Richmond Park News: 4 December 2020
Following the dismaying news of the demise of Arcadia this week I participated in an Urgent Question in the chamber about support for the retail sector and replacing jobs on the high street. I believe the Government can do more to work with local authorities to offer incentives to small businesses to fill the space formerly occupied by department stores like Debenhams, working with small businesses on business rate relief etc. You can see my question and the response from Undersecretary of State (Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets) Paul Scully above.
I also believe we can all take steps to support small and local businesses and keep our high streets vibrant by shopping local this Christmas. Kingston Council wrote to me this week to give me the welcome news that shops in the town centre are reporting strong sales in the first couple of days of reopening. They have asked me to tell you that many shops have extended opening hours and are much less busy after 5pm so people can spread out their visits to shop more safely. Teams from across Kingston Council are working to help make the whole experience of shopping and eating locally as safe as possible.
Richmond Council has also been in touch to ask me to encourage everyone to support their local business community. To that end, the Richmond Card has teamed up with Visit Richmond to continue the #RichmondShopsLocal campaign. Go to the Visit Richmond pages, for shopping highlights in all of the town centres, and view the Richmond Card offers list to see special Christmas offers from local independent shops across the Borough.
I learned today from London's Strategic Coordinating Group today that case rates across London have plateaued and are not declining as in recent weeks. London's 7-day case rate is currently 155.8 per 100,000. Richmond's rate is at 90, but Kingston's is quite worrying at 180. The situation is unstable and we all need to do everything we can to get that transmission rate down if we are to avoid going into Tier 3.
I was very happy to hear from the Health Secretary that quick turnaround Covid-19 tests have started rolling out to care homes now, so up to two people will be soon be able to safely visit their loved ones each week. I know how much distress it caused to my constituents to have their visits restricted and how much it will mean to you to be able to see your family members again. I hope that helps make Christmas a little brighter for all.
The news about the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine being approved is a wonderful ray of hope this week. I understand that the first people to be vaccinated will have their jabs next week. This is truly the light at the end of the tunnel we have all been hoping to see, though it may be several months before the full programme is complete.
In the meantime, people who fall into one of these categories are eligible for a flu jab. This helps the NHS, so please should contact your GP or pharmacy about getting one:
Adults over 50
Those who have an underlying health condition
Children aged 2-3 years old
All primary school children and those in year 7