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Richmond Park News: 2 November 2020

Updated: Nov 12, 2020

Like many of you, I am extremely disappointed that we are having to go back into lockdown. I know how difficult people found it first time round – I heard from constituents about their fears for their jobs and businesses, their families, their mental and physical health, their children. But case numbers are going up everywhere and without swift and decisive action, we will soon see hospitalisations back up to a level that our NHS will not be able to cope with. This represents a risk to all of us. Another lockdown will not be easy for anyone, but it is the only way to get our case numbers down to a level the NHS can cope with while continuing to provide other essential care. We have built additional capacity into the hospital system since March, but it is not unlimited, and we need beds available for cancer patients, heart attacks and other urgent and serious conditions as well. (Reminder: if you have any symptoms of illness but aren't sure what to do, please call 111 for advice or 999 in an emergency.) I am glad to see that schools have been exempted from this new lockdown given the difficulties faced by children and parents in the first lockdown and I hope that all schools will be able to remain open throughout these new restrictions. I was also pleased to see that playgrounds can stay open and support services for new mothers. I was delighted to see Kew Gardens confirm today that they are able to continue opening during the lockdown. I spoke to several government ministers about this over the weekend, as it made no sense to deprive local residents of an essential open space at this difficult time. Further details about opening are here:

I want to assure all of my constituents that those who are extremely vulnerable will be supported in this lockdown, although the support will look different as they have not been told to shield in the same way as in the spring. NHS London has informed me that they will be writing to people on the shielding list tomorrow, and our local authorities will also be contacting people who are known to them as needing support.

I am also pleased that the Prime Minister is in talks with the governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on plans for the festive period. We need joined-up thinking on how to approach the holidays, including a common approach to transport, gatherings and students returning home.

We also urgently need improvements to our test and trace system in order to get the most value out of this second lockdown in the shortest amount of time. The Government has made a lot of promises in this area and I will be watching closely and holding them to account on this if the delivery on these promises continues to fall short of expectations.

You can see all of the latest information on COVID-19 and the new lockdown here:


I was very pleased to hear this week that the Government has agreed a financial support package with Transport for London that will enable them to continue to keep London moving despite their collapse in passenger revenue due to Covid-19.

I am especially delighted that the Government has backed down on their threat to remove free travel from under-18s. I fought to save this vital benefit for children, who need free travel to get to school and to access so many other important opportunities. I congratulate the many thousands of young activists who waged this successful campaign on behalf of all London children and young people. Happily, the Government's threats to take away free travel for over-60's were also not represented in the agreement.

I was also very relieved that the proposed extension of the Congestion Charge zone to the North and South Circular has been dropped. This would have been catastrophic for my constituents, especially for my Barnes, Mortlake and East Sheen residents who live inside the South Circular. I challenged the Prime Minister about this in the House of Commons, and joined Richmond Council Leader Gareth Roberts in strenuously opposing it. Happily, that battle went our way too.

There was also good news in the TfL financial package for those affected by the Hammersmith Bridge closure. The Government has authorised the funds needed to award a contract for a replacement ferry, so that should be operational fairly soon. I am happy to see progress on this at last after pushing hard for it. Unfortunately the funds the Government is offering for the stabilisation works on the bridge itself are far too small to make a significant start on the project. We need far more than £4 million to get the bridge repaired sufficiently to take foot and cycle traffic again. I will keep up the pressure to allocate the needed funds.

While I am pleased with many aspects of this agreement, I am disappointed that it is only in place for five months. The Government needs to give TfL the same long-term confidence it has offered to national train operating companies, which were offered m