Winter 2011

Winter 2011
Dear Resident,

It’s time for my last update of 2011, and below are some of the main issues and events I have been involved in since August, beginning with Parliamentary issues and moving on to those in Richmond and North Kingston.
As ever, I have kept the details brief, but have included links to most of the stories for anyone wanting to read more.
Very best wishes and Happy New Year,
Zac Goldsmith
*See my interview on BBC HardTalk: LINK

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PARLIAMENTARY ISSUES

RE-ZONING OF KINGSTON STATION   
I organised a meeting with Kingston MP, Ed Davey and Transport Minister, Theresa Villiers MP, to discuss the need to re-zone Kingston Station to zone 5. Kingston and Surbiton Station’s are currently situated in zone six and passengers face unreasonably high fares travelling into Central London.  Theresa Villiers MP has agreed to look at the proposals, and has allowed Surbiton academic and campaigner Dr Tim Leunig work alongside Department for Transport officials on the case. If the campaign succeeds, 20,000 season ticket holders stand to save up to £3 on their weekly travel cards and £10 on their monthly cards.
INQUIRY INTO SOLAR SUBSIDIES
As a member of the Environmental Audit Select Committee, I helped initiate an urgent joint Select Committee inquiry into the subsidy regime for solar PV (with the Energy and Climate Change Committee). There has been widespread concern about the decision to lower the tariff at such short notice. Our report called for among other things, the introduction of an immediate community tariff, and a new formula to prevent the need for a sudden change to ever happen again. The report can be found on the Committee’s website. LINK
DAYLIGHT SAVING BILL   
The Government has reaffirmed its support for the Daylight Saving Bill. If passed, the Bill could trigger a trial that will advance the UK’s time by one hour for all or part of each year. As a co-sponsor of the bill, I am following developments closely, and will take part in the debate when it returns to the Chamber early in the year.

EXTRADITION REFORM 
I took part in a Westminster Hall debate, and strongly urged the Government to reconsider the UK’s current extradition arrangements with the EU and the USA. In my speech, I referred to the European Arrest Warrant, and a case which saw a constituent repeatedly arrested in different countries, without ever being told why or on whose instructions. The system is imbalanced and needs immediate reform. LINK
FISH FIGHT 
I have continued my fight to reform the failed Common Fisheries Policy. In the most recent exchange, I reminded the Government that Parliament unanimously supported my Motion calling on the Government to renegotiate to repatriate control of our ‘sovereign waters’, and pointed out that it remains the case that while UK laws apply to our own fleet, foreign vessels are still able to disregard them in our waters. LINK
EU REFERENDUMS 
Along with 80 colleagues from the Conservative party, I voted in support of a motion calling for a referendum on our relationship with the EU. LINK and LINK
PEOPLE’S PLEDGE
I continue to support the People’s Pledge which is calling for a British referendum on EU membership. For more information about their campaign and to read about their 2000-strong rally in Westminster, see the following LINK
BINDING LOCAL REFERENDUMS  
I was appalled that Lib Dem Peers deleted a provision in the Localism Bill allowing local residents to trigger local referendums. Although the provision was insufficient (the referendums wouldn’t have been binding), it was a step in the right direction. I therefore tabled an amendment to the Bill, which would have given local residents the power to instigate local referendums on any issue. In my speech, I told the House that no one is better placed to decide the nature, shape, form and future of an area than the people who live in it and I urged the Government to think again.  LINK
NATIONAL PLANNING REFORMS   
As they currently stand, the planning rules are grotesquely undemocratic, and need radical reform. But like many people, I was concerned about the implications of the Government’s controversial new proposals. I am campaigning to ensure that the new rules genuinely empower local people, provide the protections we all want for our communities, and do not represent in any way a blank cheque for developers. I have facilitated meetings between the Planning Minister and campaign groups like the CPRE. I also asked the PM to meet the National Trust to discuss the plans. He agreed.
LINK to PMQ re- National Trust

LINK to my article on the reforms
CELEBRATORY LUNCH FOR DR EVA SCHLOSS IN PARLIAMENT
I hosted a lunch for Dr Eva Schloss, Auschwitz survivor and step-sister of Anne Frank, at the House of Commons, to celebrate her mission and achievements to date. Among the guests was the Russian Ambassador, Alexander Yakovenko, who later hosted the play documenting Eva’s life, at the Russian Embassy.  LINK
SUCCESS ON ‘WARM HOMES FOR HEROES’ AMENDMENT   
I welcomed the news that the Ministry of Defence and Energy Departments are to work together to improve the energy efficiency of service family accommodation. Poor energy efficiency is one of the biggest sources of complaints for service families. The announcement was made by Greg Barker MP, and followed my ‘Warm Homes for Heroes’ campaign to improve and upgrade Military service family accommodation both in North Kingston and nationally.

LINK

PLASTIC BAG FREE OLYMPICS  
I teamed up with a fellow Patron of the Greener Upon Thames Campaign, Roz Savage, to co-host a meeting between Greener upon Thames and the US-based 5 Gyres Institute. The meeting gave the two environmental organisations an opportunity to exchange the latest scientific information about the impacts of plastic bags on the world’s oceans.   LINK
THE GREEN DEAL   
I have been leading calls for the Government to introduce additional incentives to encourage early uptake of the flagship energy efficiency programme – the Green Deal (such as a stamp duty rebate for homes or a council tax holiday for households that are participating in the Green Deal). I was therefore pleased to hear the Treasury’s announcement in the Autumn Statement that £200 million has been allocated for that purpose. The Department will develop options for how best to use these funds over the winter, and will provide further details on proposals next year.   LINK

EU OVERREGULATION 
I spoke out against the EU’s Food Supplement’s Directive at the Consumers for Health Choice Parliamentary Reception, which I hosted. I pointed out that EU legislation enveloping the natural products industry is a classic case of a burdensome ‘solution’ being brought in for a problem that doesn’t exist. The proposed legislation will destroy jobs, shops and choice for millions of people.  LINK
CRUEL COSMETICS CAMPAIGN  
I have always believed that animal testing for cosmetic products should stop immediately. Contrary to popular belief, toiletries and beauty products which are tested on animals outside the EU, are still on sale and widely available throughout the EU, and in the UK. I am supporting BUAV’s No Cruel Cosmetics campaign, which calls for an end to animal testing on these products sold in the EU.  LINK

 

HEATHROW TRIALS
The Operational Trials have begun at Heathrow Airport. The trials are running in two phases; November-February 2012, and July-September 2012. During these periods, BAA will be making use of both runways at times of severe congestion and in ’emergency situations’. I have made clear to the Aviation Minister, Theresa Villiers MP, the importance constituents have placed on transparency, consultation and engagement with the local community while the trials take place.   LINK

HEATHROW NIGHT FLIGHTS

I continue my campaign for a ban on night flights between 11pm and 6am. In addition to having arranged a series of meetings with the Aviation Minister and MPs from the constituencies which fall beneath the flight path, I have asked BAA to create models demonstrating whether night arrivals could be rescheduled to arrive during the day. In my role on the Environmental Audit Committee, I have secured their insistence on a ban on a third runway. EAC’s report on Air Quality, reports: LINK
RECALL PROPOSALS EMPOWER MPS NOT VOTERS
The Government has produced a draft Recall Bill which they say, gives the public the right to recall their local MP if they are found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing. However, the recall power is dependent on a parliamentary committee finding a MP guilty of ‘serious wrongdoing’. True recall empowers people, not Parliamentary Committees, and although there must be safeguards, constituents should be to recall their MP when a majority of them have lost confidence or trust in them. I will continue my campaign for Direct Democracy and seek to strengthen the Government’ proposals, and have won the backing so far of 53 MPs.  LINK   To read my own Recall of Elected Representatives Bill: LINK
And to read my related Early Day Motion, LINK
LITERACY GROUP IN PARLIAMENT   
I joined the cast of Wicked, with children’s book author, Cressida Cowell at the House of Commons, to help launch the National Literacy Trust’s All Parliamentary Party Group on Literacy. The group will promote knowledge and support among MPs for the latest research, policy and best practice, in addition to highlighting the importance of best practice literacy in schools, early years settings, families and communities.  LINK

CONSERVATIVE PARTY CONFERENCE 
I took part in two debates at this year’s Conference in Manchester. First, a fringe event organised by, The Association of Convenience Stores, entitled, ‘Can Localism can save the High Street’. I was joined on the panel by principal author of the Conservative Green Paper “Open Source Planning, John Howell MP and Director of the Co-operative Group, Ruairidh Jackson. LINK

I also joined Culture Minister Ed Vaizey MP and Hugh Grant on the panel of Hacked Off’s fringe event. We debated the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, and after panelists’ speeches, we took part in an audience-led Q&A


APPRENTICESHIPS PROGRESS

I am a big believer of apprenticeships, and I am delighted that the Government, under the direction of the excellent Skills Minister, MP, is ramping up its apprenticeships programme. For many young people, a chance to experience real work in a dynamic environment is the best possible preparation for work life. I therefore warmly welcome the work of John Hayes MP on his progress in this area. LINK

MARY PORTAS – IMPROVING OUR HIGH STREETS  

I met Mary Portas with Pamela Fleming, Richmond’s brilliant Cabinet Member for Communities and Development, and also Barnes Retail Champion, Sue Nichol to discuss Mary’s campaign for improving the UK’s high streets. The Prime Minister announced in May that Mary Portas would be undertaking a review of UK High Streets. This has now been published, and is available to view here

This has now been published, and is available to view here: LINK
JOINT COMMITTEE ON PRIVACY AND INJUNCTIONS  
I gave evidence to the Joint Committee on Privacy and Injunctions about press intrusion. Witness statements were also heard from Hugh Grant, Max Mosley and Steve Coogan. The transcript can be found here: LINK:  And my comment: LINK

GREEN TECHNOLOGIES     
I met Trade Minister Lord Green, to talk about the implementation of the Coalition Agreement’s commitment to end UKTI and ECGD support for “dirty fossil-fuel energy production”.  I am pushing the Minister to announce the Government’s decision on how the commitment will be put in place by the beginning of next year.
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, Night Flights, Teachers Pensions, Welfare Reform, Junior ISA’s, the Riots, Immigration, Ministry of Justice reforms, Protection of Freedoms Bill, the European Arrest Warrant, Probation… and much more.

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DEBATES AND SPEECHES 

I have participated in several debates in Parliament in the last few months, including:

  • Solar Panel Feed in Tariffs: LINK
  • Extradition in Europe and US: LINK
  • Common Fisheries Policy: LINK
  • Localism Bill: LINK
  • Environmental Protection and Green Growth: LINK and: LINK
  • National Referendum on the European Union: LINK  And: LINK
  • Procedure Committee Reports on Reform of Parliament (various interventions) LINK
  • Food Security and Famine Prevention (Africa): LINK
  • The Durban Climate Conference: LINK

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EDMS/QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS

I have proposed, signed and seconded over 94 Early Day Motions since becoming an MP
LINK  And I have asked 734 written questions to minister on a vast array of subjects. You can keep up with all the issues I’ve been raising in Parliament, be it in speeches, debates, written or oral questions here: LINK

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RICHMOND PARK & KINGSTON ISSUES

NORTH KINGSTON SCHOOLS UPDATE 
Kingston Council still 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 have urged other Kingston residents to do the same. I welcomed the announcement that the Borough is to receive part of a £500m grant this autumn, but this still isn’t enough, and so I am now embarking on a campaign to obtain a proper 3 year settlement which will allow the council to secure a loan to build the new Secondary school.

HEATHROW PUBLIC MEETING 
I organised and chaired a special public meeting, which gave local residents an opportunity to question, BAA executives about the Operational Freedom Trials and the upcoming consultation over night flights.   LINK

THAMES WATER RULE OUT BARN ELMS
I was delighted to hear that Thames Water have ruled out Barn Elms as the preferred site for construction of the main drive shaft for the proposed Thames Tunnel. This was a real victory for local people, who have campaigned tirelessly to protect this valuable site.   LINK
Phase Two of Thames Water’s consultation will begin on the 4th of November and will end on the 10th of February 2012, and you can register your views here: LINK  

THE VINEYARD COMMUNITY CENTRE    

The Vineyard Project, which served as a day centre for the homeless for 33 years, was forced to close its doors earlier this year after funding from local charities dried up.  Fortunately a new volunteer-based charity, the Vineyard Community Centre, is soon to continue meeting local needs from the same premises.  Following my letter to our generous residents, some £7,000 has already been raised. The official opening will be on Thursday 8th March 2012. You can read more about the centre (and how to support it) here: LINK

COOMBE VALE BY-ELECTION SUCCESS 

I warmly welcome our brilliant new councillors, Lynne Finnerty and Julie Pickering, who despite (or perhaps because of) a characteristically negative and shaming counter campaign from the Lib Dems, turned a marginal Ward into a safe Conservative ward. Both Councillors have lived in the ward for more than 20 years. Before being involved in politics they have actively worked on local campaigns – relating to school places, protecting green spaces and have been representatives on local panels.
To read more about Lynne and Julie, please visit the Coombe Vale website at: LINK

RICHMOND PARK AND NORTH KINGSTON CONSERVATIVE POLICY FORUM   

I hosted and took part in Richmond’s first cross party Question Time Forum in Richmond.  All the major political parties were represented, and the debate was both popular and informative.
Panellists included, Sam Gyimah MP, Nigel Farage EP, Serge Lourie, and Emily Thornberry MP.

SUSTAINABLE LIGHTING COMPETITION 
Congratulations to Elsa Haughton of Tiffin Girls School, who won a design competition launched by Abacus Lighting Ltd (and co-judged by me). In addition to helping raise awareness of the benefits of environmentally friendly lighting, she has secured her school a new sustainable lighting scheme, which will be maintained by Abacas: LINK

COMMUNITY UPON THAMES Q&A    

I participated in a Business Breakfast in Kingston, hosted by the newly launched Social Enterprise, Community upon Thames. The Q&A session gave small businesses an opportunity to raise issues of concern including: business rates, complicated employer legislation and a new emphasis on social enterprises. LINK
Click here to learn more about Community upon Thames: LINK
BARNES CINEMA TO BE DECIDED BY PLANNING COMMITTEE   

A planning application for the reinstatement of a boutique cinema at Church Road, Barnes, will be decided by the Planning Committee on 22nd December 2011. The primary objective is to create a community facility that Barnes can be proud of, which will revitalise the area, and provide employment and entertainment. If you haven’t already, please join me in registering your support.  LINK

INNOCENT SMOOTHIE LAUNCH AT EAST SHEEN PRIMARY SCHOOL   

I joined Innocent Drinks at East Sheen Primary School, to launch their Schools Program, which demonstrates to teachers and pupils the different, and delicious, things which can be made with fruit, instead of sending it to waste. This special project will last eight weeks and will be rolled out to other schools early next year. LINK

TESCO LICENCING APPEAL   

I welcome the announcement that Tesco’s in Mortlake has withdrawn its Licensing Appeal.
This followed a concerted campaign by local residents, who felt that the sale of alcohol from the earlier time of 8am would have been entirely inappropriate and unnecessary.

FEEDING THE 5000 LAUNCH   

I joined MPs and food businesses at the House of Lords, to launch Tristian Stuarts’s fantastic Feeding the 5000 Initiative. The event, supported by Boris Johnson, highlighted the growing problem of food waste.
The actual event saw 5000 people, including 100 pupils from our local schools, congregate in Trafalgar Square to enjoy a free lunch made entirely from what would have been wasted food.   LINK

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OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF

KINGSTON COLLEGE STUDENTS IN PARLIAMENT    

It was a pleasure to meet students from Kingston College in Westminster, and I was impressed with the broad ranging and difficult questions they put to me.
BARNES CHARITY FASHION SHOW   

I compered Barnes’ first Charity Fashion Show, organised to highlight the importance of Barnes’s many independent shops and boutiques. Proceeds from the event went to the Barn Elms Sports Trust, Castelnau Community Centre and The Friends of St Mary’s Barnes.   LINK
FIRST FARMERS MARKET IN KEW    

Trials began for a new Village Community market in Kew in September. Requested by 91% of local residents and implemented by local councillors, the monthly markets have been a great success.
The market is community led, and all profits raised will be distributed to local charities. LINK
RICHMOND YOUTH PARTNERSHIP FORUM AT YORK HOUSE    

I was invited to speak to young adults at the Richmond Youth Forum, a body established to give the youth of Richmond a voice, at York House in October. Vince Cable MP and Susanne Rauprich (NCVYS) joined me on the panel, and we spoke to young adults and school pupils from across the borough.


RICHMOND BUSINESS AWARDS    

I was delighted to be invited to present prizes at the Richmond Business Awards 2011. Local businesses competed to win prizes in 12 categories at the highly successful event, which was jointly sponsored by the Richmond Chamber of Commerce and the Richmond and Twickenham Times.
ENERGY NETWORKING EVENT   
Richmond Council, in partnership with the Carbon Trust, organised a business breakfast networking event in Twickenham last month, as part of their GO Green Richmond sustainability drive. I was invited to address the delegates about the greening up of local businesses. For more information about

GO GREEN Richmond, see: LINK
HOLLY LODGE CENTRE – STEPPING STONES   
I was given a Tour of Richmond Park’s Holly Lodge Centre, and was wildly impressed. To read more about the centre’s activities and educational programme visit: LINK
VICTORY FOR BACK GARDENS ON THE ROBIN HOOD ESTATE
I was delighted that after a successful, community-led campaign, the Maldens and Coombe Neighbourhood Planning subcommittee decisively rejected a plan to build Huf houses in a garden on the Robin Hood Estate.

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Very Briefly

  • I fired the cannon to start off Kew’s Autumn 10K Richmond River Run LINK
  • I appeared on the BBC’s programme Hard Talk.  LINK
  • I spoke to the Richmond Upon Thames Forum for Older People, and answered the group’s questions on local and national issues
  • I have arranged many Parliamentary tours and Big Ben Clock tower visits for local schools and community groups, and where it has been possible, I have taken part in Q&A’s with pupils.
  • I have welcomed local lobby groups to Parliament, to discuss issues including, the Government’s Health reforms, Israel/Palestine, Meningitis and Pension Reforms.
  • I have begun participating in monthly interview sessions with the Richmond Talking Newspaper about my work as an MP in Parliament and in the constituency.
  • I joined councillors and residents to attend the closure of Kingston’s Magistrate’s Court
  • I joined the RSPB ramblers on their walk through Richmond Park, to celebrate the Forest sell-off plans turn-around.
  • I attended Christ School to view student’s impressive GCSE Citizenship projects
  • I hosted a fundraising dinner in Parliament, in aid of Pig Business and their successful ‘Food from Farms not Factories’ campaign.  LINK
  • I attended Home-Start UK’s 15th anniversary celebrations at Pembroke Lodge, with HRH Princess Alexandra, Patron of Home-Start UK.
  • I joined Kingston Hospital staff members Committee meeting, and was quizzed by Medical staff about the Government’s Health reforms.
  • I have organised meetings with Councillors and Officers from Kingston and Richmond to prepare for the sale of Latchmere Prison grounds, and to ensure sympathetic development on the site.
  • I joined pupils, teachers and parents at Sheen Mount School’s Christmas Fair
  • I met the Rugby Football Union to talk about the impact of Twickenham matches on Richmond residents.

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BLOGS

  • ZAC CALLS FOR RADICAL REFORM OF EUROPEAN ARREST WARRANT  LINK
  • EDMUND BURKE AND DIRECT DEMOCRACY  LINK
  • PLANNING REFORMS MUST INSPIRE CONFIDENCE  LINK
  • SUPPORTING DAIRY FARMERS  LINK
  • THE RIOTS  LINK
  • HEATHROW TRIALS  LINK
  • LOSING CONTROL OF LONDON  LINK
  • THE CASE FOR PARLIAMENTARY REFORM LINK

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CONSTITUENCY GATHERINGS 

In addition to my thrice- weekly constituency surgeries, I continue to hold coffee mornings and public meetings wherever possible. I have held more than 120 local public meetings, resident’s gatherings and coffee mornings since my becoming MP.

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DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

Climate Week – 12-18 March 2012  Climate Week will take place from 12 – 18 March 2012, and will bring together senior representatives from every sector of society to share their ambition to create a sustainable and secure future for Britain and the world.  LINK

Schumacher Panel Event – Thursday 26th January 2012, 7.30pm  A Panel discussion with Zac Goldsmith MP on what economist Dr. E. F. Schumacher might say about sustainable economics and well-being today.  LINK

Film Preview of the Iron Lady – Thursday 12th January 2012, 7.30pm at the Richmond Odeon.  Zac will be hosting a private screening of the film The Iron Lady, with special Guest Speaker
You can reserve tickets by contacting Christina O’Kelly (North Richmond Ward) on 07951 898213 or christina.bartos@gmail.com More details coming soon. Please check my website at: www.zacgoldsmith.com
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FINALLY…  

If you’d like to arrange an appointment at one of my surgeries to discuss any local or national issues, you can contact me at: zac@zacgoldsmith.com or call the office on 020 8939 0321.

Keep updated with all my news on the website: www.zacgoldsmith.com

Or why not follow me on Twitter: @ZacGoldsmith