Following last week's gathering at Hammersmith Bridge, I have been taking some further actions that people in the local area might wish to know about.
Firstly, I know many people were keen for the Army to be drafted in to construct an emergency temporary bridge. Today, I have co-signed a letter with Richmond Council to the Secretary of State for Defence and to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers asking for military assistance in evaluating and potentially deploying an emergency temporary bridge linking Barnes and Hammersmith. You can read the letter here. I will update you all when we receive a response.
Secondly, I have previously shared communications from Transport for London indicating that a ferry service across the river would not be feasible. However, Hammersmith & Fulham Council are now reviewing options for a ferry service. I hope to have an update for you on this by the end of the week.
I would also like to thank one of the Barnes residents for making and sharing a very good video showing how long and dangerous the journey from one side of the bridge to the other is by bicycle. I strongly recommend that anyone who is interested in learning about this issue have a look at the video here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjsSYJIl5Xc
Lastly, if you haven’t already signed our petition please consider doing so . We are calling on the Government to provide urgent funding to enable a temporary walking and cycling bridge to be built across the Thames - and to also commit to fully underwriting the cost of the repairs to the main bridge. You may have signed other petitions, but every signature on every one will help put pressure on the PM and the Department of Transport to get this done. Go to: https://www.trlibdems.org.uk/hammersmithbridgepetition
I am pleased to see that local schools are making progress in getting ready to open next month. But I believe the guidance given to headteachers has been confusing and the Government seems to have given little thought to how schools are to fund the changes they need to make. From hiring additional space and teachers, to buying soap and paper towels, nearly every intervention schools have to make will have a cost, and our schools were already radically underfunded before Covid-19.
The Government has said pupils do not need to wear masks in school on the basis that you can't expect good mask compliance from a four year old. You can certainly expect good compliance from a sixteen year old, though, and there is no clear guidance for older pupils. Secondary school pupils mix in the corridors every 50 minutes, making even year group bubbles impossible, and they are biologically adults. Secondary schools need their own guidance, as well as the resources to implement changes.
Without a good test and trace system up and running, we are at a high risk of localised outbreaks in the community. If the re-opening of schools is not adequately planned and resourced our rate of increase could rise sharply this autumn, and we could find ourselves back where we were in the spring.
TRANSPORT TO SCHOOL
Transport for London is strongly urging parents to try to get children to school on foot or on two wheels. But for those who need to use public transport they have some new intitiaves:
230 extra buses are being added to the network to bolster some of the busiest routes for schoolchildren, including adding more vehicles to our existing school bus services
Some existing regular buses will be designated as School Services, which will be prioritised for school travel and will operate at full seated capacity.
School Service buses will be clearly marked. Many of the bus routes in our constituency will have these dedicated services running during peak school travel time (generally 07:30 to 09:30 and 14:30 to 16:30. ) Other customers are asked to travel at quiet times outside of school travel times if they can, and to use the regular service buses if they need to travel during School Service times.
Customers over the age of 11 are required to wear a face covering when using public transport services, including on School Service buses. We advise anyone exempt from wearing a face covering to carry an exemption card. For more details please see https://tfl.gov.uk/campaign/face-coverings. We’re also asking people to carry hand sanitiser and wash their hands before and after they travel.
If you want to know whether your bus route will have School Service buses please check http://content.tfl.gov.uk/changes-to-bus-services-main-bus-network.pdf
TRANSPORT OPEN CONSULTATION
Southwestern Railway would like local residents to know that the Department for Transport is running an open consultation, calling for ideas to “Create a plan to decarbonise transport”
This is an opportunity to submit ideas on how to kickstart the return to rail post-lockdown, and expedite the shift from cars to public transport. Dozens of constituents wrote to me with great transport-related ideas when I asked for thoughts on air quality improvement. I encourage you to submit those ideas in this forum as well.
The consultation closes on 31 August 2020. Ideas can be submitted online through a smart survey on https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/WF1I3C/
There is more information on the DfT website under https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/creating-a-plan-to-decarbonise-transport-call-for-ideas
INTERNET BANKING GUIDE
Which? magazine has just put out a new consumer handbook on Banking in the New Normal. It includes practical advice on how you can access cash, banking services and remote support. Many people still feel reluctant about visiting branches, or have had their bank or post office close this year. If you are nervous about using online banking, and want some advice, the handbook can be found on their Freedom to Pay Campaign page here.