The Prime Minister announced her resignation yesterday after just forty-four days in office. Conservative MPs will now submit their nominations for their next leader over the weekend. If more than one candidate obtains 100 nominations by Monday, ballots will be sent to Conservative party members, who will have until Friday 28 October to cast their votes.
After selecting two disastrous Prime Ministers, I do not believe the Conservative party should choose another Prime Minister for the whole nation. This country has already suffered enough from the Conservative party's internal instability. It is vital that a new Government has a broad-based democratic mandate, and the Liberal Democrats join other opposition parties in calling for a General Election to secure one. I spoke to BBC Radio London yesterday to explain my thoughts. You can listen to a clip of my interview here.
The most pressing issue for households right now is the rising cost of living. I am particularly concerned about proposed cuts to public services and the refusal to commit to uprating benefits and pensions in line with inflation. I highlighted my concerns in a Parliamentary debate on the economy on Wednesday. Click here to read my speech in full, and click here to watch a short clip.
I would like to reassure constituents that despite ongoing chaos at the top level of Government, the work of my office supporting constituents goes on as usual. Please do not hesitate to email if you have any concerns that I am able to assist with.
PROTESTS IN IRAN
Many constituents have contacted me to voice their concerns over the excessive use of force by the Iranian authorities following widespread protests across Iran. These protests were sparked by the shocking death of Mahsa Amini, a 22 year old Kurdish woman who was accused of violating the laws around the hijab and who died after being arrested by the morality police.
The treatment of Mahsa Amini and the crackdown on these protests are appalling human rights violations. I am pleased that the UK Government has sanctioned the Iranian morality police. However further action must be taken to ensure the rights of Iranians are upheld.
I have written to the Foreign Secretary alongside my Liberal Democrat colleagues to set out the further steps that should be taken. We are calling for the UK Government to prepare for a resettlement scheme for Iranian women and to convene an international summit in London to coordinate a joint response to this crisis. You can read a copy of this letter here.
BIN THE WET WIPES CAMPAIGN
On Monday I was pleased to attend a Parliamentary reception for a preview of the new ‘Bin the Wipes’ campaign, which will encourage the public to put wet wipes in the bin rather than flushing them down the toilet. You can read some more about the campaign and its aims here.
Wet wipes are a key contributor to water pollution, including sewage being discharged into the Thames. Over 90% of the matter in sewer blockages are wet wipes and other unflushables. These build up, usually congealing with fats, which reduces sewer capacity and increases the risk of pollution from sewer bursts or spills from storm overflows. I ask all of my constituents to kindly dispose of all wet wipes with their household waste instead of flushing them.
The event was hosted by Putney MP Fleur Anderson who introduced a Private Member’s Bill to Parliament last year which would ban the use of plastic in wet wipes. I am pleased to support Fleur’s campaign, and it is encouraging that large retailers such as Tesco and boots have already banned the sale of wet wipes containing plastic. However, there needs to be legislation in place to ensure that other retailers follow suit and encourage a move towards fully biodegradable wipes.
BLACK BUSINESS RECEPTION
On Tuesday evening, I had the pleasure of speaking at Lloyds Banking Group’s Black Business Reception, in my role as the Co-Chair of the APPG for Ethnic Minority Business Owners. The event brought together leaders from the Black business community, Black business owners and entrepreneurs, during Black History Month to share their experiences and examine how businesses, financial services and government can work together to help Black-owned business thrive.
In the panel discussion I raised the work of the APPG in improving access to data on ethnic minority businesses, which would then enable both Government and the private sector to better target policies to support them. The reception was a great success, and it was agreed that in these challenging economic times, more needs to be done to support business owners, and especially those facing structural disadvantages. I look forward to continuing in my role as Co-Chair of the APPG, and working with my Liberal Democrat colleagues to support business owners across Richmond Park, and the UK as a whole.
FOOD BANK EMERGENCY
This week, the Trussell Trust, Britain's largest food bank provider, announced its first ever emergency appeal. They are seeing an incredibly high level of demand for their services and are depleting their winter reserves faster than they can restock them. In Richmond, the number of people requiring food banks or other charitable services jumped by almost 42% last month.
It is appalling that so many people are being forced to rely on food banks. The government needs to recognise that our most vulnerable residents are being pushed over the edge, and that they need proper support. This week, I wrote to the Chancellor to push him to raise benefits and pensions in line with inflation. The guiding principle of the UK welfare system must be to ensure that none are left unable to meet their or their children's basic needs. Right now the state is failing to maintain this standard, and the Chancellor must act before it is too late. You can read the text of my letter here.
HAMMERSMITH BRIDGE - STABILISATION WORK HAS BEGUN!
Earlier today, I spoke with the team at London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, who have confirmed that after months of offsite testing, contractors have begun in-filling the structures' cast iron pedestals with a concrete-fibre blend. My understanding is that this blend is necessary to ensure that the pedestals can maintain their integrity under the enormous compression of the bridge’s platform while also remaining elastic enough to compensate for the expansion and contraction of the bridge. Proper repair and testing of the pedestals is particularly crucial as they will be expected to bear not only the weight of the bridge itself, but the temporary truss that is planned to sit above the bridge, allowing vehicles to cross while the strengthening works are completed. After years of waiting, it is a wonderful to hear that the stabilisation works are progressing. If you would like to be kept up to date with progress on the bridge, please send me an email on email@example.com.
POLICING IN RICHMOND AND KINGSTON
Richmond Inspector Jon McLaughlin of the Met Police has written to update me on plans in place for this weekend in Richmond town centre, following recent crime and ASB incidents there on weekends. He has authorised a Section 35 dispersal order beginning from 4:00pm on 21/10/2022 to 7:00am on 23/10/2022.
The police's intention will be to engage and divert any youths who turn up to premises where they can interact in a safe environment. As well as youth workers being present on Friday night, schools officers will be in attendance. The police will also be undertaking visits to vendors selling alcohol to ensure licensees are complying with the law and aware of the ongoing situation.
The dispersal zone is not just for Richmond town centre - it runs from Old Deer Park all the way down along both sides of the river to Hampton Court, including Kingston town centre, Twickenham town centre and Bushy Park. Messages will go out to the secondary schools in both Kingston and Richmond to ensure parents and teenagers are aware of the dispersal zone.
VISIT TO SHEEN MOUNT PRIMARY SCHOOL
I enjoyed a delightful visit to Sheen Mount Primary School today, where I spoke to the year 5 and year 6 pupils about Parliament and being an MP, met with the Pupil Council to answer their questions about local issues, and spoke to staff about the challenges they are facing. The children had a variety of excellent questions for me, ranging from the hardest decision I ever had to make as an MP, to who was going to be the next Prime Minister, to what can be done about littering in our local parks. They were keen to ask me to do more for local wildlife and to support improvements to playgrounds and bus services. It was a pleasure to meet them and to be taken on a tour of the school by some year 6 pupils at the end.
BARNES COMMON AUTUMN FAYRE - TOMORROW!
The Friends of Barnes Common will be hosting an Autumn Fayre this Saturday, celebrating apples and all things Autumn. The fayre starts at 10:30am and finishes at 4:30pm at Vine Road Recreation Ground, SW13 0NE. There will be plenty of fun for people of all ages, including a fungi walk on Barnes Common, apple pressing, willow weaving craft, cake sale and more. See the posters at the bottom of the page for more information and QR codes to book different activities.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH EVENT - TUESDAY!
Join local organisations for a celebration of the Black community, with storytelling and live music on Tuesday 25 October from 6pm to 8pm at York House in Twickenham. This is a free event but registration is required. Please click here for more information or to register.
MORTLAKE AND BARNES WHITE RIBBON WALK
Richmond Council invites all residents to take part in the White Ribbon Torch Walk in Mortlake and Barnes. White Ribbon Torch Walks are taking place across Richmond upon Thames in the lead up to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on 25 November, also known as White Ribbon Day. Everyone is welcome to join on Thursday 3rd November at 5pm. The starting point is on Mortlake Green (near Mortlake Railway Station) and the walk with follow a marshalled route through Mortlake and Barnes ending near Barnes Pond.
White Ribbon is dedicated to ending male violence against women by engaging with men and boys to make a stand against violence. Their mission is for all men to fulfil the White Ribbon Promise to never commit, excuse or remain silent about male violence against women. They encourage people, and especially men and boys, to individually and collectively, take action and change behaviour to help raise awareness and engage people to make the White Ribbon Promise - to call out abusive and sexist behaviour among their friends, colleagues and communities, to promote a culture of equality and respect. Men and boys are encouraged to start by joining a White Ribbon Walk.
KEW ROTARY APPEAL FOR UKRAINE
As you may recall from a previous newsletter, Kew Gardens Rotary Club, KewTW9 and the Kew Society have joined together to raise the funds for a locally built prefabricated home for a family of four in Moshchun, Ukraine whose home was destroyed in Putin's attack on Kyiv. Kew Rotary has written to ask me to share this update:
"With donations of £2,000 - £1,000 from the Kew Village Market and £1,000 from Kew Rotary together with Gift Aid we are now at nearly 80% of our target of £10,000. The need is now very urgent as snow is coming. October/November brings sub zero temperatures to Ukraine and living in tents is unsustainable. If you would be able to donate to this cause and help them continue rebuilding over the winter, please click here."
In times like these, anyone can reach a financial crisis point. Kingston Foodbank is here to help if that happens. If you feel you need support, you will require a referral code or voucher. You can request these from a number of council services, including housing support officers, children’s centres, health visitors and social services. You can also get them from Citizens Advice Kingston and some local charities. Once you have a voucher, you can take it to your nearest foodbank where trained volunteers will chat to you about how they can help. You can find more information on the Kingston Foodbank website.
If you are able to offer them support, local foodbanks are always grateful for financial support, time, business partnership or food. Find out more on how to help.
Kingston Council us asking residents to give them feedback about how they can better manage the 70 community noticeboards in the borough. They want your feedback to make them more effective. Please visit your local noticeboard and then take the survey. Your feedback will help the Council apply for funding to improve the network.