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Richmond Park News: 21 January 2022


On Monday, South Western Railway (SWR) introduced a reduced timetable attributed to Omicron-related staff shortages. I am really concerned by the new timetable, which has reduced peak-hour trains running from Mortlake to Waterloo from four per hour to two per hour. This is a service that is absolutely critical for many of my constituents. I have received correspondence from a number of constituents who are struggling to go about their daily lives because of the changes. My view is that with infection rates slowing down in many parts of London, we should also see staff shortages decline. The new timetable should not be needed.

I wrote to SWR last week, and yesterday, at a meeting between Twickenham MP Munira Wilson, Richmond Council Leader Gareth Roberts and South Western Railway's Managing Director, Claire Mann I was pleased to hear that several services have already been reinstated. I welcome their pledge to return to a full timetable following updated work from home guidance as it is clear that urgent action is required to address the enormous pressures Richmond residents are facing right now.

With that in mind I have sought to raise the issue through the media, generating interest in both the Evening Standard and the Richmond and Twickenham Times.


In Wednesday’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing we had the opportunity to question government officials about the Australia free trade agreement. In June 2020 a scoping assessment estimated that the deal would produce up to £900m of UK exports to Australia, but in December 2021 an impact assessment put that estimate at £6.2bn. This is an extraordinary rise and I would like to understand how it happened. I am not wholly convinced by the answer afforded to me by the Department for International Trade Permanent Secretary. I will, this coming week, meet with a number of department officials about this matter to gain a better understanding of what exactly happened to produce such an increase in projections. You can see part of my contribution here.

I would also like more information about the environmental impact of this trade deal. With imports of beef from Australia set to rise considerably, it is important to understand what kind of transport-related emissions increase we will see. I have submitted a number of parliamentary questions to find out whether the government has undertaken any analysis on this, and if so, when they will be publishing the results.


I recently submitted a parliamentary question to the Department for Transport about the status of KPMG’s independent report into TfL’s finances. Business leaders have long been calling on the department to publish the report – which cost the taxpayer £1.2m. I was keen to find out the cause for the delay as I believe this information should be made public.

The response I received was, unfortunately, quite disappointing. It belittled the mess the Government has made of TfL’s long-term financial viability. Short-term settlements will not be sufficient, and I think this may be exactly the conclusion the KPMG report reached. We need a fully informed debate around how TfL can get back on its feet and survive for years to come. That makes the release of the report, even in redacted form, absolutely essential. I subsequently spoke with the Evening Standard and was pleased they decided to cover it, as this critical issue for Londoners needs full attention.