With Parliament in recess over school half term, I went away with my family for our first uninterrupted holiday since I was elected. We had a glorious few days by the sea, and I came back refreshed and ready to join in the celebrations for Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
As so much of my time since becoming an MP has been during the pandemic, when my outings were limited, it was amazing to be out and about meeting so many constituents – especially for such a special occasion. The community spirit was just incredible, and made me feel so proud of all of the people and organisations in our wonderful area.
You can see photos of the street parties and community events I joined further below, and here.
In more sobering news, I was of course disappointed that the Conservative Party narrowly voted to keep Boris Johnson in office. But it’s clear that the vote was a terrible result for the Prime Minister, and the fact that a whopping 41% of his own MPs voted against him proves how little confidence Boris Johnson’s own party has in him.
Only by replacing him can we ensure stability and a clear direction for this country – and find a leader we can trust to see us through these challenging times.
Local meetings, events and news
Jubilee street parties
I was so excited to join seven Jubilee street parties last Sunday! I sampled delicious food and sangria on Devon Avenue; admired the 1950s-themed costumes on the Dene Estate; judged a cake competition on Queen’s Road; judged children’s fancy dress in Sherland Road; chatted with residents on Grove Avenue and Cole Park Gardens; and listened to fantastic music from local young Powerjam bands on Cole Park Road. I was even presented with the Cole Park Road Association Jubilee tea towel!
Jubilee community events
It was also wonderful to attend a number of community events over the weekend. At the St Mary with St Alban thanksgiving service, Deputy Mayor for Richmond, Rhi Lee, planted two quince trees as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative. I had a lovely afternoon (with great music) in Teddington and Hampton Wick for Jubilee celebrations, and enjoyed the fantastic atmosphere (and bake-off competition) at Whitton High Street’s Jubilee party.
The fabulous school choir from Twickenham’s Archdeacon Cambridge’s sang at the lighting of the Platinum Jubilee beacon in Richmond, hosted by the Mayor of Richmond. And, last but not least, I was honoured to attend the wonderful party at the Royal Variety Charity’s Brinsworth House, where the baton for the Commonwealth Games arrived from Gibraltar.
Park Lane Stables book launch
The story of Park Lane Stables is so inspirational, and it was an honour attend the launch of Natalie O’Rourke’s book at The Park in Teddington at the end of last month, where she was interviewed by broadcaster and writer (and local resident) Nick Luck. Natalie’s fight to save Park Lane Stables, which is a lifeline for over 350 children and adults with disabilities and additional needs, made national headlines. So many local residents donated to the crowdfunding campaign, and Natalie received an MBE for her services.
Twickenham Repair Café
The next Twickenham Repair Café is being held on Saturday 18 June at St Margarets Church Hall. Bring your broken things and get them fixed by the lovely volunteers. I can personally recommend their services! Learn more here.
Take part in the ‘Healthy Living in Richmond’ survey
Eating healthy, staying active, and our overall lifestyle can have a significant impact on our physical health and wellbeing, but these behaviours can be hard to maintain. Have you ever tried to improve your lifestyle? What were the biggest barriers? What helped you?
Whether you are happy about your current lifestyle, or feel like it could be improved, Healthwatch Richmond want to hear from you! Tell Healthwatch Richmond what services YOU need to help you lead a healthy life. Your answers will help to shape services in Richmond. Click here to take part in the survey and find out more here.
Standing up for you in Parliament
Challenged Ministers on free school meals, the pupil premium and childcare costs
During a debate in the House of Commons on children’s education recovery and childcare costs, I tabled an amendment to ensure that the Government supports children’s concentration, learning and wellbeing by extending free school meals to all children in primary education and to all those in secondary school whose families receive Universal Credit.
I also called on the Minister to increase the pupil premium – a policy introduced by Liberal Democrats in Government which provides additional funding for disadvantaged students – in line with inflation. Since 2014/15, the Conservatives have allowed the pupil premium to be cut in real terms by as much as £127 for each child in primary school and £160 for every secondary pupil.
Finally, I highlighted the unsustainable cost of childcare for many families with young children. The UK has the highest childcare costs in the world, with two thirds of parents paying more for childcare than for their rent or mortgage. This is forcing increasing numbers of women to give up their jobs or work fewer hours. Read more here.
Raised Teddington Police Station in Parliament – again!
On 8 June, I brought up Teddington Police Station in a debate on the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. I was very pleased that Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, agreed with me that the Bill should include a provision that public sector owned assets can be sold below market value for social and community benefit. Read the full article and learn more about my campaign.
Called out the unacceptable waiting times at the Home Office
At the end of last month, I raised the issue of the unacceptably long waiting times across the board at the Home Office, with delays for visas and passports causing mayhem for many local people – including a father who has been separated from his wife and son for over six months. Unfortunately, the Minister totally missed the point of my question, talking about “legal routes” for those wishing to come to the UK.
Called for more support for carers as part of Carers Week
The theme of this year’s Carers Week, taking place this week, is making caring visible, valued and supported. I called on Ministers to do just that by making being a carer a protected characteristic under the Equality Act, as Carers UK have called for.
Demanded clarity on leasehold reform
Leaseholders in Twickenham have told me they are waiting for the second part of the Government’s long-promised leasehold reform legislation in order to make crucial financial decisions over their homes. After no mention was made of leasehold reform in the Queen’s Speech last month, I asked Ministers for much-needed clarity. Read my Written Question here.
Tabled Written Question on Animals Abroad Bill
The Government’s long-promised Animals Abroad Bill was not mentioned in the Queen’s Speech at the beginning of last month. Therefore, I tabled a Question to hold the Government to account on banning cruel imports of fur and foie gras.
Showed my support for improving local health outcomes
It was a pleasure to meet former MP Justine Greening, together with the Purpose Coalition and Primary Health Priorities, to show my support for their vital campaign for healthier communities.
Consistent, accessible primary care for all – including through GP surgeries, pharmacies and other local health services – is crucial for improving local health outcomes. This is a call I’ve long been making for Twickenham.
Called for meaningful action on dementia care
Approximately 2,230 people live with dementia in Richmond upon Thames. By 2030, it is predicted that this will increase by 47.2% to 3,190. Despite this, only 67.3% of the people living with dementia in Richmond upon Thames have a medical diagnosis.
The Government keeps talking about developing a strategy to tackle the gaps in dementia care and research, and yet has consistently failed to act. The Liberal Democrats have been pushing for meaningful action on this front, and I am calling once again on the Government to create a plan to deal with this important issue.
Learned about the challenges self-employed adoptive parents face
It was a pleasure to meet ‘Not a fictional mum’ to hear about the challenges self-employed adoptive parents face. There are many ways to become a parent, and all families deserve support – whether with adoption or maternity pay, and regardless if they are on PAYE or self-employed.
Showed my support for the Society of Independent Brewers
I was pleased to show my support for the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) campaign to lower the duty relief threshold on draught beers to 20 litres. This would ensure that vibrant indie brewers such as Twickenham Fine Ales and other local favourites also benefit from the measure. This is a call my Liberal Democrat colleagues and I have been making for months now. Cheers to that!