Richmond Park News: 6 August 2021
With each new Government announcement on travel adding more complexity and confusion, many of my constituents seem to be understandably opting to either stay at home this summer or at least stay in Britain. I let the Government know this week that better leadership is needed on this and that neither my constituents nor our economically-important travel sector are helped by the chaos and unpredictability. I have also called on the Government to appoint a head to the Joint Biosecurity Centre, which has gone without a leader for too long.
MENTAL HEALTH IN THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
I am deeply concerned about the many people who pass through the justice system without their mental health needs being recognised. I have written to Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland QC to ask him to work with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to ensure that the justice system and those working within it are better equipped to recognise and react to mental health needs. I have also asked him to review the funds allotted to supporting mental health needs within the justice system. You can see my full letter to the Justice Secretary here.
CLOSURE OF RBS BRANCH AND BANKING FRAUD
I also wrote to Royal Bank of Scotland this week to convey my concerns about the recently-announced closure of their Richmond branch in November. I am not just concerned about my constituents being unable to access a branch for their banking needs, however. I am also concerned about the potential for fraud and theft created by the move to online banking, especially as branch closures force older people who are less comfortable online into digital banking. I asked RBS to explain how it is going to protect customers from scams and digital theft. You can see my letter here.
DEAF AWARENESS AND BRITISH SIGN LANGUAGE
I had the pleasure of meeting with Feras al-Moubayed today, to continue our conversation about promoting greater deaf awareness, particularly in the area of public services. We also spoke about widening access to British Sign Language learning. Feras is a sign language teacher himself, and he was kind enough to give me and some of my staff members an introductory lesson in BSL, which we enjoyed immensely, as you can see in the picture below.
If you want to know more about Feras and his brother Wael's BSL classes, or their advocacy for deaf and hard of hearing people, please have a look at their website here.
JOIN ME FOR A VIRTUAL COFFEE MORNING NEXT WEDNESDAY
My next virtual coffee morning will be next Wednesday, August 11 at 10:00am. If you would like to join me for a brief update on what I am doing as your MP followed by informal conversation with myself and your fellow residents about national and local issues, please sign up here.
The Government has shared a new video encouraging everyone to stay safe and protect family and friends. You can see the video here. I encourage all of my constituents to continue wearing masks in indoor public places, meeting outside as much as possible, washing your hands, and testing yourselves.
If you have any symptoms of Covid-19, even mild ones, please take a PCR test as soon as possible to avoid exposing others in the event that you test positive. You can see how to book a test here.
Case rates in RIchmond and Kingston are high in young people, so please encourage any young people you know to get their vaccinations as quickly as they can. The vaccines minister has announced that 16 and 17 year olds will be offered the vaccine very soon. I urge any parents or teenagers who have questions or concerns about the vaccine to speak to your GP or another health professional now to get answers and reassurance. With schools and colleges returning in just a month, the more sixth formers we can get vaccinated before they are in classrooms together again, the better.
The Joint Committee on Vaccine and Immunisation has confirmed that 16 and 17 year olds will not need parental consent for the vaccine and will receive the Pfizer-BioNTech jab. 17 year olds who are within three months of their 18th birthday are already eligible for vaccination. The hope is that this will help increase vaccination rates for students before they return to university.
You can book an appointment for your jab here, or see a list of nearby walk-in sessions here. This weekend you can go to Harlequins Stadium in Twickenham from 8:30 - 7:00 Saturday or Sunday.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has opened a dedicated coronavirus Yellow Card reporting site for healthcare professionals and patients to report adverse effects from the Covid-19 vaccines or from medications and treatments given to combat Covid-19 itself. This reporting site is separate from their general Yellow Card reporting site for other illnessnes and treatments.
By reporting through this site, patients and healthcare professionals can help gather valuable evidence to inform decisions on the safe and effective use of medicines, vaccines and medical devices as the pandemic evolves. I encourage anyone with information to share to report it here.
RECYCLING AND WASTE DISPOSAL
The Townmead Road Refuse and Recycling Centre is still operating at a reduced capacity following the recent fire. I would like to clarify that while Richmond residents have a number of options for disposing of waste during this time, they are not permitted to take it to the Villiers Road waste disposal site in Kingston. Kingston is in a different Greater London waste partnership from Richmond; Richmond residents cannot use the Villiers Road site. Other options for disposing of unwanted items include:
Use one of the Community Reuse and Recycle Schemes: exchange unwanted items, upcycle furniture or recycle textiles.
Book a bulky waste collection: Richmond is offering a 50% discount on full price bulk collection charges until Sunday 29 August 2021.
Visit one of the borough’s 60 recycling sites. This will be the best place to recycle cardboard and paper. Please flatten your cardboard and only leave it in the correct bin.
Book at alternative West London sites in Brent and Ealing (Greenford and Acton)
Please check the details for the other West London recycling sites. You must book to visit one of these sites. The sites have different terms and conditions and there may be charges for certain types of waste. Please check details thoroughly before booking your visit.
Do not leave items on the street - this is fly-tipping, which is a serious crime and could lead to large fines.
TRAVELLERS IN KEW
Following reports that an unauthorised group of travellers arrived on Kew Green this week, the Council has commenced the legal process that will require them to leave. It is expected that the process will take a number of days. The Council, along with Park Guard and the Police, will continue to liaise with the group and monitor the site. When the travellers do leave, the Council will repair any damage and remove any waste left on the Green.
NEW PLANTERS IN RICHMOND TOWN CENTRE
Be Richmond recently installed six new planters in Richmond town centre as part of a ‘Green Trails’ project designed to bring more colour to our streets. The new planters are located in Golden Court, Church Court (see above) plus four just outside Richmond station. The plants, which have been carefully chosen to attract pollinating insects and support local wildlife, will be maintained by local environmental charity Habitats & Heritage. Thank you to Be Richmond!