The news that the final lifting of restrictions will be delayed by up to four weeks came as a blow to us all, but especially to local businesses and those working in sectors such as hospitality, events, tourism, sport and the arts, for which the social distancing restrictions make it difficult to survive.
Locally we have seen Delta variant cases rise rapidly in neighbouring Hounslow and Kingston and we are now seeing sustained rises in case numbers in Richmond upon Thames. I believe this situation was avoidable had India been added to the red list of countries sooner and swifter action taken on surge testing.
Sadly, I think we have no option but to delay the full restoration of our freedoms whilst more people are fully vaccinated. However, this needs to be coupled with targeted financial support for struggling sectors and better support for those who need to self-isolate. I challenged the government on this point yet again last week.
You can read my comments in the House of Commons on the delay to the roadmap here, as well as my question to the Health Secretary earlier in the week on why swifter action was not taken to contain the Delta variant here.
Across the Twickenham constituency (which includes Teddington, Whitton, the Hamptons, St Margarets, Strawberry Hill), a total of 48,902 people have had two doses of the Covid vaccine and 76,819 first doses have been administered as of 17th June.
Latest Covid Numbers
In the week June 12th – 18th, there were 154 cases of coronavirus in Richmond upon Thames. The incidence rate in Richmond is 77.8/100,000, compared to a London-wide incidence of 78.7/100,000 and England-wide rate of 94.8/100,000. These figures represent a near doubling in cases 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, four 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 here:
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:
Do the right thing – have the vaccine
Anyone 18 or over is now eligible for a vaccine and asked to book their jab either online or by calling 119.
Boundary Commission proposes Whitton is removed from the Twickenham parliamentary constituency
I was disappointed to see the Boundary Commission’s proposal to force Whitton ward out of the Twickenham constituency despite its very close ties to Twickenham. If these proposals are implemented, the residents in the Whitton ward, who currently vote for their MP in the Twickenham constituency, will be moved to the parliamentary constituency of Brentford and Isleworth. There would be no impact on local elections. Residents in Whitton would still vote in Richmond Council elections, pay their Council Tax to Richmond and receive local services.
I love and live in the area I represent. I do not want to lose any part of this fantastic constituency. I voted against these proposed changes because it makes no sense to rip out Whitton just to reduce the number of constituents I currently represent, to fit the Government’s arbitrary rules for constituency sizes. I consider myself a Whitton resident, although I live in Heathfield ward – this proposal splits my hometown in two.
A consultation on the proposed changes has opened and runs until 2nd August. To have your say visit the Commission’s website.
Guide your way through everything there is to do in Richmond upon Thames!
VisitRichmond has a new guide for locals and tourists alike showcasing all the borough has to offer.
The guide is available free online at www.visitrichmond.co.uk, or to collect at Richmond Station Information Kiosk and at libraries around the borough.
Local meetings, events and news
Help shape the future of your local high street at the next round of virtual community conversation events
Residents of Richmond upon Thames are invited to have their say on community issues, the future of their high streets and town centres, and share their ideas on local priorities following the pandemic, in a series of virtual community engagement events.
Those who wish to attend their local event, can register here.
Local community group receive the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service
Local community group, River Thames Boat Project, has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
River Thames Boat Project is a small local charity based in Teddington, whose aim is to provide access to The Thames through two wheelchair accessible community boats. Operating on the river between Teddington and Windsor, River Thames Boat Project provides therapeutic cruises for people of all ages with disabilities and older people, as well as environmental education days for children.
Volunteers from River Thames Boat Project will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2022 along with other recipients of this year’s Award.
Visit to Look Ahead
I visited the Look Ahead supported living centre in Teddington. Look Ahead is a housing association which focuses on providing supported living to residents recovering from mental health conditions. The model is to provide a pathway for people to gain greater independence but still access the support they need at any given time. It was wonderful to meet the residents who showed me their home and spoke so positively about the support provided.
It was also great to meet staff members and hear them praise the local community for the way people engage with the residents in such a positive manner. There are photos of my visit here:
Take control of your health this Diabetes Week
Find out your risk by using the Diabetes UK Know Your Risk Score at riskscore.diabetes.org.uk. It is a quick and easy online tool with seven simple questions. Within a few minutes you will know if you are at low, increased, moderate or high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
If at moderate or high risk (score of 16 and above), sign up to the free NHS Healthier You programme in Richmond – a personalised prevention programme that will reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes by encouraging you to eat well, move more and lose weight (if needed). You should also visit your GP surgery for a follow-up blood test to check for diabetes.
Supporting the return of Parkrun
I was disappointed to hear that the return of Parkrun has been delayed again following the Government’s delay to the removal of coronavirus restrictions. Parkrun began in Bushy Park, the business is based within the constituency and holds two regular events in Bushy Park and Crane Park.
In recent weeks I have contacted the organisers of both events and offered my support. I have also been in communication with the Parkrun management team, Richmond council and Royal Parks to help broker a return of the events as soon as possible. I am pleased to report that the Bushy Park event has been given the go ahead and should return on 24th July. I have another meeting this week with council officials and Parkrun management with the aim of secure a restart of the Crane Park event on the same date.
Other local visits and meetings:
- I attended a beautiful outdoor choral recital at St Mary with St Alban Church in Teddington as part of Love your Burial Ground week. It was so uplifting to hear people singing together again.
- Congratulations to Harlequins who beat Newcastle Falcons in their final game of the season at The Stoop. It was great to see fans back watching rugby in the sunshine. After their thrilling semi-final victory in Bristol, it is on to the Premiership play-off final on Saturday.
Standing up for you
Championing children and young people’s mental health in cross-party debate
I led a debate on children and young people’s mental health where I called on the Government to “renew their focus” and “overhaul the support available” for children and young people’s mental health.
During the debate, I argued that children and young people have been “too often overlooked” in the Government’s response to the pandemic, that the current mental health support available is “patchy” and that mental health professionals in schools is key to early intervention.
This comes amid figures that show rising rates of anxiety, stress and mental health issues in children and young people following a difficult year of the pandemic, at the same time as figures demonstrate the difficulty in accessing NHS mental health services.
Watch excerpts of the debate here:
NHS Digital Data Collection
A number of residents have written to me about NHS Digital plans to share all GP patient data for planning and research. People deserve to have an informed choice on how their NHS data is being used and shared and there remain a large number of unanswered questions about how data will be used and protected. There has been very little information shared and communicated with the public.
I called on the government to delay the deadline of 23rd June to opt out of the new scheme.
Following my question and a wider outcry, the Government has now delayed implementation of the scheme until September but I continue to press for further information and public communication.
If you do not want your GP’s medical records to be shared as part of the GPDPR programme, you can opt out at any time by completing and handing in a Type 1 form to your surgery. https://digital.nhs.uk/your-data/opting-out-of-data-sharing To prevent any data being collected by NHS Digital, this form should reach your GP by 24 August 2021 latest.
To prevent your non-GP medical data, i.e. hospital or clinic treatments, being shared you will also need to complete NHS Digital’s online National Data Opt-out process.
More information can be found in the guide to opting out produced by the campaign group medConfidential.
Support for carers week
The theme of Carers Week which took place on the 7th to the 13th June 2021, was Make Caring Visible and Valued.
During the week I met with Richmond Carers and hear from the experiences of local carers during the pandemic. I was struck by how much they are constantly having to battle “the system” for the limited support to which they are entitled and deserve. More here:
Carers from Richmond Borough Mind bravely shared their personal stories with me about the huge challenges of caring for a loved one with severe mental health conditions. More here:
I also signed an Early Day Motion in Parliament to highlight the invaluable contribution that over 6.5 million unpaid carers make to their local communities across the UK.
Challenging the Government on catch-up funding for children
During the Education Recovery debate I challenged Gavin Williamson, The Secretary of State for Education, on the Government’s record to act in the best interests of children and young people. This follows the comment from Anne Longfield, the highly respected former children’s commissioner, that this Government was “institutional bias against children”.
I put it to Gavin Williamson that the Government is failing an entire generation through its paltry £50 per head offering to help catch up on months of education and social contact lost due to Covid-19. Watch 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: