Summer 2011

Summer 2011

SUMMER 2011

Below are some of the main issues and events I have been involved in since April, beginning with Parliamentary issues and moving on to Richmond and North Kingston. With so much to cover, I have kept the details brief, and have included links to most of the stories for anyone wanting to read more._________________________________________________________________________________________________________

PARLIAMENT


FISH FIGHT

I secured a Parliamentary debate on reform of the EU common fisheries policy, followed with a radical motion demanding an end to the scandal of fish-discards. Currently half the fish caught in the North Sea are thrown back into the ocean unnecessarily, either dead or dying. These discards are a direct result of the EU’s absurd quota system. The motion passed unanimously. It follows an overwhelming public reaction to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Fish Fight campaign, which has so far secured the support of almost three-quarters of a million people LINK
I am also supporting the Wildlife Trusts’ Fish Campaign

NEWS INTERNATIONAL

I spoke out many months ago about the phone hacking scandal, describing the organisation as having engaged in widespread criminality. In the first of the Parliamentary debates, I called for the suspension of the proposed BSkyB merger and called for a full Inquiry into all aspects of the scandal, including the role of police and politicians. (LINK at 3.50pm) I asked the Prime Minister in Parliament if he could confirm that everyone giving evidence would be required to do so under oath. (LINK)

THE LOCALISM BILL

I attempted to amend and improve the Government’s Localism Bill to include binding local referendums and also Recall of elected local representatives. Despite pre-election talk from all main parties about referendums and Recall, I was supported by none of them and the amendments failed. However I will continue the campaign and will find an alternative mechanism to ensure MPs engage with the issues. As it stands, the Localism Bill is a small step in the right direction, but it does not truly empower local people.

LINK TO SPEECH AT EARLIER READING / LINK TO EARLIER SPEECH AT SECOND READING

EU: PEOPLE’S PLEDGE

I am actively supporting a new campaign called the People’s Pledge. Its goal is to put pressure on MPs of all political parties to vote for a referendum on our membership of the European Union, when the opportunity arises. You too can sign up to the campaign here, or attend their Congress here.  In addition, I have helped establish a Parliamentary ‘In or Out’ group of MPs pledged to vote for a referendum LINK

CLEAN EXPORTS CAMPAIGN  I have continued to support campaigns to clean up the Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD), a Government department that provides financial backing to companies trading in ‘risky’ parts of the world, and which has used taxpayer’s money to support business deals which fuel poverty, human rights abuses and climate change. I co-sponsored a 10-minute rule bill which calls for an overhaul of the Department. LINK

PROTECTING OUR NATURAL CAPITAL

I was pleased with DEFRA’s proposals to value ‘natural capital’ at the heart of government accounting. I have long campaigned for the benefits of natural capital to be included in the nation’s balance sheet. It is only as we recognise the value of natural services that we will protect them. Currently, we place no value at all on vital systems whose loss would be catastrophic on every level. LINK

PARLIAMENTARY REFORM

One of the key reasons I wanted to be an MP is to reform our democracy. I have introduced Bills to introduce Recall of Elected Representatives and also to allow people to initiate binding referendums locally and nationally on key issues.

Read a widely reported article I wrote for the New Statesman HERE

AV REFERENDUM

I campaigned against the Alternative Vote and debated the issue in public meetings in Richmond with Baroness Susan Kramer, and in Kingston with Ed Davey MP: LINK 

ENERGY BILL SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

I was selected to sit on a Parliamentary committee to scrutinise the Government’s new Energy Bill, which is a hugely important piece of legislation. Its flagship policy, the Green Deal, will not only reduce our dependence on imported energy and cut emissions, it will also insulate the UK’s homes and businesses against rising energy prices, and create opportunities for green jobs and growth on a very large scale. I tabled three amendments on: nuclear power, homes for service families, and display energy certificates. LINK

ZAC: ‘GREEN POLITICIAN OF THE YEAR’  
I was voted ‘Politician of the Year’ at the BusinessGreen
Leaders Awards by a panel of representatives of environmental organisations. Here’s a link to an interview I did with BusinessGreen: LINK  magazine

WILD ANIMALS IN CIRCUSES
I spoke in favour of banning the use of wild animals in circuses after the Government changed its mind on the issue and opted instead for a complicated licensing regime. With cross-party support for a ban, the Government has had to listen to Parliament: LINK
See also a LINK to my speech

PRIVACY RULES

I gave evidence to the BBC PM’s Inquiry into media ethics and privacy LINK

ALLOTMENTS

I secured an assurance from the Department for Communities and Local Government that contrary to rumours, it has no intention to scrap a statutory duty for local councils to provide allotments LINK

FOREIGN SERVICE

I welcomed the announcement from the Foreign Office that the department would be giving an additional £2.2m to the BBC world service every year for the next three years. I had previously written to Foreign Secretary William Hague urging him to intervene to stop cuts at the organisation. LINK

ENVIRONMENTAL AUDIT SELECT COMMITTEE
I am continuing my work as one of the most active members of the Environmental Audit Select Committee. For information on our inquiries and reports, please follow this LINK       

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DEBATES AND SPEECHES  

I have participated in several debates in Parliament, including on:

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LOBBYING GOVERNMENT
I have facilitated correspondence for many hundreds of constituents with Ministers, on a wide range of issues, including on: NHS reforms, the Equitable Life scandal, pension reforms, child maintenance reform, religious education, Disability Living Allowance, human trafficking, night flights, the Care Quality Commission, apprenticeships and careers guidance, business rates, the rights of minorities and dissidents in Iran, Burma, Syria, drilling for oil in the Arctic, police reforms, data sharing, Environmental Taxes… And much more.

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PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS

I have asked 521 Parliamentary Questions, including a number of specific questions about local issues here in Richmond and North Kingston.

For a complete list of the questions I have asked in Parliament Click Here 

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EDMS
I have proposed, signed and seconded over 85 Early Day Motions since becoming an MP. To see the full list, click here.

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RICHMOND PARK AND NORTH KINGSTON ISSUES

ALLEGED CHILD ABDUCTION IN BARNES
You may be aware that there was an apparent attempted child abduction in Barnes recently. There has been some confusion, and a great deal of concern regarding the incident, and this link takes you to a message from the police outlining the facts.  LINK 

THAMES TUNNEL

I am not opposed to the Thames Tunnel project, and I appreciate that wherever the main shaft is constructed, there will be opposition, but I do not believe Barn Elms is the right place for it.
Barn Elms is a much-loved and hugely important local resource that must be protected for future generations. We have already lost far too many playing fields and far too much of the Capital’s green spaces, and the endless corrosion needs to stop. I signed up to the Save Barn Elms Alliance, and helped to organise the Barn Elms Rally 

NIGHT FLIGHTS

I met Theresa Villiers, the Minister of State for Transport, to discuss the forthcoming consultation over changes to the night flights regime at Heathrow Airport and to press for tighter restrictions when the new regime comes in. I arranged for all other MPs with an interest, as well as local Peers, including Susan Kramer, to attend the meeting. The current night flight regime will expire in 2012 and a public consultation will be held next year. LINK

KINGSTON SCHOOLS

Kingston Council faces a major challenge in providing enough primary and secondary school places. I have bombarded the Secretary of State and Lord Hill with letters on the subject, and am urging other Kingston residents to do the same.

BARNES HIGH STREET

I have organised meetings with landlords, councillors and other groups in an effort to increase business occupancy and vibrancy back in to the area. Discussions will continue and I am confident that working together, we can buck the depressing trends of decline that have so blighted our shopping areas. I was pleased to learn that a group of local residents are intending to open a ‘People’s Supermarket’ style store called the ‘Barnes Village Shop.’ To request further details about Barnes Village Shop please email amazingbarnes@gmail.com

AIRTRACK  I was delighted that our campaigns against BAA’s proposed Airtrack scheme ended with a decision by BAA not to proceed. It would have caused mayhem locally, increasing waiting times at our level crossings by up to 5 minutes in the hour as well as physically dividing our community. LINK

NORTH SHEEN FOOTBRIDGE

Residents finally succeeded in persuading Network Rail to provide for a new footbridge at North Sheen Station. The initial Network Rail design came in for much criticism, but the company agreed to allow me and local Councillors to organise a competition for local residents to submit their design concepts. At the end of the process a design was voted on at a public meeting. Network Rail will now work with the winner to implement the new design, which is inspired by the tree top walkway at Kew Gardens. LINK

SCHOOL FOOD MATTERS

I am thrilled that the fantastic, ‘School Food Matters’, has been successful in its long campaign to secure fresh food for pupils at Richmond’s local schools. From September, 29 Primary schools in Richmond will be receiving freshly prepared school meals which meet the Food for Life Silver Catering Mark. School Food Matters has also successfully influenced Kingston Council on their school meals contract. LINK

SMART COMMUNITIES PROJECT

I launched the Smart Communities project at a party at Fern Hill School in Kingston.  The three-year project is an ambitious scheme to try and reduce the amount of energy that families use. Five hundred families, mainly in the North of the Borough will be taking part in the project, which is led by a team of researchers from Kingston University.   LINK

EVENING WITH BORIS

I welcomed Mayor Boris Johnson to Richmond to raise funds for his crucial 2012 re-election campaign.  LINK

LONSDALE ROAD MAST

I’m delighted that Richmond Council has once again rejected the proposed communications mast in Lonsdale Road, Barnes. I objected to the mast because of its proximity to a local school  LINK

OPERATIONAL TRIAL AT HEATHROW    The Aviation Minister has revealed plans to trial a set of Operational Freedoms at Heathrow. I have pressed the Aviation Minister for clarification on how many unexpected over-flights there might be in respite periods, how many days a year will be an ‘operational freedom day’ at Heathrow, and for a precise definition of the trigger mechanisms that would trigger the use of the operational freedoms.    LINK

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OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF

CANBURY GARDENS  The Canbury Gardens Steering group are continuing to explore options to attract funding for the improvement of Canbury Gardens. I am pleased to report that applications for funding from various sources will be submitted imminently.

GREY HORSE PUB ‘GALA BINGO’ FUNDRAISER I attended a fundraising event at the Grey Horse Pub, the proceeds of which went towards local residents’ fight against the Kingston Arena project. LINK

RACE2ZERO COMPETITION – WINNER DECLARED   Six schools took part in this four month competition, and aimed to reduce their schools’ carbon footprints by the greatest amount, to win a £4,500 eco-makeover from nPower.   LINK

BENCH AT HARRODS VILLAGE

A new bench has been installed on the towpath at Harrods Village, Barnes.  This follows an energetic and successful campaign by the ten members of the Riverview Gardens Junior Youth Group. I supported the group last year after they contacted me for help LINK

CUBE CANCER AWARENESS EVENT   I met staff and patients at a CUBE (Cancer, Understanding by Experience) Summer Reception.  CUBE held the sunshine-filled event at the Mulberry Centre, West Middlesex Hospital, to promote the latest achievements of the group, which works closely in collaboration with hospital management, to enhance its cancer services.    LINK

ALL IN ONE CONSULTATION 
Over 13,500 residents responded to Richmond Council’s All in One questionnaire and 1,300 attended the feedback events to comment on the priorities they had identified for their area.
If you missed the events it is not too late to have your say on the My Village forums here: LINK

MOSQUE SURGERIES 
I have begun holding surgeries at Kingston’s mosque . The meetings are an opportunity for Mosque-goers and local residents to talk to me about any issues, local or national, that might be of concern.

THE UNICORN IN PARLIAMENT

It was a pleasure to meet 20 pupils from the Unicorn School in Parliament, and I was impressed with the barrage of broad ranging and difficult questions they asked me. I arranged a similar tour and Q&A session for pupils from Christ’s School in May: LINK

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Very briefly I…  

  • Tightened the final rivet at a new building at Fern Hill School
  • Visited Grey Court School students ‘School Food Matters’ sale outside Waitrose in Richmond
  • Opened a new dairy at the pioneering Pierrepoint Farm, one of Surrey’s last remaining Dairy farms.
  • Met and answered questions from Carers at the ‘True Face of Carers’ event in Kingston.
  • Awarded six local tennis venues with the prestigious beacon status.
  • Opened a new bus stop at Manor Road Sainsbury’s in Richmond – the result of years of campaigning by local residents and councillors.
  • Spoke at a public meeting organised by Richmond and Twickenham Friends of the Earth with neighbouring MP Vince Cable.
  • Participated in the Foreign Office’s Climate Change and Energy Attachés Conference, and gave a speech entitled “What should HMG’s strategy be on international climate change and energy?”
  • Sounded the start of a 5k and 10k running event to raise awareness of the little known condition Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), organised by the charity NASS.
  • Opened the new Guiliano Di Notte restaurant in Kingston
  • Visited Meadlands Primary School to see their Eco Day, present the school with their Gold Sustainable Travel Award and open their new orchard.
  • Met with Cabinet Office Minister Nick Hurd, with the founder of the Big Issue John Bird, to discuss the role of social enterprises in The Big Society.
  • Visited Age Concern in Kingston to learn more about the work done by the organisation.
  • Attended the Freedom Parade and Civic Reception in Kingston, for the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment in Kingston
  • Joined Kingston’s Asperger Syndrome Youth Group, and participated in a Q&A which focused on my role as an MP.

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MY COLUMNS IN THE LOCAL NEWSPAPER 

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LOCAL EVENTS  

In addition to my weekly surgeries, I have held more than 100 public meetings, resident gatherings and coffee mornings throughout the constituency since the election.

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DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

Barnes Charity Winter Ball and Christmas Fair 
The Barnes Charity Winter Ball and Christmas Fair will be held at Barn Elms Southside on Rocks Lane on the weekend of November 12th /13th 2011. Tickets are now on sale, so if you would like to reserve a table (10 per table or 2 tables per booth or individual tickets) Please contact the organising committee at tickets@barneswinterballandfair.orgfor an application form.)

Richmond Social Enterprise Partnership workshop  Richmond Social Enterprise Partnership are holding a Workshop on 22nd September from 4pm at the Richmond Business School.   I will be speaking and answering your questions in a Q&A. For more information, please contact the Chairman cllr.pfleming@richmond.gov.uk

Richmond Park and North Kingston Conservative Association Dinner
The Richmond Park and North Kingston Annual Association Dinner will be held on Thursday 8th December at the Richmond Hill Hotel.   We have confirmed Col Bob Stewart DSO, MP for Beckenham, and former United Nations Commander in Bosnia as our guest speaker.
For more information contact, Lyn Willingham at the Association office.

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AND FINALLY.. 

If you would like to discuss any issues of local or national concern, please, contact my office to make an appointment to come and see me at one of my weekly surgeries.