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Richmond Park News: 26th April 2024

Next Thursday, 2nd of May, Londoners will go to the polls to elect the Mayor of London and members of the London Assembly.


This will be the first mayoral election in which voters must take photo ID to the polling station. If you do not, you will not be able to cast your vote.


These elections are incredibly important as they help guide the future of the Metropolitan Police, TfL, and other citywide services. I hope as many residents as possible will make their voices heard.



COURT TRANSCRIPTS


This week saw the House of Lords vote on an amendment to the Victims and Prisoners Bill, introduced by my Liberal Democrat colleagues, which would have seen all victims given access to free sentencing remarks and judges summaries from the trial in which they were involved.


My campaign, which began on behalf of my constituent, Juliana Terlizzi, who was drugged and raped by her then-boyfriend before being charged £7,500 for the transcript of his trial, has gathered support from MPs from all major parties and numerous national charities and public figures. 


In advance of the vote, I penned an open letter to the Justice Secretary signed by 31 cross party MPs. However, despite our efforts, the proposal was blocked 211 votes to 82 by Conservative Lords, with Labour peers frustratingly abstaining from the vote. I am extremely disappointed that neither the Government nor the official opposition has chosen not to support victims, and I will not give up this fight until the Justice Secretary hears our call for change. 


If you want to learn more about my campaign, you can read the coverage in the Guardian here or see the coverage on BBC London here




THAMES WATER AND THE TEDDINGTON DRA


On Monday, I introduced the Thames Water (Special Administration) Bill to Parliament. This Bill calls for the Secretary of State to apply for an order for special administration in relation to Thames Water, taking its operation of the current leadership's hands


I first called for Thames Water to be put into special administration earlier this year after the company stated it would not pay its contribution towards the fund set up to reduce the amount of sewage water companies pipe into the Thames. It is well known that the company is in dire financial straits, and this bill is part of my efforts to ensure the Government steps in before a public bailout becomes necessary.


In a similar vein, this week, I also wrote to Chris Weston, CEO of Thames Water, to highlight a specific concern I have around the company's spending and use of bill payers funds.


The controversial Teddington DRA project is expected to cost in excess of £300 million. There are questions over whether the scheme is even necessary to securing London's water supply and, after Thames Water spent more than £250 million on a desalination plant that they have only used three times, I would like to be certain that bill payers will not have to foot the bill for another white elephant.


You can read the full text of my letter here, and read more about my calls to put Thames Water into Special Administration here.



FINANCE BILL


Last week, I spoke in a debate on the Finance Bill, to again raise my concerns with the Chancellor's most recent budget. While the Government claims to be putting money back in residents' pockets, by freezing the income tax threshold, the Treasury are costing the average person hundreds of pounds a year more than they were previously paying. 


I will continue to urge the Government to bring in desperately needed support for the millions of people struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and keep fighting for much needed investment into all our public services.






HAMMERSMITH BRIDGE


Earlier this week, I wrote to Guy Opperman, Minister of State for Roads and Local Transport, to make two simple requests on behalf of my constituents. First, a request for him to confirm if the Government still intends to keep its commitment to repair the bridge, and second if he would be willing to meet with me to discuss the project.


For all his department might claim that the bridge is Hammersmith and Fulham's responsibility, the fact remains that in 2019, the then Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps, stood on the north side of Hammersmith Bridge and stated outright that "the next Conservative Government will not allow this bridge to remain closed".


Ministers made a commitment during the 2019 General Election and I believe that should they wish to renege on this pledge, the public has a right to know. You can read the text of my letter to Mr Opperman here, and sign my petition to get Hammersmith Bridge repaired here.



HEATHROW 3RD RUNWAY BACK ON THE AGENDA


I was extremely concerned to see that this week, Heathrow's Chief Financial Officer announced on BBC Radio 4 that the airport had renewed its interest in the 3rd runway project. This has been confirmed by their CEO, and if the airport is serious, the plans present a significant threat to our community.


I've asked Heathrow to clarify their new position and to let me know when the public will be given the full details of the plan. I will update residents as soon as I have any news.



BARNES MEN'S SHED


Earlier today, I visited the team pushing for the creation of a Men's Shed in Barnes to learn more about how they are progressing with their scheme. It was a pleasure to meet with John, Andrew, Mike, and Anthony and I look forward to seeing how their plans develop.


The Men's Shed initiative is a nationwide campaign designed to encourage people to come together to learn practical skills with the intention of combatting loneliness and social isolation. To learn more about the scheme click here.




RICHMOND PARK IN BLOOM


Last Sunday, I took a stroll around Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park and it was wonderful to see the gardens there in full bloom. It's a beautiful sight to behold and if you have the time this weekend I would thoroughly recommend a visit. You can find visitor information for the plantation here. 


RICHMOND NEWS


KEW COUCH TO 5K


With the help of a grant from Richmond upon Thames Council, former Kew Councillor and inveterate parkrunner, Serge Lourie, is starting the second Kew Couch to 5K+ programme from 10:00 to 11:00 every Monday from 13 May. 


The group will meet at Kew Plaza at the end of North Road by Kew Gardens Station outside Torelli Il Piccolo and is intended to help people achieve their goals of getting fitter, relieving stress, enjoying themselves and making new friends. 


Because of the support from Richmond Council the scheme is free of charge for anyone who wishes to join. To find out more or to register, please contact Serge on couch25k.kew@yahoo.com or call 020 8876 3545.



KINGSTON NEWS


KNIT AND NATTER: TUDOR DRIVE LIBRARY


On Tuesday 30th of April, between 10:30 am and 11:30 am, Tudor Drive Library is playing host to Knit and Natter, a wonderful free event for everyone who enjoys conversation, knitting, sewing, and crochet. There are free tea and biscuits and its a wonderful way to meet other people in the local area.


You do need to bring your own sewing equipment and there is a suggested £1 donation for refreshments.



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