Munira’s News: Intervening on Shepperton train cuts, and my comments on “partygate”
Many of you have written to express your outrage about SWR’s decision to cut rail services on the Shepperton Line by 50%. I too was appalled that this temporary timetable change took place at short notice and without any consultation – which is why Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council and Hampton councillor, and I convened an urgent meeting with SWR management last Thursday.
At our meeting, I obtained assurances that SWR would reinstate services on the Shepperton Line as soon as staff absences are reduced. Thankfully this is already happening, with some peak time services reinstated over the past week. Rest assured that I will continue to keep up the pressure. Read more here. I am aware that peak services on the Hounslow loop have also been cut, which has a particularly negative impact on passengers at St Margarets and Whitton stations. I have urged SWR that these also need to be reinstated as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, in Westminster, we’ve had a slew of new allegations that show unforgivable conduct by this Government. So many of you have told me of your disgust about the “partygate” scandal, made more unforgivable by your own stories of loss and sacrifice during the pandemic. The new allegations are further proof that Boris Johnson is not fit to lead this country, and I will continue to take every opportunity to push for his removal as Prime Minister. Read more here.
Local meetings, events and news
Visit to the Afghanistan & Central Asian Association
Following the Kabul airlift and the evacuation of thousands of people from Afghanistan as the Taliban advanced in August, the people of Twickenham responded with openness and generosity. Money, clothes and other essentials were collected and donated to the Afghanistan & Central Asian Association (ACAA) based in Feltham.
ACAA Director Dr. Nooralhaq Nasimi, along with Women’s Empowerment Director Linda Duberley, welcomed me recently to meet clients, staff and volunteers.
The specialist advice, support, women’s groups and English classes that the ACAA provides for refugees are so important. Since the Taliban took power in Afghanistan in August, demand for the centre’s services has increased three-fold. I’m calling on the Home Office to provide funding to ACAA as part of Operation Warm Welcome, so that Afghan refugees and their families can access the essential support they need as they settle into life in the UK.
Visit to Bishop Perrin School
I had the pleasure of visiting the Bishop Perrin School, a fantastic and joyful place. Thank you to Mr. Corke, and all of the staff and pupils, for welcoming me. I particularly enjoyed singing “If I were a butterfly” with Reception and, as always, answering insightful questions from the children.
Visit to Hampton Infant and Junior School
The children at Hampton Infant and Junior school gave me a good grilling, with some excellent questions from the school council and the Year 2 and Year 6 assemblies. I was impressed by the strong focus on reading throughout the school, and was especially honoured to sign the visitor wall! Thank you to Ms. Lockey for hosting me.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at Hampton Hill Theatre
My daughter and I loved our trip to watch this fantastic performance last weekend. The performers from Step on Stage Academy, a wonderful local initiative for children in the performing arts, were outstanding.
Visit to the All Saints, Hampton, community café
I enjoyed stopping by the community café hosted by All Saints, Hampton, last week. It was great to be able to chat with guests about local issues, as well with as the vicar, Donna Williams, about opportunities for outreach and specific local needs. Thank you so much for all you do.
Share your views on this year’s GCSEs, AS and A-levels in the Parentkind survey
Calling all parents and carers – national charity Parentkind wants to know how you feel about arrangements for this year’s GCSEs, AS and A-levels. Make your voices heard by taking their short survey here.
Standing up for you in Parliament
Sign my petition: Stop Levelling Down London’s Transport
In the past few years, London’s transport users have been hit by one piece of bad news after another. The Government has slashed investment in London and run down its transport system. SWR has dramatically reduced services through many local stations and is planning to make cuts permanent. Transport for London (TfL) is facing bankruptcy and London has been explicitly excluded from a recently announced transport fund. If you believe in a fair deal for London transport and want to stop the levelling down of our city, sign the petition here.
Pressing for support for the night-time economy
Many bars, restaurants and pubs are still struggling to stay afloat – with little to no Government support. It is estimated that some businesses lost up to £45,000 over the festive period. To address this, I asked the Business Minister to commit to providing further financial support to this sector by reintroducing 100% business rates relief, and by reintroducing the emergency 5% VAT relief. The Government must act to support these businesses and their hardworking employees. See the full clip on my Twitter here.
Calling out the PM’s shameful behaviour whilst constituents suffered during lockdown
To illustrate the deep hurt and fury that so many of us felt regarding the Downing Street lockdown parties, I told the story of Jane Nicholson’s lockdown experience, which she graciously shared with me.
Jane’s mother died alone in Hampton Care Home during lockdown, and Jane bravely shared how traumatic this was, given that her final conversation with her mum was over the phone through a window. She followed the law to protect others. This contrasts with the disgraceful behaviour of many in Government who did not. I asked what the Paymaster General had to say in response to Jane. Watch the full clip from Parliament here.
Questioning ministers on the lack of a plan to roll out Covid vaccinations for vulnerable five to 11-year-olds
I asked the Government to confirm when the vaccine rollout for five to 11-year-olds, who are either clinically vulnerable or living with someone who is immunosuppressed, will start – and whether it will be done through schools or vaccination centres. Crucially, I also asked how those who are living with someone who is immunocompromised will be identified, as the child’s GP records will not show this. Approval for this was announced before Christmas, but officials and ministers are still unclear on how these children will be protected. The full clip is available on my Twitter here.
Urging the Government to put more bobbies on the beat in Twickenham
Since the Prime Minister was Mayor of London, we have seen community policing slashed. Yet, in the same period, knife crime has doubled. In Twickenham, tragically, there was a fatal stabbing of an 18-year-old college student in September. I asked the Policing Minister when we will see a boost to the community policing in Twickenham and across the Richmond Borough which was promised in 2019. Watch the clip of my question here.
Ministers dodging my questions on air purifiers in classrooms to cut Covid transmission
Once again, ministers are refusing to answer simple questions about how they decided that air filters are only needed in 8,000 out of 300,000 classrooms. In Parliament, I asked for clarity on the issue, as the Department for Education has provided vague answers to my specific written questions seeking the data behind this decision. Experts have been recommending air purifiers for some time, and parents, pupils and teachers deserve clarity. See the full question here.
Latest Covid Numbers
In the week of January 16 – 22, there were 2,105 cases of coronavirus in Richmond upon Thames. The incidence rate in Richmond is 1062.4/100,000, compared to a London-wide incidence of 785.7/100,000 and England-wide rate of 939.6/100,000. These figures show a fall in case numbers in our borough, in London and 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.
Walk-in and pop-up vaccination clinics
The nearest walk-in clinics for vaccinations are:
- Teddington Health and Social Care Centre until 30th January 2022.
- Harlequins Rugby Ground on 28th, 29th and 31st January
- Boots, Kew Retail Park