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Richmond Park News: 8 September 2023

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

Last night, police launched a major operation in Richmond Park to find the escaped prisoner Daniel Khalife. Khalife was raised in Kingston and has some ties to the area. Given these links, I took the opportunity yesterday to ask Justice Secretary Alex Chalk MP what reassurance the Government can give to our community.


While I know how concerning his possible presence in Southwest London will be to people, I would like to reassure everyone that the police do not consider him to be a threat to the wider public. However, if you believe you have seen Khalife, police are still advising residents to keep their distance and call 999 immediately.


FUNDRAISING WALK FOR SHOOTING STAR HOSPICE


Tomorrow, I will be taking part in the Thames Path Challenge to raise money for Shooting Star Hospice. They are a wonderful organisation who support families across Richmond Park, Surrey and West London.


Shooting Star is a full-range hospice centre, providing respite care for families of children with life-limiting conditions as well as palliative and end of life care, both at their centres in Hampton and Guildford and in the family home. I have visited Shooting Star's Children's Hospice in Hampton and seen first hand just how dedicated the staff are.


If you would like to donate to Shooting Star Hospice, please visit my Just Giving page. Any donations provided will be greatly appreciated by myself and the Shooting Star team.


SAVE HAM LANDS - THAMES WATER DIRECT RIVER ABSTRACTION DEBATE


On Wednesday, I joined Munira Wilson MP for a debate on the proposed Teddington Direct River Abstraction scheme. For those who are unaware of the project, this scheme will involve drawing between 75 and 100 million litres of water a day out of the Thames during periods of drought and replacing the lost water with treated effluent from the Mogden Sewage Works. Beyond the obvious concerns over the impact this will have on water quality, I have also been particularly worried about the damage the construction of the pipeline and abstraction plant will have on Ham Lands.


In the debate, I asked Water Minister Rebecca Pow MP why the Government is ignoring the concerns of thousands of residents and not ruling out the proposal. Her response failed to address this question and despite my colleagues repeated questions, failed to explain why the Government is willing to allow Thames Water to advance this scheme ahead of far less damaging proposals.


This proposal will be a disaster for Ham Lands, and on Saturday morning the campaign group Save Ham Lands and River will be holding an event on the riverside to show Thames Water the depth of feeling against this plan. I would urge any residents who can to join them. You can find more details about the event here and watch a clip of the debate here.



QUESTIONS FOR THE GOVERNMENT


At the end of August, the Government announced that it would be delaying the introduction of new border control checks on food and plant products entering the UK from Europe. This is the fifth time these new controls have been delayed. At Cabinet Office Oral Questions on Wednesday, I challenged the Minister on the impact that this delay will have on small businesses who have already spent significant sums of money preparing for the new regime. I am very concerned about the impact this uncertainty has on the ability of businesses to make long-term investment and supply chain decisions.

At Business Questions on Thursday, I highlighted the shocking findings of the Public Accounts Committee report on Covid-19 support schemes that were administered by local authorities. The Committee, of which I am a member, found that the Treasury has so far recovered less than 2% of £1.1 billion of losses due to fraudulent claims. At a time when local services are stretched to breaking point and so much of our infrastructure is in dire need of repair, it is essential that the Treasury addresses this failure and takes all reasonable steps to recovering public funds.



ITV LATE DEBATE

Last night, I appeared on the ITV London Late Debate, where we had the chance to discuss issues such as the expansion of the ULEZ, the current condition of Oxford Street and the ongoing situation with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in our schools.

In the debate, I made the point that although all Londoners want to breathe clean air, I feel the Mayor has taken a heavy handed approach to his expansion of the ULEZ. As I said to him before the expansion, I believe that he should have given far more warning to residents who had to scramble to replace their vehicles, driving up demand for compliant cars across the capital. However, I also took the time to note that the issues with the ULEZ scheme should in no way impact the UK’s commitment to Net Zero, which is fundamental for hitting our climate change targets.

Should you wish to see the full show, you can do so here.



DEMENTIA DROP IN

This week, I attended an event in Parliament sponsored by Alzheimer's Research UK about the future of dementia and how we can better support those suffering from this life changing condition.

I know this is a subject which many of my constituents feel very strongly about, and I am pleased I could show my support by attending. It was great to speak to so many campaigners, experts, and knowledgeable people about what more we can do as MPs to help support organisations working in this field. If you want to support people with dementia, but don't know how you can start, visit Alzheimer's Research UK's website to find out more.




ISSUES WITH ROYAL MAIL ACROSS THE CONSTITUENCY


I know that many residents have been experiencing ongoing issues with their post over the past year. While this has been a community wide problem, it seems as if Ham, South Richmond, and New Malden have been particularly heavily impacted and so this week, after repeated letters to Royal Mail, I have reported the service to Ofcom for being in breach of its Universal Service Obligation.


As the nations "Designated Universal Service Provider" Royal Mail has a duty to ensure post is delivered six days per week, Monday to Saturday. However, many of my constituents have reported that they are only receiving post twice a week at best. This is a particular issue for those who are awaiting perishable items or important documents, and I do not believe Royal Mail's leadership should be allowed to continue to degrade the service unchallenged.




HAMMERSMITH BRIDGE


Over the summer, Sadiq Khan signed off on plans for the £1.2 billion Silvertown Tunnel in East London to be funded by a toll on travellers driving through the neighbouring Blackwall Tunnel. This decision came as a surprise to many people, myself included, given his refusal to support the use of a toll to fund the repairs to Hammersmith Bridge.


While I would prefer to see the Department for Transport or TfL take on the full cost of the works, given how long the bridge has been closed, I do not believe the Mayor should be taking any options off the table without an explanation. Sadiq Khan has defended the decision to build the Silvertown Tunnel by espousing the virtues of linking communities together across the river and so this week, I reached out to the Mayor to ask him why he has been willing to do whatever it takes to get the Silvertown project off the ground while leaving Hammersmith Bridge as a monument to Government neglect.



NEW FLIGHT PATHS - AIRSPACE MODERNISATION


This week, I met with a group of campaigners to discuss the new flight paths that Heathrow are considering implementing over our community. During this meeting, I was made aware of the particular threat that these proposals pose to Richmond Park. While the plans are buried within hundreds of pages of technical documents, what has become clear is that Heathrow are suggesting implementing dozens of potential flight paths over currently unspoilt parkland.


It is not an overstatement to say that these proposals would change the nature of the park forever. Over 60,000 planes would cross the area every year at low altitudes, causing a huge amount of noise and pouring pollutants into the air above. Further, planes would now fly lower over our community creating far more noise than even the current paths generate.


Richmond Park is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and home to animals and plant life that are extremely rare in the rest of London. It is the heart of our community, and I will do everything I can to ensure it remains an oasis of peace for all Londoners.


I will update residents when I have further information and I would urge anyone interested to review the plans on the CAA's website.



SWEDISH SCHOOL'S VISIT TO PARLIAMENT


It was a pleasure to welcome three groups of sixth form students from the Swedish School in Kew to Parliament on Wednesday. The students were given a tour of Parliament and spent the day in the Education Centre learning some more about the inner workings of British democracy. I also spoke with the students about the role of an MP and answered their questions on key local issues such as the closure of Hammersmith Bridge.

I would encourage all schools to have a look at the opportunities offered by Parliament’s Education and Engagement Service. I hear very positive feedback from staff and students who have been on a trip and I always try to visit local school groups when they come to Parliament.


COWS ON PETERSHAM MEADOWS

Each year, it is the responsibility of the National Trust to ensure that a herd of cattle is grazed on Petersham Meadows during the summer months. However, I was recently contacted by several local residents who were concerned that no cows had been returned to the area this year.

The view of the Meadows, which JM Turner famously painted from Richmond Hill, is protected by a 1902 Act of Parliament, and I therefore this week took the time to write to the Director General of the National Trust to ask about the absence of the cattle, and to ensure they are returned next year.



ONE GLOBAL CHANGE MAKER AWARD#


The Global Change Maker Awards are intended to recognise and celebrate the role that members of the British public play in making the UK a force for good in the world. ONE, the charity behind the awards are an international development organisation working to end extreme poverty and preventable diseases, with a particular focus on the continent of Africa.


MP's are allowed to nominate individuals from their communities who have been instrumental in making the world a better place. This could include:

  • Students from a local primary or secondary school who have been working on a project relating to climate change or global challenges.

  • Individuals from local charities or community organisations who have been involved in charitable work fundraising for programmes in developing countries.

  • Activists or campaigners that regularly raise key global issues.

The deadline for nominations is the 18th of September and if you know of someone who you think would be deserving of this award, please do let me know by emailing office@saraholney.com.



MYOTONIC DYSTROPHY AWARENESS DAY: SEPTEMBER 15TH 2023


Myotonic Dystrophy is the most common form of muscular dystrophy, affecting at least 1 in every 8000 people worldwide. Myotonic Dystrophy can affect anyone of any age and manifests differently in each individual. It can affect muscles, vital organs and the digestive system, however, despite it being so widespread, Myotonic Dystrophy receives very little attention in the media.


For this reason, the Myotonic Dystrophy Worldwide Foundation felt it important that more people should be aware of the condition and, last year, decided to create the first Myotonic Dystrophy Awareness Day which has now become an annual event. If you, or someone you know, thinks they might be affected by Myotonic Dystrophy, the Foundation has helpful information on their website which should be able to help you find the support you need.



RICHMOND NEWS


ROAD CLOSURES AND CANCELLED BUSES IN NORTH BARNES


I know that over the past week, many residents in Barnes and Mortlake have been heavily impacted by the emergency water works in North Barnes which have resulted in bus routes either being diverted or simply stopped before they reach the area.


Despite the disruption, I was very pleased to hear that Councillors Millum, Sacks, and Hale, assisted by Vice Chair of Transport Cllr. Katie Mansfield, were able to quickly get the 419 and 33 buses running through Barnes again.


Thames Water claim the works will be complete by the 12th, however, while we can hope for the best, I would urge residents to prepare for the worst and make sure to have an alternative route planned in case of delays to the repairs.



HAM, PETERSHAM, AND RICHMOND RIVERSIDE COMMUNITY CONVERSATION


On Tuesday 26th of September, local councillors in Ham, Petersham, and Richmond Riverside will be hosting a community conversation at St Richard's Church from 6:30 pm to 9 pm. This is a great opportunity to discuss key local issues with your councillors and receive an update on their work.


On the agenda will be Thames Water's plans to build on Ham Lands, the results of the consultation to regenerate Ham Parade, construction work on Ham Close, and the management of Lime Bikes and e-scooters on pavements. There will also be an open Q&A where you can raise any issues you may have.


Find out more and register to attend the Ham, Petersham, and Richmond Riverside Community Conversation with the link.



RICHMOND GOOD NEIGHBOURS


I have recently been made away of the excellent work the group 'Richmond Good Neighbours' do in our community and I would like to highlight their services to anyone who may need them. Richmond Good Neighbours is a registered charity which was established to provide services to the elderly, the disabled, the housebound and others living in the heart of Richmond.


They carry out over 3500 tasks a year for a client base of around 140 local residents and they can assist with tasks including but not limited to

  • Transport

  • Shopping

  • Visiting

They help residents in TW9 /TW10 with telephone befriending and face to face befriending, shopping, collection of prescriptions and subject to the availability of volunteer drivers, they are able to help to transport clients to GP surgeries and hospitals for medical appointments.


If you, or someone you know, might need their services, you can reach them by phoning 020 3538 4060 or emailing organiser@richmondgoodneighbours.org.uk.



KINGSTON NEWS


KINGSTON BIKE RIDE


Following the success of June’s inaugural fun Kingston bike ride, Kingston Cycling Campaign are inviting Kingston residents of all ages and abilities to celebrate the end of the summer holidays with their second family-friendly bike ride on Sunday 10th of September.


Starting at 11am from the newly refurbished Kingston Road Recreation Ground pavilions in Norbiton, the fun and easy-paced 5.5-mile route will once again take in a mix of the borough’s quieter roads and bike lanes. So register for the Kingston Bike ride today and dust off your bike and build up your family’s cycle confidence in good company!



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