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Richmond Park News: 23 October 2020

This week I questioned Boris Johnson at Prime Minister's Questions about the Government's plans to place additional financial burdens on my constituents. I asked the Prime Minister if he really does plan to extend the Congestion Charge into Richmond Park and demand that London councils raise council tax to cover Transport for London's Covid-related financial crisis, when many of my constituents are already suffering great inconvenience and expense from the closure of Hammersmith Bridge.


The Prime Minister gave a most disappointing answer, ignoring my question entirely. He offered an inaccurate criticism of Mayor Sadiq Khan and then claimed that the Conservative candidate in next year's mayoral election would get the bridge fixed. I certainly hope the Government does not intend to drag its feet on fixing the bridge until next summer in order to bolster the campaign of their candidate. You can see my question for the PM and his response here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsPogp-7YzY


Letter to Shaun Bailey re Hammersmith Br
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Download • 464KB

Following the PMQ exchange I also wrote this letter to Conservative London Mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey this week.



VISIT TO RICHMOND AND HILLCROFT ADULT COMMUNITY COLLEGE (RHACC)


Today I visited RHACC in Richmond and met some of the staff and learners. Their dedication to their ideals of “doing the right thing” and creating a “sense of place and community” has meant that learning and support continued throughout the lockdown. I look forward to seeing how they grow and thrive in the future. If you would like to find out more about the courses they offer and the steps that they have taken to keep their staff and students safe, please visit: https://www.rhacc.ac.uk




FREE MEALS FOR LOCAL LOW-INCOME CHILDREN OVER OCTOBER HALF TERM

Following the announcement that the Government will not be offering a school meal voucher scheme over October half-term, both Richmond Council and Kingston Council have announced that they are going to offer a half term food support package for vulnerable children, meaning that children from the lowest income families don’t go hungry over the school break. Guidance will be launched soon by both councils to let eligible families know how they can collect their vouchers.


I was unavoidably away from the Commons on Public Accounts Committee business on Wednesday, so I wasn’t able to vote on Labour’s free school meals motion to support providing food vouchers during school holidays for the next six months. I was, however, 'paired' with a Conservative Public Accounts Committee member on the vote so that our absences cancelled each other out.


I am delighted to hear that our local councils have stepped in to assist these families.



NEW EMPLOYMENT PROGRAMME FOR KINGSTON AND RICHMOND RESIDENTS

A new programme aimed at helping south London residents who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19 launched earlier this month. The South London Work & Health Programme: Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) will provide participants with tailored support to quickly get back into employment. Residents of Croydon, Merton, Sutton, Richmond and Kingston who are in receipt of benefit and have been unemployed for at least 13 weeks will be able to work with a specialist Employment Adviser to develop a personal Action Plan and access training on key employment skills. As part of the JETS scheme financial support will also be available for a variety of job searching activities, such as travel costs, interview clothing, health assessments and training. They will also work closely with employers across south London to ensure participants have access to a wide variety of job vacancies across relevant sectors.

For more information speak to your Jobcentre Work Coach. You can find your nearest Jobcentre Plus here: https://find-your-nearest-jobcentre.dwp.gov.uk/search.php



IMMIGRATION BILL UPDATE


I reported earlier this week that the Conservatives in the Commons had refused to accept amendments passed by the Lords, including a requirement to provide physical proof of their immigration status to EU citizens. Sadly the Government has now blocked this in the Lords.

They have also blocked an attempt, led by Richmond’s Baroness Sally Hamwee, to allow UK citizens living in the EU to return here with their European family members without meeting financial conditions out of reach of many people. Britons abroad are now faced with difficult – sometimes impossible – choices. Our country should not be creating such dilemmas and causing so much anxiety both to its own citizens and our EU friends.

The Government has now been defeated by peers, who told them they must put proper arrangements in place for unaccompanied child refugees to join family in the UK. The Lords’ continued pressure has also led to the Government agreeing to review the impact of the immigration system on the social care sector.



WHAT TO DO IF YOU NEED MEDICAL CARE


Building on the advice in my last newsletter, I would like to reiterate that GP surgeries,