I spoke in Parliament yesterday in opposition to the Internal Market Bill, which was brought back to the House by the Government this week.
I condemned in the strongest terms the portions of this bill that would have contravened international law, deploring the loss in trust and stature that would result from going back on our word as a nation. You can see my speech on the subject in the video clips to the right.
Since the debate and vote last night, the Government has announced that they have reached agreement with the EU on how Brexit will be implemented in Northern Ireland.
The government says it will now withdraw the most problematic clauses in the Internal Market Bill with the resolution of border control issues in Northern Ireland. I am happy to hear that they no longer intend to break international law.
You can see the full text of my speech here.
SUPPORTING HIGH STREET BUSINESSES
I am deeply concerned about the fate of our high street businesses, especially following the collapse of Arcadia last week. The Government must act urgently to support them or our high streets will lose the vitality we have always treasured. I wrote to Alok Sharma this week with a list of five actions I am calling on the Government to take to support these businesses. I am asking the Government to:
Extend the business rates holiday for hospitality, retail and leisure businesses at least until June of 2021
Upon the re-introduction of business rates, provide 50% relief in the above sectors
Commit to a wholesale re-think of business rates, aiming to reduce the burden on high street businesses
Bring down barriers to entry into the retail market through innovative solutions such as turnover-based rents and flexible leases
Reverse the decision to end tax-free shopping for overseas tourists on January 1st
I will keep pushing the Government to do more to support small and medium-sized businesses. We cannot leave our high streets and our local economies to be casualties of Covid-19 and Brexit. You can see the full text of my letter here.
VISITING OUR OWN HIGH STREETS
I enjoyed visiting a number of high street businesses in Richmond Park last Friday and over the weekend. I felt it was important to get out and support them while doing my Christmas shopping. Our local independent retailers need our support more than ever this year, and I can attest that that have some amazing goods to offer us. I popped into Rosie and Java, Open Book and Nordic Outdoor, strolling through Richmond. Later I visited Level Crossing Records and Pandemonium in East Sheen, where I got some great advice about gifts for the children in my family.
I also went to the annual Christmas Market in Kew, where I spoke to lots of local residents out enjoying the festive spirit in a Covid-safe environment. As always it was a lovely event.
FIRST COVID-19 VACCINATION TODAY!
I am sure you are all as happy and relieved as I am that the first person in the world to receive a clinical vaccination for Covid-19 received it today, and received here, from our own NHS. The arrival of this vaccine shows what we can accomplish with enough will, ingenuity, cooperation and resources. We have not reached the end of the Covid-19 pandemic yet - the full vaccination programme will take several months. But we have turned a very important corner today and we can look to brighter days ahead.
GRIEF AWARENESS WEEK
I visited Mortlake Crematorium yesterday to mark Grief Awareness Week, an annual event organised by The Good Grief Trust. The purpose of the week is to help the bereaved feel acknowledged and understood, help those grieving get the help and support the need, help those supporting their grieving friends and family know what to say and do, and raise awareness of local support available in the area.
Cruse can offer grief support to local residents. Their national helpline is open over the Christmas period for emotional support on 0808 808 1677.
FURTHER FUNDING FOR LOCAL BUSINESSES
A further £3.96m pot of cash is now available for local businesses who have been impacted by the pandemic – with grants of up to £10k to be paid out. Eligible businesses can now apply for the Council’s discretionary ‘Additional Restrictions Grant’ to help them manage the impact of the pandemic.
The scheme is aimed at businesses who have not been eligible for or received a grant or relief under any of the other Council administered Covid19 financial support schemes, including the Small Business Grant, Extended Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Rates Relief or Local Restrictions Support Grant.
The funding is aimed at supporting businesses with their ongoing fixed property-related costs e.g. rental or lease commitments and this means it will not be available for those businesses run from domestic properties. Grants will be awarded according to the level of fixed ongoing property costs.
Applicants must also be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income due to Coronavirus restriction measures.
For more information, or to apply go to: www.richmond.gov.uk/apply_additional_restrictions_grant
LOVE THROUGH THE LETTERBOX - CHRISTMAS APPEAL
Children are encouraged to create and write Christmas cards for care home residents in Richmond borough to help spread festive cheer to those amongst the most affected by COVID-19. Residents may remember the first #LoveThroughTheLetterbox campaign in the summer, which saw over 450 love filled letters delivered to care homes.
The Christmas edition of #LoveThroughTheLetterbox is an opportunity for children to get creative and to let the older generation know that we continue to think of them. The card doesn’t necessarily have to include words – artworks and drawings are also welcomed.
Please encourage the young people in your life to create Christmas cards. Send your cards to Love Through The Letterbox Christmas, Civic Centre, 44 York Street, Twickenham, TW1 3BZ and Richmond Council will forward the cards to care homes that want to be involved.
Christmas cards will be delivered to care homes the week beginning 21 December so please make sure your cards arrive at the Civic Centre before then.
KINGSTON MUSEUM SECURES FUNDING FOR MUYBRIDGE PROJECT
Kingston Museum has received funding to develop a major new project about pioneering photographer and inventor Eadweard Muybridge. The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art has confirmed the Museum will receive a £40,000 Curatorial Research Grant for its online catalogue project, entitled ‘Making Muybridge Visible: An Online Catalogue’.
The development of ‘Making Muybridge Visible’ is expected to run from April 2021 to April 2023, with the new project, the Museum’s first digital catalogue, aimed to be up and running by summer 2023.
Muybridge was born in Kingston in 1830, and is widely considered the father of motion pictures for his pioneering work in photography. After spending much of his life in the United States, he returned home to Kingston in later years and died in the borough in 1904.
The funding will allow Kingston Museum to share the Muybridge collection online and enable further research on this material. Kingston Museum is currently celebrating a Year of Muybridge with a series of events marking 190 years since the inventor’s birth. Find out more information here.