SUPPORT FOR BRITISH SIGN LANGUAGE USERS
Yesterday in the House of Commons, I took the opportunity to urge the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to increase provisions for those who communicate using British Sign Language (BSL). The request follows conversations with a constituent who is currently engaged in a dispute with a high street
bank, but has been unsuccessful in his attempts to secure a BSL interpreter to sort through the necessary documents. He has, as a result, missed several deadlines and experienced considerable levels of stress and anxiety.
The British Deaf Association estimates there are over 80,000 Deaf BSL users in the UK. It is imperative that the Government does all it can to ensure they are properly supported
To see the full exchange, and the Minister’s response, click here.
PROTECTION FROM FRAUDULENT BUSINESS PRACTICES
The Rating (Coronavirus) and Directors Disqualification (Dissolved Companies) Bill is currently working its way through Parliament, and yesterday underwent its second reading. While Liberal Democrats are in support of its aspects which relate to Directors' disqualification, we are opposed to the Government’s plans to impose a blanket ban on appeals for rating revaluations based on a Material Change of Circumstances.
Businesses are doing all they can to cut costs so that they can save jobs and service the debt they’ve accumulated during the pandemic. The government should be doing all it can to support businesses as we emerge from the lockdown.
To watch part of my contribution, click here.
EMERGENCY HOMELESS SHELTERS
Last Friday I met with Sarah Percival and volunteers from Glass Door, which partners with churches and community centres to provide shelter and support to homeless people. We discussed Glass Door’s activities this past winter when they were unable to provide overnight accommodation, but provided meals instead.
I told them that I recently wrote to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to ask his department to make provisions to allow organisations such as Glass Door to run
emergency night shelters once again, in a way that is COVID-19 safe. Once lockdown measures have ended, there will not be enough single room hostel accommodation for all rough sleepers in London.
As well as providing safe accommodation and other support services for rough sleepers who have nowhere else to go, reopening emergency night shelters could increase vaccine uptake with the hard-to-reach and vulnerable homeless population.
The successful Everyone In programme sheltered all homeless people during the pandemic. We need to carry that work forward and make sure everyone has a safe place to sleep every night.
STAG BREWERY AND MORTLAKE FAIR
The Greater London Authority (GLA) has pencilled in 16th July as the likely date for its hearing on the application for the Former Stag Brewery site. The ‘hybrid’ meeting will be a mixture of in-person attendance at City Hall and on-line. Social distancing restrictions mean there will only be space for 17 members of the public to view the hearing in the City Hall Chamber. Residents who have previously written in to the GLA with objections or other comments about the scheme are being invited to let the authority know whether they want to attend the hearing.
I talked to Mortlake and Barnes Common residents about the hearing at the Mortlake Fair on Saturday. Local councillor Julia Cambridge and I joined residents from the Mortlake Brewery Campaign Group to discuss their campaign and the latest Brewery news.
VISITS IN THE CONSTITUENCY
I recently went with a visually impaired Richmond resident to meet with Frances Bennett of Let’s Go Outside and Learn and Yvonne Kelleher of LBRUT Parks Dept plus other borough residents with accessibility challenges to discuss Richmond Council's Friendly Parks For All initiative, which will make borough open spaces more accessible to visually impaired people.
Richmond's Parks department wants to ensure that there are open spaces which are particularly accessible, including Barnes Green and Ham Village Green. The model of accessible Friendly Parks for All has been developed in consultation with several local care charities in order to meet the needs of their clients. The model includes additional seating and resting places, improved paths, entrance/exit and route markers and a meeting point to help orientate users within the park. There are also plans to include parking places for blue badge holders.
Last Friday I met Borough Commander Robert Davis and Station Commander Mark Nunan at Richmond Fire Station. The first thing we discussed was the recent fire at Townmead Road Refuse and Recycling Centre. The investigation into the fire is ongoing. I enjoyed seeing how the station operates and hearing about their work with local schools and organisations to teach fire safety. I learned that they also run safety checks on homes.
I was pleased to attend the induction of the Reverend Doctor Melanie Harrington as the Incumbent of the United Benefice of Kew, St Philipi and All Saints with St Luke. The service took place on Wednesday 23rd June at The Barn Church in Kew and was conducted by The Rt Rev Dr Richard Cheetham, the Bishop of Kingston. I welcome Rev Harrington to Richmond Park and wish her success in her work here.
On Saturday I joined other book lovers at Tudor Library's 70th anniversary celebration. I had a delightful time speaking with other attendees over coffee and cakes, and enjoyed looking at books from its seven decades and an exhibition showcasing the history of the library.
On Sunday I was pleased to attend The Royal Borough of Kingston's Annual Mayoral Sunday Civic Service at All Saints’ Church in Kingston. The special amended Civic Service celebrated the start of Mayoral Year 2021/22 for our new Mayor, Cllr Sushila Abraham. Attendees of various faiths came together to reflect on the theme of suffering during this past year, both here in the UK and throughout the world. Faith leaders were asked to share encouragement and offer solace through these times.
LGBTQI+ SUPPORT GROUP FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
Parents and young people might like to know about No Straight Answer, Achieving for Children's weekly support session for Young People aged 11 - 19 from the LGBTQI+ community. This is held every week at Heatham House Youth Centre in Twickenham. Trained staff provide lots of activities including sport, music, cooking, and art. LGBTQ+ awareness is incorporated into the sessions, but not always the focus -- they also provide a safe space for the young people who attend to just hang out and have fun. There iinformal peer-to-peer support available for younger members alongside guidance provided by the staff. For more information on the session, including how to join in, please see the flyer here or contact Justin Johnson at email@example.com
LOCAL AREA FUND OPEN FOR APPLICATIONS
Richmond Council is welcoming applications for its Local Area Fund, which provides funding for local ward areas to support community driven projects to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of local communities. Individuals, local groups and organisations can all apply for the fund. Each ward in the borough has been allocated a budget of £10,000 for local projects.
The Council is asking residents, local groups and organisations to come forward with innovative ideas that reflect local priorities and improve the overall quality of life in Richmond upon Thames. The Council is also encouraging residents to get in touch with their local Ward Councillors to discuss their project ideas and the difference their project could make to the ward. You can find your local Ward Councillor here.
Individuals and groups who are not looking to apply for funding can still share their ideas of ways to improve their local areas with the Council who can then help to support these ideas.
Previous examples of some of the projects awarded funding during the last round of applications include the building of a wooded play area and nature trail structure for children under 12 in East Sheen, intergenerational music therapy sessions for children and older people in Kew, the creation of a new gaming lounge for young people at Ham Youth Centre and the creation of a sensory garden for local community use in Twickenham Riverside.
Find out about the local area fund here.
ENERGY EFFICIENT STREET LIGHTING
Kingston Council has announced that it is moving to 100% LED street lighting over the next two years. The LED lights will be much more energy efficient compared to traditional street lighting and will reduce the borough carbon footprint.
ELECTRIC VEHICLES FOR COUNCIL WORK
Kingston Council’s Estate Services team isreplacing 12 diesel vans with electric vans, which can travel 106 miles on a full charge. The Kingston Community Library service will also receive one of the vans to help develop their expanding at-home service through projects such as Reading Friends, which combats social isolation. The 100% electric vehicles do not produce carbon dioxide or nitrogen dioxide particles and are virtually silent when running, which means the journeys they undertake will have less impact on the environment and cause less disruption to residents early in the morning and late in the evening.