Updated: Dec 4, 2020
As we emerge from the national lockdown into Tier 2 restrictions tomorrow, please remember that while the transmission rate has fallen considerably we still have a lot of cases in the area. I am glad to see pubs, restaurants and shops reopening across London, for the sake of all the retail and hospitality businesses in my constituency, but we must be vigilant about hygiene, social distancing and mask-wearing if we are to prevent another rise in the r value and further restrictions. Please help keep these businesses open by using them responsibly and keeping Hands, Face, Space in mind at all times when you are out.
LONDON TRANSPORT ACTIONS
I spoke in a Westminster Hall debate yesterday about travel issues in Richmond Park. I do not agree with the Government that the additional funding TfL needs should come from increases to council tax in London boroughs and the expansion of the Congestion Charge.
I was particularly anxious to highlight the safety and budgetary issues involved in the Government's plan to scrap free travel for Under-18s. Removing free travel will either add to the budgetary burden of our cash strapped councils or force parents to pay for school travel. This will inevitably mean either more cars on the road as parents drive children to school or pupils traveling long distances alone in the dark during the winter months. You can see my remarks about this to the right.
I also spoke about Hammersmith Bridge in the debate, once again urging the Government to take swift and decisive action on this urgent problem. I will continue reminding them about the severe problems this is causing for my constituents until they allocate all the funding needed to get the bridge fixed. You can see my remarks about this to the left.
I am pleased to report that stabilisation works on the Bridge are set to commence this week, with an initial £4 million earmarked for the project. A great deal more funding will be needed for the repairs, but this is a good start. I tabled a Written Question to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps yesterday asking about the funding and will report back to you when I have his reply. In the meantime, I understand Hammersmith and Fulham Council's talks on the new superdeck proposal are going well and I have high hopes for this solution, which you can learn about here.
While I am on the subject of transport, I would like let you know that I have had letters from a number of constituents who are concerned about increased levels of speeding in the area. I would like to remind all local residents who drive of our responsibility to use the roads in a way that keeps everyone -- other vehicles, cyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, dogs and wildlife -- safe. Slowing down is the simplest and easiest way of making sure you avoid accidents that may injure someone else.
Last week I was sent a link to this Constituency Road Safety Dashboard, which shows the location and summary details of casualties in every constituency. You can filter for specific ages, road user types etc. It also shows the other vehicle involved in the collision. I found the data for Richmond Park most eye-opening and recommend having a look at it if you are interested in road safety.
RAIL TO REFUGE SCHEME EXTENDED
I am pleased to share with constituents the recent announcement that train companies are extending the ‘Rail to Refuge’ scheme until March 2021. This means more people fleeing domestic abuse can be helped with free train travel to reach a refuge. For more information, please see this link.
ROYAL NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF BLIND PEOPLE
RNIB has written to me about their Christmas appeal their annual letters from Santa project. Every year their 'elves' send over 1000 letters from Santa in accessible formats like Braille and audio to children with sight loss. You can find out more about this excellent project or make a donation to it here: www.rnib.org.uk/christmas-appeal
POWERSTATION YOUTH CENTRE - PLEASE FILL IN COUNCIL SURVEY ABOUT ITS FUTURE
PowerStation Youth Centre in Barnes is applying for development funding so they can offer young people and the community more during the pandemic and in the future. They are asking people from Richmond Borough to fill in their survey by Thursday 3 December at 5pm and tell them what they think of the plans to develop the centre into a community space.
Please see this video which explains what they want to apply for in the grant. The survey link is here: PowerStation Youth Centre - Google Form. If you can, please share the link with other parents/carers.
RICHMOND'S ANGEL AND CROWN PUB WINS COMMUNITY AWARD
I was delighted to learn that the Angel and Crown pub in Richmond has won a British Institute of Innkeeping Heart of the Community Award in recognition of their work cooking hot meals for homeless people. Thank you to everyone at the Angel and Crown for this service, and congratulations on receiving this recognition of your community spirit. To see the other winners search for #HeartoftheCommunity on social media.
MORE LONG-TERM ACCOMMODATION FOR ROUGH SLEEPERS
Kingston Council has recently secured further grants totalling more than £1.5m to help provide accommodation for people who are rough sleepers in the borough. The first nine rough sleepers were found longer term homes this week having been able to move out of emergency temporary accommodation.
The money will provide accommodation for more than 60 rough sleepers, with additional support to ensure people are given the chance to live independently in their new homes and prevent them from returning to a life on the street. The council will continue to work alongside Kingston Churches Action on Homelessness (KCAH) and SPEAR to provide accommodation and specialist support.
The grant has come from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the Greater London Authority (GLA), as part of the government’s Next Steps accommodation programme and the Rough Sleeper Accommodation Programme. The funding streams aim to help rough sleepers and those at immediate risk of rough sleeping who were brought into emergency accommodation in response to COVID-19, to not return to sleeping on the streets.
I am very pleased to see the Council working so hard to on a permanent solution to local homelessness.