It’s time to send out an update on some of my activities so far this year. It starts with Parliament and moves on to constituency news. Most of the items have links to further information, should you wish to read more.
If you would like more information on any of these issues, please feel free to get in touch by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I do not have email addresses for all of my constituents, so please do send this on to any interested friends or neighbours, and ask them to email me if they would like to be included on the list. I never pass on email addresses to 3rd parties.
Very best wishes,
MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston
Stopping Heathrow expansion remains one of my top priorities. For an overview of my activities on this issue, please visit: LINK
I have spoken directly to Sir Howard Davies and continue to put pressure on the review. I have also set up a cross-party parliamentary group on Heathrow and the wider economy to act as a platform for scrutinising the Airports Commission, and raising the key issues in Parliament. See: LINK
I have launched a nationwide film competition to highlight the ‘No 3rd Runway’ campaign. The strongest videos will be shown at the Richmond Theatre on the 18th June in front of a sell-out audience and a panel of judges including presenter Holly Willoughby, commentator Rachel Johnson, BAFTA award-winning director Nick Broomfield, actor Hugh Grant and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth. To read more about this, please visit www.no-ifs-no-buts.com
RECALL OF MPs
In their 2010 election manifestos all parties promised to bring in a Recall system to help voters hold their MPs to account at all times, and not just at elections. The Government is now moving ahead with its proposals, but they are fatally flawed. Nick Clegg’s version of Recall is a step backwards, not forwards. For one thing it gives that power to fellow MPs, not voters, and for another, the criteria are so rigid as to be utterly meaningless. At the very first scandal, voters will learn that they have been duped, and they will be enraged.
A genuine Recall system would empower voters, increase accountability and improve the relationship between people and power. Parliament is up for genuine reform. We saw that when my own Parliamentary Bill (LINK) was overwhelmingly supported by backbenchers. It is party leaders, not their members, who are holding things up.
A new campaign has been launched along with an open letter signed by MPs from all Parties. 170,000 people signed the 38 Degrees petition in just ten days, 45 MPs signed up to my Parliamentary Motion calling for the same, and the numbers continue t grow. Please see here for information, and recent interviews and articles by me on this campaign: LINK
If you support the campaign, please sign this important 38 Degrees petition: LINK
ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE AND SUPERBUGS
I continue to challenge the Government on the threat of antibiotic resistance. This is without doubt the greatest health threat we face today, and unfortunately it is simply not being taken seriously enough by governments. I have led debates on the issue in Parliament, tabled Motions, and questioned Ministers and even the Prime Minister. I recently hosted an All Party Parliamentary Group meeting on antibiotics and hosted the launch of ‘Farmageddon- the True Cost of Cheap Meat’. LINK
Follow this LINK to my earlier speech on the subject.
ELEPHANT POACHING AND WILDLIFE CRIME
In February this year the Government hosted a landmark international Summit on Illegal Wildlife Trade. I spoke before and after the summit in Parliament, have written articles for the national press, taken part in rallies, and tabled a Parliamentary Motion that was signed by 127 MPs from all parties. To read more about my involvement in this important campaign, please see: LINK
MARINE PROTECTED AREAS IN BRITAIN’S OVERSEAS TERRITORIES
I have led calls on the Government to establish marine protected areas around our vast overseas territories. Britain controls some 2% of the world’s oceans – the most bio diverse in the world. In those territories that are inhabited, local people are unanimous in supporting the call. The cost would be minimal, and the benefits vast. You can read more about my contribution at this LINK
PUBLIC SECTOR FOOD PROCUREMENT
I have been working with Peter Bonfield, appointed by Owen Paterson to lead a government-wide drive to improve public procurement of food. This is a campaign I have led since before I was elected as an MP, when I helped set up the excellent www.SchoolFoodMatters.com , and submitted a policy paper on the subject to the Government. I have since tabled Motions and raised the issue in many debates. We spend over £2billion each year on food for schools, hospitals and prisons, and ought to be using that money to support sustainable UK farmers. We would see benefits for children and patients from eating good quality food, and we would see money flowing into the rural economy. The Government is finally taking the agenda forwards, and I hope we will see success soon.
LOCAL COMMUNITY ENERGY
I have been working with renewable energy companies and the Minister of State for Climate Change, the Rt Hon Greg Barker, to help communities get access to affordable, locally produced energy without having to pay the high prices that the national suppliers charge. This would enable far more start up energy companies and cheap electricity for everyone in the country. LINK
DEMANDING NEW RULES FOR FRACKING
In March, I joined countryside and conservation groups including the National Trust, RSPB, and the Wildlife Trust to help launch their report, ‘Are we fit to Frack?’ in Parliament. The report was supported by a cross party group of MPs, and contains a series of recommendations for making the shale gas industry safe. It does not say ‘no’ to fracking, but is saying that if we proceed with fracking, we need full transparency and the highest standards. The full report can be viewed HERE.
In May, I released 10,000 endangered juvenile eels into the Thames as part of a massive conservation mission to relocate 100 million critically endangered European eels. Eel numbers have declined dramatically over the past few decades due to dams and other barriers preventing their migration pathway. It has been a pleasure to support the Sustainable Eel: LINK
I continue to work hard on issues surrounding deforestation. I recently invited the Congolese Environment Minister to Parliament to make the case for UK and other support to save the Congo’s 155 million hectares of forest, which equates to more than 50% of Africa’s forests.
I have also been working for some time with campaign organisations to press the world’s biggest pulp and paper company, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) to clean up its act. Previously labelled the world’s worst destroyer of pristine forest, driving up carbon emissions and pushing tigers and orang-utans to the brink of extinction, the company has finally agreed to the demands of the campaign groups and has signed up to strict and impressive constitution. I believe this represents the most dramatic turnaround of a company. To read more, please see: LINK
GREEN INVESTMENT BANK
I hosted a meeting for Conservative MPs to meet the head of the Green Investment Bank to hear about the progress of this innovative new body in boosting investment in renewable energy and low carbon developments
Bully-Banks is a campaign group of over 1,700 small businesses throughout the UK. It is campaigning on behalf of small businesses damaged by the mis-sale of interest rate hedging products, the mis-sale of fixed rate business loans, the mis-sale of nterprise Finance Guarantees and the mis-sale of factoring services. The cause has been championed by Guto Bebb MP in Parliament, and I am actively supporting him and constituents who have been affected: LINK
‘HOSPITAL CLOSURE CLAUSE’
I supported attempts to amend Clause 119 of the Government’s Care Bill – dubbed the ‘hospital closure clause’ – because I felt it would give too much power to the Secretary of State to close local hospitals, with little consultation, and irrespective of the financial state of the hospital. New Clause 16 would have required the complete involvement in such decisions of local Commissioners. Unfortunately the amendment (New Clause 16) was defeated.
€185M PR BUDGET FOR EU
I voted against proposals to grant the EU a budget of 185 Million Euros to spend on ‘European Citizenship’ awareness. At best, this represents a waste of resources during times of cutbacks. But worse, there is nothing in the Bill to prevent the budget being used to promote further political integration within the European Union in the advance of a referendum in this country – or any other. Unfortunately the Bill was passed. See the debate HERE
I supported all the key amendments to fix the Government’s ‘Transparency in Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and trade Union Administration Bill’ (dubbed the ‘Gagging Bill’). Unfortunately most of the amendments were voted down by the Government and Lib Dems. It attempts to regulate the activity of organisations campaigning before elections, and is in my view a very poor piece of legislation which will inhibit political activity by legitimate organisations. It was heavily criticised by the cross-party Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, as well as campaign organisations across the left-right divide.
I backed measures in Parliament that would give more power to local councils to control the number of fixed-odds betting terminals and bookmakers there are on local high streets. Although the measures were blocked by Government and the Lib Dems, we have subsequently seen moves by the Government to look again at the issue and I remain hopeful that councils will be given the powers they need in due course.
KEW GARDENS BUDGET CUTS
Kew Gardens faces very significant cuts to its budget – in the region of £1.5m. I accept that all public bodies need to tighten their belts and contribute to tackling the deficit. However the level of cuts is disproportionate, and it is hard to imagine the Institution will be able to sustain its world-class work and reputation with such pressures. I have written to Ministers, met Kew staff and supported a Parliamentary Motion calling for restraint by the Government.
I also delivered the ‘change.org’ petition with John McDonnell MP and other campaigners to Number 10 Downing St last week. It was signed by almost 100,000 people. You can read more
CROSS PARTY DEMANDS FOR INQUIRY INTO HISTORIC CHILD SEX ABUSE
I coordinated a high-powered cross-party group of MPs to sign a letter to the Home Secretary demanding an all-encompassing inquiry into historic cases of child sex abuse. Growing numbers of MPs are pledging their support. Read more HERE AND HERE
I led a debate in Parliament some time ago on the need for a small levy to be put on plastic bags to discourage their use and raise funds for local environmental charities: LINK. I was pleased with the Government’s announcement that it will adopt a Welsh-style scheme in due course. LINK. However the proposed scheme is vastly over-complicated and as part of the Environment Audit Committee, I have urged the Government to keep it simple: LINK
SIKH GOLDEN TEMPLE IN AMRITSAR
After the shocking news that Britain advised the Indian government on the 1984 storming of the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar, I addressed a gathering in Parliament and supported calls for all documents in relation to any Government involvement in India, on this issue, to be made available.
ENVIRONMENTAL AUDIT COMMITTEE
As a member of the Environmental Audit Committee, I have taken part in inquiries into among other issues: plastic bags, invasive species, Marine Protected Areas, sustainability in the Home Office, Well-Being, HS2 and the environment, growing a circular economy and Green Finance. You can view publications on these reports at the following LINK
I have raised a wide range of issues with Ministers on behalf of constituents, including:
Antibiotics – Deep sea bottom trawling – EU trade issues – Euthanasia in zoos – Female genital mutilation – Fracking – Heathrow Airport’s night flights – Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference – Immigration Bill – Land Registry – Marine Protected Areas – Missing People – Food Security – Nutrition – Prisoners abroad – Recall – Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership- Ugandan illegal ivory trade – Insolvency – Energy costs – Beer duty freeze – Inheritance Tax – Bahrain Human Rights – Offender rehabilitation – Women’s rights in Afghanistan – Child neglect – The Lobbying Bill – Syrian Refugees – The Immigration Bill – Surveillance activities of Britain’s intelligence agencies – Legal Aid – Overseas Aid – Scottish Independence – Tibet – North Korea – Childcare costs – Modern Slavery Bill – Insolvency costs – Bully Banks – Building regulations – Firearms licensing fees – VAT on children’s clothes – Personal Independence Payments – National Pollinator Strategy – Standardised packaging for tobacco – Bank Holidays, and more.
I have participated in debates on a wide variety of issues since my last update to you. Links to some of them can be found below:
· European Union (Approvals) Bill [Lords] LINK
· International Wildlife Crime LINK
· Stansted Airport [Westminster Hall] LINK
· Deep-sea bottom trawling- Topical Questions LINK
· Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership LINK
· Recall PMQs LINK
· Ukraine LINK
· Energy Price Freeze LINK
· Antibiotics PMQs LINK
· Overseas Territories (Sustainability) [Westminster Hall] LINK
· Recall DMPQs LINK
EARLY DAY MOTIONS
I have proposed, seconded or signed 172 EDMS since becoming an MP. See this LINK
WRITTEN QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS
I have also put over 1,000 written questions to Ministers on a wide variety of issues. Recent written questions include:
RICHMOND AND NORTH KINGSTON NEWS
KEW BOOKSHOP PLANNED EXTENSION
A planning application for the redevelopment of 1-2 Station Approach in Kew Village, currently occupied by the Kew Bookshop has been rejected after massive opposition from residents.
The landlord – who owns many of the buildings in Kew Village – had intended to erect a 2-storey premise on the back of the bookshop, and the concern was that any such development would not only change the character of Kew Village, it could lead to the loss of independent traders.
I objected to the proposals (see LINK) and encouraged others to do the same. I have also submitted an application to English Heritage for spot-listing for the buildings, in a bid to protect them. I arranged a meeting with the landlord, traders and local Councillors from all parties, to see if a compromise can be reached, and will be holding a second meeting soon.
To read more about this campaign, see LINK
BARCLAYS BANK IN HAM
Barclays announced it intends to close its branch on Ham Parade and assign the lease to Sainsbury’s. The loss of the Bank will impact heavily on local traders, and the introduction of a Sainsbury’s has been heavily opposed by residents for the same reason. I organised a public meeting to highlight opposition to the proposals, and hundreds of residents turned up to have their say.
I have set up a petition calling for retention of the cashpoint LINK, and Barclays have since confirmed they Sainsbury’s intends to keep a cash point on site. I have also set up a survey to try to work out what residents want for the site. The results will be invaluable to me as I continue discussions with the Bank and the supermarket: LINK
For updates, please see: LINK
CROSS PARTY DEBATE ON EUROPE
I chaired a Question-Time style debate on the future of the EU at the Duke Street Church in Richmond. Well over 300 people quizzed panellists, including Green Party Prospective MEP Caroline Allen, Conservative MP for Esher and Walton Dominic Raab, Head of European Union and International Relations at the TUC Owen Tudor, and Professor Stephen Haseler, a Professor of Government and Director of The Global Policy Institute in London: LINK
HEATHROW ROAD TAX
In what may prove to be a pivotal turn of events, Heathrow has finally admitted that it would not be able to cope with the impact of a third runway without implementing a new congestion charge for road users. It is no secret that any third runway would cause havoc on the roads of west London, but the fact that Heathrow declined to mention this in its most recent public consultation is nothing short of a disgrace, and I will be raising this matter in Parliament. Read more HERE
GREG BARKER VISIT TO KEW
I was pleased to welcome the Minister for Climate Change, the Rt Hon Greg Barker MP, to Kew to discuss the Government’s energy policies and take part in a Q&A with residents. Read more HERE
INVESTMENT IN BARNES STATION
The Government announced that it will invest in improved access at Barnes Railway Station as part of its ‘Access to All’ scheme, which aims to provide step free access into the station and between platforms at 150 key stations nationwide. I welcome this news that Barnes will be one of the stations to receive much needed renovation. Read more HERE:
MICHAEL GOVE AND GREG BARKER VISIT BARNES
I was pleased to welcome the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Education, and the Rt Hon Greg Barker, Minister of State for Climate Change, to Barnes Primary School to look at the school’s new solar panels. During the visit, the Ministers took part in a Q&A session with pupils and looked at the school’s solar panel generation display. The meeting came ahead of the Government’s launch of an ambitious new solar power strategy. Read more HERE.
NEW POST OFFICE IN HAM VILLAGE
The newsagents in Ashburnham Road, Newsdip, has been granted permission to start operating as a Post Office from July 23rd. The need for a Post Office in Ham has been on the agenda for some years now, and it is fantastic news for Ham and Petersham residents that there will be one at the heart of the village. LINK
NEW FUNDING FOR MATERNITY SERVICES AT KINGSTON HOSPITAL
It was announced in March that Kingston Hospital will receive a funding boost of £100,000 to support the development of maternity services. The funding will be aimed at supporting vulnerable women who also have complex needs and follows a similar grant last year which saw the hospital receive £219,000 for a new birthing pool. The announcement came as part of a Government pledge to invest £100million to support improvements in maternity care for women and babies. Read more HERE
OVER 1000 RESIDENTS TAKE PART IN CYCLING SURVEY
In March I launched an online cycling survey for residents in the Kingston and Richmond Boroughs, which attracted a staggering 1000 responses. The survey gathered a wide range of ideas and suggestions that will help shape future cycling policy in both Boroughs. Read more HERE
BORIS JOHNSON VISITS KEW
I was delighted to welcome the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to Kew to visit local businesses and meet local traders. The Mayor highlighted Richmond Council initiatives, like free 30-minute parking, that have helped local business, and ended his visit by taking part in a Q&A session with traders and local residents: LINK
Q&A WITH GRANSNET MEMBERS
To coincide with Climate Week, I was pleased to take part in a Q&A session with members of the social media forum, Gransnet. A full transcript can be found HERE
WARMER HOMES FOR LESS
I was invited to help Richmond Council launch an innovative new energy saving scheme that could help local residents reduce their energy costs through free efficiency advice. The scheme, Energy Smart Richmond upon Thames, will work in conjunction with Climate Energy, the UK’s leading independent energy efficiency company, and will provide residents with advice on keeper their homes warmer for less. For more information on the scheme, or to book your assessment, 0800 093 3323 or visit www.energysmartrichmond.co.uk. A full press release from the scheme’s launch event can be found at LINK.
CIVIL WAR IN SRI LANKA
In the wake of the recent Civil War in Sri Lanka, I met with members of the Richmond and Kingston Tamil community who are urging the Prime Minister to maintain pressure on the international community to conduct a full and independent investigation into the atrocities. The delegation presented me with a petition, which I sent on to the Prime Minister, and I am pleased to report that the Government is applying pressure to its Sri Lankan counterparts to work alongside the international community to address these shocking events: LINK
£1,576,710 FOR LOCAL PRIMARY SCHOOLS
The Prime Minister has committed to keeping the £150m a year Primary PE and Sport Premium until 2020, which will mean that primary schools in our constituency will receive £1,576,710 each year. The premium plays a vital role in encouraging children to take part in more sporting activities, and will provide much needed help in terms of acquiring professional sports coaches and new equipment. Read more HERE.
ENERGY SAVING TRUST
I joined the Minister for Climate Change the Rt Hon Greg Barker MP, Mary Macleod MP, explorer and environmentalist Lewis Pugh, and TV presenter Oliver Heath at the offices of Energy Saving Trust. The meeting was held to mark Big Energy Saving Week 2014, which is a national campaign aiming to provide consumers with as much advice and assistance as possible with regard to energy bills. Read more HERE
PRINCE OF WALES VISITS HAM CLOSE AS PART OF HAM UPLIFT PROGRAMME
As part of Richmond Council’s Uplift Programme, which was set up to rejuvenate parts of Richmond borough, the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community were commissioned to create a local vision for the Ham Close area. The Prince’s Foundation has been working with local residents and stakeholders to gather information about what they think a possible redevelopment could look like. Lord True and I were honoured to welcome Prince Charles, to Ham in March, to show him around Ham Close. See: LINK. To read more about the Ham Uplift programme see: LINK
OTHER ACTIVITIES IN BRIEF
Among other issues, activities and events, I…
- Spoke to local businesses at Start up Britain’s ‘Business Growth Accelerator Clinic’ for SME’s at the Pay Pal offices in Richmond.
- Took part in Ham Library’s community garden design prize-giving ceremony. The garden design was judged by RHS and Richmond in Bloom
- Visited Tiffin’s Girls School to hear more about Year 12′s Young Enterprise company, ‘Rise’. See LINK
- Hosted a parliamentary reception for Kingston Hospital and the United Kingdom Continence Society at the Palace of Westminster.
- Visited Coombe Hill Manor, North Kingston’s newest residential care home, which will provide quality dementia and nursing care services for the community. LINK
- Attended a ceremony where national treasure Sir David Attenborough was made an honorary freeman of Richmond borough: LINK
Throughout the year, I organise and attend coffee mornings at venues across the constituency. I have held 15 since January, and many more are in the pipeline. These are great opportunities for me to hear directly from local residents and answer their questions about local and national issues. I would 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. In addition, if you are interested in hosting a coffee morning, or similar event, please email me at: email@example.com
I have held more than 30 public meetings and resident gatherings throughout the constituency since January, and will be organising many more throughout the year. Although we do attempt to put flyers through as many doors as possible, most people find out about these events via email, and on the events page on my website. See LINK
SOME RECENT MEDIA INTERVIEWS AND ARTICLES
READ: My article for Bright Blue about Direct Democracy and Recall LINK
READ: My article for Conservative Home on Nick Clegg’s Recall Fudge LINK
READ: My article for Sun on Sunday about giving voters the right to sack bad MPs LINK
WATCH: For recent videos, please click HERE
ARRANGING PARLIAMENT TOURS, ELIZABETH TOWER CLIMBS AND SCHOOL VISITS TO PARLIAMENT
I have arranged and taken part in more than 50 Q&A sessions with local Schools, Universities and community groups. If you are interested in booking a Q&A in Parliament, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
As your MP, I also arrange individual and group visits to Parliament. Visitors can book tickets to watch Prime Ministers Questions, watch parliamentary debates from the viewing gallery, climb the Elizabeth Tower or join a tour of Parliament. All these activities are free of charge, and if you would like to find out more, see: LINK and LINK. You can contact me to make arrangements at: email@example.com.
Since becoming an MP, I have met with a great many constituents to discuss issues affecting them, and where possible, to assist with the problems they are experiencing.
If you would like to arrange an appointment at one of my surgeries, please email me at: 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
- Wednesday 18 June: ‘No ifs no buts’, Heathrow Video Competition Gala evening at Richmond Theatre.
For more details, see: LINK
- Monday 6th October: RPCA Quiz night
For more details, contact the Conservative Association on: 020 88787866
- Tuesday 7th October: Mortlake and Barnes Fundraising dinner
For more details, contact the Conservative Association on: 020 88787866
- Friday 17th October: Richmond Chamber of Commerce Business Awards
For more details, see LINK: http://www.richmondbusinessawards.com/
- Thursday 27th November – RPCA Annual Dinner
For more details, contact the Conservative Association on: 020 8939 0321
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 register their details in a 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
Post: 372 Upper Richmond Road West, London SW14 7JU
Telephone: 020 8939 0321
Follow me on Twitter: @ZacGoldsmith