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Richmond Park News: 21 July 2023

I am pleased to welcome another Liberal Democrat MP to Parliament following the election of Sarah Dyke as the Member for Somerton and Frome yesterday. I know how much it will mean to residents there to have a local person representing them, and I know how assiduously Sarah will champion their interests.



40th ANNIVERSARY OF THE ANTI-TAMIL BLACK JULY POGROM

On Wednesday, I spoke at a Parliamentary event hosted by the British Tamils Forum to mark the 40th anniversary of the anti-Tamil pogroms that took place in Sri Lanka in 1983, commonly referred to as Black July.


At the time of this terrible atrocity, the international community failed to provide the appropriate response to ensure the Sri Lankan state would not continue to allow human rights violations against Tamils. Twenty six years of bloody conflict ensued, during which 100,000 people were killed. Many more – predominantly Tamils – remain missing today.


It is clear that domestic mechanisms for accountability in Sri Lanka have eroded and failed over the past few years. Many of those responsible for crimes against the Tamil population have not accepted responsibility for their actions.

It is a privilege to represent my Tamil constituents in Parliament and to use my role to call on the UK Government to recognise the crimes committed against Tamils as a genocide and to do all it can to support peaceful political reform in Sri Lanka.


Sarah speaking at the Tamil Genocide event


WEEKEND MEDIA APPEARANCES

Last Sunday, I was invited to speak on both Times Radio and BBC Radio regarding the issues of the week, and primarily the topic of inflation. I took the opportunity to set out why I feel the Government is not doing enough to support struggling households and businesses, and what the Liberal Democrats and I would propose instead. Particularly, I addressed the fact that the Government cut business energy support back in March, which has led to skyrocketing costs in restaurants, bars and in food manufacturing plants. These have then been passed on to consumers at the till. I would like to see business energy support reintroduced, which would help address inflation on basic food products in our supermarkets.

Over the summer, I will continue to campaign for further proposals to support those struggling with the cost of living, and to hold the Government to account over their economic record.

QUESTIONS ON WANDSWORTH AND HAMMERSMITH BRIDGES

On Wednesday in the Public Accounts Committee, I took the time to question the top civil servant at the Department of Transport regarding the impending temporary closure of Wandsworth Bridge, and the ongoing situation with Hammersmith Bridge.

The Permanent Secretary of the Department confirmed to me that she will liaise with Transport for London to make sure that there is minimal extra congestion caused by the closure, and will then write to me to address why Wandsworth Bridge has been able to be repaired so quickly, when Hammersmith Bridge remains shut to road traffic.

OPENING OF FUSEBOX CREATIVE SPACE


I was delighted to attend the launch of a new space for creative young people in Kingston, which was officially opened by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh. Located under John Lewis on Kingston’s riverside, FUSEBOX was developed by Creative Youth in partnership with Kingston Council. The stunning space, built around the footings of the original 12th Century Kingston Bridge, has been carefully renovated to feature areas for performance, exhibitions, creative practice, socialising, co-creation and more.


I enjoyed looking at the inaugural exhibition in the space, created by local young people, and to see the handover of the leadership to two young creatives, whose ideas, energy and passion will see it become a local treasure for residents of all ages.


Sarah and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh at Fusebox opening


REGISTER FOR ONE OF MY SUMMER BRIEFING EVENTS!


Richmond Park constituents are invited to join me for one of my upcoming Summer Briefings. I will be holding these events around the constituency to engage with residents on local and national issues.


At each Briefing I will give a short update on my work in Parliament and share some of my priorities for the next year. I will give attendees an overview of my roles as the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Treasury and Business and a member of the Public Accounts Committee. I will also tell you about my work in the constituency on some of the local issues that residents write to me the most about.


I hope to spend most of the briefing, though, answering your questions and hearing your views about both national and local issues.


I am doing five Summer Briefings during the week of July 31, at the locations below. Attendance is free and open to all constituents, but attendees must register in advance on my website.






TRAIN STRIKES


This week, the UK and London will face yet another round of strikes as the RMT and ASLEF unions continue to call on rail operators to improve working conditions and guarantee job security.


Train services across the nation will be running a severely reduced service tomorrow and on Saturday 29th. There is however some positive news. The unions have lifted the ban on overtime and rest day working for the coming week, meaning regular service should resume until Monday 31st when SWR will again be running a reduced timetable.


Unfortunately, TfL services are going to be heavily impacted from Sunday 23rd to Saturday 29th. Trains on Sunday will end at around 7 pm and while there will be a good service on Monday by late morning, travellers should expect an extremely limited Tube service the rest of the week.


Operators are advising to only travel when absolutely necessary and to check your journey before travelling. Use TfL's travel planner to check your journey and visit their website to find out more.


TEDDINGTON LOCK UPDATE


Repairs to the footbridge at Teddington Lock continue, including steel repairs, replacement of the southern approach ramp and application of new protective paint. Contractors have promised to maintain access for users throughout the majority of the works by using special, lightweight scaffold access systems. If you want to be kept up to date about repairs you can sign up to receive information about the footbridge works.


With summer here again, Richmond Council is once again asking young people not to jump off any of the bridges, including Teddington Lock. Residents will remember the tragedy last summer when 14-year-old Brian Sasu lost his life jumping into the River Thames from a bridge at Tagg’s Island, Hampton. In partnership with the Teddington RNLI Lifeboat Station and London Fire Brigade Richmond, the Council has released a new film to raise awareness around water safety for young people. For example, many may not know that in addition to the risks from currents and underwater debris, cold water shock is one of the biggest risks of swimming in the River Thames, even in summer.


Parents and young people are encouraged to find out out more about local water safety and how to enjoy the Thames safely, and you can watch the film here. If you see someone in danger in the water, please dial 999 immediately.


Sarah's work experience pupils in Westminster
Well done to my second group of work experience pupils this week!

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