A couple of weeks ago, I visited Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, during his 21-day hunger strike outside the Foreign Office. I wanted to show my support for his incredible bravery. Shockingly, Boris Johnson refused to visit Richard and was even reported to have walked past his tent and ignored him. This is particularly shameful given that the Prime Minister’s mishandling of the case, when he was Foreign Secretary, worsened and complicated Nazanin’s situation. It has now been over five years since Nazanin was detained.

Last Tuesday, I spoke in the parliamentary debate to further support Nazanin’s case. I asked how the Government could be working harder to uphold Nazanin’s rights, protect her and get her home. (See the clip of my question here.) Westminster Hall was filled for the debate and the opening speech by Tulip Siddiq, Nazanin’s MP, was poignant. Richard showed great courage watching from the gallery.

The case is complex and appears linked to a debt owed by the UK to Iran from a failed military contract dating back to 1979. The existence of sanctions on Iran further complicates the situation. However, in 2016, the US Government managed to resolve a similar situation, pay an outstanding debt and get their own citizens home.    

The Government has completely failed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her devastated family. They must now do everything in this country’s power to secure Nazanin’s freedom and return her, and the other UK nationals detained in Iran, home. 

Visit www.freenazanin.com for updates.

Local meetings, events and news

Sign up for My Local Business Forums

It has been an incredibly difficult couple of years for businesses, large and small. Over the past two years, they have had to navigate the hugely challenging impacts of Brexit, Covid restrictions, lockdowns and rapidly changing consumer behaviour.

Following last month’s Budget, I will be hosting a series of local business forums to hear from local businesses of all sizes about the difficulties they face and their plans for the future.

If you are a business owner or manager in the local area, this is your opportunity to discuss these challenges with your local MP and fellow senior business professionals. If you would like to attend any of my local business forums, they will be held online over the coming months. Please sign up below:

Visit to Capella House School

It was wonderful to meet the children and staff at Capella House School in Twickenham last week. Early intervention with speech, language and communication difficulties is of critical importance. It is a great benefit to have such a school available to local children with communication needs. Thank you for inviting me. See photos from my visit here.

NPL Apprenticeship Graduation Ceremony 

It was a privilege to speak at the NPL Graduation Ceremony last week held online. 

It is so exciting that world-leading research is taking place in the constituency, here in Teddington. It is fantastic that local young people have the opportunity to train at NPL. Apprenticeships are so valuable for students and employers alike. See the photos here.

WE STAND TOGETHER #againsthate with Amnesty International

It was a pleasure to join Afzal Khan MP to mark Islamophobia Awareness Month. We must continue to fight against the hate crimes and discrimination that Muslims experience. The positive contribution made by British Muslims to our society should be recognised and celebrated more.

See photos here and thank you to the Muslim Council of Britain and Amnesty UK for their hard work on this important campaign 

Local Christmas Lights Switch-On

It was fun to get into the festive spirit on Sunday evening for the Christmas lights-up organised by Discover Twickenham. Church Street was packed with people enjoying the festive evening, crafts, and artisan food stalls. 

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Don’t forget that Teddington lights are being turned on this Thursday 25th November, East Twickenham on Friday 26thNovember and Whitton on Sunday 28th November.

Homeless people, asylum seekers and refugees COVID-19 Vaccines 

Please spread the word that this Wednesday, 24th November, homeless people, asylum seekers and refugees will be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the flu at the Exchange Twickenham. Other services such as haircuts will also be provided.

Full information is available here.

Richmond Health and Care Plan

Please do take a moment to share your thoughts on Richmond’s 2022-2024 Health and Care Plan. The plan aims to highlight what the borough’s partners will work on to improve local residents’ health and wellbeing. 

Standing up for you

Skills and Post-16 Education Bill – challenging ministers on BTECs

Last week, in Parliament, I challenged the Government on the plan to defund BTECs during the debate on the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill. 86% of respondents to the Government’s consultation on BTEC funding opposed the plan. Over a quarter of a million students take BTECs every year, disproportionately those from disadvantaged, minority ethnic and SEND backgrounds. 

The Liberal Democrats support ‘skills wallets’ to recognise the importance of non-academic qualifications for lifelong learning. Vocational skills are needed now more than ever, in light of the skills shortage following Brexit and Covid in a number of sectors.

You can find an extract of my speech here or can read it in full here.

Pressing Government for Zero Carbon Homes 

I challenged the Government on their terrible record on zero carbon homes.  When the Liberal Democrats were in Government, we implemented a zero carbon homes policy for all new homes. The Conservatives abolished the policy, resulting in recently built homes needing to be retrofitted at great expense. In Parliament I asked if the Government would commit to a zero carbon homes standard for all new homes built in the UK.  The Minister’s response was lacking in anything meaningful. 

Watch the full clip here

Campaigning with Joanna Lumley to Stop Sea Blasts

It was great to meet Joanna Lumley outside Parliament last week and support the Stop Sea Blasts campaign which aims to stop the detonation of unexploded ordnance damaging marine life (find out more here). 

I am pleased that the Government has now agreed to take positive steps towards disposing of old munitions safely in a manner that does not cause harm to marine life.

Home Office response received on local knife crime incident 

I wrote to the Home Secretary last month about knife crime in our area and the need for additional police officers, following the tragic death of 18-year-old Hazrat Wali in Twickenham. I received a response from the Minister of State for Crime and Policing. However it did not address any of my concerns about policing in the local area. The full letter is available on my website here.

Covid Information 

Latest Covid Numbers

In the week November 13th to November 19th, there were 991 cases of coronavirus in Richmond upon Thames. The incidence rate in Richmond is 500.1/100,000, compared to a London-wide incidence of 299.4/100,000 and England-wide rate of 402.9/100,000. These figures show a sharp rise in case numbers in our borough and significant rise across England as a whole, compared with two weeks earlier.  

Data source: https://www.datarich.info/covid-19/

Covid testing available to all

To book your free rapid lateral flow COVID-19 test or find your nearest take-home testing kits collection point, visit: https://maps.test-and-trace.nhs.uk/

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.