As Parliament has risen for the summer recess, I am taking the opportunity to host a series of events to hear from my constituents about the issues that matter most to them. Over 300 people attended these events and it was wonderful to meet with so many thoughtful, committed residents who were interested in learning more about their MP's work.
Monday night took me to Duke Street Church in the heart of Richmond. There, I spoke to residents about the ongoing issues with anti-social behaviour on Richmond Green and had the opportunity to share some thoughts about the state of politics after years of Conservative Government. I was also very pleased to be joined by Lee Spear and David Noakes from the Council’s Community Safety Team. They provided a great insight into the work they are doing to keep Richmond safe and I know their presence was enormously appreciated by everyone present.
On Tuesday, I made my way to Tiffin Girls School to speak with residents from Ham, Tudor, and Canbury Gardens. While we had a great selection of questions on national and local issues, the hot topic of the evening was of course, Thames Water’s plans to construct a new sewage-for-water scheme on Ham Lands. I am immensely grateful to Paul Tippell and the Save Ham Lands and River Group for their presentation. I look forward to working closely with Paul and the group over the coming weeks and months to prevent Thames Water from destroying this beautiful piece of the countryside in our community.
The third of my summer briefings took me to St Luke’s Church in Kew, where I was joined by North Richmond Cllrs Richard Warren and Nancy Baldwin as well as by Paul Beckford, a key leader in the No Third Runway campaign. Many residents in Kew fall between both the departing and arriving flight paths meaning they are bombarded from all sides day and night. It was great to have Paul there ready to advise on how we can all challenge Heathrow to be a better neighbour to our community.
My thanks to Duke Street Church, Tiffin Girls School and St Luke's in Kew, all of whom bent over backwards this week to help me host these events and make my constituents welcome. And thank you to David Noakes, Lee Spear, Paul Tippell, Paul Beckford and Cllrs Vassileva, Hall, Baldwin and Warren. I will fill you in on my remaining two Summer Briefings in next week's newsletter.
SUPPORTING CONSTITUENTS FROM HONG KONG
It was lovely to join local residents who have moved here from Hong Kong at Kingston Library on Wednesday and hear about their experiences as part of this growing community. They spoke with me about national and international policy issues as well as how they have settled in as Kingston residents. I have taken away some actions for them on both a local and a Parliamentary level. Locally, I have asked Kingston Library to expand their selection of books in Cantonese for this community, and hope they will take this on.
I know that many Hong Kongers have been greatly concerned by recent steps taken by the Chinese authorities to silence and intimidate pro-democracy activists in the UK, including the issuing of arrest warrants and bounties. I tried to speak on behalf of my constituents in a Parliamentary debate on the topic just before summer recess, but was unfortunately not chosen to speak. I therefore wrote a letter to the Foreign Secretary after the debate to relay my concerns and to urge that he do everything in his power to reassure British nationals from Hong Kong that the UK Government will protect and support any individuals targeted by the regime.
ULEZ SCRAPPAGE SCHEME EXPANSION
I was incredibly pleased to hear that this week that, after relentless lobbying from Liberal Democrat MPs and London Assembly Members, Sadiq Khan has finally agreed to expand the ULEZ scrappage scheme. This expansion was originally proposed by my colleague Caroline Pidgeon AM back in February, and while I would describe Mayor Khan’s agreement as better late than never, he would have saved many of my residents a great deal of concern had he agreed to our demands sooner.
Alongside increasing the amounts of the payments that the GLA will pay to scrap minibuses and vans, the scheme is now open to all Londoners who plan to give up their non-compliant vehicle. Mayor Khan’s decision to implement the expanded zone at the end of this month is rushed, and I believe he must give Londoners more time to prepare, but I am pleased that he has listened to reason on the subject of the scrappage scheme.
To learn more about the expanded scheme and check the compensation you may be entitled to, you can learn more on TfL’s website.
POLICE COMMUNITY EVENT IN KINGSTON
This week, the Met Police will be holding a community engagement event in Kingston Guildhall from 6 pm to 9 pm on Monday 7th of August. While the service has had a difficult period over the past year, I am convinced that they are committed to turning the force around.
Central to their plans is to rebuild the trust they have lost in the community. I know from my inbox and my Summer Briefings this week that many people have, for example, experienced less-than-ideal responses when reporting a crime. They want to hear from Londoners across the capital about what they need to do differently. I would urge anyone with a spare moment on Monday evening to sign up, visit and share your views on how our police force can be a stronger, more effective force in Kingston and Richmond.
Whether you are able to attend or not, I want to urge all of my constituents to continue reporting all crime they witness or are a victim of. Without meticulous reporting the crime statistics for this area will present the impression that there is less crime than there is, and we are in danger of not being given a fair proportion of Met Police resources.
If you would like to let the police know about anti-social behaviour or an ongoing threat to public safety, please contact your own ward's Safer Neighbourhood Team.
NATIONAL PLAY DAY
I had the pleasure of joining Kingston councillors Andrew Sillet and Andrew Bolton and officers from Achieving for Children at Dickerage Sports and Community Centre for National Play Day on Wednesday. It was delightful to see so many of my young constituents having fun in the fresh air and to hear more about the services available to all families in the constituency. These include parenting classes suitable for all, chat and play sessions for parents with a concern about their child, and a plethora of activities for children in the holidays and for preschool aged children in term time.
There are four dedicated Kingston Children's Centres, including one in Kingston town centre and one in New Malden, and look at their Summer Holidays Programme. There are numerous other outreach centres running Children's Centres activities around the borough, including Dickerage Centre and Tudor Drive Library. Brenda from Kingston Children's Centres asked me to specially urge local parents to also follow the Kingston Children's Centres Facebook page for up to the minute information.
There are four dedicated Richmond Children's Centres, including one in Ham and one in Barnes, and look at their Summer Holidays Programme. There are six other outreach centres running Children's Centres activities in the Richmond wards of my constituency. And do sign up for Richmond Children's Centre's Facebook page if you are a Richmond parent.
As you can see below, in addition to joining Mayor of Kingston Diane White and event organisers at the National Pay Day event, I also caught up with a Home-Start Trustee and Richmond councillor Nancy Baldwin about Home-Start's vital work supporting vulnerable families with children under 5, and with AfC youth worker Matthew about everything they offer to older children and young people in Kingston and Richmond. There was even a popular petting zoo where children could learn about where food comes from while interacting with the animals. Thank you to all of the organisers and presenters who made this such a wonderful day.