I know that the news that London has moved into Tier 2 will have caused a lot of dismay to Richmond Park residents. Nobody wants a return to the lockdown restrictions we saw earlier in the year. But it is incredibly important that we all play our part to reduce the spread of infections in the local area, so that we don’t see an increase in hospitalisations. The best way to make sure that infections don’t rise any further is for everybody to wash their hands regularly, wear a mask when in a public space indoors, and to try to stay two metres away from others. If we can all be mindful of this guidance, then we have a better chance of resuming our normal routines soon.
Yesterday in the House of Commons, Conservative MPs overturned ten cross-party amendments to the Immigration Bill which had been passed by the House of Lords earlier this month. These amendments included one that would provide EU citizens in the UK who are granted Settled or Pre-Settled Status with physical proof of their migration status, instead of only digital evidence. The Windrush scandal showed the devastating impact of the hostile environment on people who cannot easily prove their rights. By denying EU citizens proof of Settled Status, the Government risks victimising EU citizens in the same way.
The Government also defeated an amendment introduced by Richmond Park peer Baroness Hamwee to establish a 28 day time limit on immigration detention. Indefinite detention is inhumane and expensive, and it violates the human rights of asylum seekers and other legal immigrants. I fully support treating all immigrants with respect and decency.
These amendments will now go back to the House of Lords. I hope the Government will give them a better hearing upon their return to the House of Commons.
POLICE ACCESS TO TEST AND TRACE DATA
Following reports over the weekend that Test and Trace data is to be shared with the police, my colleague Munira Wilson, MP for Twickenham, challenged Health Secretary Matt Hancock to publish the exact data sharing arrangements with the police. Munira raised concerns from public health experts that people could be deterred from getting a test if they were worried their data could be shared with the police. I share Munira's worries about this policy and oppose such data sharing. You can see Munira's question in the House, and the Secretary's answer here: https://youtu.be/LPZemi98cj4
THOUGHTS FROM KINGSTON HOSPITAL'S ACTING MEDICAL DIRECTOR
Both Richmond and Kingston borough residents might be interested in this week's Talk Richmond podcast, which features an interview with Amira Girgis, Acting Medical Director of Kingston Hospital.
Amira relays to Talk Richmond host Cllr Jim Millard that the hospital has had a lot of time to prepare because this area was not hard hit in the first wave of the virus. Plans are now in place to address the increasing Covid-19 cases they are expecting this winter. The hospital is prepared to deliver all the Covid care needed alongside regular patient care. So if you have symptoms that are worrying you, you should go to the doctor as you normally would, or call 111 for advice if you have Covid symptoms.
You can listen to the podcast here.
VISIT TO DOSE OF NATURE
On Friday I visited Dose of Nature, a mental health charity based in Kew. They work to encourage everyone to connect with nature in order to improve their wellbeing. I was joined on the visit by Ed Davey and Lib Dem Mayoral Candidate Luisa Porritt. We were blown away by their fantastic work and the personal stories of volunteers such as Emma (pictured.)
FREE RESOURCES TO HELP PEOPLE WORKING FROM HOME STAY HEALTHY
Working from home brings many benefits, but it also raise its own challenges - practical, physical and mental. One of my constituents has written to me to recommend a free website called Working Den, that offers useful resources on staying healthy and productice at home.
Have a look at their exercises, reminders and suggestions at: www.workingden.com
HARLEQUINS ANNOUNCES NEW SCHOOLS PROGRAMME
The Harlequins Foundation has launched a new school sports partnership with Kingston University and Sport Impact UK, offering local primary schools in Hounslow, Kingston and Richmond support to help pupils learn core subjects and develop essential life skills through the power of sport.
Move.Learn.Grow. will see experienced sports teachers, coaches and internationally acclaimed educators from The Harlequins Foundation, Kingston University and Sport Impact working together to provide schools with unique learning opportunities. Find out more here http://www.harlequins.foundation/movelearngrow/
ROYAL PARKS SURVEY
Our local parks have provided pleasure and comfort for even more of my constituents this year, including safe places to relax, exercise or meet friends. Royal Parks has written to ask me to encourage you to continue to visit during the winter. They are looking at how they can improve people's experiences in the parks even further. With that in mind, this month they invite you to complete a survey that will shape the future of the Royal Parks for years to come. Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts with them.
COUNCIL REACHING OUT TO RESIDENTS WITH UPDATED GUIDANCE
Richmond has published a new information sheet about Covid-19 for residents. I urge you look at it and make sure you are doing all you can to protect and support yourself and your neighbours.
Richmond has also updated this useful web page of support available to help residents pay for food, household essentials, bills, rent or mortgage. https://www.richmond.gov.uk/i_need_help
If you can't work because you have been asked to self-isolate, you may be eligible for a £500 support payment. Information specifically on applying for it in Richmond can be found here: https://www.richmond.gov.uk/services/wellbeing_and_lifestyle/health_protection_information/coronavirus_information/where_can_i_find_help_or_support/covid-19_support_for_residents/isolation_payment
HAMMERSMITH BRIDGE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED
I have prepared this list of frequently asked questions about the Hammersmith Bridge closure for residents. If you have any questions please have a look at it.
LOCAL POST OFFICE UPDATE
The Post Office has written to me to say that they have a number of people interested in running the post offices in Kew, Mortlake and Barnes Castelnau. Talks are at an early stage and the applications will take some time to progress, but it's positive news and I will update you when I hear more from them. Royal Mail is also looking at whether they could put a Parcel Box in Kew Gardens.
ADVICE FROM KINGSTON COUNCIL'S CHIEF EXECUTIVE
A number of banners have gone up across the borough in an attempt to keep reminding people about the basic protection measures: Hands, Face, Space. The Chief Executive has written to me to ask me to remind residents that these are more important than ever now.
Local authorities are being asked by Government to work in new ways and step into different roles during this second wave of the virus. One of the key areas where the Council will be more active is in contacting residents who have been asked to self isolate as part of the track and trace support for the NHS.
CLOSING KINGSTON CARE HOMES TO VISITORS
Kingston's Director of Public Health, Iona Lidington, has written to me to say that, taking into account the current risk environment, and in line with Government guidance, the Council has had to take the step of stopping visits to relatives in care homes, except in exceptional circumstances such as end of life.
Iona has asked me to let residents know that they are aware that this is a difficult decision for families, and the Council will do all they can to support you and your loved ones.