Richmond Park News: 19 November 2021
Like the many constituents who have written to me about Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, I have been deeply disappointed by the Government's failure to negotiate her release and get her home. I met with her husband Richard during his recent hunger strike and lobbied the Government once again to take action.
During Tuesday's Westminster Hall debate on Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe's detention I took the opportunity to remind the Government that this is not just a game of geopolitical chess. This is the forced separation of a mother from her daughter for five years. The Government needs to bring this family together again. You can see my contribution here.
GOVERNMENT U-TURN ON HS2
On Thursday I challenged the Transport Secretary on the Government's HS2 u-turn this week. They have abandoned plans for the eastern spur of the line, which would have run from the Midlands to Leeds, as well as the proposed east-west line between Liverpool and Leeds. I am deeply disappointed by this hollowing out of their much-touted plans to re-vitalise the north of England with better rail connections.
We need to be doing all we can to encourage sustainable transport options, including improvements to rail services, if we are to have any chance of meeting our carbon reduction targets. With the Government cutting Air Passenger Duty, failing to deliver high speed rail, and failing to meet its own targets for converting the existing rail network to electric power, they appear to have no intention of meeting net zero goals at all.
I took the opportunity to question Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on this point in the Commons debate on the Government's revised plan. You can see a video clip of my question and his rather evasive response here. And you can see the full text of the debate here.
COVID-19 IN RICHMOND AND KINGSTON
Richmond and Kingston are currently two of the three London boroughs with the highest rates of Covid-19 infection. Rates are highest in younger age groups (10-14 year olds, then 5-9 year olds) and also quite high in the age group that would include many of their parents. Numbers of Covid-19 inpatients at Kingston Hospital have increased over the past month.
Our vaccination rates are also increasing, but we need to do more to get case rates down. I would include everyone who is eligible for one to prioritise getting a booster jab as soon as possible. This includes anyone over the age of 50 who had their second dose more than six months ago. You can now pre-book your appointment up to a month before your eligibility date.
Parents of 12-15 year olds are encouraged to book appointments for their first doses at vaccination centres instead of waiting for the school service, if possible. Anyone aged 18 and over who has not had a second dose is strongly encouraged to book one as soon as twelve weeks have elapsed since your first.