SWR TICKET OFFICE CLOSURES
Many constituents have written to me to express their concern about South Western Railway's (SWR) plans to close all ticket offices across its network and cut staffing hours at some stations.
After more than half a million responses, the consultation finally closed last night. I hope that, in light of the outpouring of community feeling, rail operators will think very carefully about whether or not they should go forward with these proposals.
Although staffing hours will actually increase at the majority of stations in Richmond Park, I am very concerned by the proposed changes to Mortlake station which will see staffing hours slashed to just four hours in the morning from Monday-Thursday, with Friday and Saturday left completely unstaffed. Last week, I joined concerned residents, disability activists and local councillors at Mortlake station to challenge SWR's plans.
THAMES WATER ABSTRACTION SCHEME AT TEDDINGTON LOCK
Yesterday, Thames Water published its revised Water Resource Management Plan, which confirms that the company intends to proceed to the next stage of consultation on the Teddington Direct River Abstraction (DRA) scheme. The Teddington DRA is one of the two preferred schemes - alongside the South East Strategic Reservoir in Oxfordshire - that Thames Water has chosen to develop to meet the shortfall in water supply. Two further schemes in the Cotswolds and in Beckton also remain under consideration.
I met with Thames Water yesterday to discuss the revised plan and to once again put forward my own concerns and those raised to me by constituents regarding the feasibility of the Teddington DRA scheme, the environmental impact of the scheme both on water quality and the surrounding unique ecology of Ham Lands and the disruption that will be caused to local areas during construction.
The draft Water Resource Management Plan will now be reviewed by the Government. If Government are happy with the plan, it will be finalised and published in 2024. In the meantime, Thames Water has assured me that it will be conducting extensive consultation with local communities specifically on the Teddington DRA over the coming months. This will involve public webinars and also in-person public events. I will provide further updates on the next phase of consultation and as I receive them.
Further information on the Teddington DRA is available on the Thames Water website which was updated yesterday.
On Wednesday 6th September, I will be speaking in a debate in Parliament on Thames Water's plans at Teddington Lock and I will provide an update on this debate in next week's newsletter.
KINGSTON HOSPITAL VISIT
I was pleased to visit Kingston Hospital yesterday alongside my colleague Sir Ed Davey, MP for Kingston, to meet with senior leaders, including Chief Executive Jo Farrar, to receive an update on how things are currently going at the hospital.
I was particularly keen to ask about how Kingston Hospital are managing demand for A&E services as I know that many constituents are being directed to A&E by GPs or other healthcare providers, only to be met with very long waiting times upon arrival. Although staff are working hard to process and triage patients as quickly as possible, they face significant challenges in directing patients to further care due to a shortage of available beds on wards and a lack of social care services.
Ed and I were also shown around the intensive care unit (ICU) and told about plans for a new ICU at the hospital which is due to open in June 2025. This new unit will increase patient capacity from 15 beds to 21 beds, as well as providing more training facilities for staff and improving working conditions by enabling access to daylight.
During our visit, we also met with Rob Aldous, Director of the Kingston Hospital Charity, to hear about the how the charity supports patients and their families. The charity are currently helping to fund improvements to the Dementia Unit to make it more homely by providing domestic furniture, a calm room and an activity room, and they also plan to fund construction of a sky garden as part of the new ICU which will allow patients and staff to spend some time in the open air.
MISSING PEOPLE VISIT
I visited the charity Missing People at their offices in Richmond this week to learn some more about the work they do to reconnect missing people and their families.
Missing People act as a trusted intermediary so that missing people can safely inform their families that they’re okay, without divulging their whereabouts. They are the only UK charity dedicated to such work and advocate for a multidisciplinary and cross-governmental approach to supporting missing people and their families due to the complex array of issues that can lead to a person going missing.
Missing People currently work with 12 police forces across the country. It was interesting to speak with staff regarding the complexity that arises when police attempt to investigate cases of missing people, as adults have a right to go missing and a right to anonymity.
You can find out more about more information about the work of Missing People on their website.
FUNDRAISING WALK FOR SHOOTING STAR HOSPICE - DONATIONS APPRECIATED
On Saturday 9th September, I will take part in the Thames Path Challenge to raise money for Shooting Star Hospice to support the work they do to help families in Richmond Park and across Surrey and West London.
Shooting Star is a full-range hospice centre, providing respite care for families of children with life-limiting conditions as well as palliative and end of life care, both at their centres in Hampton and Guildford and in the family home. They also provide bereavement support for all families who endure the loss of a child, including to siblings and grandparents. This cause is extremely close to my heart, and I am committed to supporting Shooting Star both locally and in Parliament.
I have also visited Shooting Star Children’s Hospice in Hampton and I have seen first-hand just how committed the staff are to supporting families in the most unimaginable of circumstances.
If you would like to donate to Shooting Star Hospice, please visit my Just Giving page. Any donations provided will be greatly appreciated by myself and the Shooting Star team.
CONTRIBUTE TO LOCAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING STRATEGY
Richmond Council are inviting people who live and work in Richmond upon Thames to feedback on an updated strategic plan for how local organisations, including Richmond Council, the NHS, and voluntary and community sector partners, will meet local health and wellbeing needs over the next five years.
The online survey portal will be open for feedback until 21 September. When the survey closes, the comments will be reviewed, and the feedback will be used to inform a final draft of the plan, called 18 Steps to Health and Wellbeing. The final plan will be published in autumn 2023.
Kingston Carnival returns to the streets of Kingston on Sunday 3rd September for its 21st year. Celebrations kick off at 12pm with a vibrant procession of costumes, music and dance parading from the Guildhall through the town centre to the Ancient Market Place.
There will be two live music stages, food stalls with flavours from around the world and a dedicated 'Green Zone' that will highlight environmental concerns. Further information is available on Kingston Council Website.
FAMILY-FRIENDLY BIKE RIDE THROUGH KINGSTON
On Sunday 10 September, Kingston Cycling Campaign are inviting Kingston residents of all ages and abilities to celebrate the end of the summer holidays with their second family-friendly bike ride. The 5.5-mile ride will start at 11am from the newly refurbished Kingston Road Recreation Ground pavilions in Norbiton and will follow along a route that encompasses a mix of quiet roads, bike lanes and low traffic neighbourhoods.
I had a great time at the previous ride which was held in June and would encourage any constituents with an interest in cycling to attend. You can reserve your free place on the ride at tiny.cc/KingstonFunRide2.