Richmond Park News: 16 April 2021

It was a very busy return to Parliament after recess this week. I had the opportunity to speak on a number of important subjects.

On Tuesday, I spoke in the House in response the Budget and Finance Bill, which disappointed me in a number of ways. I am deeply concerned about the future of small businesses, which are the lifeblood of our high streets and communities. We urgently need a plan to support these innovative entrepreneurs and local employers, before the end of furlough brings a tsunami of business closures and job losses. I called on the Chancellor to address the future of small businesses directly and substantively right away.

I also spoke up about the continued absence of support for the sectors and individuals who have not been assisted through the pandemic. This bill is yet another missed opportunity to support the travel, cultural and events sectors, and the hundreds of thousands of freelancers and small business owners who have been excluded from support.

Lastly, I told the Government how disappointed I am that this bill does not address the climate emergency. It is clear that the Government is not serious about achieving net zero or fostering a green recovery from the pandemic. There was nothing on green homes, electric vehicles, cycling and walking infrastructure, public transport or industrial strategy.

You can see some of my remarks here or read the full text here.

Also on Tuesday, during Oral Questions, I asked Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock what he is doing about the crisis in children's mental health services. Children and adolescents are waiting a year or more for treatment for serious mental health conditions, getting more unwell while they wait and missing important educational opportunities. I have heard many distressing accounts of this from my own constituents and I know that colleagues in neighbouring constituencies have as well.

I am addressing this on the local level with colleagues, but I thought it was important to challenge Mr Hancock on it in the House. You can see my question and his response here.

On Wednesday I spoke in the House in the debate about Greenshill Capital. I am appalled that public servants think it is acceptable to take remuneration from businesses regulated by their departments. Government ministers and civil servants must hold themselves to a higher standard than this or public trust in their actions will rightly disappear. Liberal Democrats have been calling for reform to lobbying rules for many years, and I will support any effort to put a stop to existing unsavoury practices. You can see my remarks on this subject here.

With serious questions to answer about cronyism in procurement and financial support to businesses, the Government must allow us to scrutinise their large business support loans. You can see my question to Paul Scully, Under Secretary of State in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, about the long-overdue publication of the list of loans made under the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme here.


On Wednesday, I spoke in an adjournment debate about the continuing delay to funding the Hammersmith Bridge repairs.

I explained the enormous negative impact it has had on children in the constituency to be cut off from their schools by the closure. I know how hard this has been for them at a time when their education has already been disrupted.

Residents who are affected by the closure of Hammersmith Bridge might like to see the transcript of the full debate, where the case for the Government to act was put very strongly by myself, Putney MP Fleur Anderson, Hammersmith MP Andy slaughter and Brentford & Isleworth MP Ruth Cadbury. The Government tried to defend its indefensible position by attacking Hammersmith and Fulham Council, implying that the Council is obstructing progress by refusing to contribute funds that they manifestly do not have and cannot raise. I am appalled that the Government continues to play these political games while my constituents, and residents in neighbouring areas, continue to struggle and suffer.

You can find the full text of the debate here.


Along with ward councillors for Ham, Petersham & Richmond Riverside, I am still calling on Royal Parks to re-open the toilets at Ham Gate in Richmond Park. Despite multiple letters sent to Royal Parks and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and an online petition which is approaching 1,500 signatures, park management have remained unwilling to enact change.

With the recent announcement that Richmond Park will be introducing car parking charges, I feel there is an opportunity to reinvest the expected revenue into re-opening the toilets. Royal Parks’ concern around financial pressures is perfectly legitimate, but the increased revenue would merits re-consideration of the financial viability of re-opening the toilets. To sign the petition to re-open the toilets at Ham Gate, please visit: