It’s time for a Summer update. Below are some of the issues and events I have been involved in since my last e-newsletter, beginning with Parliamentary issues and moving on to those in Richmond and North Kingston.
I have tried to keep the details brief, but have included links to most of the stories for anyone wanting to read more. If you would like more information on any of these articles, or anything else, please feel free to email me at: email@example.com
MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston
EUROPEAN UNION REFERENDUM BILL
I had the enormous privilege of being one of 12 Conservative MPs to sponsor James Wharton MP’s EU Referendum Bill. This would legislate for an ‘in-out’ referendum before the end of 2017. To read a transcript of the debate, click HERE, and for more information, please follow this LINK
ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE AND SUPERBUGS
I continue to press the Government to get to grips with industrial scale use of antibiotics on intensive farms, which is likely linked to increasing antibiotic resistance and superbugs. I believe that this is among the biggest health threats we face, and am disappointed that the issue remains so low down the political and media agenda. I secured the first ever debate on the issue in Parliament with the Public Health Minister, Anna Soubry. I was pleased that she committed to reviewing the science and raising the issue with the Farming Minister. See HERE for more information.
GOVERNMENT REFORMS ON PERMITTED DEVELOPMENTS
On the back of a timely intervention in the House of Lords by Richmond Council Leader, Lord True, I was able to lead a successful campaign in the Commons to secure a Government u-turn on the relaxation of the planning rules. Homeowners will not now lose their right to object to neighbouring home extensions affecting their property. Find out more HERE
GOVERNMENT’S PLANNING REFORMS
In July, I took part in a Parliamentary debate on the Government’s planning proposals.
RECALL OF MPs
Following the recent lobbying scandal, I have stepped up my campaign to hold the Government to its promise to introduce powers for voters to ‘recall’ their representatives if they lose confidence in them. I have raised the issue on many occasions with Nick Clegg, in Parliament; LINK but despite repeated promises before the last election, he remains opposed to bringing in a system of genuine, or true Recall. I have raised the issue on many occasions in and outside of Parliament, and have recently secured a Commons debate. You can read articles I have written, and watch interviews and debates I have taken part in on Recall HERE
Like many constituents, I am bitterly disappointed that the Coalition Government has put Heathrow back on the menu, despite promises by both parts of the Coalition that they wouldn’t. I was particularly disappointed that the Lib Dems not only allowed the Government to include the option of Heathrow expansion in the Airports Commission, they publicly welcomed its inclusion. I must hold my own Party to account on this nationally, but it must also be said that with a disproportionate number of Ministers and Cabinet members, the Lib Dems could easily have ensured that the airports commission excluded the third runway as an option. They chose not to, and I believe that represents a significant failing for our local area. Nevertheless I remain optimistic that we will win this battle, and if you’d like to read more about my and the Council’s campaign against Heathrow expansion, please follow this link: HERE
I email residents whenever there are actions you can take to help the campaign, and the most immediate opportunity is presented by the Airport Commission consultation on noise. I would strongly encourage residents to answer the consultation before the closing date of 6th September, and to encourage their friends and family to do the same. The consultation can be accessed at the following LINK, and responses should be sent by email to: Noise.firstname.lastname@example.org , clearly marked as a response to the ‘Aviation Noise discussion paper’. Campaign group, HACAN has helpfully provided a step by step guide for those of you wishing to submit short, non-technical responses to the paper
SUSTAINABLE FOOD PROCUREMENT AT SCHOOLS AND HOSPITALS
I met Environment Secretary Owen Paterson MP to urge him to do more to ensure that the Government’s £2bn annual food bill for schools, hospitals and the wider public sector is invested in local, sustainable produce. I also challenged the Minister on this issue in the Commons following the horse meat scandal. Click HERE to read our exchange. This is an issue I have campaigned on for many years, and the signs suggest progress may finally be around the corner. See HERE for information about the wonderful School Food Matters, which I helped found and which campaigns on these important issues.
TREE DISEASES AND PESTS
Last year I called on the Government to set up a ‘Tree Protection Task Force’ to develop a long-term strategy to build greater resilience in our trees, woodlands and forests against future diseases and pests: HERE . The Government subsequently asked the Defra Chief Scientific Advisor to convene an independent Task Force on Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity which has now reported. Of particular interest was its consideration of the Australian system of cost-sharing between government and the horticultural industry for prevention measures; see HERE.
NO NUCLEAR SUBSIDIES
I spoke in a debate on new nuclear power (which you can read HERE), and continue my campaign against public subsidy for new nuclear plants. The Environmental Audit Committee, of which I am an active member, is scrutinising the level of subsidy the nuclear industry already receives, and I have written to the National Audit Office asking it to examine any new nuclear investment contracts.
PROTECTING THE ARCTIC
I spoke in a debate on the Environmental Audit Committee’s report, ‘Protecting the Antarctic’: see HERE. I also helped secure a recommendation by the Committee for a moratorium on Arctic oil drilling until a stricter financial liability regime is introduced that requires companies to prove that they can meet any clean-up costs.
Like many, I was saddened to hear the news of Baroness Thatcher’s death. I had the enormous privilege of attending her funeral and being in the House to hear some moving tributes to her. The Prime Minister listed just some of her extraordinary achievements, but one area where she rarely receives the credit she deserves is environmental policy. You can read my tribute to her HERE
GREEN DEAL LAUNCH
I attended the Parliamentary launch of the Green Deal, the Government’s flagship energy efficiency scheme, by Climate Minister Greg Barker MP. I have also agreed to act as one of the Parliamentary Ambassadors for the Green Deal.
I continue to call for additional incentives to encourage early uptake, such as a stamp duty rebate for households that are participating in the Green Deal. Click HERE for the questions I put to Greg Barker MP, Minister of State for Climate Change, in July.
I have continued my fight to reform the failed Common Fisheries Policy, not least by joining Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘Fish Fight’ march on Westminster. I am pleased that after three years of difficult negotiations, the Fisheries Minister, Richard Benyon MP, has secured an agreement that brings an end to the scandal of discards, and ensures that foreign fishing vessels have to adhere to UK conservation measures when they are fishing in UK waters. You can read the Parliamentary debate on fishing quotas, which took place in July HERE.
ENERGY BILL AND A ‘NEGAWATT REVOLUTION’
I have been leading a campaign for a Government amendment to the Energy Bill which will place rewards for energy efficiency, and the permanent reduction in demand that it offers, on a par with incentives for energy generation. I am pleased to say that the Department of Energy and Climate Change has subsequently announced a pilot scheme for next year, which I hope will be expanded in years to come.
PARLIAMENTARY SCREENING OF ‘TRASHED’
I hosted a special Parliamentary screening of Jeremy Irons’ powerful new documentary about the harm caused by waste pollution, attended by MPs and other anti-waste campaigners. After the screening, Jeremy and I took questions from the audience. Find out more about the film HERE
BEE AND POLLINATOR DECLINE
In April, the Environmental Audit Select Committee, of which I am an active member, published its report on insects and insecticides. This called on the Government to introduce a precautionary moratorium on the use of three pesticides linked to the decline of bees and other pollinators. See LINK to find out more about this important issue.
ENVIRONMENT AND THE CENTRE RIGHT OF POLITICS
I spoke at a debate organised by Westminster think tank Policy Exchange about what messages and arguments for climate action are more likely to resonate with a centre-right audience. You can watch the debate HERE.
CHARITY PLANT SALE TO SUPPORT COMBAT STRESS
My parliamentary office held a charity plant sale recently to raise funds for Combat Stress, which helps ex-service personnel suffering from psychological injuries and mental health problems. Learn more about the charity HERE.
I have written to Ministers on behalf of constituents about a great many issues, including:
Afghan army interpreters – Altaf Hussein – arms exports – autism – breast cancer research -copyright reform – corporate tax avoidance – environmental and conservation issues – EU trade issues – female asylum seekers’ protections – female genital mutilation – financial services – flood insurance – housing benefit reform – human rights abuses abroad – inheritance tax – international aid priorities – legal aid reform – pensions changes – planning system failures – police accountability – primary and higher education reform – prisoners abroad – Royal Mail reforms – Shaker Aamer – small businesses support – Syria – teachers pay – VAT thresholds – welfare reform – youth unemployment.
I have participated in debates on a wide variety of issues. Links to some of them can be found below:
The Green Deal: HERE
EU Referendum Bill: HERE
Heathrow and Air quality: HERE
Heathrow at Prime Minister’s Questions: HERE
Heathrow at Deputy Prime Minister’s Questions: HERE
Heathrow at Business, Innovation and Skills Questions: HERE
New nuclear power: HERE
Protecting the Arctic: HERE
Bee health: HERE
Fishing quotas: HERE
Sustainable hospital food: HERE
Press regulation: HERE
Secret courts: HERE
Horsemeat scandal: HERE
Localism in Planning: HERE
Plastic bag use: HERE
EARLY DAY MOTIONS & WRITTEN QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS
I have proposed, seconded or signed 154 EDMs since becoming an MP. Recent EDMs include:
The Badger Cull: LINK
The importance of arts and creative industries: LINK
Trafficking in protected species: LINK
Beer Duty Escalator: LINK
Electricity Demand Reduction (Energy Efficiency): LINK
Click HERE for the full list.
I have also put 1,305 written questions to Ministers on a wide variety of issues. These can all be viewed, with their answers, HERE.
RICHMOND PARK AND NORTH KINGSTON NEWS
MEGA RALLY AGAINST HEATHROW EXPANSION
Despite an early start and the threat of rain, more than 2,000 people turned out to protest the Government’s failure to rule out a third runway at the ‘mega rally’ I organised in Barnes recently. For details and pictures of the big day: HERE Boris Johnson, local MPs, and campaigners all spoke persuasively against expansion and cast their ‘NO!’ votes in a giant ballot box constructed by local school children: HEREWe also collected over 1,000 signatures on a huge petition, which I delivered recently to 10 Downing Street: LINK
MORE ON THE HEATHROW CAMPAIGN:
I joined 100,000 residents to reject third runway in local referendum Click here
Night flights consultation: I called for a total banClick here
I urged Ministers to bring forward a third runway decision Click here
Projected fourth runway flightpaths will affect Ham and North Kingston Click here
I invited the PM and Howard Davies to debate Richmond residents: Click here
Operational Freedom Trial ends: I campaigned against respite period disruption: HERE
NEW SECONDARY SCHOOL FOR NORTH KINGSTON
After years of hard campaigning, the Department for Education has finally approved funding for a new free school in North Kingston. I supported local parents and Councillors by lobbying Ministers, and holding countless public and private meetings since I became MP. You can find out about KET’s proposals for the school HERE, and my recent support for it HERE .
LEVEL CROSSING DOWN TIMES
In January I visited Network Rail to discuss the many complaints I receive about traffic delays at local level crossings. See HERE for more information about the situation.
CASHPOINT FOR CANBURY
Residents in Canbury are once again able to get cash quickly and easily, after a new free ATM was installed at the Shell petrol station on the corner of London Road and Clifton Road. The area’s last ATM was lost when Barclays bank closed in 2012.Read more HERE
STRATHMORE AND RUSSELL SCHOOL’S PROPOSED REDEVELOPMENT
I broadly support the council’s plan to improve SEN provision by integrating Strathmore with Russell and Grey Court. On July 18th the Council approved plans to expand the School which will see school places provided for double the number of children with learning difficulties. You can read more HERE
KINGSTON HOSPITAL BECOMES A FOUNDATION TRUST
I strongly supported the Hospital’s bid for FT status and was delighted when it was awarded in May. Governance will be more democratic and accountable, and services will be more responsive to local health priorities. See HERE for more information.
HAM CLOSE AND THE VILLAGE GREEN
The redevelopment of Ham Close is longstanding council policy, and officers are now examining if and how this could be feasible. Any plans would need the overwhelming approval of residents before they could proceed. I will remain closely involved in the process, as I have been to date, having held many meetings with RHP, the Council, and other interested parties.
MICHAEL GOVE VISITS COOMBE GIRLS’ SCHOOL
The Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove MP, was given a tour of Coombe Girls’ by pupils, and spoke with several classes about their work. I took the opportunity to lobby him for a new school in North Kingston, which he later approved (see above). See HERE for more about the visit.
REDEVELOPMENT OF LATCHMERE PRISON SITE
In January, I organised and chaired a public meeting to help consultation on the planning brief, and have had numerous meetings with local Councillors and officers, as well as the successful bidder, Berkeley Homes. The process has been handled sensitively so far and I am optimistic that the plans for low density housing can win the support of the local community. Residents have raised concerns about the proposed access points, and after a consultation, Berkeley Homes have announced that access off Church Road and Latchmere Close remains the most appropriate option. An application to both councils will be submitted in the autumn. You can read the consultation review in fulland contact the team with any questions or suggestions via their website: LINK
ILLEGAL MOORING ON THE THAMES
I strongly supported the council’s application for a byelaw, which will enable it to tackle illegally moored boats and associated anti-social behaviour. Councillors and council officers had a positive meeting with the Minister recently, and learnt that in the next few months, following a successful public consultation, the byelaw will be made law.
CATCHMENT AREA FOR TIFFIN GIRLS’ SCHOOL
I joined Cllr Andrea Craig in lobbying the Tiffin Girl school to prioritise local families in its admissions policy, and was pleased when they introduced a catchment area: see HERE for more details.
RICHMOND’S DEN 2013
I introduced this year’s Richmond’s Den, which was judged by Chris Blackhurst (The Independent), Jeff Turnas (Regional President of Whole Foods Market), and Richard Reed (Co-founder of Innocent Drinks). They chose social enterprise, ‘Bespoke Be Heard’ as the overall winner. The company, who take second hand bikes, repair, and then sell them, with 100% of the money raised from the sale being reinvested back into services for people with special needs, were deserving winners. You can read more about the evening HERE
GALA BINGO HALL
I joined local residents in opposition to plans for a 2,000 capacity entertainment venue at the Gala Bingo Hall in Kingston. New owners, CNM Estates have been engaging with residents although there are still concerns in the community about what will eventually be built on the site.
ESTATE AGENTS ON BARNES HIGH STREET
Following a series of discussions with myself, local Councillors and the BCA, Robert Bartlett (CEO of Chesterton Humberts) has agreed to not to relocate from his current premises to number 49 Church Road. I am aware how much concern the proposed re-location was causing local residents, and I am grateful to the company for engaging so positively with the community. You can read more in following press release, issued by Chesterton Humberts: LINK
BIG LONDON ENERGY SWITCH
This initiative scheme could help Londoners make significant savings on their energy bills by collectively negotiating a lower tariff, and I was pleased to support it. See HERE for more details, including how to sign up.
LOCAL CONSERVATIVES FOLLOW THROUGH ON 6th FORMS PROMISE
By September 2014, all Local Authority Secondary Schools will have a sixth form. This is a promise that the Conservatives made before the election, and I’m thrilled it has come to fruition. Cllr Paul Hodgins, Richmond Council Cabinet Member for Schools said, “This is an exciting time for each of our schools and colleges and it demonstrates the Council’s commitment to expanding the range of post-16 provision in the borough.”
THOMSON HOUSE SCHOOL
I strongly support the establishment of a new Free School in Mortlake and Barnes, and have chaired and facilitated many public and private meetings about the proposed new school to try and ensure that, when it opens in September, it is in the best possible position to help alleviate the primary places shortage in Mortlake and East Sheen.
AVONDALE ROAD BUS FACILITIES
I am working closely with Cllr Gemma Stockley to convey residents’ complaints about the repositioning of this stop, and we will continue to make TFL and the Council aware of local concerns.
GREY COURT SCHOOL’S FOOD EDUCATION DAY
See LINK for details of my cooking session with Grey Court students aboard a huge mobile kitchen, to learn more about the importance of local, healthy, sustainable food.
I was thrilled to learn that Grey Court has been judged ‘Outstanding’ in all categories following its inspection by Ofsted. The inspection report puts the schools in the top 9% of all schools in the UK. Read more about the report HERE
NORTH WORPLE WAY RAILWAY WALLS
The walls alongside North and South Worple Way have long been in a terrible state of disrepair. I attended a site visit with Cllr Gemma Stockley, and supported Network Rail’s efforts to replace them with a safer, brighter design. Network Rail has also agreed to install a permanent enforcement camera at White Hart Lane as a deterrent for dangerous drivers.
NORTH SHEEN FOOTBRIDGE
After two years of delay, the North Sheen footbridge’s foundations are finally being laid at the Manor Road level crossing. I will continue to work with local Councillors, Network Rail and Homebase to ensure that this important community project is finished as soon as possible. All being well, the bridge is expected to be ready for use in the next 6 months.
‘SPREAD THE LOVE KINGSTON’ LAUNCH
I was delighted to help launch this charitable initiative to generate funding for five local projects helping people out of poverty, as well as the Kingston Legacy Fund. Learn more, including how to contribute. LINK
RICHMOND STATION FORECOURT
Many constituents have contacted me to express concerns about the disruption caused by work on this project, and associated changes to nearby bus stops. I conveyed these concerns to the relevant authorities and convened a meeting with all the key authorities to ensure that safety and amenity were prioritised at all times.
BARNES TRAIL LAUNCH
In June I helped launch an innovative and exciting new walking route which showcases Barnes’ historic landmarks and community life. See HERE for more details.
WHOLEFOODS ‘GREAT PLATES’ COMPETITION
The winners of Whole Foods’ ‘Great Plates’ competition will see their designs go on display at the store’s opening in October. I joined a panel of judges to determine the 10 winners, and was hugely impressed by all the designs. You can read more about it HERE
RAILWAY WORKS IN NORTH KINGSTON
I have conveyed local residents’ concerns about the Kingston Station platform extension and other works to Network Rail, and will continue to work with Cllr Andrea Craig on this issue.
RICHMOND’S E-COMMERCE AWARD
On behalf of local businesses, I recently had the privilege of accepting an award designating Richmond as third best place in the UK for e-commerce. See HERE for more details.
NEW MAYOR OF RICHMOND
I’m delighted that Cllr Meena Bond has been inaugurated as the new Mayor of the Borough for 2013/14. Cllr Bond has been a borough resident since 1971, and a member of the Council since 2010 for Kew ward. She was also the Deputy Mayor in 2011/12. Cllr Bond said: “I am honoured to be the borough’s 48th Mayor. I have lived in this area for nearly all my life and I truly feel blessed to live here. I look forward to helping charities and voluntary organisations raise their profile and raise funds”. Read more HERE
CARILLION ENERGY EFFICIENCY ADVICE DAY
Energy efficiency is the easiest way to cut bills and emissions, so I was pleased to host Carillion’s public advice session with local charities, environmental groups and Green Deal providers. See HERE for more information. See ‘dates for your diary below’ for details of the next advice day.
TREE HOUSE LEARNING
In June I visited the wonderful ‘Forest School’ in the woods on Ham Common, which utilises the natural environment to help teach children basic lessons and skills. See HERE for more information.
KINGSTON PROBATION TRUST
I visited Kingston Probation, and was able to find out more about how ex-offenders are supervised and rehabilitated in our community. See HERE for more information about my visit.
NEW CLUBHOUSE FOR HAM AND PETERSHAM
I was delighted to open the Ham Cricket Club’s much-improved new clubhouse on Ham Common in April. The clubhouse has been built after extensive fundraising by its members with the help of a Shane Warne charity match, a Lands End to John O’Groats cycle ride and a £60,000 grant from SITA Trust. Click HERE for more details.
‘CLOSE THE DOOR CAMPAIGN’
This campaign urges high street retailers to save energy by not propping their doors open. I pledged my support to a young supporter of the campaign at Parliament. For more information, click HERE
STARTUP BRITAIN TOUR
I joined the StartUp Britain team in Richmond to launch their UK Bus tour in August.
The bus has already visited 26 locations across the country since business minister Michael Fallon MP launched the initiative in July, and will continue to inspire, connect and support budding entrepreneurs as it makes its way around the UK. The StartUp Britain campaign is valuable not only for the people it directly inspires, but for all of us. Small and medium size businesses employ a disproportionately large number of people and make a vast contribution to our economy, and we should be doing everything we can to support them.
SOLAR SCHOOLS PROJECT
Solar Schools provides teams of staff, pupils and parents with the training and tools they need to crowd-fund the cost of solar panels – cutting carbon, building communities, boosting budgets, learning new skills, and exploring energy and climate change in a totally new way. You can register your school’s interest or apply HERE.
ENVIRONMENT AGENCY RIVERS CONSULTATION
The Environment Agency is asking the public how they can better protect and improve local rivers, including the Thames.
In June, Richmond council launched its new Village e-Newsletters – localised email updates that are sent regularly to over 25,000 residents. Find out more HERE. Subject to Cabinet approval, the next phase will be getting residents to help the Council start developing the plans as local area strategies which will have a legal status within planning.
You can also submit your own notices about local issues, activities and events HERE.
OTHER ACTIVITIES IN BRIEF…
Among other issues, activities and events, I have recently…
Visited Kew Palace to learn more about this local historical gem.
Cheered on young athletes at Richmond’s inter-schools sports day
Attended a Parliamentary exhibition about modern slavery: see LINK
Spoken at a meeting of the Barnes Women’s Institute.
Opened a bathroom store on Sheen Road.
Met local arms trade campaigners in Parliament: see LINK
Helped liaise between Network Rail and Richmond Council for a bench to be installed at the Mortlake Station railway crossing.
Hosted 11 separate School Q&A sessions in Parliament, and made 8 visits to local Schools.
RECENT MEDIA INTERVIEWS
Zac ambushes Nick Clegg about recall on LBC radio (video): HERE
Total Politics magazine interview with Zac: HERE
Evening Standard interview with Zac: HERE
Newsnight debate on recall (video): HERE
Zac debates recall on BBC Daily Politics (video): HERE
Zac discusses recall on the BBC (video). HERE
Throughout the year I organise and attend open coffee mornings at venues across Richmond Park and North Kingston. These are great opportunities for me to hear directly from local residents and answer their questions about local and national issues.
Please encourage your friends and neighbours to enter their details HERE if they would like to receive email updates about future coffee mornings in their area, and if you are interested in hosting a coffee morning or similar event, please email: email@example.com.
Since becoming an MP, I have met with a great many constituents to discuss the issues which matter to them, and where possible, to assist with problems they are experiencing.
If you would like to arrange an appointment, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name and address, and a summary of the issue/s you wish to discuss.
DATES FOR YOUR DIARY
6 September: Carillion energy awareness advice day
Please email email@example.com for more details.
10 September: North Kingston Secondary School Public Meeting
KET have organised a public meeting to discuss project timescales and the way in which plans will move forward. See HERE for more details.
10 September: Trumpeters House Fundraiser from 5.30pm
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
18 September: RPNK Association Fish and Chip Night in North Kingston
Please email email@example.com for more details.
22 September: Richmond Running Festival
With special guest, double Olympic champion, Mo Farrah. For more details, see HERE
4 October: South Richmond Coffee Morning
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
7 October: RPNK Association Quiz Night
Please email email@example.com for more details.
17 October: Richmond Business Awards
Free entry for any business or organisation in the Borough: see HERE for more details.
28 November: RPNK Association Annual dinner
With guest speaker, Lynton Crosby, No 10′s political strategist.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets and more details.
Finally, please encourage your family and friends to get in touch if they would like to receive my email updates. They can contact me by email at email@example.com, or complete the short online form on my website, HERE
I will not share email addresses with third parties: they will be used exclusively by me to keep residents up to date with important local and national news. You can also find regular updates on my website HERE, or follow me on Twitter: @ZacGoldsmith.
Post: 372 Upper Richmond Road West, London SW14 7JU
Telephone: 020 8939 0321
Follow me on Twitter: @ZacGoldsmith