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Richmond Park News: 8th March 2024

SEWAGE LEAK BY HAM LANDS


On Wednesday morning, I received call from a local resident advising me that the river behind Teddington Lock was filled with raw sewage, contaminating the water and putting the river's ecology at risk.


While we don't know the exact source of the contamination, the sewage outflow on the River Mole in Esher had been releasing contaminated water for the previous 147 hours while the Kingston Sewage Works had been the site of a significant dump over the weekend.


Over 100,000 people have viewed the video of the leak I posted on my Twitter feed and the incident has been covered by ITV News, the Evening Standard, and the Telegraph. While the Government is denying that the condition of the river was caused by a sewage leak, they appear to be ignoring the obvious signs of contamination.


The night before I was told about the leak, Channel 4 aired a 3 minute documentary I had filmed with them earlier last month on the impact sewage and water pollution is having on our community's rivers and streams. In that piece, I highlighted the catastrophic impact the controversial Teddington DRA scheme would have on the exact stretch of river where Wednesday's leak was filmed.


I'm calling for a sewage tax on water companies to force them to pay for the damage they've done to our environment, a ban on water bosses' bonuses, and a new regulator that can enforce tighter rules on sewage dumping.


If you see signs of sewage dumping or water contamination, please don't hesitate to contact my office at office@saraholney.com.



THE BUDGET


On Wednesday afternoon, the Chancellor brought his Spring Budget to Parliament. While I think many people were expecting a series of pre-election tax giveaways, in reality the proposed reduction in national insurance he announced will be wiped out by an income tax threshold freeze which will leave the average worker £383 pounds worse off.


If we combine this with the soaring cost of living and rising mortgage payments, food prices and energy bills, this Budget will leave millions worse off than they were last year. Any tax cuts are a drop in the ocean compared to these rising costs and it seems as if the Government has no plan to help people who are struggling.


Prior to the Budget, the Liberal Democrats had urged ministers to create a proper plan to end the crisis in our NHS, support people with the cost of living, and grow the nations economy. The Chancellor's plans fail on all these counts, and demonstrate why the public has lost faith in the Government to improve the situation.


You can watch a clip of my reaction to the budget, filmed for BBC news, with the link here.



INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

 

Today marks International Women's Day 2024, a moment in the calendar to reflect on women's achievements and the work we still need to do to reach true gender equality in the UK.

 

I know from personal experience that Parliament, and our country as a whole, is better when there are more women working as MPs and fighting for their communities. When I first joined Parliament in 2016, I was the only female MP in my party. Since then, every election has returned more women to the House of Commons and when I was re-elected in 2019, I found myself welcomed into a majority female party, working in an institution that is making huge strides towards gender equality. 

 

Having more women in parliament is so vital because it helps to ensure we have voices at the centre of power questioning traditions, asking questions, and making sure our nation works for everyone. We still have a long way to go, but its wonderful to see how far we've come in such a short time. 

 

You can see an extract from my speech at the event by following the link here.



SUPPORTING THE HONG KONG COMMUNITY IN SOUTH WEST LONDON

 

Last week, I published an open letter to James Cleverly MP, alongside my colleagues, Ed Davey, Munira Wilson, Cllr Bobby Dean and Cllr Paul Kohler, on the lack of recognition of qualifications gained in Hong Kong in the United Kingdom.

 

We have a large and vibrant Hong Konger community in my constituency who, despite their skills, are unable to apply for jobs as their professional qualifications are not recognised by UK institutions. It's shocking to see doctors, accountants, and other highly skilled workers who would be a huge boon to our economy unable to practice in Britain and I am appalled by Government's failure to put a system in place which could convert their certifications to UK recognised awards.

 

You can read a copy of the letter here.

 

 

RICHMOND CHARITIES

 

It was a pleasure to welcome a group from The Richmond Charities to Parliament on Monday to discuss a variety of local issues and my experiences as an MP. 

 

Richmond Charities run a series of Almshouses throughout the constituency where older people are provided with affordable, high quality housing to help them live well in their later years. As part of this mission, the charity organises tours and visits for groups of residents to help them stay active.  If you would like to find out more about the excellent work they do, you can do so here.



GAS WORKS ON KINGSTON HILL AND COOMBE LANE WEST


Next week, SGN are planning to embark on yet another 3 month series of Gas works in North Kingston. Residents will remember the chaos the previous set of works caused, and I am doing everything I can to reduce the impact this new round of closures will have on the community.


I have written to both Seb Dance, Deputy Mayor for Transport and Sadiq Khan, to ask if TfL has a transport plan in place to ensure the impact on bus services is as limited as possible. In particular, I am concerned that buses serving local schools will be stopped midway through their journey, abandoning school age children far from their homes.


Alongside this, my team have been speaking to SGN every day this week, highlighting local services, businesses and roads that could be impacted and measures that need to be taken to ensure they remain accessible. I've also alerted my colleagues on the London Assembly, and will be engaging with the larger tech providers to ask that they do not direct drivers to "rat run" down residential roads.


While we do not have a confirmed timeline for the works, it looks likely that for the first 6 weeks, starting on Monday 11th Clifton Road will be closed with Manorgate road closed from early April. By mid April, SGN will be ready to move onto the major roundabout works which unfortunately will mean installing temporary traffic lights at the junction.


Local councillors are organising a community meeting for residents with SGN, which should be held online on Wednesday next week, for more information, email farshid.sadr-hashemi@kingston.gov.uk, anne.owen@kingston.gov.uk, and sabah.hamed@kingston.gov.uk.



KINGSTON MOSQUE


I held a surgery at Kingston Mosque today to speak with members of the local Muslim community. As well as local and individual issues,  constituents were keen to talk about their views of the situation in Gaza and their fears about a rise in Islamophobia in the UK.  I was concerned to hear about their experiences of hostility in everyday life and will take action where I can on incidents that are brought to my attention.



ST MARY'S BARNES 40TH ANNIVERSARY REHALLOWING SERVICE


It was a pleasure to join the 40th anniversary of the rehallowing of St Mary's Barnes last week and I was very touched to see so many people from the local area come out to celebrate this very special part of our community.


It was also lovely to see the accompanying exhibition curated by Cllr Andy Hale, which showed the aftermath of the fire and the process behind the Church's reconstruction.




COMMUNITY NEWS


SHARE YOUR VIEWS ON THE FUTURE OF LOCAL NHS SERVICES


Kingston Hospital and Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare (HRCH) are developing a new joint strategy for healthcare in Kingston, Richmond and surrounding boroughs.


They want to deliver services that work for their patients, service users and the whole local population and so would love to hear your views on the future of the hospital and community services that they provide.


If you weren’t able to attend the face-to-face public meetings in November and December, or their online meeting in February, they are holding another online session on Tuesday 26 March, 12pm to 1pm. Join them to hear from their teams and share your thoughts on how they can provide high quality services to help people remain well.


To book your place email khft.comms@nhs.net before Friday 22 March.



EASTER FUEL CLUBS


FUEL (which stands for ‘Fuel Ur Everyday Lives’) is the name for the holiday activity and food programme in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames and the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. 


The purpose of the programme is to make free places available at holiday clubs, during the Easter, summer and Christmas holidays, for young people whose parents/carers have applied for and receive benefits related free school meals. Children and young people get their lunch provided at the club as well take part in a variety of activities.


This Easter between April 2nd and 14th, there are lots of clubs to choose from and they run across a range of dates, time and locations. Clubs and activities include: paddleboarding, yoga, technology and coding; skateboarding, art and crafts, cooking, indoor climbing, music and podcasting as well as lots of sports and games such as cricket, football, netball and rugby. 


To sign up and find out more, click the link here.



BARNES RUNNERS: COUCH TO 5K


Inspired by the success of running groups in Kew, Cllr Marjie Millum has set up a couch to 5K group in Barnes. The group meets at 2 pm on Wednesdays on the Green opposite Castelnau Community Centre, 7 Stillingfleet Road.


The group is led by experienced volunteers from Barnes runners and is open to anyone, no matter the fitness level, who wants to get into better shape and stay healthy. You can simply join them on the day or to find out more write to info@barnesrunners.com.



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