Today, parliament will vote on the new tier system set out by Boris Johnson to manage the spread of coronavirus. Whilst I and my Liberal Democrat colleagues accept that sadly restrictions on our freedoms need to continue to protect lives, as it stands, we cannot vote for the new system.
We need more evidence for the proposed rules, many of which are perverse; we need more transparency on the criteria for moving in and out of tiers, more local involvement in decision-making, an overhaul of the system to test, trace and isolate and more financial support for the hospitality sector, as well as the 3 million individuals who have so far been excluded from support.
Read more about our concerns here.
Richmond Borough, along with the rest of London, is set to go into Tier 2. Details of the rules for Tier 2 can be found here.
Latest Covid numbers
At the time of writing, from 21 to 27 November, there were 165 new cases of coronavirus in Richmond upon Thames. This represents a decrease from the previous week. The incidence rate is 83.3/100,000, compared to a London-wide incidence of 141.9/100,000 and England-wide rate of 148.7/100,000. Data source: https://www.datarich.info/covid-19/
RFU to hold match for 2,000 fans on Sunday
In light of the new Covid rules, the RFU will be welcoming 2,000 fans back to Twickenham Stadium on 6December. 20% of tickets will be gifted to local NHS workers. No one from a Tier 3 area is allowed to attend and fans will largely be local or from the London/South East area.
Age UK helplines
If you or an older friend or relative is feeling lonely, or need advice and support, Age UK is ready to help. Their free helpline can provide you with information and advice: 0800 169 6565. Or for a friendly chat, day or night, call The Silver Line: 0800 470 8090.
Rail to Refuge scheme
I’m pleased to support the announcement that train companies are extending the ‘Rail to Refuge’ scheme until March 2021. This means more people fleeing domestic abuse can be helped with free train travel to reach a refuge.
For more information, please see this link.
Local meetings and visits
- Christmas lights and supporting local business
- It was great to be at the lighting of the Love Whitton Christmas tree on Whitton High Street last Friday. As shops re-open this week, please do support our local independent shops at this difficult time.
- Last week I met with Lis Chapple, Leader of South West Command Unit to discuss local policing issues during lockdown.
- On Sunday, I went on BBC Politics Live London to explain why we need to take a preventative, public health approach to tackling knife crime and youth violence across the capital
- Over the past two weeks, I’ve met with local groups and organisations including 1st Teddington scouts, Citizens Advice Richmond, Richmond Housing Partnership, St Mary’s University, as well as local church leaders to discuss a range of local issues.
Standing up for you
Calling on government to provide clearer messaging on the tier system
Government communication on Covid restrictions to date has not been clear and changed repeatedly, leading to confusion among the public.
I called the Health Secretary to provide a clear and consistent communications campaign to build trust and compliance with the new regulations.
Read more here.
Pressing for greater support for the hospitality sector
A number of local publicans and many local residents have raised their concerns with me about the future of our hospitality industry. Many of the rules in the new tier system are perverse and there is insufficient support being offered to the sector. I co-signed this letter co-ordinated by my colleague Daisy Cooper MP calling for further support to protect jobs, including extending VAT, business rates and grant support, as well as cutting beer duty.
Standing up for the 3 million excluded from Government financial support
3 million people are currently excluded from Government financial support. Therefore, last week, I asked Jacob Rees-Mogg to facilitate a meeting between Ministers and representatives from excluded groups.
He promised he would, and Jamie Stone MP and I have followed up with a letter to make sure he keeps his word. You can read more here.
Demanding the government take action on air pollution
With air pollution causing an estimated 40,000 deaths every year, Government and other public authorities need to be held accountable for their actions.
I pressed the Environment Secretary this week to publish an annual report on action to improve air quality. Watch my question here.
Tenants & leaseholders locally and across London are at risk from dangerous cladding and face eye-watering bills through no fault of their own to make their homes safe.
I asked the govt last week to foot the bill and ensure the money is recouped from freeholders and developers. Read more here.
Many pupils, parents and teachers alike are anxious about this academic year’s exams. They need clarity and certainty it will be a level playing field.
That’s why I called on the Schools Minister last week to scrap exams and confirm a fairer approach to assessment.
Support for local sports clubs
The recent funding announcement to support sports during Covid-19 was very welcome for clubs locally like Harlequins and Hampton & Richmond Borough Football Club.
As fans slowly return to the stands, support will need to continue to help plug the ongoing huge costs of keeping clubs afloat. I asked the Minister for assurances.
Read more here.
Standing up for Carers
Millions of people across the country act as unpaid carers for loved ones – including 9,732 here in Twickenham. This year has highlighted more than ever the issues many of them face.
I’m proud the Liberal Democrats have launched our new campaign: #StandUpforCarers to raise Carer’s Allowance by £1K a year. You can find out more here.
If you are a carer, or someone who receives regular support from a relative – the Liberal Democrats want to hear from you.
Please take a minute to fill in our quick survey here to tell us about your experiences and how you think support could be improved for carers.