National & Local Priorities
Protecting the Economy
Our economy has been placed under enormous strain over the last 6 years. The pandemic, Brexit and years of Government incompetence have meant that we are all struggling. As Liberal Democrat spokesperson for the Treasury and Business, Sarah is fighting to hold the Government to account for its mismanagement of the economy.
The UK is facing record levels of inflation and a skyrocketing cost of living driven in part by the soaring cost of gas and electricity and yet energy providers are not paying their fair share. Over the last year Sarah has since been working to close the loopholes in the Government's flawed windfall tax and been pushing for a real levy that will support struggling people across the country.
Building a strong economy that works for everyone is not a short term project. Stability and certainty are more important than ever after so many years of confusion hard working people deserve to know they will have a roof over their heads and enough money in their pockets.
Sarah is challenging the Government to protect the residents of Richmond Park by cutting VAT, putting in place protections for renters and homeowners, and investing more in our local community. Although there are difficult months ahead, she remains committed to fighting for a stronger, fairer economy for everyone.
Building Green Homes
Changing the way that we generate energy is not the only hurdle the UK faces in its transition towards net zero. Sarah believes that we must improve efficiency to reduce our energy consumption, starting with the UK housing stock. After all, the greenest energy is the energy that we don’t use. There are two key approaches we need to take to combat carbon emissions.
The first is to upgrade existing homes with better insulation and sources of heating and power. Upgrading existing buildings makes sense. It conserves and enhances existing places and neighbourhoods and avoids the ultra-high embodied energy costs of rebuild.
The second is to ensure that all new homes are built to a net zero carbon standard. That standard was ready to go in 2015 when the Liberal Democrats left government but was rejected by the Conservatives in 2016.
Upgrading our notoriously poorly insulated housing stock will reduce demand for energy, cut bills, end fuel poverty, optimise the health and wellbeing of our communities and create jobs. Sarah is committed to standing alongside local authorities, who are well placed to deliver action on home retrofit due to their carbon reduction pledges, knowledge of local areas and housing stock. She will support them to make further progress in this area by pushing the government for long-term funding.
Businesses suffered hugely as a result of Covid-19 and more needs to be done to ensure that businesses, communities and town centres are able to bounce back despite the difficulties we are facing across the nation.
Our high streets are in crisis and Covid-19 accelerated years of decline. Unless this trend is reversed, British high streets will become unrecognisable and thousands of retail workers will see their livelihoods jeopardised. Out of 2.8 million retail employees, nearly 60% are women, and research has shown them to be disproportionately affected by redundancies.
The UK must not just reverse this pattern, but act to create new retail jobs and businesses. We must reduce barriers to entry for new retailers through innovative solutions, such as flexible leases and turnover-based rents. And we must champion retail entrepreneurship, not least to help counter the oncoming rise in unemployment.
Sarah wants the government to work with local authorities to support them in offering more flexible rates terms to new businesses that want to come in and set up in the large voids that a lot of town centres will be experiencing in their retail spaces. Those voids affect town centres and communities enormously. Sarah wants to see barriers to new entrants into the retail sector lowered and innovation encouraged.
Hammersmith Bridge Closure
The closure of Hammersmith Bridge to vehicles is causing great inconvenience to local residents.
While the repairs are far from complete, work is now underway and Hammersmith and Fulham, who are responsible for the bridge, have selected a temporary "double-decker" design for the next stage of works. This will allow pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers to cross the bridge while it undergoes further repairs.
Unfortunately, these works will be extremely expensive and Sarah is pushing for the Government and TfL to take a more active role in fixing this vital piece of London infrastructure. For more information about Sarah's actions on this, please click here.
Holding Heathrow to Account
Sarah Olney opposed building a third runway at Heathrow Airport. Sarah was delighted to be in front of the Royal Courts of Justice on February 27 when the Appeals Court ruled against the Government, saying they had unlawfully ignored the Paris Agreement in their proposal. Sarah hoped this judgment will put an end to the third runway for good, although the Supreme Court overturned that judgment in February 2020, opening the door to reviving the third runway proposal.
With summer temperatures rising to new heights, residents are increasingly facing a choice between stifling nights with windows closed or disturbed sleep from jet engines coming into Heathrow. For this reason, Sarah has also launched a campaign to end night flights between 11 pm and 6 am and is fighting to give everyone in Richmond Park a good Nights sleep.
Strengthening Police Presence
Richmond Park is one of the safest constituencies in London, but there are still security issues that need to be addressed. From crime against young people, to antisocial behaviour in the town centres, to excessive noise in residential areas, we need the police to be a more visible presence in the community.
Sarah has been working closely with Met Police to improve the safety and quality of life of Richmond Park constituents since taking office, and she is committed to fighting for continuous improvement. Sarah will fight to ensure that RIchmond and Kingston get their share of the new police offices the Prime Minister has promised.
Throughout the pandemic Sarah has worked to ensure that police presence is high where compliance with safety guidance is an issue. Sarah will continue to alert the police to crime hotspots in Richmond Park.
Local Transport Improvements
For too long, residents of southwest London put up with poor public transport services - trains that were late, crowded and uncomfortable despite year after year of fare rises across the system.
My constituents have also seen their bus services reduced and entire routes cancelled, causing great inconvenience in their lives.
As we come out of the pandemic, we need to ensure that our public transport system is financially viable by encouraging residents to return to using it in high numbers. In order to do so, we need to see the improvements to stations, carriages and service for which we have waited years. And we need to see more investment in buses and bus routes throughout this constituency and greater London.
Sarah will be working with Transport for London, the Department of Transport, Southwestern Railway and Network Rail throughout her time in Parliament to meet these goals.
Keeping our Rivers Sewage Free
Over the past decade, millions of litres of sewage has flowed into Richmond Park's waterways. As climate change starts to shape the UK's weather, these overflows will likely become even more common.
It is vital that we take steps to crackdown on sewage overflows and ensure that our infrastructure is prepared for the storms and population growth that could see it overwhelmed.
Sarah is pushing Thames Water, the Environment Agency, and the Government to implement higher standards and is working hard to ensure that our rivers and brooks are kept clean and safe.
The Thames is a wonderful feature of our community and Sarah is committed to ensuring it will continue to be used and loved well into the future.