FINANCIAL EVENTS THIS WEEK
My constituents will doubtless be as concerned as I am about the instability in the financial markets this week, and the concerning lack of communication from Downing Street regarding their ‘mini-budget’. This proposal has already caused significant damage to the British economy, and will continue to do so should various measures within it not be reversed.
The Government’s net increase in borrowing totals more than £45 billion. In a directive issued on Wednesday evening to all Ministerial Departments, it has now been revealed that this will be partially mitigated through widespread cuts to public services, something I unequivocally oppose.
As Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson, I was appalled that the International Monetary Fund issued a statement asking the Government to reconsider their plans, even before the Bank of England was forced to make a £65 billion intervention in the markets to save pension funds. These are both highly unusual and alarming steps, and I have called for the immediate recall of Parliament so the Chancellor can come to the House to be questioned on his programme.
I am especially concerned about the effect of rising interest rates on those with mortgage payments, both in Richmond Park and across the country at an already difficult time. I know this will be of serious concern to those currently on flexible rate mortgages, or those whose fixed rate will be coming to an end in the near future. As such, I spoke extensively on this subject on BBC Newsnight on Wednesday evening, and have launched calls for the Conservative Party Conference to be cancelled this weekend - to be replaced by an emergency summit with mortgage lenders in Downing Street to stabilise the situation.
Although I welcomed the Prime Minister and Chancellor finally meeting with the Office for Budget Responsibility this morning, their refusal to let any form of forecast be published for almost two months is unacceptable. I would like to reassure all residents of Richmond Park that I will continue to hold the Government to account over their proposals and lack of transparency, whilst reiterating that should you have any specific concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Since becoming the MP for Richmond Park I have received a large volume of correspondence from constituents detailing the multitude of issues they face as leaseholders. I therefore strongly support the campaign to introduce wide-ranging reforms to the leasehold market in line with the recommendations of the Law Commission report of July 2020. The Government has promised to implement reforms since 2017, yet there is currently no timeframe set for the legislation. Earlier this month, Simon Clarke was appointed as the new Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. I was encouraged to read his op-ed in the Telegraph last week, in which Mr Clarke stated that he was committed to “delivering for leaseholders”. You can read this op-ed here. I was also pleased to read that he will be working with the Financial Conduct Authority to tackle the appalling practices within the insurance industry, which is an issue I have previously written to the Competition and Markets Authority about. However, there was no mention of when the necessary legislation for wider leasehold reforms will be introduced to Parliament. I have therefore written to Mr Clarke, alongside Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Ed Davey and Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper, to ask that he affirm his commitment to leaseholders and guarantee that the legislation will be introduced this Parliament. You can read a copy of this letter here. I am also a member of the APPG for Commonhold and Leasehold Reform and I will continue to monitor developments on leasehold reform in Parliament and lend my support to the campaign whenever possible. If you would like to be added to my mailing list to receive updates on the campaign for leasehold reform, please send an email to email@example.com with ‘leasehold reform’ as the subject title.
CAMPAIGN SUCCESS – BEER DUTY REFORM
Many constituents have emailed me regarding the Government’s proposed reforms to beer duty. I am pleased to report that the campaign to lower the threshold of the new draught duty to 20 litres has been successful. In the Government's initial proposals the reduction to beer duty, the so-called “draught relief”, only applied to barrels over 40 litres. This meant that many small independent producers were set to miss out on the discount, as around 30% of their products are supplied in 20 and 30 litre containers. Many craft breweries also supply their product in 30 litre barrels. I wrote to then-Chancellor Rishi Sunak back in February, alongside my Liberal Democrat colleagues, to urge the Government to lower the threshold for draught relief to 20 litres. You can read a copy of this letter here. After considerable pressure and continuous campaigning from brewers, publicans, industry groups and cross-party MPs, the Chancellor announced last week that 20 and 30 litre containers will be included in the new draught duty. I am pleased that the Chancellor has listened to our concerns. You can read the Government's full proposals for alcohol duty reform here. Despite this small success, I know that pubs and brewers currently face huge economic challenges amidst especially tough market conditions. These businesses sit at the heart of local communities and I will continue to use my role in Parliament to voice their concerns and to call for the Government to make the necessary support available to ensure they remain economically viable. If you are a publican, restaurateur or similar, please do not hesitate to get in touch if I am able to assist you.
INCREASED POLICE PRESENCE
As many of my constituents will already know, on 12 September, Sir Mark Rowley was sworn in as the new commissioner of the Metropolitan Police force. One of Commissioner Rowley's first actions has been to speak with media outlets across London and commit to getting the basics right, including investing in more community policing. I hope that the Met will be better equipped to fight anti-social behaviour in Richmond Park in the coming months.
Last week, this focus on community policing showed real results. Mortlake and Barnes Common's Met Police Safer Neighbourhood Team has been below full strength for quite some time now due to the London-wide lack of PCSOs. I have however been informed that this has finally changed and that a new police constable has joined the team, bringing the ward up to full strength. I hope that this addition to the team will allow officers to do even more to protect Mortlake and challenge ASB in the neighbourhood.
ASHLEIGH ROAD STREET PARTY
I had the pleasure of joining residents of Ashleigh Road in Mortlake for their street party last weekend. It was a lovely event, bringing neighbours together the strengthen the bonds of community that make Richmond and Kingston such wonderful places to live. I was pleased to be joined by ward councillors Anton McNulty-Howard and Tony Paterson as well as local residents and community leaders.
HELPING UKRAINIANS, BOTH HERE AND THERE
Refugees Welcome in Richmond has written to me to say that replacement hosts are urgently needed for a small number of Ukrainians already in Richmond. Since the start of the war in Ukraine, over 600 people have been housed in RIchmond under the Government’s Homes for Ukraine Scheme thanks to the compassion of local hosts. They are accessing schooling and language tuition and seeking work. Six months on, there are now 30 cases where refugees need to move on to another host due to illness or unforeseen changes in circumstances in their orginal host’s household. Hosts will receive a monthly payment of £350 for the remainder of their guests’ first year in the UK. If you know anyone who could offer one or more spare rooms under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, please urge them to contact Refugees Welcome in Richmond or the Council to find out how the scheme operates.
Richmond Council: phone 020 8891 7687 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Refugees Welcome in Richmond: phone 07710 981243 or see their website here
Kew Gardens Rotary Club has also written to me to ask for help promoting their fundraising campaign for the village of Moshchun, on the outskirts of Kyiv. The village saw intensive fighting when Putin's army made its push to take Kyiv. The local Ukrainian defense forces stopped the Russian advance on the Lyiv in Moshchun, but the Russians destroyed 85% of the buildings in the village. The inhabitants are struggling re-build their homes. They are living in tents, but with winter coming they need better shelter.
Kew Gardens Rotary Club and the Kew Society have joined together to raise £10,000 to send a locally-built, prefabricated home to a family of four living in Moshchun. If you would like to donate to this cause and help them continue rebuilding over the winter, please click here.
KINGSTON CYCLE NETWORK - HAVE YOUR SAY
The borough’s cycle network plays a key part in Kingston Council's vision for a greener future. They would like your comments on the latest parts of the network - the Ewell Road and Kingston Road routes, which are yet to be completed. They are asking to hear about simple but effective improvements that could be made to the parts already completed. Visit the Let’s Talk portal to share your views.
QUEEN'S JUBILEE BENCH AT TUDOR LIBRARY
Tudor Library Friends (TuLF) would like to invite residents to the grand unveiling of their Platinum Jubilee Bench, at a garden celebration and AGM on Saturday 8th October from 2-4pm. There will be cake, book and raffle stalls and free bulb planting at 3:00pm. For more information please pop into the library or email email@example.com.
TREE PLANTING - HAVE YOUR SAY
Kingston Council has also asked me to let residents know about this year's Winter tree planting survey. Over 500 trees are going to be planted this year and they want to know where residents would like to see them planted. Choose from a list of plots which include everything from grass verges to local parks. There may even be an available plot on your street. Trees are always planted during the winter months when they are dormant, as this gives the tree the best chance of surviving. Choose your top three locations by completing the survey by 4 November 2022.
MIND - WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY EVENTS
To celebrate World Mental Health Day, Richmond Borough Mind is running a special Mental Health Awareness event on Monday 10th October, 4-5.30pm at their new Wellbeing Hub at Castelnau Community Centre. Participants will learn about symptoms of common mental health problems and receive advice on the support available. Refreshments will also be available. To register please email Marta at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mind has also asked me to say that their Psychotherapy and Counselling Service is expanding and they are looking for trainee or qualified therapists to work with children and young people aged 12-18 on a voluntary basis. They are especially looking for Creative Arts Therapists for individual and group sessions.
If you would like to join their team please email: email@example.com
HAM PARADE MARKET
This month marks Ham Parade Market's five year ‘HAMiversary’ since launching in October 2017. The market has raised over £10k for local charities since it started. This Saturday's market will be open from 10.00-14.00 with live music, and children’s entertainment from Tree House Learning forest school and a local face painter. The charity they are supporting this month is Voices of Hope and their BRITE box project. Come along and help celebrate this wonderful community initiative.
The dates for the remaining Ham Parade markets this year are: Oct 1st, Nov 5th and Dec 3rd.
HAM YOUTH ORCHESTRA
Achieving for Children has asked me to share some information with Richmond borough residents about the Ham Youth Orchestra, a fantastic opportunity offering music tuition and access to classical instruments for free. Please see the poster below for more information.