Lest we forget. Despite being a very different Remembrance Sunday to usual, it was an honour to commemorate those who have given their lives in active service. I was able to lay a wreath alongside the Mayor, veterans and local councillors at Radnor Gardens war memorial, as well as at St Stephen’s Church in East Twickenham. In addition, the Mayor visited every war memorial in the borough, to place a wreath on behalf of the council at each.
Local coronavirus cases
At the time of writing, from 4 to 10 November, there were 258 new cases of coronavirus in Richmond upon Thames. This represents a decrease from the previous week. The incidence rate is 130.3/100,000, compared to a London-wide incidence of 157.3/100,000 and England-wide rate of 242.0/100,000. Data source: https://www.datarich.info/covid-19/
Local meetings and visits
- Over the past two weeks, I have met (virtually) with the Chief Executives of both West Middlesex and Kingston Hospitals. Whilst numbers of Covid admissions have been rising, other treatment and surgery is continuing, with clear zoning of hospital buildings to keep areas Covid-free. Due to improving treatment, fewer patients are being admitted to ICU compared to the first wave. Robust plans are in place to manage surges in demand for critical care. Both CEOs are keen to reinforce the message that if you need urgent medical treatment or have a pre-booked appointment, please not hesitate to visit your local hospital.
- Despite the current national lockdown, I have still been engaging with many of the local schools in our area. As part of UK Parliament Week, I spoke to Year 6 pupils at Bishop Perrin and St Edmond’s Schools (via Zoom) and had to field some tricky questions!
- I was also pleased to visit Twickenham School where I held a question and answer session with pupils in the playground – some really thoughtful and well-informed questions, demonstrating a great interest in politics.
- It was a pleasure to visit Firm Foundations after school club to see how they continue to operate in a Covid-safe way. Many thanks to Archdeacon Cambridge School for hosting the club and Margaret & her team for providing such a fantastic environment in which the children are obviously thriving.
- I recently visited the Twickenham Farmers Market to celebrate their 20th Anniversary. The market opened in November 2000 in Holly Road car park where it is still located today. It continues to operate during the lockdown and is COVID-safe. Open from 9am-1pm.
The 2020 Community Heroes Awards has launched!
- This is a fantastic award recognising the contributions and achievements of local people towards making the borough a better place to live, work, visit and be educated!
- Everyone is able to nominate an individual this award, prior to reviewing the award categories and criteria.
- Start your nomination here. Deadline: Thursday 31st December 2020.
- A new COVID-19 walk-in testing facility has opened in the car park at the St Mary’s University Broom road sports campus in Teddington (opposite the Lensbury club).
- MUST DOs- please book an appointment and arrive by foot or bicycle as there is NO parking.
- The Teddington site in addition to the mobile testing unit regularly based at Old Deer Park in Richmond and the regional drive-through centre at Twickenham Stadium.
Tests can be booked on the new NHS COVID-19 app, online: nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.
- The government is rolling out rapid testing capability to a number of local authorities across the country. Richmond is one of those councils that will receive 10,000 lateral flow tests per week to allow them to test for those who may be asymptomatic. These will be targeted at vulnerable groups. Read more here.
Standing up for you in Westminster
Coronavirus vaccine hope
- The news regarding the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine development is very encouraging, although we await safety and further efficacy data. I asked Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social care, what arrangements Government is putting in place to ensure vaccines are not delayed at the borders following the end of the Brexit transition period. Read more here.
Lockdown debate and vote
- Last week, I voted with an extremely heavy heart in favour of a second national lockdown. During the course of the emotional debate that took place in the House of Commons ahead of the vote, I made a speech in which I expressed how horrified I was by the prospect of the lockdown and its impact on mental and physical health, as well as the economy, but equally horrified with the prospect of large numbers of further deaths from Covid and the NHS capacity. The only way to stop the cycle of lockdowns is to reform the test, trace and isolate system. You can watch my speech and read my full statement about the lockdown here.
- I have also written to Ministers to challenge the inclusion of collective acts of worship, non-contact outdoor sport, as well as children’s sports in the list of prohibited activities.
- I was dismayed to hear that our well-supervised King’s Field skate park in Hampton Wick has been closed during this lockdown, despite children’s playgrounds remaining open. As an outdoor space which allows non-contact physical activity that is also beneficial for mental wellbeing, I raised this point in Parliament, both during the lockdown debate and also in a written question. Unfortunately the answer is not particularly encouraging.