I hope all of my constituents who celebrate Diwali enjoyed themselves last night, and I wish those of you attending Bonfire Night celebrations tonight a safe and pleasant, if chilly, evening.
COP26 is now well underway following a two-day leader’s summit at the beginning of the week. We’ve seen agreements on reducing coal and methane emissions, both of which are promising developments but both of which were notable for their absentees -- chief users and producers such as China, Russia & India (methane) and China, India, the US & Australia (coal.)
Ed Davey, who led the UK’s delegation to three separate COPs as Climate and Energy Secretary, visited the conference yesterday. Ed has been clear that the key to a successful COP26 will be in persuading China to end its coal usage, making their omission from the emissions agreements really disappointing.
However, I was pleased with the announcement that over 100 countries have pledged to end deforestation by 2030. This is a really important step as trees are key in absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere. The commitment must, however, have strong measures of enforcement as the previous pledge in 2014 actually led to an increase in deforestation.
Overall the UK government needs to be far more ambitious on climate change. In the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget, he didn’t mention the word climate once. The Government has undermined intercity rail services by cutting Air Passenger Duty for domestic flights, and the promising Green Homes Grant has now been scrapped after a year of mismanagement.
As I wrote for Politics Home this week, we can’t afford for that level of complacency or inconsistency. We need bold British leadership and united Western pressure to ensure COP26 is not a wasted opportunity. You can see my further thoughts in this video.
I will also be appearing on BBC Sunday Politics London on 7th November at 10:00am, discussing the latest London news with Andrew Rosindell, the Conservative MP for Romford.
NUCLEAR ENERGY BILL
This week the Nuclear Energy Bill had its Second Reading in Parliament. I was keen to stress in my speech in the Chamber just how important it is that we decarbonise our energy sector. I reminded the government that that means redoubling our efforts on renewables.
We should also be mindful of the consequences of getting rid of nuclear waste, a process that requires enormous time, money and effort and will place an immense burden on future generations. You can see part of my speech here.
I visited Richard Ratcliffe outside Parliament yesterday, where he is still protesting Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's treatment with a hunger strike. Many of my constituents have written in to express their sympathy and solidarity with Richard and Nazanin, and will want to know that Richard seems to be keeping well and is in good spirits. He has a lot of support from Parliamentarians and members of the public but I was frustrated to hear that his recent meeting with the new Foreign Secretary does not yet seem to have resulted in much progress in getting Nazanin home.
I, along with many MPs from across the House, will continue to put pressure on the Foreign Secretary to do more to secure Nazanin’s release and get her home to Richard and their daughter.
SOUTHWESTERN RAILWAY SERVICE CUTS
Following my Adjournment Debate on rail service reductions I have continued my campaign against the cuts being proposed by South Western Rail. This week I published an article in New Civil Engineer arguing that it makes no sense to cut services when we should be incentivising people get back onto rail.
VISIT TO KEW COMMUNITY TRUST
I had the pleasure of visiting Kew Community Trust today to see all the activities they offer. Kew Community Trust is the independent secular trust which runs The Avenue Community Centre. They rent out the space there to a number of community groups including The Avenue Club, which supports older residents of the borough.
The Kew Community Trust is keen to reach out to other age groups and spoke to me about their efforts to engage with them. Some of the ideas we discussed included offering programmes for local businesses, volunteering schemes for local charities or after school clubs. If you are part of a local group looking for space for activities that would benefit the community, please do get in touch with them.
UPCOMING COFFEE MORNINGS
I am hosting my second series of in-person coffee mornings in November, with three events in North Kingston and Richmond. I thoroughly enjoyed getting out and talking to groups of constituents in October, and am delighted to be coming to meet residents in other neighbourhoods. The dates are:
Tudor and Canbury event in Tudor Ward - Wednesday, November 10 at 10:30
Richmond and Kew event in North Richmond ward - Friday, November 12 at 10:30
Coombe Hill and Coombe Vale event in Coombe Hill -- Monday, November 15 at 10:30
Please be assured that security measures will be in place at these events. Coffee mornings are open to all Richmond Park residents but attendees must register in advance, giving their home address.
If you would like to join me for a brief update on what I am doing as your MP, followed by conversation with your fellow residents and myself, please register here. You can also register to be notified of other upcoming events using the same link.
With case rates still very high in this area, health professionals are strongly encouraging everyone who is eligible to get one, whether that's over 50's who are due for a booster, young adults who are due for their second doses, 12-15 year olds who haven't had a jab at school, or anyone who was hesitant up till now.
12-15 year olds can get walk-in jabs at Harlequins Stadium on Sunday between 10:30 and 6:00, or at the Hawks Road Health Clinic in Kingston from 3:45pm to 7:30pm tomorrow or 1:15 - 4:45 on Sunday. Anyone aged 16 and up can walk into Hawks Road from 8:00 - 3:30 tomorrow, or from 8:00am - 1:00pm and from 5:00pm - 7:00pm on Sunday. 12-15 year old constituents in Barnes and Sheen might find it easier to go to Queen Mary's in Roehampton, from 1.15pm to 4.45pm on Saturday or from 3.45pm to 7.30pm on Sunday For those aged 16+ the walk-in hours at Queen Mary's this weekend are 8am to 1pm on Saturday 6th November 2021and 8am to 3.30pm on Sunday 7th November
For the next two weeks, those who take a PCR Covid-19 test at the pop-up testing centre at Old Deer Park in Richmond will receive their results on the same day. A mobile COVID-19 processing unit will join the PCR mobile testing unit at Old Deer Car Park on the 4th, 6th, 8th, 10th & 12th November, as part of the Council’s commitment to address the high case rates.
The service is for pre-booked appointments only, but tests can be booked up to 24 hours in advance. Please only book an appointment if you have any COVID-19 symptoms or have a positive lateral flow test.
If you wish to register for an appointment, you can do so using the links below:
RICHMOND LITERATURE FESTIVAL STARTS TODAY!
This year’s Richmond Literature Festival will run from 5 - 21 November 2021. The programme will explore the theme of ‘breaking ground.’ Through literature and ideas, the festival will imagine the new possibilities of our future with an events programme including talks by authors, historians, politicians and more, with writing workshops as well as activities for children and families.
Festival highlights include Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain with author and journalist Sathnam Sanghera, who examines the enduring influence of empire which will be made into an upcoming Channel 4 documentary, and The Fortune Men with Nadifa Mohamed who is the only British author to make the 2021 Booker Prize shortlist.
CONSULTATION ON STEP-FREE ACCESS TO STATIONS
Transport for London (TfL) has launched a public consultation to shape future step-free access priorities and improvements on the London Underground network. The consultation will help TfL identify which aspects of making London Underground stations more accessible it should prioritise.
The TfL Go app shows detailed information about step-free stations and platforms. My Kew constituents will like to know that I have written to TfL to ask them to be clearer about the access limitations at Kew Gardens station in their published information and communications. Kew constituents may be particularly keen to join the consultation.
You can share your views with TfL here: https://haveyoursay.tfl.gov.uk/tube-step-free-access
NEW GREEN SPACE MANAGEMENT CONTRACTS
Two new contracts have been awarded by Kingston Council this week -- to Glendale Services for green space management and to Advanced Tree Services for arboricultural services. Glendale Services, who have been awarded the green spaces contract, will maintain the borough’s open spaces, including parks, playgrounds, housing estates and highways verges. As well as a firm commitment to nature conservation, Glendale Services will bring its expertise in the leisure sector to Kingston. This includes the aim to increase participation in physical activity across our open spaces.
Additionally, the new contract meets the commitment to paying the London Living Wage and provides opportunities for local people to develop skills and employment opportunities through an apprenticeship programme.
Advanced Tree Services (ATS) have been awarded the contract for the management of council-owned trees within the borough. Although ATS will carry out tree surgery and tree planting activities, decisions around the management of trees remain with the Council.
MEN'S HEALTH AWARENESS EVENT
To celebrate Movember, Kingston residents are invited to join in a variety of activities and speak with organisations such as the NHS and MIND about physical and mental health at a special men's health awareness event. If you would like to know more about men's health, join them at Surbiton Library between 10am and 1:30pm on November 19.
A constituent sent me this lovely photo he took of a doe and fawns in Richmond Park last week. He wanted to share this moment to remind fellow residents of the beauty and peace to be found in the Park. It reminded me of how lucky we are to have this extraordinary park on our doorstep; the environment we need to preserve and protect includes our own shared habitat!