POLICING AND SAFETY
Over the past two weeks, I know that many residents in Barnes and Mortlake have been extremely worried about the rise in local burglaries and other criminal activity. Smashed shop fronts and muggings are not something our usually safe community encounters and while these events have been concerning, I've been pleased to see the police acting quickly to ensure they do not become the norm.
This week, I joined officers from the Barnes Safer Neighbourhood Team on patrol to question them on these recent issues as well as to learn more about what they are doing to deter further criminal activity. I was glad to discover that they will be maintaining an increased presence in the area over the coming days and will also be providing further advice and support to local business owners and residents. I was also extremely pleased to hear that, yesterday, with the support of South West London's burglary and local intelligence teams, the police made a significant arrest in connection with these incidents.
Alongside high-profile burglaries, car thefts have also become more common over the last few months. Certain high-end vehicles including Land Rovers, BMWs, and Mercedes are particular targets and the police are advising residents to use a full steering wheel lock on their vehicles to deter thieves.
If you witness a crime or see suspicious activity, always report it to the police. Without information, local forces cannot respond to the issue and are unable to build a full, clear picture of the situation on the ground. You can report a crime here and find your local Metropolitan Police Safer Neighbourhood Team here. In an emergency, always dial 999.
CUTS TO THE 213 AND 57 BUSES
Earlier in the week, I joined the calls of Liberal Democrats in Kingston and Sutton, opposing Sadiq Khan's cuts to the 213 and 57 buses. These cuts will mean a 20% reduction in the frequency of these already overused services. Indeed, anyone who lives in the area will know how vital these routes are and how misguided the Mayor is to cut them. They connect Kingston Town Centre with the hospital, serve as school buses for children at four secondary schools in the borough and are often overcrowded to the point where, at times, it is standing room only.
In my letter to the Mayor, I highlighted the fact that despite his intention to get people out of cars and onto public transport, he has made it even harder for people living in outer London to move around the city. At the beginning of the year, he pledged to add a million kilometres of new bus routes to the city but instead of boosting TfL's infrastructure, he seems to be slashing it across southwest London. You can read the text of my letter to the Mayor here and contact him to share your views on these cuts by emailing Mayor@London.gov.uk.
RICHMOND CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE
This afternoon, I joined the Richmond Chamber of Commerce and a group of local business owners to discuss the challenges they had been facing over the last few months. What was particularly interesting was that no matter whether the attendees were restauranteurs, filmmakers, or technology specialists, all were facing the same issues around finding and retaining staff. It is clear that since Brexit and the pandemic, the current employment model is no longer working for many people and both the private and public sector needs to adapt to the new situation quickly.
During the meeting, we also touched upon the issue of crime in Richmond Park. While the number of serious incidents in the constituency is low, this has meant we do not often have as many resources deployed to combat low-level crime as we need. The fact of the matter is, that without a local police station, it is hard for local officers to maintain the kind of presence that is required to deter criminal activity. Businesses and residents alike tell me they want Richmond Police station reopened and I will continue to raise this issue in Parliament every time I have the opportunity.
BRITISH GAS' PROFITS
This week, it was announced that the parent company of British Gas, Centrica, had made a record £3.3 billion in profits last year. This makes them the third major energy provider after Shell and BP to report either record or near-record profits in 2022, with this news coming as households across Richmond Park and the country struggle with ever-increasing increasing energy bills.
Yesterday, I spoke with LBC to discuss this announcement and during the interview, took the opportunity to explain why it is vital that the Government does not increase the energy price cap from £2500 to £3000 in April. People across the UK have already suffered enough and must not be asked to further pad energy providers' profit margins.
You can hear a clip of my interview here.
TURKEY / SYRIA EARTHQUAKE
Over the past week, I'm sure all of us have seen the reports of the sheer devastation in Turkey and Syria in the aftermath of last week's earthquake. It has been truly heartrending to see pictures of emergency workers frantically digging for survivors alongside images of children unable to find parents and loved ones in the ruins of their former homes.
I know that many of my constituents will be looking for ways to help. I would urge you to make a monetary donation, if you are able, instead of sending goods, as it will be very difficult for physical donations to get to either country. You can donate using the link here.
THAMES WATER ABSTRACTION SCHEME
Last month, Thames Water quietly announced plans to divert 75 million litres of water a day out of the Thames at Teddington during periods of drought. This water will then be replaced by treated effluent coming from Mogden Sewage works. It is obviously extremely important for the community to be both properly informed about these plans and allowed a chance to respond to them. However, it is clear that Thames Water did not initially understand the depth of feeling the scheme would generate. Initial consultations were limited and residents had to be hurried through the crowded consultation room.
In response to this, I penned a letter alongside Munira Wilson MP to request further events be put in place and to ask that better public information be made available before the scheme moves out of its draft stage. Thames Water have agreed and will be hosting two further events, the details of which are below:
Online webinar and Q&A on Monday 27 February between 19:00 and 20:30
Community information event on Friday 3 March from 14:00 to 20:00 at York House in Twickenham.
You can register for both events with the link here.
ULEZ SCRAPPAGE SCHEME
The ULEZ scrappage scheme went live at the beginning of the month and means Londoners who are in receipt of benefits, have a disability, or run a non-profit or micro business (employing less than 10 people) can apply for grants of between £1000 and £5000 if they need to give up a non-ULEZ compliant car. You can find full details of the scheme here. If you think your car may not be ULEZ compliant, it is always worth double-checking, around 87% of cars in London are compliant and you can find out if yours is through the link here.
While the scrappage scheme is a good step forward, the Mayor's attempt to rush the ULEZ rollout is a serious issue. Central London was given almost three years to prepare, while we have been given less than a year's notice of the change. Richmond Park, and indeed all of outer London, needs more time to prepare for the scheme's rollout, a fact Sadiq Khan seems to be willingly ignoring as he drives forward with plans for the expansion.
CORONATION STREET PARTIES
Richmond Council has announced this week that it will again be waiving the administration fee for street party road closures this summer, to help residents celebrate the Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort, over the bank holiday weekend of 6-8 May 2023.
The Council will also offer grants of up to £5,000 to registered voluntary and community organisations who wish to bring together communities to celebrate or organise volunteering projects as part of the Big Help Out.