It was with horror and sadness that I awoke to the news of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday. It is the darkest day for our continent since the Second World War, with a terrible human tragedy now unfolding before our very eyes.
Russia is a rogue state that has violated its own commitments under international law. We must stand with the people of Ukraine, and provide them with humanitarian and military aid, while unleashing the full force of sanctions against Putin and his cronies. The Liberal Democrats stand ready to support a special extended session of Parliament to immediately pass the necessary legislation.
While our most urgent priority in Parliament must be addressing the crisis in Ukraine, I will continue my campaigning on other issues alongside this. You can read more about these, including my latest update on the future of Teddington Police Station, further below.
In the media
My appearances on Cross Question, BBC and Riverside Radio
Earlier this week, I was on LBC’s Cross Question, hosted by Iain Dale, where we debated a number of topics, including the Government’s response to the Ukraine crisis and sanctions against Russia. Watch here.
On the BBC, I gave my views on the Government’s lifting of Covid restrictions. My take is that this decision should be based on the science, not politics. Watch here.
Local meetings, events and news
Pushing for urgent clarification on SWR trains – not all trains reinstated
We received some partially good news about train services in our area, with South Western Railway announcing that most of the December 2021 timetable will be reinstated, after a temporary timetable was put in place last month due to Omicron. However, the loss of the 0700 Shepperton via Richmond line is a big blow for commuters, and it is not yet clear if this cut will be permanent. Meanwhile, the loss of one Hounslow loop train (the 0815 Waterloo to Waterloo via Hounslow), will particularly impact commuters in Whitton and St Margarets.
I’m seeking urgent clarification from SWR on whether the Shepperton and Hounslow loop services changes will be permanent – which would be unacceptable – or whether they are just temporary cuts that will be reinstated.
If you believe in a fair deal for London transport, you can sign my petition, “Stop Levelling Down London’s Transport” here.
Visit to St Mary’s C of E Primary, Twickenham
Pupils at St Mary’s primary school in Twickenham marked Children’s Mental Health Week with a special assembly, which I had the pleasure of joining. They talked about their worry bags, and showed us their yoga moves and beautiful artwork. Thanks to Mrs. Abrahams and all of the teachers and pupils!
Visit to St Mary’s University
We’re so lucky to have a university like St Mary’s on our doorstep. The university is ranked 5th in the country for student experience and 8th for teaching quality by the Good University Guide, while its Institute for Education has been rated Ofsted Outstanding for the last 10 years.
They have strong links with the community, a vibrant research culture, and one of the biggest teacher training programmes in the country. Vice-Chancellor Anthony McClaran and his senior team told me more about their interesting and varied work, including their employability initiatives. I also had the opportunity to see St Mary’s physiotherapy students in action!
Photo ©St Mary’s University
Hampton Court Palace secures vital funding
I was pleased to hear that local treasure Hampton Court Palace is getting vital support from the Culture Recovery Fund through Historic England. My family, like so many others in our area and beyond, love visiting the Palace and its grounds. The funding will ensure that essential repairs and restoration can take place.
Register for my next Business Forum on 20 May
I’m hosting my next Business Forum on 20 May. Please sign up here if you own a local business and would like to attend.
Standing up for you in Parliament
Fighting for the future of Teddington Police Station
I’ve been supporting for some time Park Road Surgery’s bid for new premises on the site of the former Teddington Police Station, which would also include affordable housing. Visiting the surgery recently, I saw for myself how difficult it is for patients to navigate the stairs in the old Victorian building, and how doctors spend precious time juggling room bookings when they could be seeing patients instead.
On 23 February, I led a debate in Parliament on the future of Teddington Police Station. I argued that scarce taxpayer-owned sites like Teddington Police Station can, and should, be re-purposed for the benefit of the community – and asked Minister Neil O’Brien to back my campaign. Minister O’Brien confirmed that the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), which owns the site, “has choices” in terms of selling the site. Read more here.
Raising my voice in Parliament for children’s mental health
On February 8th, I asked the Government to commit to tackling the urgent crisis in children and young people’s mental health. In a parliamentary debate on the topic, I shared some of the heart-breaking stories I’ve heard from my own constituents. Watch the video here.
My Private Members’ Bill on children and young people’s mental health, which is due to return to Parliament for second reading on 18 March, would require the Government to report annually to Parliament on mental health provision for children and young people. Read more about the actions I’m calling for here.
Championing better support for students making decisions about their education after GCSEs
16-year-olds are faced with career-defining decisions about their future, but often have to make them on the spot with very little support. This is why Richmond Park MP, Sarah Olney, and I called on the Government to allow local authorities to run admissions for this crucial period, as they do for primaries and secondaries. Watch the video here.
Weighing in on the NHS dentistry debate
In a debate in Parliament, I shared the experience of a constituent who was not able to get an NHS dental appointment for her daughter, and had to use money that had been set aside for heating and food to fund private treatment. The Liberal Democrats are calling for a personal dental plan that gives good dental advice and, crucially, access to an NHS dentist. Watch the video here.
Meeting Place2Be’s CEO in Parliament
During Children’s Mental Health Week, I visited Place2Be’s drop-in event in Parliament. I spoke with CEO Catherine Roche about the charity’s important work promoting wellbeing within the school community – including at Hampton Hill Junior School.
Covid-19 walk-in and pop-up vaccination clinics
The nearest walk-in clinics for vaccinations are Teddington Health and Social Care Centre, Boots and Kew Retail Park. Details of which vaccines are being offered and eligibility criteria are available here. West Middlesex University Hospital Vaccination hub is open 7 days a week and appointments can be booked here.