top of page

Recent News


Richmond Park News: 19 March 2021


After years of intense lobbying by both councils the Department of Education has finally agreed to address the funding gap in Special Educational Needs and Disabiliities (SEND) provision in Richmond and Kingston. For many years now neither council has received enough funds from central government to cover the services they need to provide to children with SEND, and the shortfall has grown every year. The councils have struggled to meet these obligations from their own funds, which are already overstretched. The new agreement will address this shortfall.

The five-year funding plans will see Richmond Council receive an additional £6m of funding by the end of the current financial year. Further payments will be spread over the following four years with the aim of reducing Richmond's £18 million funding gap to zero by 2025. Kingston will be receiving £9 million this year, as well as a debt write-off of £3 million, as their funding gap would have reached £25 million by the end of this month.

The additional payments over the coming years are subject to the councils continuing to make good progress with their SEND Futures plans and will require them to make some contributions from their own resources. The SEND Futures plans, which include proposals to add new local special needs school places and opportunities, will be supported by a Special Commission from the Department for Education and could result in additional capital funding being released.

SEND funding has been a huge problem for many years and I know how important this issue is to my constituents. I am relieved to hear that a solution to this problem has been agreed and I hope that the children of both boroughs will be seeing improved services on an individual level very soon.


Yesterday during Questions in the House for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, I enquired about what discussions the Department may have had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on establishing a Government-backed insurance fund to help support the return of live events and cultural festivals. Minister for Digital and Culture Caroline Dinenage responded to my question, saying that officials in the department "continue to work closely with the affected sectors to understand all the barriers to reopening, including financial support, certainty around the public health situation and the potential challenges of insurance." I followed this up by asking to see the documents related to those discussions, so that we can scrutinise them and be sure that everything that can be done for our vital events sector is being done. You can see the full text of the exchange here.


On Wednesday I spoke in a Westminster Hall debate about the issue of unexploded ordnance on the sea beds in British waters. These weapons need to be disposed of in order to develop our offshore power generation capacity, but exploding them in place is extremely damaging to marine wildlife. Sea blasts can damage or disrupt the hearing of marine wildlife, creatures whose hearing is essential for their navigation, communication and feeding habits. The damage can have a huge impact on whole populations of marine wildlife. Exploding ordnance can also lead to toxic and chemical waste in the water, which has an obvious negative impact on biodiversity.