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Richmond Park News: 23rd February 2024

GAZA CEASEFIRE


Many constituents have written to me this week regarding the ongoing situation in Israel and Gaza, and in particular about the motion regarding a ceasefire which was brought infront of Parliament on Wednesday.


You may be aware that, while a number of votes were planned for different amendments, not all of these took place, leading to unedifying scenes in the Commons Chamber. I therefore wanted to begin this week's newsletter by reiterating my position and some brief thoughts on events.


The Liberal Democrats have been calling for an immediate bilateral ceasefire for months now, which would put an end to the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza, get the hostages out and provide an opportunity for a political process, to finally bring about the two state solution that will deliver the dignity and security which all Israelis and Palestinians deserve.


Unfortunately, despite tabling a motion in Parliament to this extent, we did not get a chance to vote on it as it was not selected by the Speaker. Our position on the day was therefore that we would vote for anything which furthered the cause of peace and an immediate bilateral ceasefire. We had therefore planned to vote for both the Labour amendment and the SNP motion.


However, the debate did not proceed as originally planned due to a dispute over procedure and the original motion of the day was not voted on. This was extremely disappointing, and now more than ever the UK needs to come together with the rest of the international community and deliver a clear message for an immediate bilateral ceasefire.


The Liberal Democrats are clear, a lasting peace and a two-state solution, with Hamas out of Gaza,  is the only way to guarantee the dignity and security which both Palestinians and Israelis deserve.


ITV LATE DEBATE

 

Last night, I participated in the ITV London Late Debate where we discussed issues ranging from MPs safety to the Mayor of London's Budget proposal. In the debate, I spoke of my opposition to the Mayor's freeze on pay-as-you-go Tube fares as an election gimmick which will not benefit my constituents in Richmond Park.


This is because whilst claiming to freeze fares, the Mayor is still raising the cost of travelcards, in addition to the weekly daily cap on fares, which will be felt more frequently by those living in the outer boroughs. Rather, the Liberal Democrats would use the estimated £120m saved to invest in the Metropolitan Police. We estimate this money could be used to employ up to 500 new officers, helping to strengthen community policing and keep our streets safe.


I will continue to hold both the Mayor and this Conservative Government to account over their false election promises, and if would like to see a clip of the debate, you can do so here.


HAMMERSMITH BRIDGE


On Tuesday afternoon, I visited Hammersmith Bridge to take part in an interview with BBC Radio 4. While I am pleased that the bridge has recently opened to cyclists, this should only be the first step towards allowing all traffic to cross. During my interview, I reiterated the importance to commuters, local residents and local businesses, of restoring this vital link between Hammersmith and Barnes. 

 

The Government's failure to pay its share of the bridge repairs shows an appalling disregard for the residents of South-West London. As I have said before, had the DfT accepted the need for the bridge to be fully restored when it first closed, costs may not have spiralled, and the taxpayer would not be on the hook for an additional £130 million repair bill. 

 

The government's record of building and repairing the UK's critical infrastructure has been abysmal, and it is time for the Department of Transport to take responsibility for the promises the government made in 2019.

 

If you wish to sign my petition to call on the Department for Transport to release the necessary funds for the bridge to be repaired, you can do so here.







INTERNATIONAL TRADE DEBATE

On Thursday I asked a question in the Parliamentary debate on the Second Report of the Business and Trade Committee on the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. 


I asked the Chair of the Select Committee, Liam Byrne, ‘whether this report will be an opportunity to look at how the specific requirements of trade deals are dealt with by Parliament?’


The Chair responded positively to my question and more broadly I welcome the recommendations of the Committee, specifically that the Government must ensure that any future trade deals are properly debated and voted on in Parliament. The Liberal Democrats want to see the UK adopt an ambitious trade policy that will create opportunities for British firms around the world. You can see a clip of the exchange here.


PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE HEARING ON BBC

In my role as a member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), I attended an evidence session on Monday regarding the BBC’s implementation of its project across the UK, which aims to support creative industries outside London by moving the production of a number of shows around the country.. 


During the meeting, my colleagues and I questioned Tim Davie, the Director General of the BBC alongside Leigh Tavaziva, the Chief Operating Officer of BBC, on why their projects aren't on track. For my part, I asked Leigh Tavaziva about what advice the BBC are now giving in relation to the IR35 rules. 


I know that the subject of IR35 tax regulation is one I know has affected many of my constituents, and going forward, I would now like to see a complete review of this practise, in addition to an end to retrospective tax charges brought in by the Conservatives such as the loan charge.


You can watch a short clip of the session here



RICHMOND NEWS - EAST SHEEN


Milestone Green in East Sheen has been identified by the Council as a potential area of investment from the Council’s Public Realm Improvement Fund (PRIF) programme. The PRIF is an initiative which aims to enhance public spaces across the borough.

 

The Council is working closely with local representatives in East Sheen to explore ways in which Milestone Green can be altered to enhance the visual aesthetic of the area as to reflect the vibrancy and historic beauty of East Sheen. 

 

The proposed changes for consideration are:

 

  • A dedicated space for the Remembrance Day event by the War memorial to recognise its importance within the local community

  • A greener public space with planters at the edge of the footway

  • Generous forecourt space for use by cafes and shops

  • Inclusive seating areas

  • Natural stone paving with permeable joints to reduce any potential for flooding in periods of heavy rain (subject to ground investigations)

  • Integrated lighting features to improve safety in the space

  • Additional cycle parking

 

East Sheen's Local Ward Councillors, Julia Cambridge, Margaret Dane and Zoe McLeod are constantly striving to improve the area, and they are encouraging residents of Richmond Park to submit their ideas and thoughts on the above proposals to the consultation - consultation@richmond.gov.uk. Further information regarding the consultation can be accessed via Richmond Council’s website.’






KINGSTON NEWS


AMP Kingston are an organisation supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund which aims to shine a light on Kingston’s creative history with the view to inspire the next generation of artists and musicians. Their current exhibition explores the development of art, music and pop fashion in Kingston between the 1960’s to the start of the millennium. The exhibition examines this period in Kingston’s history through the use of film, music and oral testimony to ensure that visitors can immerse themselves in Kingston’s rich cultural past.

 

The exhibition is open until 23 March between the hours of 11am-6pm at the FUSEBOX (KT1 1TF). Please use this link if you wish to explore further details regarding the display.






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