I was deeply concerned to hear about the stabbing that took place near Kings Road in Richmond on Monday afternoon. I know how much anxiety this crime is causing in the local neighbourhood. I spoke to Borough Commander CS Lis Chapple about it yesterday and was very sorry to hear that the victim died yesterday morning. The incident was believed to be a personal dispute and the police are pursuing a specific suspect in relation to it. I have a follow up meeting with CS Chapple next week and will ask what further steps are being taken to tackle crime in the local area.
GREAT BRITISH RAILWAY PLAN
Yesterday I spoke in the House of Commons in response to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps' statement on the future of Britain's railways. I welcomed news of the new flexible season ticket, especially for any constituents who continue working partly from home after the pandemic is over. I then asked the Secretary what protections he planned to put in place against increasing rail fares.
The secretary assured me that existing regimes for capping rail fares will remain in place and commuters will be protected from unreasonable fare hikes. You can see my question and the response here.
OPPOSING THE FREE TRADE AGREEMENT WITH AUSTRALIA
On Wednesday I wrote to Liz Truss, Secretary of State for International Trade, about serious concerns I have with the free trade agreement she is negotiating with Australia.
The agreement would allow tariff-free access to the UK market for Australian agricultural products, including animal products. Australia has lower animal welfare standards than the UK; British farmers wlll be unable to compete with cheap Australian meat. A tariff-free trade agreement will not allow us to support British farmers while simultaneously preserving our high animal welfare standards, both of which the Government promised to do.
I have similar concerns about protecting our environmental and food hygiene standards. I fear this agreeement will set a precedent for lowering our standards in order to make trade agreements with other countries, including the USA and Brazil.
You can see my letter to the Secretary of State for International Trade here.
STANDING UP FOR SINGERS
I know many of my constituents enjoy singing in choirs and have been looking forward to resuming this beneficial activity. A number of you have written to me about the Government mandate that non-professional group singing must be limited to six people. I have to confess I do not know why group exercise indoors without masks is allowed while group singing is not. I think the guidance on exercising in a group indoors in a Covid-safe manner could be applied to singing as well.
I have submitted a Written Question asking Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden asking him to amend regulations to allow more than six people to sing non-professionally indoors. I have also written a letter to him, further explaining my views. You can see my letter here.
NEW MENTAL HEALTH INITIATIVES
In March 2020, the Orchid Mental Health Emergency Service was created by Southwest London and St George's Mental Health Trust as a temporary service in response to the pandemic. Orchis was designed as an alternative to Accident and Emergency for people experiencing a mental health crisis. As of next month Orchid will be integrated with other crisis support provided across the Trust as part of the ‘Coral Mental Health Crisis Hub’.
Coral will deliver mobile assessment and crisis support to people in Kingston, Merton, Richmond, Sutton, and Wandsworth. The new service will allow people in crisis to be cared for away from A&E or an acute mental health facility. Access and referral to this service will be via Southwest London and St George's Mental Health Support Line (0800 028 8000), which is linked with the NHS 111 service.
For those who are interested in mental health issues, Southwest London and St George's Mental Health Trust is inviting local residents to take part in the South London Listens mental health summit on Wednesday 16 June 2021 from 6-8pm. They will present urgent actions to tackle the mental health crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The plans identify four key areas that need to be tackled: social isolation, work and wages, young people and parents, and access to services.
Those who are interested in mental health care might also like to sign up for Southwest London St George's Mental Health Trust's quarterly newsletter for local residents. To subscribe to their newsletter email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line ‘Stakeholder Bulletin subscription’.
WATCH OUT FOR EACH OTHER DURING GLOBAL ROAD SAFETY WEEK
Transport for London (TfL) and the police are encouraging road users to watch out for each other in a new campaign this week, following a worrying increase in the number of young men being tragically killed or seriously injured in motorcycle collisions.
People riding motorcycles face the greatest likelihood of death or serious injury of anyone driving on the roads. Provisional data for 2020 shows that 31 people in London were tragically killed in a collision involving a power two-wheel (PTW) vehicle, such as a motorcycle, moped or scooter. The great majority of victims are men; nearly half of those killed or seriously injured are young men under 29. TfL is asking all road users to watch out for each other to eliminate people being killed or seriously injured in collisions.
Over the course of the pandemic the number of home deliveries has soared, which has led to the number of PTW vehicles on London's streets increasing dramatically. As the delivery, courier and servicing industries continue to respond to the impacts of pandemic and Londoners continue to rely on their services, TfL is campaigning for both PTW riders and other drivers to watch out for each other, especially when turning, helping to keep all road users safe.
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINE?
If you have questions about the Covid-19 vaccine, NHS London invites you to a discussion about it on Instagram Live on Sunday 23 May at 7pm. Join @NHSEnglandLDN on Instagram to put your questions to Dr Oge Ilozu, GP and Senior Clinical Advisor for the NHS London Covid Vaccination Programme and Dr Amalina Bakri, General Surgeon Registrar and PhD Clinical Research Fellow, who will help you make an informed decision about taking the vaccine.
NEW FILM ON RICHMOND PARK'S BIRDS
Conservation charity Friends of Richmond Park has produced a new film about the wonderful range of birds that both migrate to and reside within Richmond Park. Richmond Park's Birds: Marvellous Migrants & Remarkable Residents is now available to view via YouTube. It features clips of dozens of birds with their songs and descriptions about them. Watch the film
NEW 'TALK RICHMOND' PODCAST ON THE FUTURE OF THE HIGH STREET
What does the post-pandemic future look like for our high streets and town centres? How will they recover and adapt to changing consumer behaviour? Has the pandemic created new opportunities for our high streets and town centres? Ojay McDonald, the Chief Executive of the Association of Town and City Management, joins Talk Richmond to answer these questions and share his expertise on the new ‘industrial revolution’ and how high streets/town centres should ultimately aim to bring people together. You can search for Talk Richmond on your usual podcast app or listen to it here.
PETERSHAM AND HAM SEA SCOUTS
The Petersham and Ham Sea Scouts will be moving into their new scout hut this week. Construction on the new hut started in February 2020 prior to lockdown. Following the demolition of the old hut, building work started in May 2020 and continued throughout lockdowns before construction was completed this month. I am delighted that this historic and beloved local institution has a new home.
BARNES MUSIC FESTIVAL - MAY 18-31
This year’s Barnes Music Festival programme explores the connections between Music & Theatre. With a focus on small ensembles, solo recitals, duos, trios and quartets and together with a socially-distanced audience and (wherever possible) two performances per evening, they hope that as many people as possible will be able to enjoy the festival safely. Events across the two weeks of the festival will cover a wide range of musical genres, styles and periods with an emphasis on story-telling. They will be staging two chamber operas, recounting the stories of musicians and theatrical events including Shakespeare, Panufnik, Stravinsky and Brandreth, and showcasing some of the world’s best musicians, amongst them Lucy Gould, Chris Glynn, James Way and Daniel Kharitonov. With the Barnes Young Musician of the Year competition and our schools programme, as well as our new Pop-Up Musicians, they hope to inspire the next generation. More details and tickets can be found here.
NATIONAL WALKING MONTH
Living Streets is giving you the chance to win money and prizes for pledging to walk this month. Making short trips on foot is better for our minds and bodies than driving, and it can have positive impacts on our neighbourhoods too. Here are some walking trails you may enjoy:
Kingston Trails have created three trails to encourage you to get out and about in the borough, stopping off at historic places, nature spots and famous landmarks. There is so much to see and they will help you to discover it!
Kingston Ramblers lead walks in Surrey and surrounding counties. Everyone is welcome and there is no charge.
Kingston Tour Guides will be resuming their walking tours of historic Kingston upon Thames from 23 May. Visit their website for more info and to book.
Surrey is the ideal place to explore on foot. Whether you're an adventurous walker or prefer a short stroll, there's a walk to suit you.
HAPPY SPACES IN KINGSTON
Kingston First and Kingston Council are leading a public realm initiative to create inclusive happy spaces within the town centre for local residents, visitors and business community to unwind, enjoy and connect with nature. Local landscape architect Davies White is currently engaging with the community on the transformation of two key town centre locations. Join them for in-person COVID-safe engagement events, open to all with no booking required:
Sat 22 May 11am - 1pm - Riverside Meet & Greet at Eagle Brewery Wharf
Sat 22 May 2 - 4pm - Woodland Craft and Nature Workshop in Memorial Gardens