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Richmond Park News: 2022 Highlights

As the year draws to a close, I wanted to take this opportunity to look back and touch upon some of the work I have done over the last 12 months.

This year has brought many surprises and challenges, but it has been inspiring to see our community rising to them time and time again. I am extremely proud to represent Richmond Park and I know that, whatever 2023 may bring, we will face it together. I hope you have a wonderful year ahead.


JANUARY

  • Asked my first question of 2022 in the Chamber in a debate on the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement, and submitted Parliamentary Questions about the environmental impact of the deal. You can read the debate here or watch a clip here.

  • Led a Public Accounts Committee hearing into the bounce-back loan schemes designed to provide smaller businesses access to finance during the pandemic. To see a clip of part of my contribution, click here, and to watch the session in full, click here.

  • Spoke in a debate on the British Sign Language Bill, which would require promotion of BSL in public service announcements. To see my contribution, click here.

  • Met with Richmond's Metropolitan Police Inspector Jon McLoughlin and Southwest London Borough Commander Lis Chapple to talk about their investigations into local crime and their crime prevention efforts.

I also visited community gardeners at Vine Road Rec in Barnes and scientists at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington.

And I visited the Tamil Temple in Stoneleigh for their Thai Pongal festival, and unveiled a plaque marking New Malden's twin city, Jaffna in Sri Lanka.

FEBRUARY

  • Spoke in a debate on the effectiveness of the Government’s education catch-up and mental health recovery programmes. To see a clip of part of my speech, click here. I later wrote to the Department of Health to highlight the urgent need to tackle the dangerously long waiting lists for the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service. To read this letter, click here.

  • Spoke in a debate to voice support for a windfall tax on oil and gas giants, as the Liberal Democrats had been calling for since October 2021. To view of a clip of my contribution, click here.

  • Sent a letter to the Treasury, co-signed by all Liberal Democrat MPs, calling for the ‘draught relief’ to alcohol duty to be extended to 20 litre barrels to ensure independent and craft brewers benefit from the cut. You can see my letter about it here. I am pleased that the Treasury listened to our concerns and has since lowered the threshold to 20 litres.


I visited Richmond Furniture Scheme where I met the scheme’s CEO, trustees and volunteer coordinator.

I also had the chance to test out the new generation of Lime e-bike ahead of their roll-out across Richmond, as well as visiting Educare Small School to celebrate its 25th anniversary.


MARCH

  • It was an honour to sit in the Common’s Chamber when President Zelensky delivered a deeply-moving address to MPs. I also spoke in a debate on the situation in Ukraine, focussing my speech on support for Ukrainian refugees and reducing our dependence on Russian oil and gas. You can see my contributions here and here.

  • Hosted a panel discussion on women’s rights in Afghanistan to mark International Women’s Day. On the same day, and one year on since the murder of Sarah Everard, I also secured a Westminster Hall debate on misogyny and sexual harassment in the Metropolitan Police. You can see the text of my full opening speech here, and a short clip here.

  • Introduced my Private Members’ Bill to prohibit upward-only rent reviews. This legislation, if enacted, would protect high street businesses from unaffordable rent increases out of line with market value. Unfortunately, the Bill was unable to progress due to time constraints.

  • Raised the Beverly Brook oil spill at Prime Minister’s Questions, and asked the PM to commit to strengthening the powers of the Office for Environmental Protection. You can view this question here.


I visited Don Fernandos to promote my Private Members’ Bill on upward-only rent reviews. I also met with volunteers from Refugees Welcome in Richmond and staff and volunteers from the Thames Landscape Strategy, a partnership with Habitats and Heritage.



During a visit to Galsworthy House, a nursing home in north Kingston, I helped bury a time capsule and enjoyed some tea with residents. I also attended a ‘Wear a Hat Day’ event hosted by Bee Smith Hats to raise money for brain tumour research.



APRIL

  • Appeared on Newsnight to outline what was missing from the Government’s Energy Security Strategy and put forward the Liberal Democrats’ plan to improve our provision of renewables. Click here to see part of my contribution.

  • Launched a campaign with constituent Philip Pirie to change the way suicide risk assessment is conducted. You can read our open letter on this issue here.

  • Following Partygate revelations and the news that the Metropolitan Police had issued fines to both Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, MPs decided that the Privileges Committee will lead an inquiry into whether the then-Prime Minister knowingly misled the House over parties in Downing Street.

In April, I visited the fantastic Oxygen Youth Club in north Kingston which has been supporting young people in the area for more than 20 years.


I also had the pleasure of visiting Kew Village Market to present donations to local charities.


MAY


  • Spoke in the debate on the Queen’s Speech to set out my key areas of concern for the legislative year ahead. I spoke about the importance of a property strategy to achieve economic growth, urging the Government to reduce barriers to trade and address labour and skills shortages. I also called for a comprehensive scheme to insulate homes, and pressed the Government on the need to improve access to health services, especially mental health. You can read my full speech here.

  • Challenged Home Office officials regarding the delays many constituents were facing to their passport applications. You can see my question to the Government here.

I also sponsored a reception in Parliament to celebrate the work of local charity Home-Start Richmond, Kingston and Hounslow to support young families.


Additionally, I met parents and campaigners at an NSPCC drop-in event that I sponsored to celebrate their 'Fight for a Fair Start' campaign. In May I also visited a number of train stations in the constituency with officials and community groups, along with a visit to Park Brewery in Kingston.


JUNE


  • Joined Jubilee Celebrations across the constituency to mark the historic reign of Her late Majesty the Queen.

  • Signed an open letter to the Prime Minister demanding the first scheduled deportation flights to Rwanda be stopped immediately. You can read a copy of this letter here.

  • Spoke in a debate on social housing to raise concern over the lack of accountability of housing associations to MPs and local councils. You can watch a clip of my contribution here.

  • Raised the issue of council tax banding during a debate on cost of living support. I highlighted that many of my constituents missed out on the council tax rebate as their homes fall into bands E and F, despite many being low-income households. You can see a clip of my speech here.


I hosted a coffee morning at Cafe L'Amandine in Ham and spoke with the owner Lamisse about the challenges her business is facing.

I also joined the team from Habitats and Heritage on the banks of the Thames to help clear the area of Himalayan Balsam. My other visits and activities involved speaking on a debate regarding the cost of living and joining a panel at Barnes Film Festival to discuss sewage and pollution in the local area.



JULY


  • Spoke in Parliament about the possibility of a toll on Hammersmith Bridge, and once again called for greater transparency from both the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and the Government. You can view my speech here.

  • Tabled an Early Day Motion which calls on the Government to end the discrepancy between the 5 per cent VAT which is paid by those who use private off-street electric vehicle chargers, and the 20 per cent paid by those who use public ones.

  • Spoke with local police about large gatherings of young people on Richmond Green and in other popular public spots. The police issued a section 35 dispersal order to break up large groups that were causing issues, and also to disperse people gathered on Teddington Lock for their own safety.


I had the pleasure of opening the Mortlake fair and also visited Kingston's National Citizen Service group. I attended the graduation ceremony for Anstee Bridge school along with beloved children's author Dame Jacqueline Wilson, one of the school's patrons.


Later in July, I met with Transport Minister Trudy Harrison to discuss the regulation of rickshaws. I also nominated The Mitre pub for the 2022 APCRG National Responsible Business Champion award and met the pub’s owner Chris French in Parliament. Back in the constituency, I had a productive meeting regarding the level crossing outside Thomson House School.


AUGUST

  • Set out a plan to scrap the expected 70% rise in energy bills that was due in October. To see a clip of me discussing the Liberal Democrats proposal on Times Radio, click here.

  • Named a Parliamentary Champion of the 'Long Live the Local' campaign for my work supporting the hospitality industry. You can read more about the campaign here.

I visited the Tideway Super Sewer which will run 16 miles from Barnes to Beckford. Once operational, it will nearly eliminate sewage discharges into the Thames.


I also visited Safe Space Richmond, an initiative spearheaded by the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, the Met Police, and South Western Railway to ensure people can reach safety and support while enjoying Richmond's nightlife.


SEPTEMBER

  • Participated in a special two-day session of tributes to Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in Parliament. You can view the full text here or watch a clip of my remarks here.

  • Attended a number of services for Her late Majesty, including at the Sri Raja Rajeswari Amman Temple in Stoneleigh, the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha in Southall and St. Mary’s Church in Twickenham.

  • Responded to Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng’s disastrous mini-budget in my role of Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Treasury. You can view a clip of my question here. I also went on BBC Newsnight to discuss the mini-budget. A clip of my interview can be found here.

  • Wrote to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to urge that homes with communal energy provision receive support that is equivalent to other households. You can read this letter here.

Queen Elizabeth II's visits to Richmond Park throughout her life


OCTOBER


  • Called for benefits and pensions to be increased in line with inflation.

  • Co-signed a letter from all Liberal Democrat MPs regarding the UK Government's response to protests in Iran. You can see a copy of this letter here.

  • Asked the Prime Minister to rule out Government support for a Third Runway at Heathrow. You can see a clip of my question here.

  • Wrote to the Minister for Roads to demand a meeting of the Hammersmith Bridge Task Force in light of the selection of the "double decker" solution for the strengthening works to the Bridge. Read the text of this letter here or watch a clip of my interview with ITV on the topic here.


I had the pleasure of meeting the four extremely impressive sixth formers who joined my office for work experience in their half term break.


I also spoke at the Lloyds Banking Group’s Black Business Reception, in my role as the Co-Chair of the APPG for Ethnic Minority Business Owners.



NOVEMBER


  • Responded to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement. In my speech I challenged the Conservative's unfair tax hikes, failure to support those with soaring mortgage payments, and their planned cuts to public services. You can see my question to the Chancellor here.

  • Hosted a roundtable with local publicans to discuss the numerous challenges facing the hospitality industry. I subsequently raised these concerns in Parliament, and also wrote a letter to the Minister responsible for hospitality. You can view a clip of my speech here, and a copy of the letter here.

  • Lead a debate to demand that the Government ban flights coming into Heathrow between 11 pm and 6 am. Since the debate, Heathrow has pledged to avoid a repeat of the chaos the airport experienced this Christmas. If you would like to see my opening statement at the debate, click here.



Meeting with local publicans.




I also visited Mogden Sewage Works to see the process of sewage decontamination in action and learn more about the work being done to ensure sewage overflows do not continue to pollute our waterways.




DECEMBER


  • Challenged the Prime Minister at PMQ's to put a temporary block on household repossessions and rental evictions over Christmas. Should you wish to view my PMQ, you can do so here.

  • Contacted Ofcom, the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and Royal Mail to clarify the issues Royal Mail faced this winter and ask that all responsible organisations find a solution to this issue as quickly as possible. You can watch a clip of my question to BEIS here.

  • Met with senior representatives from SWR to understand why service has been so severely reduced and wrote to the Minister for Rail, Huw Merriman, urging the Government to work with SWR to ease disruption caused to residents and local businesses. You can read the text of the letter here.

  • Hosted a coffee morning with Sir Ed Davey MP for Hong Kongers living in our two constituencies. We discussed many important issues relating to BNO visas, security concerns and the difficulties many are facing joining the work force.



I also visited Christ's School for their citizenship day and visited the Christmas markets in East Sheen and the Latchmere Recreation Ground.









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