My letter to residents outlining ten of the ways I have been delivering for Richmond Park and North Kingston residents.
1.) More money for every school in Richmond & Kingston
I’m delighted that the Government has recently committed an extra £14 billion to schools across the UK, over the next three years.
That means that every primary school across the UK will now be guaranteed at least £4000 per pupil, and every secondary school at least £5000 per pupil.
Here in Richmond Park & North Kingston, every school will receive an increase in funding of around 5% next year, with further additional investment for following years.
2.) Serving as the new Minister for the Environment and International Development
I was thrilled to be appointed as Minister of State for the Department for International Development and the Department for the Environment last month, attending Cabinet and with responsibility for animal welfare, forestry and international environmental issues. I am using my role to do all I can to improve the environment and to support the very poorest people who rely so directly on the Earth’s resources.
In September, I represented the UK at the UN General Assembly to call for urgent action to address the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss. I was delighted that the UK announced it would double Climate funding to £11.6 billion, and that we would put many millions of pounds of new funding into protecting threatened species and ecosystems.
I am also working on a significant intervention to protect the world’s oceans. The UK is fast becoming the world leader in turning the tide on extinctions and investing in nature-based solutions to tackle climate change.
Domestically, I am focusing on improving animal welfare standards, and am pressing ahead with plans to ban keeping primates as pets, stopping the live export of farm animals, ending the import of so-called hunting trophies, and raising farm animal welfare
3.) An extra £3.444m for Kingston Hospital
Earlier this year, Kingston Hospital was awarded an extra £3.444m in capital funding from the Government.
That money will be invested in the Patient Flow Transformation Programme scheme, which will deliver rapid assessment, treatment and discharge of elderly patients, as well as improving the hospital’s existing Dementia work.
More recently, I’m also proud that the Government has committed to investing an extra £33.9 billion – every year – in our NHS, with extra funding to build 40 new hospitals, buy 300 new MRI and CT machines and to hire new doctors and nurses.
4.) More Police for Richmond & Kingston
I’m thrilled that the Government has recently announced funding to hire an extra 20,000 police officers across England and Wales by 2022, with recruitment starting immediately.
Within Government, I am working to ensure that at least 90 of these new police officers come to Richmond and Kingston.
Like a lot of local residents, I have been concerned about the recent rise in crime we have seen across the local area, and I have been pressing hard for more support for our police. We need urgent action to reverse this trend, and by giving the police the extra resources they need, I’m confident we can stamp out crime and anti-social behaviour across Richmond and Kingston.
5.) More investment in local train stations
As part of a £300m fund, investing in 73 train stations across the country, Barnes station will get the funding it needs to be made step-free to local residents, and ultimately more accessible.
I’m also thrilled that after initially having its application for funding declined, The Kew Society has received Community Fund money to support a feasibility study for disabled access facilities at Kew Gardens Station.
This funding has come from an application from the Kew society following a meeting I organised last May with the Kew Society, Network Rail and TfL to discuss how to make Kew Gardens Station more accessible.
6.) Fighting Heathrow Expansion with a new landmark Air Quality Bill
I continue to campaign against a third runway at Heathrow Airport.
Attention is now focused on the legal challenges brought against expansion plans by local councils, environmental groups and people living near the airport. The Parliamentary cross-party group on Heathrow expansion, which I founded, will be supporting those challenges by continuing to expose what a damaging project this would be for the environment, the public finances and the health of local residents.
The NoR3 Coalition, which I helped to set up, is working hard to coordinate the many campaign groups and ensure MPs across Parliament are properly informed.
Earlier this month, I introduced a new Environment Bill to Parliament which will include tough new air pollution laws. The bill also creates a new independent Office for Environmental Protection that will hold the Government (and future Governments) to account on environmental and clean air standards.
The Environment Bill will bring a step-change in the way we protect and enhance all parts of our natural environment.
With these strict new rules in place, Heathrow expansion becomes still harder to legally justify.
7.) New Animal Welfare Protection Laws Passed
Part of my new role as Minister for the environment is the oversight of animal welfare in the UK.
And after just a few months in the role, we have enhanced animal welfare standards to the highest levels ever in the UK.
We’ve set in place a plan to ban primates as pets, ending the live exports of farm animals, banning ivory imports and cracking down on the trade of hunting trophies.
And we’ve launched plans to introduce mandatory cat microchipping, just as the law currently requires for dogs, in order to help reunite pets with their owners across the country.
Trophy hunting is morally indefensible, and I’m proud that we are setting an example for the world.
In July we introduced the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill to Parliament, which will mean animal abusers could face up to five years in prison. That’s a significant increase from the current maximum sentence of six months and will be one of the toughest punishments for animal abusers in Europe.
8.) A new FGM Law Passed
I am proud to have successfully steered new legislation through Parliament to protect vulnerable girls from the horror of Female Genital Mutilation.
The new law amends the Children Act 1989 to strengthen the powers given to family courts to issue protection orders for girls at risk of undergoing FGM. Judges now have every available legal power to intervene to protect these girls.
I worked closely with MPs from across different political parties and persuaded the Government to make time for the bill to be debated in Parliament, before becoming law earlier this year.
9.) More money for Kew Gardens
I have successfully persuaded the Government, and MPs across Parliament to support my bill to change the law to allow Kew Gardens to raise more money by leasing out some of its unused buildings.
After months of battling in Parliament, I’m delighted to say that the Government has backed my bill and it has become law. This is fantastic news for Kew Gardens – one of the gems of our local area – and I am proud to have done my part in helping protect its future prosperity.
10.) A new ‘All-Weather’ Pitch in North Kingston
Working with local Conservative Councillors and local residents in North Kingston, I was thrilled that the previous Conservative Council in Kingston was able to find the funding to build a new ‘all-weather’ pitch in Canbury Gardens.
The pitch is a fantastic addition to the local area and it was wonderful to see so many local schools at the launch earlier this year.