I was briefed by London's Strategic Coordinating Group this week, from whom I learned that all of London's 32 boroughs now have case rates exceeding 100 per 100,000 people. Kingston's case rate has passed Richmond's and is now over 200 per 100,000. With that in mind, I would like to again ask my constituents to do everything they can to help slow the spread:
Wash your hands thoroughly and often
Cover your mouth and nose in public
Keep plenty of room between yourself and non-household members
Download the NHS Covid-19 app
Try to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible.
Get a test for anyone in your household with Covid-19 symptoms (and isolate until the test comes back)
Self-isolate for 14 days if you or someone in your household tests positive
NHS London has also asked me to encourage eligible constituents to get their free flu vaccinations. This includes health and care workers and children aged two to three years. Parents might like to know that the children's flu vaccine is administered by a nasal spray, not an injection. Reducing the number of people with flu this winter will help keep pressure off of health services as they work to manage the Covid-19 outbreak.
RICHMOND PARK CAR PARKING CHARGES
After a great deal of discussion with local residents, I have written to the Royal Parks this week outlining a number of concerns I have regarding their proposal to introduce car parking charges inside Richmond Park.
I am concerned about the displacement of cars from the car parks inside the park to the roads near the gates. I am also worried about access to the park for low-income visitors, who may not have their own outdoor space, and for elderly and less able visitors who are not Blue Badge holders but are also not mobile enough to use active forms of travel to reach the park.
Lastly, while the charges may not be a lot of money for occasional visitors, many people like to use the park several times a week, which will become prohibitively expensive.
I have also asked Royal Parks to work with local transport providers to improve public transport connectivity to the park, and I am suggesting they reduce the chargeable hours.
You can see my full letter here:
HAMMERSMITH BRIDGE VIRTUAL PUBLIC MEETING
Along with 700 concerned residents I attended Richmond Council's virtual public meeting about Hammersmith Bridge this week. I was pleased we were able to get all the representatives involved together to speak to the local community. Residents' lives have been severely disrupted and they had many good questions about what is being done to resolve the situation.
The meeting was successful in terms of revealing the complexity of the issue and the obstacles to resolving them. It's clear that agreeing funding for the repairs continues to be the biggest hurdle and I am working closely with all agencies involved to see what can be done to resolve this. If you missed the meeting you can see a recording of it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEvjkH3Eu48
You can also take a look at the very informative slides presented at the meeting here https://www.richmond.gov.uk/media/20121/hammersmith_bridge_engineering_and_programme_overview.pdf
Following the meeting Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, and I wrote to Baroness Vere, the Transport Minister, about what steps we think the Government's Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce should take next. We are calling on the Government to unlock the funds needed to award a ferry contract now and to immediately commence the stabilisation work necessary to allow foot and cycle traffic over the bridge again.
Our letter to Baroness Vere is here:
TRANSPORT FOR LONDON FINANCIAL SUPPORT PACKAGE
My Twickenham colleague Munira Wilson and I wrote to Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps this week about the Government's proposals to transfer the cost of running Transport for London to our constituents by increasing council tax and expanding the
congestion charge zone to the South Circular. I am opposed to these plans and am calling on the Government to reinstate the funding for TfL they removed in 2018. I will continue pushing the government to support transport networks through Covid-19 for the sake of
London businesses and residents. You can see my letter here.
Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, has started a petition against the proposed tax. You can find it here: https://www.trlibdems.org.uk/scrap_the_tory_transport_tax
RESOURCES FOR FAMILIES IN NEED OF ASSISTANCE
Richmond CVS has prepared two very useful lists for local families who are struggling financially. One is a list of food poverty support available locally, and the second is a local, regional and national list of all sources of support that children and families might need, including emotional and mental health and early years help.
Achieving for Children is particularly promoting the take up of free school meals, which is good way of addressing food poverty in children, makes families eligible for other benefits, and helps their schools through the pupil premium.
I am attaching both lists here. Please forward them to anyone you think may be in need, and if you yourself are struggling to care for your family, please reach out to the organisations listed for help. That's what they are there for, and they are ready to help you.
HAPPY (SAFE) HALLOWEEN!
The pictures below were taken in a road in North Kingston, where they were having a 'scariest house' competition as part of a range of Halloween activities to replace the traditional Trick or Treating. I was delighted to be asked to judge, but glad it was still daylight when I went past!
If you need some inspiration for scary but safe ways to celebrate Halloween with your children, here are the recommendations for Kingston residents and Richmond residents:
POPPIES FOR REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY NEXT WEEKEND
With so many of us home self-isolating or just reducing our outings, fewer of us will be in shops to buy poppies this year. I just wanted to remind my constituents that you can buy poppies or make a small direct donation instead on the Royal British Legion website at https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/get-involved/poppy-appeal
I also wanted to share a photo of the new pelican crossing outside The Poppy Factory in Petersham Road in Richmond. The poppy-themed crossing has been installed by the Council as part of a programme of activity to mark this year’s Armistice Day.
The Poppy Factory has been employing veterans with health challenges to create poppies, wreaths and other Remembrance products in Richmond since 1925. A major redevelopment of the factory is nearly complete, including a new visitor experience that will open to the community in 2021.
Cllr Alexander Ehmann, Cllr Michael Butlin and representatives from Conways contractors and the Poppy Factory show off our lovely poppy crossing in Petersham Road.
JOINED UP ACTION NEEDED ON CHRISTMAS RULES I am joining Ed Davey and the Liberal Democrat leaders from Scotland and Wales, plus the Alliance Party in Northern Ireland, in calling for the Government to reach out to leaders in all four countries to agree a united approach to Christmas gathering rules. With the holiday season less than two months away, people are already asking how they can celebrate safely with family in other parts of the UK this year. We would like all countries to agree uniform guidance on transport and travel, family gatherings, students returning home and testing.
NEW FREE JOB-FINDING SERVICE FOR RICHMOND RESIDENTS
Are you a Richmond resident looking for work? Perhaps looking for a new start, a career, a first job or returning to the work-place? If so, why not contact Work Match?
Richmond Work Match has been launched by Richmond Council match Richmond residents who are looking for work with jobs, apprenticeships and training roles in the borough. If you are looking for work -- a new start, a new career, a first job or a return to the workplace -- why not see if the job you are looking for is right here in Richmond?
The Work Match team of recruitment specialists works with businesses across Richmond upon Thames that are recruiting now, securing exclusive jobs for local residents. The service is only available to people living in the area who are out of work. Candidates who sign up are given help writing CVs, interview skills and given any required training.
Local businesses who are looking for new employees are also invited to get in touch. Work Match is a free, bespoke service that aims to develop a personal knowledge of each business prior to advertising vacancies. The team also pre-screens candidates before submitting them to ensure that the exact criteria is met. The service works closely with Job Centre Plus, community organisations, local colleges and schools.
For more information, go to: www.richmondworkmatch.org/
Or you can hear from Cllr Gareth Roberts about the launch: https://youtu.be/I_YZcg3Ruf0
HEALTHWATCH DENTAL SURVEY
In response to COVID-19, dental services have had to drastically change the way they work with patients. Healthwatch Richmond is looking to survey Richmond residents who have accessed or attempted to access dental services in the borough since March 2020.
They would greatly appreciate it if you could participate in the survey using the link below.
All answers will be anonymous.
CADENT GAS FINED FOR GAS LEAK RESPONSE
Cadent Gas Ltd was fined over £37,000 this week for a series of breaches in safety and operating without a valid street works permit, following legal action brought by Richmond Council after the gas leak last January.
The company pleaded guilty to one offence of commencing work on the public highway without a valid permit in place, and a second offence of working unsafely on a public highway. The Court found that contractors working on behalf of Cadent Gas set up a work site with no signage, lighting or guarding, and no provisions for pedestrians, particularly those with disabilities. The Court ruled that whilst Cadent Gas wasn’t the company delivering the work they have a responsibility to manage their contractors, and sentenced them to pay £37,139.75 in fines and costs.
LOCAL CONTACT TRACING SERVICE LAUNCHING NEXT MONTH
Kingston Council’s local Keep Kingston Safe test and trace service will start work in November 2020, supporting NHS Test and Trace in the borough. The team will play an important role in making vital contact with people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and providing information to these residents. Find out more on their website
KINGSTON CHRISTMAS MARKET TO GO AHEAD
Kingston Council have worked with Kingston First to enable the Christmas market to go ahead in the town centre this year, albeit with a smaller footprint to enable social distancing. The plan is for the market to open on Thursday 19 November. There will not be a Christmas lights switch-on event this year, but there are new Christmas lights and installations throughout the town centre which will be switched on on the November 19 as well.