Sonia Purnell, writers of Johnson at 10, have just been added to the event alongside a host of other author's who will be discussing their work and inspiration.


If you have not already got your tickets for the fair, you can purchase them and learn more about the festival's various events at Barnes Bookfair's website.



BARNES FOOD FAIR: 16TH SEPTEMBER

It seems as if Barnes is the place to be over the coming two weeks as the area will also be playing host to the Barnes Food Fair this Saturday on Barnes Green. There's a bevy of food experts ready to whet appetites with their wares – ranging from Italian to Caribbean to Moroccan to Thai to Portuguese to name only a few! Street food vans will be available onsite for freshly cooked delicacies and a large marquee will house a host of foodie exhibitors.


The last food festival helped to fund the purchase and installation of a new community defibrillator and donations from stalls across the fair will be used to support the maintenance and servicing of these life saving devices. Advance tickets have sold out, but tickets should be available on the door. You can find more information on the BCA's website here.



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