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Richmond Park News: 15th March 2024

THAMES WATER


Earlier today, I held an Adjournment Debate in the Commons Chamber to discuss the dire state of Thames Water's finances and the need for the company to be placed into special measures. With Thames Water unable to pay its debts, and now recusing itself from new sewage investments, it seems to me that the company has more than crossed the threshold for this to happen.


In the same vein, earlier in the week and informed by the fact that the Government has drawn up a secret contingency plan in case of Thames Water's collapse, I asked the Prime Minister at PMQs if believed the company would still exist by the end of the year. Unfortunately, he refused to provide a straight answer.


I doubt there is a single person living in the constituency who has not had their quality of life reduced because of Thames Water's mismanagement. Whether your experience has been sitting in endless traffic as waterworks go unattended, or worrying about the impact the Teddington DRA will have on the river and our community, you will know that something desperately needs to change.


After it is put into special measures, I would like to see Thames Water reorganised into a Public Benefit Company. This would ensure the public's interests are placed at the heart of all decision-making and the company's board would always include a dedicated environmentalist.


Media coverage of the debate can be found here and here, and you can watch a clip of my question to the Prime Minister here.



CHILDREN'S CANCER SERVICES


On Wednesday, I attended and spoke at a debate in Westminster Hall led by my colleague Munira Wilson, MP for Twickenham, on the future plans for children’s cancer care facilities.


Given the government's intent to consolidate all services for Children's Cancer Care in South London and the surrounding counties into a single hospital, I have advocated for St. George's Hospital in Tooting to become the preferred location, as opposed to the Evelina in Lambeth.


Our calls were backed by MPs from both sides of the House, with the debate encompassing everything from the experience of staff members to onsite facilities. For my part, I chose to focus on the fact that St George's has ample parking and good road connections, while the Evelina is much harder to reach by car.


With so many paediatric cancer patients suffering from compromised immune systems and so are unable to take public transport, I made the case that easy access by car should be a key consideration for the NHS. On average, the families of children with cancer have to spend £250 getting to and from their appointments and travel 350 miles each month in order to access specialist treatment. Three in four struggle to meet these costs, and one in 10 miss or delay their treatment because of the expense.


Unfortunately on Thursday, despite our opposition, the Government decided to select the Evelina as the new site for children's cancer care in the region. However, in response, I have joined MPs from across South London and the South East in calling for the NHS to halt this move until a full inquiry into the decision can be made.


You can watch a clip of my speech here, and read the text of the debate here.



BUDGET DEBATE


Earlier in the week, I had the chance to bring several serious concerns I had with the Chancellor's Budget before the House.


This budget is a deception from a Government which has hit hard-working families with years of unfair tax rises. While they claim to be putting money back in residents' pockets, by freezing the income tax threshold yet again, they are costing the average person hundreds of pounds a year.


I was glad to see that the Government has bowed to pressure on the issue of child benefit and the proposed introduction of a household-based system to determine eligibility, rather than basing it on individual incomes. However, this is a small positive in a time when people need significant support.

 

The Chancellor could have cancelled his unfair stealth tax, raised the tax-free Personal Allowance, reversed tax cuts for the big banks or put in place a proper windfall-tax on fossil fuel giants to help fund our public services. Instead he has left families and businesses wondering how they will balance their books over the coming months.


I will continue to urge the government to bring in desperately needed support for the millions of people struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and keep fighting for much needed investment into all our public services. You can read my full speech here and watch a clip here.




KINGSTON HILL ROUNDABOUT GASWORKS: BUS STOPS


I was very frustrated to see this week that the bus stops at the Kingston Hill Roundabout had been closed on Tuesday morning, despite the fact that the major works which would have necessitated the closure have been delayed until the 21st of April.


However, with the assistance of officers from Kingston Council, my team and I were able to highlight the problem to TfL quickly and get the bus stops reopened in time for rush hour on Thursday.


I will be writing to local residents directly about these works, however, should you need more information, please don't hesitate to contact my office.



A-LEVEL STUDENT POLITICS CONFERENCE


On Monday, nearly 2500 A-Level politics students from across the UK attended a conference in Westminster to hear from parliamentarians and leaders in the political sphere about the realities of working in politics and life in Westminster.


As International Women's Day was fresh in my mind and I was one of only two women on the speaking list, I took the opportunity to highlight how, over the past 8 years, I have seen Parliament make huge strides towards gender equality and equal representation. I can say definitively Parliament is better with more women in it and I very much hope that some of the young women at the conference will consider a career in public service.


This is an annual event which is available for all schools to attend. If you are interested in attending the next event, you can find more information here.



VISIT TO CHRIST'S SCHOOL


This morning, I visited Christ's School's annual Citizenship Fair, an event where GCSE students present projects on social issues that they feel passionate about. There were presentations on everything from NHS staff pay to combatting drug use, alcohol abuse, and youth crime.


The students' projects were excellently researched, and the amount of hard work that they had put into their displays was inspiring to see. It was a pleasure to answer questions students had regarding their chosen topics, and I was pleased to hear that some are even aspiring politicians!



NEW MALDEN INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY CELEBRATIONS


It was a pleasure to join the International Women's Day celebrations in New Malden organised by the Korean Women's Association last Friday. Alongside dances from, and talks by, members of the local Tamil, Korean, and Ahmadiyya communities, there was a wonderful fashion show highlighting an incredible array of styles and designs from around the world. It was a beautiful celebration and I look forward to the Association's next event.





M25 CLOSURES THIS WEEKEND


The M25 between Junction 10 and Junction 11 will be closed from this evening through to Monday. This is likely to cause severe congestion on the surrounding routes out of London and if you are planning to travel this weekend, I would recommend finding alternative route or using public transport if possible.


You can find out more information with the link here.



RICHMOND NEWS


RICHMOND PARK'S PARKRUN


Last Saturday marked the 800th Richmond Park Parkrun. Parkrun is a nationwide charity in which people of all abilities run a timed 5k course. Since its inception, the event has become a community hub, and it is a great opportunity for people to socialise while being active.


Parkrun is a non-profit charity which can only operate because of the team of dedicated volunteers who give up their time to coordinate the event. One of these volunteers is Richmond's former Council Leader, Serge Lourie, who last week took part in his 448th event . I am immensely grateful to all those who come out rain or shine each week to make these events possible. For more information of where to take part, please see Richmond and Kingston Parkrun's website.



KINGSTON NEWS


HEALTH AND WELLBEING DAY FOR PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS OR SEEKING ASYLUM


On the 19th of March between 10 am and 2 pm, homelessness charity SPEAR will be running a health and wellbeing day for anyone living on the street, in temporary accommodation, or seeking asylum. The day will include health checks by registered doctors, haircuts, lunch, clothes, dental advice and a host of other services, all are free and you do not need proof of address or immigration status to attend.


If you, or anyone you know might benefit from this event, it will be held at The Mayo Centre, Eden Street, Kingston KT1 1HZ. Click here for more information.






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