It has been a long tough winter for everyone, but spring is in the air and I am delighted to be able to start this week’s newsletter with some good news.
Following intense lobbying with Richmond Council, an agreement has been secured with the Department for Education which will address Richmond’s £18 million Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) funding gap over the course of the next five years.
I am really proud to deliver on my key election pledge to secure more funding for education locally. I have made it my priority to push the government to support children with SEND in particular. Soon after my election, I secured a debate in Westminster to put forward the plight of Richmond, and many other councils, to the Minister responsible for SEND. As a result, I secured and facilitated a meeting between Richmond councillors and officials, and the Minister, which kickstarted the negotiations.
Through hard work, the tenacity of councillors and council officers, together with continued pressure in Parliament, we have secured this positive outcome for some of our most vulnerable children.
Read more of the details here:
Latest Covid Numbers
At the time of writing, from 13th March to 19th March, there were 62 cases of coronavirus in Richmond upon Thames. This number is similar to the 66 cases seen two weeks earlier. The incidence rate in Richmond is 31.3/100,000, compared to a London-wide incidence of 33.6/100,000 and England-wide rate of 53.9/100,000.
Data source: https://www.datarich.info/covid-19/
Although the decrease in cases continues, the rate of decrease has slowed both locally and nationally. We all must continue to observe the COVID restrictions and keep bearing down on the rate of transmission.
Book a lateral flow test
All residents in the borough who are essential workers, volunteering or providing vital support for a vulnerable resident can now book a rapid COVID-19 test in Twickenham, Hampton & East Sheen.
The test is for people NOT experiencing symptoms.
Cancer test and treatment backlog
One of the many worrying impacts of the pandemic on our health system has been the delays caused to cancer diagnoses and treatments. If you’ve noticed something that’s unusual for your body or isn’t going away, speak to your doctor. Even if it takes time to get an appointment, keep trying, and make it clear if you are worried about cancer in particular.
Final call out to businesses to apply for financial support
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Richmond Council have made nearly 6,500 grant payments to businesses totalling £59.0m. However, with some of these most recent grants nearing their statutory application deadline (31 March), there are concerns that many local businesses might miss out as they haven’t applied.
If you are a local business owner, that has not yet applied – please go online and make your application asap. All the available grants can be applied for here:
Cash grants are still available for local people!
Local families and individuals who are struggling financially due to the impact of COVID-19 and need help and support accessing food, paying for school uniforms, energy bills or other household essentials, can still come forward to apply for financial help!
Get help here:
Local meetings, events and news
Richmond Chamber of Commerce – Budget briefing – Friday 26th March at 12:15
I will be hosting a joint budget briefing and business feedback session with Sarah Olney, MP for Richmond Park, and the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. I would particularly like to hear from businesses in Twickenham about their COVID recovery plans and anything I can do in Parliament to support you.
Sign up here:
Richmond Fund raises over £80k for local youth mental health charities ….. so far!
Local residents have raised over £80k so far for four local youth mental health charities and it is not too late to donate! Just £55 could help provide a crisis counselling session for a young person.
For more information, or to donate, go to: https://www.richmond.gov.uk/rvf
Full feedback report on proposals for Twickenham Riverside – now published
Following a design competition held in 2019, Hopkins Architects and their team, with help from the Council, have been working hard to develop the design for the Twickenham Riverside site. The proposals were put to consultation and the full report is available here:
Green Pledge for Richmond – residents survey 2021
Richmond council wants to make Richmond the greenest Borough in London! As part of that effort they are eager to hear what you think about various environmental and sustainability issues in order to make the Borough a greener place to live.
Please fill in the questionnaire to support this initiative: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SQWS2VZ
All responses are completely confidential and all opinions welcome.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have met with:
Local nurses from across south west London, together with neighbouring MPs, to hear how the pandemic has impacted them and their feelings about the proposed 1% payrise.
My response is here:
St Catherine’s School AS and A-Level politics pupils to answer questions on a range of topics from proportional representation to Covid vaccination passports to the environment.
Standing up for you
We must fix social care – for everyone’s benefit
Once again in Parliament I called on the Government to reform social care. The Government pledged to do so last year but it has not acted on its promises.
Social care has been under intense pressure during the pandemic. Staff have been unable to access enough PPE and there have been issues with access to Covid-19 testing. More action is needed from the Government to support it.
See my intervention here:
Demanding better pay for NHS staff
I challenged the Secretary of State for Health to reward NHS staff with a suitable pay rise that reflects the heroic efforts made by staff during the Covid-19 pandemic. This comes after staff have called the proposed 1% pay rise the Conservatives have offered an insult to their hard work.
See the exchange here:
Supporting the right to protest safely
Hundreds of constituents have written to me about the Government’s new Police Bill which restricts the right to protest. I voted against this bill and will continue to oppose threats to curtail this fundamental human right. I also spoke out about this on Radio 5 Live. Listen here:
Following the tragic murder of Sarah Everard, the High Court ruled that the Metropolitan Police could choose to facilitate a safe and peaceful vigil in her memory and to highlight the issue of violence against women and girls. I was supporting efforts by a local group to hold a Covid-safe vigil on Twickenham Green but sadly this could not go ahead. Like many others, I laid a flower in memory of both Sarah and Amelie Delagrange who was brutally killed on the Green in 2004. Video here:
Questioning the effectiveness of the Coronavirus Act
Following reports that over 200 people were incorrectly charged under the Coronavirus Act, the Government is risking law being brought into disrepute. The Government should take up the ‘Protect Everyone’ bill, as proposed by the human rights group Liberty and ensure we retain the trust of the public.
Read more here:
Highlighting the dangers of vaccine passports
I drew attention to the risks of introducing a domestic vaccination passport scheme in a debate in Parliament. The Government is exploring options for an identification system based on Covid-19 vaccination status. This could exclude teenagers, young people, those who can’t have the vaccine on health grounds and many already marginalised groups, creating a two-tier set of rights. I don’t believe coercion is the best route to build trust and get the widest possible vaccine acceptance and uptake.
My intervention in the debate can be see here:
Join my campaign for better air quality
In 2005 the World Health Organization (WHO) put air quality guidelines in place. Over 15 years later, they are still not UK law, causing serious health problems. I’m campaigning for the Government to put stricter rules in place for the sake of our community.
Join my call here: https://www.munira.org.uk/news/sign-my-petition-we-care-about-clean-air/