The pandemonium we’ve witnessed in Westminster has been utterly infuriating, to say the least. Judging by the emails in my inbox and people stopping me in the street to share their views, I know that many local residents are as outraged as I am. A lot of people have told me they’re angry that the Government has made the UK a laughing stock on the international stage.
What angers me most is that all of this chaos is an unforgivable distraction from the real issues that the people of this country are facing. Whilst the NHS and schools are struggling, people are worried about their mortgages, their energy bills and their futures. So much damage has already been done, and it’s the British public who are paying the price.
My fear is that installing yet another Conservative Prime Minister will just lead to more of the same: an out-of-touch Government that has no clue what hard-working people are going through, and no plan to fix the cost-of-living crisis and rescue our public services.
Rishi Sunak is not the change we need. The Conservatives have definitively lost all legitimacy and credibility, and the last thing we need is another Conservative Prime Minister. The British public must have their say, which is why I’ve backed the call for an early general election by 1 December 2022.
It’s time to end the chaos and deliver the real change that the good people of this country, and of Twickenham, deserve.
In the media
Thank you to ITV Tonight for shining a spotlight on the thousands of grandparents who raise their grandkids when the parents can’t. You can watch part of the ITV segment here, and read more about my Kinship Care Bill further below.
In the Sunday People section of the Mirror, I gave my views on the budget crisis facing our schools.
Events are so fast-moving that yesterday’s news feels like very old news! But if you’re interested, you can watch my appearance on LBC’s Cross Question with Iain Dale from earlier this month. I told the panel how appalled I was that benefit claimants were being talked down by this Government, and pointed out that the Tories “should be looking over their shoulder” in Liberal Democrat target seats like Guildford, Winchester and Esher and Walton. Watch the clips here.
Local meetings, events and news
A big thank you for helping me raise £1,265 for local charities!
I’m so grateful for all of the generous donations to my Cabbage Patch fundraiser. To everyone who donated, THANK YOU! Together, we raised (at last count) £1,215 for two incredible Twickenham charities that support children and young people’s mental health – Off the Record Twickenham and The Purple Elephant Project.
The sun was shining, the atmosphere was amazing and it was great to meet the many constituents who were also running the 10-mile course. Special thanks to the lovely marshals who showed us the way and provided encouragement. I was pleased with my official time of 1:39:33!
Transforming the River Crane for people and the planet
It was an honour to give the opening address at the River Crane Catchment Conference, where hundreds of delegates came together for a common purpose: transforming the 70-kilometres of the River Crane corridor for the benefit of local communities and the environment. Organisations like Friends of the River Crane (FORCE), the London Wildlife Trust, Thames Water and local councils are working together to protect and improve this precious natural habitat. Find out how to get involved here.
Storytime with Squirrels
I had a lovely time visiting our local Squirrels group in Hampton. This is where the littlest Scouts (four to six-year-olds), hone their skills before moving up to Beavers. Thank you for letting me join in your activities!
Exploring the wildlife area at Hampton Wick Infant & Nursery School
I enjoyed a warm welcome from headteacher Michelle, along with staff and pupils, at Hampton Wick Infant & Nursery School. The best part was taking a walk through the school’s amazing wildlife area, which is such a special place for the children to learn and explore.
Celebrating the launch of Feltham College, a pioneering partnership
The celebration launch of Feltham College – a pioneering partnership that brings together the state and independent sectors – was a joy to attend. Two local independent schools, Hampton School and Lady Eleanor Holles, have partnered with other organisations to set up this new sixth form college for 16 to 18-year-olds in Feltham. Lovely to meet some of the students!
Trip down memory lane at Henrietta Barnett School
Whilst not a constituency visit, I had a wonderful trip down memory lane when I returned to my old school, Henrietta Barnett School, to talk to sixth formers. The young women came up with some very thoughtful questions. Slightly scary to think it has been 26 years since I left!
Meeting staff and residents at Lion Road
Lion Road in Twickenham is home to eight adults with learning disabilities. It was a pleasure to meet the residents last week, along with Julie and the lovely and caring staff. Lion Road, run by MTVH, was rated ‘Good’ by the Care Quality Commission in June 2022, and it is clearly well-deserved.
An evening with local businesses at Tsaretta Spice
I love Indian food, so it was a treat to combine tasty tapas with meeting local businesses at Tsaretta Spice recently. Co-owner and Head Chef Yousuf Mohammed created wonderful dishes, whilst the leaders of local businesses, including shops, law firms and marketing consultancies, had the opportunity to meet and mingle.
“Women Supporting Women” at the Teddington’s Women’s Institute
I joined a group of inspiring women from Teddington’s Women’s Institute, who were fundraising for the Prince’s Trust’s “Women Supporting Women” charity. I spoke about inspiring women who’ve influenced my life, and some of the barriers women in particular can face in breaking into politics. Questions spanned from tackling social care to what my views were on Liz Truss! We also enjoyed cakes and fruit kindly donated by Surplus to Supper.
Thanksgiving service at St Michael’s Fulwell
I was delighted to join the congregation at St Michael’s Fulwell, along with their vicar Rev Ed Kendall, Bishop Ric Thorpe and Archdeacon Richard Frank, at their recent thanksgiving service for the newly renovated building. The congregation had been based for several years, without heating, in what was a derelict church that had previously been earmarked for sale. It was such a joy to celebrate with the whole team their remarkable fundraising and architectural achievements!
Hosts needed for displaced Ukrainians
A number of displaced Ukrainians living in Richmond Borough are in need of new accommodation due to changes in their host’s circumstances. Please contact Refugees Welcome in Richmond or Richmond Council to find out how the scheme operates. More information here.
Calling all local student and independent filmmakers!
Film the House UK is a film and scriptwriting competition run by MPs to find the filmmakers of the future (closing date is 6 January 2023). Twickenham has a rich and vibrant filmmaking history – let’s represent Twickenham! Find out more here.
Photo competition: Celebrating our nation’s high streets
Historic England and Photoworks UK have launched a national photo competition to celebrate our nation’s high streets. Our high streets have had a tough time over the past few years, with the pandemic – and now the cost-of-living crisis – creating challenges for many local businesses. Yet our high streets persevere, and we have so many wonderful high streets and local businesses in our area. And, I know, many talented photographers! Find out how to take part here.
New funding for tree planting charity in Twickenham
I’m so pleased that local charity Gurseva has received £8,000 from the National Lottery for its tree planting initiative. The funding will be used to restore greener spaces within the community, including tree planting events that will promote wildlife and improve local park areas. So important for people’s health and for improving biodiversity!
Standing up for you in Parliament
Led debate asking the Government to support my Kinship Care Bill
Last week was a big week for my Kinship Care campaign! Kinship carers are friends and family members who step up for a child in crisis and provide them with a loving home – yet many kinship carers get little government support.
In the debate for my Kinship Care Bill, I told Ministers how weekly allowances could help friends and family to look after children in crisis, stopping them from going into care and saving the taxpayer money.
I also took the opportunity to ask all MPs to be a voice for those who don’t yet have a vote.
The debate follows the motion I tabled in Parliament earlier this month. I’m very grateful to my cross-party co-sponsors including Ed Davey, Robert Halfon, Emma Lewell-Buck, Sarah Olney, Layla Moran and other MPs who have supported my bill.
On Wednesday, I hosted the Kinship charity’s launch of their new “Value our Love” campaign.
Tabled amendment to ensure Teddington Police Station can be retained for community use
I’ve tabled an amendment in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill to ensure that publicly owned assets like Teddington Police Station can be retained for community use. As I’m not on the committee, I’m very grateful to my Liberal Democrat colleague Tim Farron for introducing it for me!
My amendment would change the law to remove any doubt that public authorities such as the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and the Mayor of London can take community value into account when selling public assets – in the case of Teddington Police Station, for a GP surgery and affordable housing. Ministers have asked for more details, so I’ll be writing again!
Challenged the Government on support for cash-strapped schools
School governors in Twickenham told me last month that the state of school finances was “soul-destroying”. Earlier this week, I told the Chancellor that pupils, parents and teachers should not have to pay for the Conservatives’ economic incompetence. I told the Chancellor that if he is serious about growth, he has to be serious about education.
Asked the Government to commit to a vote on expanding free school meals
One in five households with children are skipping meals because they simply can’t afford to buy food. I asked the Leader of the House of Commons if the Government will allow a debate and, crucially, a vote to extend free school meals so that no child goes hungry at school. I was very disappointed by the lack of a “yes”.
Called for energy support for homeowners (including in Teddington) on communal heat networks
480,000 homes use communal heat networks. Until yesterday, they were promised just six months’ energy support when most families were promised two years. Now, no-one knows what anyone will get from April. Families like those in Wharf House in Teddington mustn’t miss out on support.
Joined MP Sarah Olney in condemning ex-Prime Minister’s support for Heathrow 3rd runway
In Prime Minister’s Questions earlier in October, my Liberal Democrat colleague Sarah Olney, MP for Richmond Park, challenged former Prime Minister Liz Truss on the Government’s stance on a 3rd runway at Heathrow.
Residents in Twickenham, Teddington, Whitton, St Margarets and the Hamptons will have been very alarmed by the response. The economic case is in tatters, and the environmental and noise impacts would be devastating for local communities. Along with my Liberal Democrat colleagues, I will continue to oppose the 3rd runway, and challenge the Government on the noise misery that Heathrow air traffic is causing in our area. Read more here.
Met with the Children’s Commissioner for England
It was great to meet with Rachel de Souza, the Children’s Commissioner for England, to talk about our join priorities for schools and education.