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Richmond Park News: 1st March 2024


PEDICABS (LONDON) BILL AND HAMMERSMITH BRIDGE


On Wednesday, during the 2nd reading of the Pedicabs (London) Bill, I took the opportunity to press the Minister on the subject of Hammersmith Bridge as the crossing could become the site of a new pedicabs service once the stabilisation works are complete.


While pedicabs could help alleviate some of the issues created by the Bridge's closure, I felt it was extremely important to highlight that since 2019, businesses have suffered, local people have not been able to reach essential services and shops, and many in the community have not been able to take up opportunities on the north side of the river.


During the 2019 General Election, a number of Conservative politicians filmed themselves at the bridge, promising to fix it, but 5 years on, progress has been glacial and we've had nothing but delays and excuses from ministers. In fact, the DfT has had the strengthening works business case on its desk for a year now and still not offered any comment on it. 


While the Government's first priority should be to fully repair the bridge, this piece of legislation does present an opportunity to make life better for residents while the strengthening works are put in place. Over the last year, I have been campaigning for a new pedicabs service across Hammersmith Bridge to help ensure older and less mobile people are able to access services north of the river.


This proposed scheme was inspired by the Barnes Community Association's temporary pedicab service across the bridge, which during its lifetime carried over 9000 constituents over the Thames. I'd particularly like to thank Raphael Zachary Younger and Emma Robinson at the BCA for all their help with the campaign to get a new pedicab service across the bridge. Without their knowledge and support, this whole initiative would be a much more difficult prospect.


Ultimately, the Government must honour its commitment to the public and get the bridge re-opened, but until that happens, I hope a pedicab service could serve as an effective interim solution.


You can watch a clip of me speaking during this debate here.



THAMES WATER'S COLLAPSE: THE GOVERNMENT'S SECRET CONTINGENCY PLAN


On Wednesday, I raised an urgent point of order in Parliament, demanding Ministers publish the Government's Thames Water collapse contingency plan. This comes after the Financial Times reported that Thames Water was lobbying Ministers and the industry regulator, Ofwat, for permission to raise bills, give dividend pay-outs and receive lower fines in an effort to avoid a Government bailout. 


This Conservative Government’s refusal to make their contingency plan in the event of Thames Water’s collapse public is nothing short of a cover up. With billions of pounds of taxpayer money at stake, the public has a right to know what Ministers plan to do if this disastrous situation occurs. 


I have also tabled a Parliamentary motion demanding Environment Ministers publish the plans and hold a debate in Parliament to discuss the proposals in the event of a collapse.


I know many of my constituents are rightly concerned about this prospect and I believe it is vital for the Government to be more transparent on this very important issue. 


You can watch my point of order here.



COURT TRANSCRIPTS


Over the past year, I have been campaigning to ensure victims of serious sexual crimes can get free copies of the transcripts of their court cases. I began this campaign after meeting with one of my constituents, Juliana Terlizzi, a survivor of sexual assault, and learning that she had been quoted more than £7000 for a transcript of the trial during which her attacker was found guilty.

 

Today, victims of rape and serious assault in Scotland will be the first in the UK to have free access to court transcripts under a new pilot scheme. However the UK government is refusing to match this scheme in England and Wales. On Thursday, I took the opportunity to raise the issue again with ministers and to ask for time to debate it properly.


You can watch my question in Parliament here.



WESTMINSTER HOUR

 

Last Sunday, I joined the Westminster Hour on BBC Radio 4. The topics discussed included Islamophobia,  the security of MPs and expectations for next week’s Budget.  As Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson I spoke up for greater levels of investment in the NHS, ensuring that people can get GP appointments when they need them and that we start to see waiting lists coming down.

 

You can listen to the show here.





HOUSEHOLD SUPPORT FUND


This week, I joined Cllr. Gareth Roberts and Munira Wilson MP in an open letter to the Government calling for Ministers to extend the Household Support Fund in next weeks budget. This fund has allowed Richmond Council to the most hard pressed and vulnerable in our community.


With the additional resources provided by the fund, the London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames has provided holiday food vouchers for children on free school meals so that they do not go hungry, established crisis support funds with local charities to target essential care, and ensured children with disabilities can get the care they need.


There are nearly 1,000 households in our borough who are at risk, struggling, or already in crisis, and with the cost of energy and essentials still well above pre-cost of living crisis rates, they will continue to need as much support as can be offered.


You can read the full text of the letter on Richmond Nub News here.



VISIT TO RICHMOND PARK ACADEMY


It was a real pleasure to visit Richmond Park Academy earlier today to see the school and speak with some of the year 12 students about life in politics.  I enjoyed answering their questions about the forthcoming General Election as well as a detailed discussion about housing and crime in the local area.  It was a particular pleasure to be accompanied by a member of my MP staff, Ece Ozer, who is a former pupil of the school and was warmly welcomed by staff who remembered her.


I'd like to thank Mr James Whelan for making me and my team so welcome at the school and I very much look forward to visiting again.



RICHMOND NEWS


BARNES HOSPITAL DEVELOPMENT


Residents living near to the Barnes Hospital Development are invited to a community meeting at Mortlake Hall on Monday, 4th of March from 6:30 pm. You can register your attendance with the link here. I know how many residents have questions about this scheme, and if it affects you, I would urge you to join the meeting and speak to the developers directly.


If you cannot make the event, there is a lot of new information available online at the link here. This website includes a frequently asked questions section, information on the development, and the contact details for the developers.


Finally, I have just learnt that work on the demolition is now not scheduled to begin until May of this year. I hope this comes as a relief to residents who were understandably shocked to be told that the work could begin as early as March 6th.



HAM PARADE MARKET


Ham Parade Market will be back in full swing tomorrow from 10 am to 2 pm showcasing some of the best local and independent businesses in our community. If you are in the area, I would highly recommend looking into some of the stalls.


The Ham and Petersham Association will be at the market sharing information about the community and selling raffle tickets to help raise funds for all the fantastic work they do in the area. To find out more about opening times and future dates, follow the link here.



KINGSTON NEWS


UNCLAIMED LOTTERY WINNER IN KINGSTON


A Euromillions lottery ticket worth over £100,000 bought in Kingston has not been claimed. The winner has until 2nd June 2024 to bring the ticket to the National Lottery before the money is donated to Lottery projects across the UK. If you bought a lottery ticket before 5th December 2023 and it has been sitting in your pocket unchecked, it is definitely worth checking if you are the lucky winner.


To learn more about how to claim a prize follow the link here.



NEW OUTDOOR POOL AT ALBANY OUTDOORS


Councillors from Tudor, Canbury Gardens, and Kingston Town wards approved a £150,000 investment into a new outdoor pool at the Albany Outdoors riverside activity centre this week. However, the proposed eight square metre pool will be more than just a swimming pool. Alongside providing a controlled space for activities when the weather is poor, it will offer a controlled environment for nervous or disabled visitors, and could function as a rehabilitation tank for those recovering from injuries. 


To read more about this project, and the other community investments approved this week, follow the link here.





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