On Wednesday, during Prime Minister's Questions, I asked the Prime Minister to commit to amending the Airports National Policy Statement to bar a third runway at Heathrow. Apart from the nuisance that a third runway would cause to my constituents, and the damage to local air quality, we must do all we can to reduce aviation emissions if we are to achieve our net-zero climate change goals. The Prime Minister declined to agree to this. He appears to be putting his faith in electric passenger planes instead, which are years away from being viable replacements for jumbo jets. You can see my question and the Prime Minister's response here.
My colleague Munira Wilson, the MP for Twickenham, shares my concern about local air quality. Munira led a debate on air pollution in London in Westminster Hall on Tuesday. I spoke in the debate, commending the councils in both Richmond and Kingston boroughs for their actions to and promote active travel and cleaner air.
In my remarks in Westminster Hall, I urged the Mayor of London to do more to
improve public transport, especially for school journeys. We also need more bus services to compensate for the closure of Hammersmith Bridge, which I called on the Department for Transport to finally address.
With London's air quality falling below recommended international standards, this issue is most urgent, and I will continue pushing for the improvements we need. You can see my remarks here.
ALL-PARTY PARLIAMENTARY GROUP FOR BAME BUSINESS OWNERS
As Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Black, Asian and Minority Ethic business owners, I hosted a meeting this week on the impact of vaccine hesitancy on minority businesses working hard to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
I was also pleased to have the opportunity to ask the vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi what the Government is doing to assist other countries.
I am delighted that the age cohort invited for vaccination has fallen again. Everyone aged 40 and over is now invited to book a vaccination.
I was vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine this week and was most impressed with the efficiency and positive atmosphere at the vaccination centre. I encourage all of my constituents who are 40 and over to book their jab here.
If you want to help make sure everyone, in every country, has access to a vaccination, you can make a donation to the World Health Organisation's COVAX programme by going to the Go Give One page here.
The money raised by Go Give One will help COVID-19 vaccines for those who need them the most, in countries that can't afford them.
UPCOMING E-SCOOTER TRIALS
I welcome the temporary trials of e-scooters coming to a number of London boroughs, including Richmond Upon Thames. E-scooters have the potential to m
ake a strong contribution to reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality. However, before allowing them on a permanent basis we must determine what risks they pose to riders and pedestrians, and consider whether we can take steps to make them acceptably safe.
I have written to Transport for London to express my concerns about pedestrians, especially those who are vulnerable. We must ensure that neither their safety nor their independence is compromised. For more details about my concerns, you can see my letter here.
LONDON ELECTIONS ON MAY 6
Polling day for the Mayor of London and London Assembly elections is next Thursday. If you are voting by post, make sure you fill in the forms and return them in good time. If you are voting in person, please bring your own pen or pencil if you can, and be prepared to queue. You must also wear a face covering.
There will be three ballot papers for voters in this election, with voters able to register two votes for Mayor, (first choice and second choice) a single vote for the Southwest London constituency seat and a single vote for a party to fill the 11 additional seats assigned by proportion of the party vote. If you’re a bit unsure about how to complete the ballot papers, you can check this handy guide.
EXTRA TIME FOR GRASSROOTS FOOTBALL THIS SEASON
Richmond Council has announced that many of their football pitches will continue to be available beyond the end of the regular season to allow teams to catch-up on matches they missed during the lockdown.
The majority of sites will be available until the end of June, in line with the recent Football Association season extension announcement. Any group with questions on the use of sports pitches is encouraged to contact the Council at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0344 324 6277.
BULK FOOD STORE COMES TO RICHMOND
The Source Bulk Foods has opened a store in RIchmond town centre near the station, where you can shop for products to take home in your own reusable containers. A local resident writes enthusiastically of the new model, saying "Bring reusable containers, weigh 'em and you can refill for shampoo, nuts, cooking oils, spices, pasta, sweets, nuts, salts et al. All with zero plastic waste."
I am delighted to hear that this earth-friendly innovation is coming to Richmond and look forward to popping in with my jars and bottles. You can see more information about them here.
NEW WILDWAYS PLANS FOR GRASS VERGES
Kingston Council is trialling a new approach to how they manage our roadside grass verges. Eight ‘WildWays’ sites have been introduced across the borough, where cutting will be reduced or eliminated. Over time, rich wildflower meadows will form within them, providing a great source of forage for a wealth of local butterflies and bumblebees. To find out more about the methodology involved and to have your say on the trials visit their website.
ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGERS
Lamp column charging points are now being installed on residential streets in Kingston, with 34 in place already. 93 suitable locations have been found so far with a goal of 100 in total, to help the adoption of electric vehicles by residents. The chargers are easy to use with a static rate of 24p per kWh, and no membership fee. They are compatible with a standard Type 2 charging cable and can be accessed via the SureCharge smartphone app.
HEALTH INFORMATION VIRTUAL SESSIONS
Osteoarthritis Management – 12 May (1.00-2.30pm)
Learn about osteoarthritis and how to look after your joints using exercise and by adapting your lifestyle.
Osteoporosis and Bone Health – 19 May (10.00am-12.00pm)
Learn how to manage or prevent osteoporosis. We will discuss diet, exercise and lifestyle factors that affects our bones and how to keep them healthy and strong.
Physical Activity – 26 May (1.00-2.30pm)
Learn about Physical activity and the type and amount of activities we need to do to maintain our health and wellbeing. Also learn about simple exercises to do at home.