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Richmond Park News: 5th January 2024

Updated: Jan 8

With the House returning next week, MPs are gearing up for what could well be the last year of this parliamentary session. This week, Rishi Sunak has announced the general election will likely take place in the latter half of the year. Make it your New Year resolution to ensure you have the correct Voter ID so that you’re ready to go to the polling station when the election is called. To vote, you will need a form of photo identification such as a provisional driving license or passport. If you do not currently have a form of photo ID, you can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate through the link here.


Over this parliament, public services have had their budgets stretched beyond breaking point while households' tax burdens are the highest they have been since the 1950s. Britain needs a change and I hope that over the next 12 months we will see a real turn away from the mismanagement and failures of the last few years.


I'd like to wish all my constituents the best of luck with the year ahead and I hope you have a wonderful 2024.



THAMES WATER DRA - HAM LANDS


This week, the Government decided to accept the controversial Teddington DRA scheme as "nationally significant infrastructure". This will mean that the scheme will not be sent to the Richmond, Kingston, and Hounslow local authorities for approval, but rather to the National Planning Inspectorate. This process bypasses local councillors but does still require extensive pre-consultation with the community and local organisations.


One serious concern I have with Thames Water pursuing this route is the fact that projects that pass through the planning inspectorate are extremely difficult to amend. This could mean that should information come out about the environmental or social impact of the scheme after the application has been submitted, it will be extremely hard to force Thames Water to amend the project in any significant way.


I also have concerns related to the transparency if the planning inspectorates decision making process. This is a scheme that will have a huge impact on our community and so the final decision must not be made behind closed doors. When Parliament returns, I will be writing to Robbie Moore MP, the Minister for water quality, to ask that DEFRA open clear lines of communication with local representatives and groups to ensure we are fully informed of, and able to comment on, all the stages of the process.



LONDONERS BEING 'STEALTH TAXED'


This week, research commissioned by my office and published in the Evening Standard has revealed that 550,000 more Londoners are about to be dragged into paying income tax at the higher rate due to the Conservative Government’s decision to freeze tax thresholds until 2027/28.

 

The research has also shown that almost £10bn of the £28.6bn of additional tax revenue owing to frozen income tax thresholds will come from London and the South East, with the average household in London set to be paying a staggering £1,340 more a year in income tax on average by 2026/27 due to these ‘stealth taxes’.

 

These figures further demonstrate the extent of the deception by the Chancellor in his claims to be cutting taxes, when in reality he is raising personal taxes for millions of households. Over the next 12 months, I will continue to hold this Government to account on their poor economic record, and work to shine a light on their attempts to pull the wool over the public's eyes.



NAMIBIAN PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION


In the latter part of December, I hosted a delegation from the Namibian Parliament at Kew Gardens. It is always an honour to welcome guests to Richmond Park and I am privileged to represent a constituency with a wealth of historical sites and famous landmarks to visit.

 

I spoke to the delegation about my work as a local representative, my role on the Public Accounts Committee, and the structure of the UK political system. It was interesting to hear that there is no local government in Namibia, and therefore all funding for local communities is allocated by central Government.

 

We were given a tour of the Princess of Wales Conservatory and various other collections , where the delegation were shown several samples that originated from Namibia. I was very proud to be able to show the delegates our beautiful constituency and I hope that many more come to visit the community in the years to come.



KINGSTON CARERS NETWORK ART PROJECTION


Between 5:30 pm and 6:30 pm on the 19th of January, Kingston Carers Network will be projecting a presentation of their art, movement, and poetry in Kingston Market place as part of the HeArt of Care initiative.


The artwork in this project shines a light on the invisible role of carers and is to be projected on public buildings across London, starting in Kingston! It is the culmination of a two-year project working with carers, who are often excluded from cultural activities because of their responsibilities. HeArt of Care is a work made up of a series of images with a sound score that will be projected publicly on Friday 19th January. The artwork will illuminate the invisible role that carers play in families and communities, as well as challenge the perceptions of care in an inclusive society.


The artwork itself will be more than 10 metres high and projected over the course of one to two hours. It will be accompanied by original music composed by Matthew Peters. If you are able to spend 15 minutes in the market place on the 19th, I think it will be well worth a visit.



CHRISTMAS TREE COLLECTION


As today is 12th night, I know that many of my constituents will be about to take down their Christmas decorations and put out their tree. Richmond and Kingston Councils will be running free Christmas tree removal services between the 2nd and 19th of January in Kingston and the 8th and 19th of January in Richmond.


In Kingston, your tree can be placed outside on the pavement on either the rubbish or recycling collection days. If you live in a block of flats or use communal bins, your tree can be taken to any of the drop off points within the borough listed here.


In Richmond, you must place your tree outside in a front garden visible from the pavement (if you have one) or on the pavement by your entrance. If you live in a block of flats or mansion block, or if you would like to get rid of your tree early, you can also drop off your tree at one of the points listed here.


Please make sure you do not obstruct the pavements and if there are a number of trees please create a pile taking care not to block the path.



TEAS AND TREATS


Tea and Treats’ offers a warm, welcoming, and inclusive space where people come together and meet others from the area. They have welcomed people who live on their own and feel like a change of scenery, want a place to visit for a free cup of tea, carers wanting to take dependent friend or relative out, newcomers to the area, new parents, senior residents and refugees. Some people come for time to sit on their own and enjoy a free lunch of nutritious soup followed by healthy snacks or delicious homemade cake!


It is a truly fantastic event and I would highly recommend dropping by if you are in the area. The event is on the first Friday of every month at Swinnerton Hall, 61 Gibbon Road, Kingston, KT2 6AB between 11.00am and 2.00pm.



MALCOLM SINGLETON'S MEMORIAL BENCH


I was incredibly pleased to see that this week a bench dedicated to Malcolm Singleton, who sadly passed away in 2022, was finally installed on Ham Parade. Malcolm was the proprietor of M&J Hardware, a Ham Parade institution for many years and is sadly missed by local residents who knew they could get exactly the right lightbulb or screwdriver in his shop, as well as a great many other things they didn’t know they needed.


He is sorely missed by everyone in the community but I am delighted that such a fitting tribute is now in place on the road where he touched so many people's lives.



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