Today is Thank a Teacher day, and I want to take the opportunity to thank all teachers in the constituency. They are juggling teaching the children of key workers on the school site, teaching all the other pupils remotely, and preparing to receive more children next month. In many cases they are trying to do this while looking after their own children at home.
Achieving for Children has written to all parents of children at local authority schools in Richmond and Kingston boroughs apprising them of their approach to opening their doors to more children next month. I am attaching their letter here as well for the benefit of any other interested residents.
THE GOVERNMENT'S TRADE BILL
I spoke in Parliament today to oppose the Government's Trade Bill, which gives the Government freedom to make any deal they like, with whomever they like, with no accountability. Parliament needs the opportunity to scrutinise the UK’s future trade deals before they are agreed. I am also concerned that the bill does not set out national priorities for the basis of any future trade deal. Climate requirements, employment and animal welfare standards should be at the forefront of any negotiation. You can see the full speech here: https://www.facebook.com/saraholneyld/videos/552371188755798/
SUPPORT FOR SELF EMPLOYED WORKERS
I am still urging the Government to extend income support for self-employed workers and plug the gaps in the program that are denying support to so many self-employed people. We must ensure these workers and their families are not left behind. To make the support package fair the Government must urgently resolve the gaps in their plans caused by unfair and restrictive eligibility requirements.
TRANSPORT FOR LONDON NEWS
Transport for London has been in touch to say that they are working hard to return services to as close to 100 per cent capacity as possible. As of Monday they were operating:
85 per cent of bus services;
75 per cent of Tube services. The Circle line has been re-instated and 7 of the 37 stations that were closed for several weeks are now open;
80 per cent of London Overground and Docklands Light Railway (DLR) services;
100 per cent of TfL Rail services;
95 per cent of London Trams services;
95 per cent of Cycle Hire services, with all three cycle hire hubs staffed and open and a further two cycle hire hubs added for additional demand.
I was very concerned to see the terms of the Government's financial support packages, announced this week, included depriving disabled public transport users access to the full service. As the Liberal Democrat spokesperson on Transport I wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport about this issue. I know that the Mayor's office also lobbied against including this provision in the support package. I am happy to report that the Government has now agreed to allow disabled Freedom Pass holders to continue travelling for free at all times.
EXCESSIVE GAMBLING AND GAMING
As lockdown continues, young people are spending more and more time on their digital devices accessing entertainment and games. The Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust is a national charity that works to help young people make informed decisions and understand the consequences around gambling and gaming. You can see their advice for parents on how to safeguard children and help identify potential signs of gaming and gambling related harms here: https://www.ygam.org/ygam-provides-support-for-parents-during-lockdown/
LYME DISEASE-CARRYING TICKS IN RICHMOND PARK AND BUSHY PARK
One of my constituents has written to me about contracting Lyme Disease from a tick in Richmond Park. Lyme Disease is a serious illness that can have lifelong effects if not treated promptly. April to October is tick season, so please check yourself for ticks if you have been off the paths in Richmond Park or Bushy Park. If you find a tick, advice can be found on the Royal Parks website here: https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/richmond-park/visitor-information/tick-bites-and-lyme-disease
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES
Kingston Council has asked me to signpost some of the resources available to support people who re struggling. Time to Change has a range of activities available to tackle stigma and discrimination. These include local champions hosting free events on Zoom discuss the experiences of mental health and giving their personal lockdown tips. There is also a range of support and advice available via Connected Kingston: https://kva.org.uk/kingston-s-vcs/connected-kingston
PLEASE DISPOSE OF FACE MASKS PROPERLY
Kinston Council would also like residents to be aware that used paper facemasks and disposable gloves should be put in your general waste bin with the bag tied securely. Please don't put them in the recycling.
ROAD SAFETY CHANGES
Richmond Council has released a video of Cllr Alexander Ehmann, the Cabinet Member for Transport, talking about about the work that has begun to make Richmond roads safer. They are beginning with changes to pedestrian pathways in Richmond and East Twickenham. Residents can also contact their Rapid Response Team regarding any pavement pinch points which restrict social distancing in your area. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zj1mDTNJAJk&feature=youtu.be
TOWNMEAD ROAD RECYCLING AND REFUSE CENTRE
Townmead has been very busy since it reopened to the public, with very long queues to get into the site on some days. If your trip to the tip is not essential you are advised to hold onto your rubbish until the initial rush abates. And remember, if the second numerical digit on your number plate is odd, (AB 21) you can only go there on odd-numbered dates. And if the second numerical digit on your number plate is even, (AB 12) you can only go there on even numbered dates. All the guidelines are available here: https://www.richmond.gov.uk/services/waste_and_recycling/recycling_and_refuse_sites/townmead_road/townmead_road_covid19_guidelines_and_restrictions