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Richmond Park News: 16th February 2024

HAMMERSMITH BRIDGE


On Monday evening, a few hours ahead of schedule, Hammersmith Bridge reopened to cyclists for the first time in years. While the cycle path with only be open for 10 weeks, I know how pleased many local people will be that they no longer have to dismount while they cross the structure. It's also a huge reassurance to pedestrians who no longer have to fear being knocked over by inconsiderate riders using the narrow foot path.


But while the bridge reopening to cyclists is certainly a real positive, the fact that work has been delayed yet again is extremely frustrating. We still do not have a timeline for the works, and LBHF, TfL, and the DfT are still refusing to release any information about the bi-weekly meetings they hold on the subject of Hammersmith Bridge.


This is a public project paid for with taxpayer money, and yet, the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham constantly refuses to share any more than the barest details about their progress on the works. Meanwhile, the Government's commitment to the project seems to be waning. Alongside delaying the decision to release the money for the full bridge repairs, Ministerial comments are now filled with provisos and carefully couched language. To anyone watching carefully, it looks as if they are quietly trying to abandon the promise they made to get the bridge reopened.


I am doing everything I can to ensure the Government cannot forget their commitment to residents. This week, I spoke to ITV London and the Evening Standard urging ministers to reopen clear lines of communication with residents and get the bridge repaired. Alongside speaking with the media, I am still gathering support for my petition to reopen the bridge, with almost 600 local residents signing in the first week.


You can read my contribution to the Evening Standard here, and sign my petition to get Hammersmith Bridge reopened here.



5 LIVE PANEL

 

On Wednesday, I spoke on BBC 5 Live as part of a political panel that discussed topics such as the ongoing situation in the Middle East, the upcoming US Presidential Election and Rishi Sunak’s comments at Prime Minister’s Questions last week in front of the mother of Brianna Ghey.

 

It was a pleasure to be able to give my viewpoint on this series of important topics, and if any constituent would like to listen to my contribution, they can do so here.



TEDDINGTON DIRECT RIVER ABSTRACTION - SAVING HAM LANDS


This week, I joined my party colleague and constituency neighbour Munira Wilson, Member of Parliament for Twickenham, in writing to Steve Barclay MP urging him to block the construction of the Teddington Direct River Abstraction. For those who do not know, this project would involve constructing a pipeline under Ham Lands nature reserve to allow Thames Water to pump nearly 75 million litres of effluent a day into the Thames during periods of drought.


In our letter we highlighted the huge community opposition to this scheme, the dozens of unanswered questions around construction and environment impact, and the total lack of justification for choosing this project in the first place.


There are far better alternatives to this scheme which should be explored and I hope the Secretary of State will consider them before allowing any more work to be done on this ill-considered proposal. To read our letter to the Minister click here and to get a small snapshot of my campaign against this project so far click here.





KEY WORKERS ON LONG TERM SICK LEAVE

This week, research conducted by my team through Freedom of Information requests showed that almost 12,000 key workers, including police officers, firefighters and nurses are currently stuck on sick leave.

This discovery, as we lead up to the Budget, has bolstered my calls on the Chancellor to provide further funding to tackle the NHS waiting list and get these key workers back into our economy. Staggeringly, the NHS waiting list has hit 7.61 million, with over 2.6 million people off work nationally due to long-term health issues.

It is crucial that the Chancellor steps up and gives our NHS the funding it needs next month to ensure that our key workers can get the care they need.



HOSPITAL REPAIR FUNDING

Last weekend, the Evening Standard published figures uncovered by the Liberal Democrats that showed over £3bn is needed to clear the hospital repair backlog across London. The worst affected Trust was found to be Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust which needs over £769 million worth in repairs. This was followed by Guy's and St Thomas’s NHS Trust with a bill of over £453 million.

This is yet further evidence of the state that the Government has left our health service in. It is absolutely disgraceful that our public services have been left to fall into ruin, and I will be repeating my calls to the Chancellor for further funding to our health service as he finalises the Budget.



LITTLE PANDA LUNAR NEW YEAR CELEBRATIONS


It was absolutely wonderful to visit the Little Panda Mandarin and Drama Club on Sunday to welcome in the Year of the Dragon. Alongside the dancing dragons, food, song and poetry, there was also a fantastic short play about a Chinese Olympic high jumper who is inspired by the flight of dragons. I can't thank the Head's of Little Panda school, Xiaoyu Shi and Max Gold, enough for the invite and for letting me be a part of this very special event.


Little Panda Mandarin and Drama Club is a Sunday school in East Sheen which offers both Mandarin lessons for children of all ages and drama classes for those interested in a career in performance. It's a great business and I would thoroughly recommend learning more about their work here.




FRIENDS OF RICHMOND PARK WILDLIFE SURVEY


The Friends of Richmond Park are still looking for volunteers to help them understand how the presence of people in the park affects wildlife and how animals behave when there are no people present.  Answers to these questions are essential if the park is to remain a sanctuary for wildlife and fulfil its designation as a National Nature Reserve.


The Friends of Richmond Park are funding and organising a wildlife ecology survey which has been designed by the Institute of Zoology and will be overseen by The Royal Parks. They are looking for 60-70 volunteers to help with the survey by setting out 150 camera traps across the Park and then recovering them at the end of the survey.


Training will be provided and there will be two days to help set up the traps in April. If you are interested in signing up, email volunteers@frp.org.uk.






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