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Richmond Park News: 3rd May 2024

As many readers will know, voters across London went to the polls to elect the new members of the London Assembly and Mayor of London. Although the votes are still being counted and we won't know who has emerged victorious until tomorrow evening, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the council and GLA staff who made this election possible.


Over these last few months, my party colleagues Gareth Roberts and Rob Blackie have fought extremely hard to give a voice to everyone in South West London who want to send a message both to City Hall and to the Government. I wish them the very best of luck tomorrow.


Across the country, the results of local elections have been coming through all day and we appear to be witnessing a catastrophic loss for the Conservatives, who have lost hundreds of councillors and several key northern Mayoralties.


The results of this set of elections will continue to come in over the weekend and you can follow all of the election coverage online on the BBC's website here. If you'd like to hear more of my thoughts on the results you can see a clip of my contributions to the BBC's election night panel here.



DIGITAL MARKETS BILL


On Monday, I spoke in the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill debate, reiterating that the Liberal Democrats are generally supportive of this Bill which prevents tech giants from putting the digital sector in a stranglehold. 


Specifically, it would protect customers purchasing tickets on secondary ticket sites by requiring proof of purchase, ticket number limits and background information on the sale.


This legislation would help prevent customers from falling foul of online scams and fraud, and I am optimistic that it might herald a substantial shift in the culture around ticket sales.


If you are interested in watching my full contribution to the debate you can do so here.



THE ALL-PARTY PARLIAMENTARY LOAN CHARGE AND TAXPAYER FAIRNESS GROUP


This week, I attended the annual general meeting of the Loan Charge All Party Parliamentary Group where I am very pleased to say that I was re-elected to the committee for another year. 


The Loan Charge, a retrospective tax which I know is important for a number of my constituents, is a key issue for me, and I am proud to remain a part of this group which is fighting for justice for all of those affected. 


Although Ministers have continued to refuse to engage meaningfully with this topic, I am hopeful that by not backing down and keeping up the fight, we will be able to push the Government to take some genuine action.


If any of my constituents have been affected by the Loan Charge and have not yet reached out to my team for support, please do not hesitate to do so. 



PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE


In my capacity as a Member of the Public Accounts Committee, I attended a committee on Monday regarding the rail transformation programme. 


During this session, we questioned the permanent secretary of the Department for Transport, Dame Bernadette Kelly, on the cost of the new rail transformation programme, and how they hope to achieve this plan. 


I understand that this transformation programme will be vital for many of my constituents, and will not only increase the connectivity of the rail networks but also will improve passengers' experience of using the trains. Our train networks desperately need a boost and I hope this programme will help get them back on track.


You can watch the full session and learn more with the link here.



NIGHT FLIGHTS CONSULTATION


The Government is currently running a consultation on its new night flights regime for London airports. These rules will govern how many night flights are allowed at London Heathrow, Gatwick, and Stansted for the next three years.


Hundreds of thousands of people live under the Heathrow flight path, but last year, a similar consultation received less than 500 responses. It is vital that the Government hears our community's views on this subject and I would urge anyone affected by the Heathrow flight path to respond and to share this consultation with your neighbours.


You can read my draft consultation response here. You are more than welcome to use it as the basis for your own response should you wish to.



METROPOLITAN POLICE AND A NEW POLICE STATION


During the Mayoral campaign, each of the major parties candidates pledged to increase the number of frontline police officers available to the Met. Although the plans differed on how these officers would be delivered, with some proposals more realistic than others, it appears as if the Met are likely to have more resources to work with over the next 4 years.


With this in mind, I wrote to Sir Mark Rowley, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, to ask that he ensure our local police teams are properly resourced. Unfortunately, due to sickness or long-term absences, some of our local teams have, in recent years, been occasionally reduced to just a single police constable serving thousands of residents. This situation is far from ideal and I am hopeful that Sir Mark will see our local teams' need for reinforcements.


Our local police force does an excellent job with both Kingston and Richmond regularly ranked as amongst the safest boroughs in London, however, their success should not preclude them from getting the additional support they need.


In the letter, I also reiterated my request to meet with him to discuss the creation of a new police station in our community. I will be writing to the winner of Thursday's election with a similar request in the coming week and I will share the results with residents as soon as I can.



HAMMERSMITH BRIDGE


In somewhat bittersweet news, it appears that because of the damage done to Hammersmith Bridge by a party boat last year, the re-commencement of the stabilisation works has been delayed yet again. Whilst another set of delays is of course extremely frustrating, this does mean that the cycle path on the main carriageway, which was originally expected to be in place until the end of April, will remain open for several more weeks.


Although Hammersmith and Fulham could not give my team a more specific timeline than this, I have been reassured that residents will be given at least a weeks' warning before the cycle path closes again.



GROVES HEALTH CENTRE


This week, I held a meeting with the Clinical Lead of the Groves Health Centre in New Malden to discuss the worrying fact that the Care Quality Commission has graded the practice as Inadequate. I can imagine patients registered at the Groves Health centre may be extremely concerned to hear this news and so I wanted to learn more about the steps the practice is taking to improve this rating.


I'm pleased to say that substantial changes have been made to ensure they meet the standards laid out in official guidance. The practice is due to be re-inspected by the CQC soon and I hope to see a more positive result.



RICHMOND NEWS


MV ACADEMY: DANCING IN EAST SHEEN


MV Academy, founded in 2016 and based on East Sheen High Street, is a performing arts school open to everyone from total beginners to budding professionals.


I was very pleased to hear earlier this week that a team from the school has been selected to perform at the 2024 Dance World Cup in Prague. Last year, the school brought home a Gold and Bronze Medal for Team England and I wish them the very best of luck.


If you are in a position to support the team and can donate a few pounds towards their trip to the World Cup, I know it would be immensely appreciated. You can donate here, and learn more about MV Academy here.



KINGSTON NEWS


KINGSTON BEAR HUNT TRAIL: VANDALISM


Over the past month, Kingston Residents may have seen the 10 giant bear sculptures scattered across the Borough. Each has been lovingly hand painted by a different artist with designed inspired by the Award winning animation and beloved children's book "We're going on a Bear Hunt".


The 10 bears are scattered across Kingston Town Centre and it is a great way to spend an afternoon exploring Kingston with your children while seeing some truly special works of art. You can pick up a trail guide at Waterstones, Fusebox, and the Rose Theatre and learn more about the trail here.





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