RIchmond Park News: 29 July 2022
I hope all of my constituents are enjoying their summer so far.
The highlight of the summer may come early this year if the Lionesses emerge victorious from their Euro final against Germany on Sunday. With the women's team training for the tournament just across the river in Teddington, the Lionesses feel like our local team as well as our national team. After their showstopping performance in the semifinal, I can't wait to see what they have in store for us on Sunday.
With Parliament in summer recess, I was a guest on LBC’s Cross Questions on Tuesday. The discussion ranged from the cost of living crisis, to the Government’s proposed Rwanda plan for immigration.
Particularly, I raised the issue that the Prime Minister appears to have ‘checked out’ before his formal departure from Number 10. I believe there is vacuum in Downing Street, which has left us without proper Governance as we see backlogs at Dover, increased industrial action and an impending increase in the energy price cap. I have called for Boris Johnson to replaced by an interim figure until the conclusion of the Conservative Leadership contest. You can see a clip of this here.
I also joined others on the panel in arguing that the best way of dealing with increased channel crossings is to ensure we are providing safe and legal routes for all refugees. Britain has a proud history of providing safe refuge to those in need, including many current residents of Richmond Park, and the current Government proposals are in direct contradiction to that. I spoke of the need to speed up processing times for asylum decisions, and allowing those waiting to seek employment to enable them to begin to establish themselves in our country. You can watch my point here.
If you would like to watch the full show, you can find it here
Monkeypox has now been declared a public health emergency of international concern. It is therefore imperative that the UK has a well-coordinated strategy to combat the spread of the disease – focussing on both prevention and treatment, as well as tackling the stigma.
Central to the prevention strategy is the vaccine roll-out. I am therefore pleased that the UK Health and Security Agency have procured additional vaccine doses and will be opening up 18 clinics across London to administer the vaccine. However, I was concerned to hear reports that people were queuing for over 4 hours for a jab outside Guy’s Hospital last weekend, as well as some who were turned away due to limited capacity. Additionally, although UKSHA intends to open 18 clinics across London, there is limited information available online on the location of these clinics, or how to book an appointment.
I have written to the Department for Health and Social Care to set out my concerns around the shortcomings of their current strategy. In this letter, I call for more walk-in clinics to be opened up outside of central London, and for a clearer public information campaign on the prevention and treatment of Monkeypox. You can read a copy of the letter here.
The group most at-risk from Monkeypox are men who have sex with men. I would encourage all eligible constituents from this group to check that they are aware of the symptoms of Monkeypox and to follow NHS guidance listed on their website. I would also urge anyone who has been contacted by UKHSA or the NHS to book in for a vaccination to do this as soon as possible – more information is available here.
ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGERS
It is predicted that there will be nearly half a million electric cars in the UK by 2030. This new technology will need a massive amount of infrastructure to support it and for this reason, I am asking residents to recommend locations for new fast chargers in their neighbourhood. These chargers come with their own challenges, but they also offer a fantastic way to prepare our community for a greener future. If you have an electric car, or are thinking of purchasing one, I urge you to fill in the short survey here.
As airports fall into further chaos this summer, I know that many residents are facing disturbance from flights that run late into the night and start early in the morning. This week, I wrote to the CEO of Heathrow to request that he meet with myself, Munira Wilson MP, and Caroline Pidgeon AM so that we can discuss what can be done to limit the impact of these flights. Transparency in this matter is vital, and so, alongside this request, I have filed Freedom of Information requests with the CAA and Heathrow demanding they provide a full account of the extra flights that have arrived between 11pm and 6 am. You can read more about my work challenging night flights here.
MEETING WITH SOUTHWESTERN RAILWAY
On Tuesday, I met with representatives from Southwestern Railway at Mortlake Station to learn more about what they are doing to safeguard customers at their stations. It was great to hear about the plans for augmented reality security cameras designed to automatically identify people in need, and the training all staff have undertaken to support the wellbeing of customers.
I was also pleased to be told by senior staff in SWR that they have no plans to close Mortlake ticket office in the near future despite rumours online. While I will keep a close eye on the issue and work to ensure plans do not change, I am glad that Daniel, Koami, and the rest of the Mortlake team will continue to be a part of the community in Mortlake.
On Saturday 16 July, I was delighted to join Penny Bell-Wright and the Richmond Sea Cadets for a BBQ and ceremony celebrating the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, along with Richmond Mayor Julia Cambridge. The cadets were opening a new facility to help with training and catering, and naming of the galley after John Porter in recognition of his 60 years of service to the Sea Cadets.
The Sea Cadets aim to give young people an experience that will help them grow into the person they want to be in a safe and friendly environment. Through various activities and adventures, cadets learn teamwork, respect, loyalty, self-confidence, commitment, self-discipline and honesty. More info here.
On 21 July I had the pleasure of attending a luncheon with Kingston Rotary Club. I congratulated them on the stunning success of their Dragon Boat Challenge festival, both as a fundraising opportunity for local charities and as a day for the community to come together to celebrate the amazing groups that do so much to uplift us and bind us together.
Create4MentalHealth made a lovely Dragon Boat Challenge video showing how much everyone enjoyed it. You can see the video here. You can also see more of the Rotary Club's work in the community here, and their projects for young people in particular here.
Later the same day I welcomed the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators (WPCC) to Westminster to present local author Nick Manning's book 'The Commoners' to descendants of local hero Richardson Evans. It was a pleasure to be a part of their ceremony.
AGE UK RECOMMENDATION: CLAIM YOUR PENSION CREDIT!
Age UK is urging all pensioners living on low incomes to put in a claim for Pension Credit by 18th August 2022 or risk missing out on £650 of extra help towards the cost of living this year. The £650 Cost of Living Payment will be paid out via two lump sums. As Pension Credit can be backdated by up to three months, if you are eligible but have not yet claimed Pension Credit you can still receive both instalments. To ensure they receive the first instalment, you must claim Pension Credit by 18th August 2022.
If you are unsure if you qualify for Pension Credit you can use Age UK's online benefits calculator to see how much you could be entitled to.
Age UK's guide on changes to energy prices includes more information on the financial support available, including:
Warm Home Discount
Winter Fuel Payment
Council Tax rebate
Household Support Fund
HEALTHWATCH RICHMOND SURVEY ON HEALTHY EATING
Eating healthy, staying active, and our overall lifestyle can have a significant impact on our physical health and wellbeing, but these behaviours can be hard to maintain. Healthwatch Richmond is asking Richmond residents to share their experiences of trying to have a healthier lifestyle through a survey. This is a great opportunity for people to have a say in upcoming changes to Council services in Richmond.