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Richmond Park News: 2023 in Review

Updated: Jan 5

The past year has brought many new challenges and surprises, but throughout it all, it has been a pleasure and a privilege to represent Richmond Park.


As the year draws to a close, I wanted to look back on some of the work I have done, the local issues we've faced and the events in Westminster which have touched all our lives. With an election looming in 2024, the next 12 months are likely to bring huge changes to the country, but whatever happens, we will face them together.


Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!



JANUARY


  • Condemned the Government's reduction of energy support package for businesses and other non-domestic consumers and wrote to the Secretary of State for Business to ask that they put in place more protections for small and medium sized businesses.

  • Urged Rail Minister Huw Merriman to get the Department for Transport to work with SWR to bring an end to the chaos caused by train strikes over the Christmas period.

  • Met with representatives from Thames Water to express the communities opposition to the planned Teddington DRA, pressing them to hold additional consultation events and genuine consider the community's needs.

  • Attended an event in Parliament to mark Less Survivable Cancers Awareness Day. This event was organised by the Less Survivable Cancer Trust (LSCT) which represents six less survivable cancers - lung, liver, brain, oesophageal, pancreatic and stomach - with an average five-year survival rate of just 16%.




  • Joined the British Tamil Forum at a reception to celebrate Thai Pongal and Tamil Heritage Month. Since being elected I have been calling on the Government to work with international partners to support democratic and political reform in the Tamil homeland of Sri Lanka.


FEBRUARY


  • In February, President Zelensky spoke directly to parliamentarians in Westminster Hall thanking the UK for it's support and calling on the Government to deepen its commitment to Ukraine.

  • Held a debate on Artificial Intelligence and the Creative Industries to prevent writers, artists, and musicians having their work mined by AIs, with the minister agreeing not to drop current protections on copyright. You can read a full transcript of the debate here, and watch a short clip of my speech here.

  • Challenged Sadiq Khan to restore the 213 and 57 bus service to their original frequency after he had slashed them by nearly 20% earlier in the year.

  • Met with the Barnes Police to raise the issue of smash and grab robberies on the high street and call for more resources to be deployed to Richmond Park.




  • Joined the Richmond Chamber of Commerce and local business owners to discuss the issues they have been facing and understand what businesses in our community need to weather the recent difficult economic conditions.




MARCH


  • Responded to the March Budget in my capacity as Liberal Democrat Treasury and Business spokesperson urging the Government to do more to help families struggling with energy bills.

  • Met with Foster and Partners to discuss and review their proposal for Hammersmith Bridge, urging the Government and LBHF to accelerate their timeframe for the works and get the temporary truss in place as soon as possible.

  • Supported the right to peacefully protest and voted in favour of several amendments to the Public Order Bill that would have tackled some of its most draconian measures and prevented the bill from cracking down on protestors.

  • Joined the Friends of Richmond Park at a ceremony planting the last tree in the new woodland they have planted in honour of the Queen. It was wonderful to share this moment with Sir David Attenborough and Clare Balding whose personal commitment to the Park matches my own.



  • Met with dozens of constituents for a coffee morning at the Poppy Factory in Richmond. The budget was very much at the forefront of everyone's minds and it was fascinating to hear so much spirited debate on the economy, the cost of living and Brexit.



APRIL


  • At Deputy Prime Minister's Questions, I challenged Dominic Raab on NHS figures that recently revealed that GP numbers across the country had fallen by 850 since January 2019 after the Government committed to recruit 6,000 new GPs.

  • Met with activists from Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace to discuss supporting the United for Warm Homes Campaign.  I was very pleased to be able to offer the campaign my full backing and I look forward to supporting activists’ efforts in 2024.

  • Visited the wonderful Cambrian Centre in Richmond last week to see the new lunch service being offered there by the Real Junk Food Project. The Real Junk Food Project is a Richmond and Twickenham charity that collects food that is nearly out of date from grocery stores and uses it to provide a "pay as you feel" lunch at the community centre every Wednesday. For more information on what the Cambrian Centre offers, click here.

  • Used the Public Accounts Committee session with the Department for Transport to ask senior civil servants whether they could provide me with any further update on the plan to re-open Hammersmith Bridge. You can see a clip of my question here.



  • Worked with local councillors Tony Paterson and Anton McNulty-Howard, to get SWR to install sounds insulation near Mortlake station and reduce the noise from passing trains.

  • Met my constituent Mary Tester to have a look at one of the signs that she and her fellow members of Thames Seal Watch have installed along the towpath in several key locations in the borough. Thames Seal Watch is an organisation created to increase community education, awareness and protection for Thames seals, and the signs are part of a government backed national campaign called Give Seals Space.

  • Meeting Kew constituents at the Coach and Horses on Tuesday for a coffee morning to discuss local and national issues including voter ID law and the need for a police station in the constituency.



MAY


  • In May, King Charles was crowned at Westminster Abbey with celebrations across our community. For my part, I attended street parties in both Richmond and Kingston where enormous crowds turned out to celebrate completely undaunted by rain.

  • Launched a petition to Sadiq Khan and the Metropolitan Police, calling on the Mayor and the Met to reopen a police station in Richmond Park. Thousands of people signed the petition and have supported the campaign for more community policing in the constituency.

  • Challenged Rishi Sunak at PMQs about the exodus of investment from the UK in recent years. This issue has been a serious problem for the UK since our exit from the European Union, and Sunak has failed to counter it in any meaningful way. Should you wish to see a clip of my question, you can do so here.

  • Uncovered that 80 muggings a day (or 30,000 a year) are going unsolved, with the crime effectively being decriminalised, I called on the Government to take urgent action by putting more boots on the ground and more police stations in communities.



  • Visited Ham House to view the Cassel Hospital Centenary Quilt - an inspiring project led by former Cassel Hospital patient, palliative care nurse and lecturer Hannah Cadogan. The centenary quilt will consist of exactly 100 ‘diamonds’, produced by patients, carers and staff past and present, and aims to reflect the hospital's fascinating history.




JUNE


  • Met with members of Richmond Park's thriving Iranian community at Diba Persian Restaurant in Richmond, to discuss the current situation in Iran and the Government’s response. After the meeting, I took the opportunity to speak in Parliament to raise their concerns and urge the Government to take appropriate action in response to the atrocities the Iranian regime has committed.

  • Spoke in favour of Lords’ amendments to the Retained EU Law Bill, which would have ensured that the Government could not reduce levels of environmental protections and would increase Parliamentary scrutiny of new legislation. In my speech, I highlighted concern from local residents about the Thames Water Teddington DRA scheme planned for Ham Lands.

  • Spoke with Paul Farthing from Shooting Star Hospice in Hampton to support the campaign by children’s charity ‘Together for Short Lives’ to save the Children’s Hospice Grant. After meeting with Paul, I wrote to the Minister who I am extremely pleased to say extending funding for another year.




  • Delivered a presentation to students and parents from Kingston schools (Tiffin, Tiffin Girls, Kingston Grammar and The Kingston Academy) on my career and the wider career options available to those interested in politics.

  • Co-sponsored a Bill introduced by my Liberal Democrat colleague Tim Farron to crack down on puppy smuggling. I was extremely disappointed by the Government’s shameful decision to scrap the Kept Animals Bill earlier in the year which allows traffickers to continue to exploit the pet market.

  • Held a debate calling on the Government to make the intentional disturbance of seals an offense. While the minister's response during the debate lacked substance, following the debate the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs committee recommended extending protections enshrined in the Wildlife and Countryside act to seals across the UK





JULY


  • Voted dozens of times to amend the Illegal Migration Bill to protect refugees from vulnerable groups including women, children and victims of modern slavery.

  • Put forward a motion to Parliament calling on the Government to block the controversial Teddington Direct River Abstraction scheme.

  • Worked with MPs, London Assembly Members, and local authorities to press Heathrow to ban night flights, provide more funding for sound insulation to residents below the flight path and improve their Noise Action plan.

  • Questioned senior Department for Transport Civil Servants regarding the ongoing closure of Hammersmith Bridge and the temporary closure of Wandsworth Bridge.




  • Spoke to English as a second language learners at Richmond and Hillcroft Community College about the role of Parliament and MPs in the UK.

  • Challenged Maria Caulfield, the Minister for Women’s Health, to ensure the Government allows access to fertility preservation treatment for women whose fertility is at risk due to severe endometriosis.


AUGUST


  • Spoke with over 500 constituents during my series of Summer Briefings in Richmond, Kew, Tudor, Coombe Hill, and Barnes. During the sessions we touched upon topics ranging from the Government's mishandling of the economy, to community safety, and Thames Water's sewage for water scheme.

  • Took part in protests against the closure of Mortlake Ticket Office and reduction in staffing across the train network, with the outpouring of opposition nationwide forcing operators to back track on their original plans.



  • Supported the Liberal Democrat group in the London Assembly in their successful calls to expand the ULEZ scrappage scheme to all affected London residents.

  • Met with Hong Konger residents at Kingston Library to hear about their experiences as part of this growing community. In the wake of this meeting, I wrote to the Foreign Secretary to ask that he do everything in his power to reassure British nationals from Hong Kong that the UK Government will protect and support any individuals targeted by the Beijing Government.



SEPTEMBER


  • Spoke against Thames Water's plans to construct a pipeline across Ham Lands in a Westminster Hall debate secured by my colleague Munira Wilson MP. Watch a clip of the debate here.

  • Worked alongside Richmond Council, Liberal Democrat London Assembly Members, Google, and Apple to divert as much traffic as possible away from Manor Circus Roundabout and the surrounding streets.

  • Took part in the Thames Path Challenge to raise money for Shooting Star Hospice and draw attention to the fantastic work they for families in our community.



  • Reported Royal Mail to Ofcom for their failure to reliably deliver to areas across the constituency, requesting a full investigation of the company and its practices.

  • Challenged Sadiq Khan to explain why he has not funded the repairs to Hammersmith Bridge despite greenlighting the £1.2 billion Silvertown Tunnel.

  • Took part in a session for the Public Accounts Committee, challenging the DfE to explain its use of RAAC in schools over the past two decades.

  • Hosted a reception in Parliament to mark the one year anniversary of the tragic death of Masha Jina Amini at the hands of the Iranian 'morality police’.




OCTOBER


  • On October 7th, Hamas fighters broke through the fence separating the Gaza Strip and Israel, killing over 1,139 men, women and children prompting a massive military retaliation by the Israeli Defence Force.

  • Launched a campaign calling on the Government to wave the cost of court transcripts for victims of crimes. This came after I met with my constituent Juliana Terlizzi who was quoted £7,500 for a transcript of the 10-day trial in which her attacker was convicted of rape.

  • Met with the National Trust to speak to them about the impact the Teddington Direct River Abstraction scheme would have on Ham House and the surrounding community.

  • Met with a group of international students and faculty from Kingston University to discuss the challenges they face studying in the UK including the cost of visas and housing.

  • Launched a campaign to get a regulated, licensed and governmentally supported pedicabs service onto Hammersmith Bridge when it reopens. So far, I have received support from the Mayor's Commissioner for Walking and Cycling and a cross party array of Peers and MPs.



  • Visited the Full of Life Fair at Twickenham Stadium. This fair is a fantastic initiative which brings together local services, businesses, and volunteer groups in one location, making it easy for older residents to find the support they need and get involved in activities they may enjoy.




NOVEMBER


  • King Charles delivered his first speech in Parliament as King as part of the State Opening of Parliament. The King’s Speech set out the Governments legislative agenda for the year ahead and contained 21 pieces of legislation. This is the fewest number of Bills in almost 10 years, many of which had already been announced or carried over from the previous session.

  • Voted in favour of two amendments to the King's speech which called for a full bilateral ceasefire in Gaza and for a two state solution the Israel Palestine region; alongside signing a motion in parliament to the same effect.

  • Responded to the Autumn Statement, highlighting that the Government will in real terms be cutting funding to the NHS by about £5 billion and that their tax cuts will leave the public no better off due to the freeze in income tax and NI thresholds.

  • Joined a parliamentary delegation to Zambia to learn more about the work of Public Accounts Committee's across the Commonwealth.



  • Met with officers from the Coombe Vale and South Richmond Safer Neighbourhood Teams to learn more about their work and what I can do to support the police in our community.

  • Spoke in a debate on Hammersmith Bridge, calling on the Government to establish better lines of communication with residents and support a new interim transport solution across the river when the carriageway reopens.




DECEMBER


  • Launched a report in my capacity as Chair of the APPG for Ethnicity Transplantation and Transfusion which highlights the urgent need to increase the number of people registered as blood, organ and stem cell donors, particularly from mixed and minority ethnic backgrounds. You can read our report here.

  • Debated my amendment to the Victims Bill calling for action on the cost of court transcripts, gaining a commitment from the Government to run a pilot scheme which would allow victims of sexual assault to access crown court sentencing remarks free of charge.

  • Voted against the revised Rwanda Bill, urging the Government to reconsider this inhuman, expensive, and ineffective scheme.

  • Met with the head of the Environment Agency and DEFRA Minister Robbie Moore MP to brief them on the damage the Teddington DRA would do to our community and consider blocking the scheme.



  • Opposed moving paediatric cancer care services away from St Georges Hospital to the Evelina in Lambeth due to the impact the move would have on both parents and their families.

  • Joined the Samaritans at their Kingston Office to learn about the difficulties many people face at Christmas and how I can support the charity's work in parliament.

  • Spoke at the Richmond White Ribbon walk about the impact of violence against women on our community and what we need to do in Westminster to stamp out this horrific offense.



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