Football has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds recently, with England having made the final of the UEFA European Championship for the first time in our history. Like many others, I was devastated that we suffered penalty heartbreak yet again. Nonetheless, there is still plenty to celebrate, and the England team should be very proud of what they have achieved.
After such a difficult and painful 16 months for us all, the success that the England team enjoyed up until the final created a lot of joy. It is also important that we recognise the outstanding leadership of Gareth Southgate. His open letter entitled ‘Dear England’ was particularly moving, and I greatly admire the way he advocates for greater inclusion. The players have been role models both on and off the pitch, using their profile and platform for positive social impact.
With so much to celebrate and such a young team, I was horrified to hear about the racial abuse directed at the three England football players who missed the penalties. The perpetrators should be ashamed of themselves, and this behaviour does not represent us as a nation. The vast majority of football fans are decent people and we will continue to support all of the players, regardless of whether we win or lose.
Whilst football is yet to come home, I am sure this team will learn from their experience and be back stronger next time. With the World Cup just around the corner, I am confident that the future looks bright.
Latest Covid Numbers
In the week July 3rd-10th, there were 392 cases of coronavirus in Richmond upon Thames. The incidence rate in Richmond is 198.0/100,000, compared to a London-wide incidence of 246.5/100,000 and England-wide rate of 322.5/100,000. These figures represent a roughly 50% increase over a two-week period in our borough across London and across England as a whole.
Data source: https://www.datarich.info/covid-19/
Covid testing available to all
All residents in the borough are now eligible to book a free rapid COVID-19 test in Twickenham, Hampton & East Sheen. Book now.
In addition, three pharmacies in Twickenham and Teddington are also providing free supervised tests. Full details available online and again, please book in advance.
A free ‘Community Collect’ service – providing take-home testing kits is available at Twickenham Civic Centre and St Mary’s University Broom Road sports campus and selected pharmacies. Find the nearest collection point to you.
Home test kits can also be collected at Hampton, Twickenham, and Whitton libraries. See opening times here.
These tests are for people NOT experiencing symptoms. If you have any of the main Covid-19 symptoms you should arrange a PCR test here.
Walk-in and pop-up vaccination clinics
A walk-in clinic will open at Heathfield Junior School (Cobbett Road, TW2 6EN) from 10am-6pm on Saturday 17th July.
Details of other local walk-in and pop-up vaccination clinics, including which vaccine is being offered and eligibility criteria are available here.
Anyone 18 or over is eligible for a vaccine can also book their jab either online or by calling 119.
People aged 39 and under who are eligible and pregnant women will be offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine in line with updated guidance.
Across the Twickenham constituency (which includes Teddington, Whitton, the Hamptons, St Margarets, Strawberry Hill), a total of 57,044 people have had two doses of the Covid vaccine and 82,008 first doses have been administered as of 8th July.
Local meetings, events and news
Meeting with new Managing Director of South Western Railway
One of my key local pledges when I was elected as MP for Twickenham was to fight for improved rail services across the constituency which were in a parlous state. With most people not commuting over the past 15-16 months, there have been far fewer problems, but as the numbers of people travelling start to pick up again, I’m keen to ensure local residents get the service they pay for and deserve.
I recently had a very positive meeting with Claire Mann who was appointed as the new Managing Director at South Western Railway earlier this year. I raised with her:
– the importance of improving the service on the Shepperton line, particularly for Hampton residents who are too often left stranded at Fulwell and have to put up with just one train an hour on a Sunday
– the terrible state of Hampton Wick station which needs urgent maintenance work on the canopy, walls and handrails
– the need to restore the Hounslow loop line outside peak hours so that Whitton station might once again be served by four trains per hour rather than just two
I will continue to keep up the pressure on these issues on your behalf.
Meeting with local police
I met with Lis Chapple, Chief Superintendent at the Met Police South West London Borough Command Unit. I expressed my concerns about recent knife crime incidents in the borough and the persistent theft of catalytic converters. Our local police teams continue to be stretched, both by Covid self-isolation policies (absence rates currently running at 8%) and a series of other regional and national events drawing away local resources: G7, European Championship football matches and protests.
As a runner myself, I am very aware of the important physical and mental health benefits of running, but also the social elements and inclusive nature of parkrun. The lockdowns and restrictions on social gatherings have taken a real toll on many people’s mental health. It is therefore all the more important that our local parkruns at Bushy Park and Crane Park should restart as soon as it is safe to do so.
Last month I chaired a meeting between parkrun management and Richmond Council to facilitate the event’s safe return, and I am delighted that an agreement has now been reached. Parkrun was founded in Bushy Park and the company is based on Eel Pie Island in Twickenham, so it’s a real local success story. I wish them every success in restarting their events and hope all the runners across Twickenham enjoy their return.
More information on Parkrun can be found here.
Teddington Theatre Club win Get Lucky Local community lottery
Get Lucky Local was launched last year as a lottery which raises funds for local causes of your choice
Teddington Theatre Club, a 96-year old performing arts group based at Hampton Hill Theatre, was the first-ever Get Lucky Local jackpot winner, and I congratulate them on their win. The Wharf also helped raise £800 for the local football club, Hearts of Teddlothians.
More information on Get Lucky Local can be found here.
Visit to Richmond Upon Thames School
I recently visited Richmond upon Thames School, meeting with Headteacher Kelly Dooley, staff and students.
As well as talking to pupils about leadership and public speaking, the highlight of my visit was watching students rehearsing their set pieces in a drama lesson. I loved amateur dramatics when I was at school and university, so it was wonderful to see the talent and enthusiasm of these young people. I am pleased theatres have started to re-open, both for those whose livelihoods depend on them, but also for the much needed entertainment and escapism offered by the theatre that so many have missed.
Tesco Community Grants
I was recently made aware that Tesco’s local charitable grants scheme is now open for applications from local charities. This in turn means that community groups and charities across the UK will be able to apply for a grant of up to £1,500. This is a fantastic opportunity for local charities.
More information on Tesco Community Grants can be found here.
Wellbeing and Accessible Walks
A new programme has been launched by Richmond Council’s Park Team and the Friendly Parks for All project entitled ‘Wellbeing Walks and Accessible Walks’. The aim is to encourage everyone to get outside and enjoy the borough’s parks.
The Accessible Walks welcome everyone from people with limited mobility or walking aids, to those in wheelchairs, as well as families with pushchairs. It’s a great opportunity to become acquainted with Twickenham’s open spaces, as well as to meet new people and socialise.
A list of future walks and locations can be found here.
Other local visits and meetings:
- I visited the temporary campus at Turing House School in Teddington, where I had the pleasure of meeting headteacher Martin O’Sullivan. They are all looking forward to moving to their purpose built site in February 2022, and I hope to visit them again once the move has been completed.
- I had a regular update meeting with the CEO of Kingston Hospital. Whilst the number of Covid patients thankfully still remains low, A&E attendances have shot right up which is adding significant pressure into the system. At the same time, the hospital is focused on tackling the huge backlog of operations, having opened up additional theatre capacity. We also discussed the alarming and growing number of children and young people presenting with mental health crises.
Standing up for you
Urging the Secretary of State for Health to clarify the implications of a third wave of Covid-19
I questioned the Heath Secretary, Sajid Javid, on the timing of a third wave of Covid-19, and the impact that this would have. I pressed him for greater clarity on how the number of deaths and long Covid this would result in.
Watch the exchange in Parliament here.
Calling on the Education Secretary to provide greater support for ventilation in schools
Following the welcome news that the government would be removing school bubbles and the self-isolation policy that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of children missing out on school in recent weeks, I asked Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, what he was doing to help schools put better ventilation in place to help reduce transmission of the virus.
Williamson only responded about general support, as well as the advice that has been provided to schools – no extra money is being offered.
Watch the exchange in Parliament here.
Co-sponsored a bill to establish an independent public inquiry into fire and building safety
I have added my name to a bill brought forward by my colleague, Daisy Cooper MP, to establish an independent public inquiry into the Government’s response to concerns about fire and building safety.
Fire safety victims have faced four years of delays, obfuscation and broken promises in the aftermath of Grenfell. The government has failed time and time again when it comes to fire and building safety, and an inquiry is needed in order to find out why.
More information on the bill can be found here.
Seeking to protect pregnant women from Covid
Following the news that all Covid restrictions would be lifted on July 19th,many pregnant women are concerned that they will be more exposed to the virus when they are particularly vulnerable during their third trimester.
I asked the Health Secretary whether he would consider allowing pregnant women to have their second jab after 21 days. Javid did not commit to this, though he did state he would take advice on the matter.
My exchange with Javid can be found here.
Sign my petition: Green Education for a Brighter Future
Climate change affects us all. This is especially true for the younger generations, who are inheriting a climate crisis. Sea ice is melting, permafrost defrosting, and global temperatures are rising. We must equip young people with the tools they need to combat and cope with the climate emergency.
Climate change is the most important issue young people face, and they should be taught what causes climate issues, how we can fight back, and how this will impact their lifestyle and livelihood in their futures. Yet there is no established educational pathway to inform children about climate issues, with the quality of climate education differing from school to school.
That is why I’m campaigning for climate education to be made an independent subject. Sign my petition here: