It’s time for an end of year update. Below are some of the main issues and events I have been involved in since September, 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston
ENERGY BILL AND A ‘NEGAWATT REVOLUTION’
I spoke in the Second Reading debate of the Energy Bill calling on the Government to amend the Bill to add further measures, on a par with incentives for energy generation, to reward energy efficiency for the permanent reduction in demand that it offers. LINK
PHONE HACKING AND THE LEVESON INQUIRY
Last year I spoke out about the phone hacking scandal and called for a full Inquiry into all aspects of the scandal, including the role of police and politicians. Ahead of the publication of the Leveson Report I signed an open letter to the Prime Minister, calling for a new regulator with statutory underpinning, Independent of the press as well as from politicians. My speech in response to the Leveson Report is available HERE
HEATHROW AND THE HOWARD DAVIES COMMISSION
I have challenged the Secretary of State for Transport (LINK), the Chancellor of the Exchequer (LINK) and the Leader of the House (LINK) to account for why Summer 2015 has been set as the time by which the independent Commission on Aviation chaired by Sir Howard Davies must publish its final report. Delaying the decision until after the next General Election is both cynical and disruptive and I have called for the Government to reduce the period of uncertainty for all involved and rule out a third runway at Heathrow.
I have reiterated my commitment to trigger a by-election in the event of a u-turn on Heathrow expansion, and have written a number of articles on the subject:
New Statesman: LINK
The Guardian: LINK
The Spectator: LINK
I also submitted written evidence to the Transport Select Committee’s inquiry into Aviation Strategy which is available HERE:
ASH DIEBACK AND TREE DISEASES
I worked with the Countryside Restoration Trust on a research briefing on the threats from, and possible solutions to, the increasing number of pests and diseases assaulting our native trees, woods and commercial forests. Richmond Borough is something of an epicentre for the Oak Processionary Moth, and Richmond Park Oaks – some of the oldest in the country – are under threat from Acute Oak Decline. Click HERE for a pdf copy.
I tabled an Early Day Motion LINK calling 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 LINK . The Government have since asked the Defra Chief Scientific Advisor to convene an independent Task Force on Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity and I look forward to its final report in the spring.
My speech in the debate on the Government’s plans to tackle ash dieback is available HERE
PRESUMPTION OF DEATH BILL
I served as a member of the Bill Committee for the Presumption of Death Bill, which would provide for the introduction of a certificate of presumed death in cases where a person has been missing for seven years or more. I spoke in support of the hugely valuable, and East-Sheen based Missing People, and their Missing Rights Campaign during the Bill’s Second Reading debate: LINK
I served as a member of the Bill Committee for the Antarctic Bill, which aims to reduce the risks of environmental emergencies in Antarctica and to establish a polluter pays approach to such incidents. I spoke in support of the Bill during its Second Reading: LINK
And again in a debate on Protecting the Antarctic: LINK
Fittingly, Diego Scintu, a 6 -year old boy from East Sheen Primary School, won my Christmas card 2012 design competition with a picture of a festive penguin.
PROTECTING THE ARCTIC
As a member of the Environmental Audit Committee, I helped secure a recommendation by the Committee in its hard-hitting report ‘Protecting the Arctic’ for a moratorium on oil drilling in the Arctic until a stricter financial liability regime for oil and gas operations is introduced that requires companies to prove that they can meet the costs of cleaning up: LINK
BADGER CULL VOTE
I was amongst the group of cross party MPs who called for, and participated in a backbench business debate on the highly controversial badger cull. The result saw the government defeated by 147 votes to 28: LINK
Watch the debate in full HERE
PILOT SAFETY AND FLIGHT TIME LIMITATIONS
I have campaigned on behalf of numerous pilots who live in my constituency as well as for air passengers generally for the Government to ensure that EU harmonisation proposals on pilot flight time limitations will not weaken the current rules. See HERE for my question to the Aviation Minister Simon Burns MP, and HERE to see further Written Questions.
I secured a debate in the House of Commons seeking tougher measures to reduce the number of single-use plastic bags. In the debate I called for the Government to replicate the successful scheme in Wales and impose a charge on all single use carrier bags with the proceeds going to charity. The debate was secured with the support of the Break the Bag Habit campaign by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Keep Britain Tidy, the Marine Conservation Society and Surfers Against Sewage and the Greener upon Thames Plastic Bag Free campaign: LINK
I continue to campaign to hold the Government to its clear promise to introduce powers for voters to ‘recall’ their representatives if they lose confidence in them.
Earlier in the year I gave oral evidence to the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee’s inquiry into Recall of MPs, and in their subsequent report the Committee criticised the Government’s draft Bill – warning that `the restricted form of recall (proposed by the Government) could reduce confidence by creating expectations that are not fulfilled. Under the Government’s proposals, constituents themselves would not be able to initiate a recall petition’. I called on the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg MP to instead adopt the recall proposal in my private Member’s Bill, the Recall of Elected Representatives Bill: LINK
I was also a guest on the BBC Daily Politics programme to debate recall with Conservative minister Damian Green MP and Shadow Cabinet Minister Caroline Flint MP: LINK
FORESTRY SUMMIT AT CLARENCE HOUSE
I have been lobbying the Government to find innovative ways to use some of its international climate finance budget to pursue bilateral deals with rainforest nations, and I welcomed the announcement by the Department of Energy and Climate Change at a recent Forestry Summit at Clarence House, which I attended, of new plans to tackle deforestation: LINK
ALL PARTY PARLIAMENTARY GROUP ON DRONES
I have supported Labour MP Tom Watson’s initiation of a new All-Party Parliamentary Group to examine the use of drones by governments for domestic and international, military and civilian purposes. I am concerned about the use of drones by the CIA for targeted killings of terrorist suspects in Pakistan and the threat to national security of the proliferation of drone technology by hostile governments and terrorist organisations, though I support the potential use of drones by the Royal Navy to tackle illegal piracy and fishing: LINK
APPG FOR EU REFERENDUM
I attended the inaugural group meeting of the APPG for an EU Referendum. 100 cross-party MPs have already signed up to be members, and together we are calling on the Government for a vote on Britain’s membership of the EU: LINK
I am concerned that the Government’s proposals to relax the planning rules for home extensions will spark increased neighbour disputes. I have made my views known in a robust exchange with the Planning Minister, and I have sought a meeting with the Secretary of State. Lord True, the Leader of Richmond Council has outlined his concerns in this excellent and very powerful speech in the House of Lords: LINK
I also supported an amendment tabled by Conservative MP Nick Herbert to the Growth & Infrastructure Bill, for new measures to ensure that there is adequate local infrastructure to support new housing: LINK
I helped coordinate an Environment Audit Select Committee inquiry into wildlife crimes, and as a member of the group, have urged the Government to improve the current laws: LINK
I have also signed EDM 603, which calls on DEFRA to recognise the importance of the National Wildlife Crime Unit, and to commit to maintaining its current level of funding beyond March 2013: LINK
ENVIRONMENT AUDIT COMMITTEE
As an active member of the Environmental Audit Committee, I have been involved with its recent inquires into the Energy Intensive Industries Compensation Scheme, Insects and Insecticides, Measuring Well-being and sustainable development, and the Autumn Statement 2012: Environmental Issues: LINK
I have facilitated correspondence for thousands of constituents with Ministers, on a wide range of issues, including: NHS reforms, Welfare Reforms, Night Flights, the Heathrow Operational Freedom Trials, Airport Expansion, Arms Trade, Immigration, Israel/Palestine, Pension Reforms, Extradition treaties, Disability Living Allowance, Gay Marriage proposals, Religious Education and the English Baccalaureate, GCSE Exam reform, Tax avoidance Reforms, Legal Aid, House of Lords Reform and much more.
DEBATES IN PARLIAMENT
I have taken part in Parliamentary debates on a wide variety of issues, including:
Leveson – LINK
Ash Dieback disease – LINK
Presumption of Death – LINK
The Badger Cull – LINK
Plastic Bags – LINK
Antarctic – LINK
Energy Bill – LINK
Northern Ireland- LINK
Flight Time Limitations- LINK
Antiobiotics and health- LINK
EDMS / QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS
I have proposed, signed and seconded 138 EDMs since becoming an MP.
To see the full list click HERE
I have put 1,159 written questions to ministers on a wide range of subjects.
For a complete list of the questions I have asked in Parliament, click HERE
RICHMOND AND NORTH KINGSTON ISSUES
HEATHROW: PUBLIC MEETING
Last month I chaired a public meeting in Richmond at which local residents had the opportunity to question senior representatives from Heathrow Ltd (formerly BAA) about the Operational Freedom Trials, night flights, and proposals for future expansion. You can find out more about the evening HERE
I receive hundreds of complaints every week about increased flight activity over our community. Heathrow has confirmed that every comment it receives is logged, but admits that it often fails to respond to complaints effectively. It is more important than ever that residents exercise their right to complain. You can do so by using the online form HERE.
HEATHROW: OPERATIONAL FREEDOM TRIALS PART II
The Operational Freedom Trials were authorised by the Government to enable Heathrow to alter their flight operations and try to run the airport more efficiently. Phase II of the trials began in July and is due to end in March 2013, when the Government will decide whether to make any of the temporary arrangements permanent. Heathrow claims that the trials have not increased the number of flights overall, but they have proven to be very disruptive for those of us living under the final approach. Complaints to Heathrow are around four times higher than during this period last year (before the trials) and possibly at their overall highest for 15 years. The Government indicated recently that public consultation over whether these measures should be made permanent may be held earlier than previously planned. I will strongly encourage all local residents to submit their views when the time comes.
HEATHROW: 3RD RUNWAY
I continue to make clear at every opportunity – in Parliament, in the media, and at events throughout my constituency – that our arguments against further expansion remain overwhelming. The business and environmental cases for a third runway simply do not add up. I have written pieces for various publications on this issue, including:
New Statesman: LINK
The Guardian: LINK
The Spectator: LINK
HEATHROW: MIXED MODE
Some good news came from Aviation Minister Simon Burns MP in October, when he confirmed that the Government remained committed to runway alternation at Heathrow. LINK
HEATHROW: NIGHT FLIGHTS
The current night flights regime was scheduled for review in October 2012, but Ministers have delayed this decision until March/April 2014. Meanwhile, the Department for Transport will conduct two public consultations about this issue and the first of these should be published by February 2013. This is an important opportunity for anyone whose sleep has been affected to make their feelings known to the Government, and I strongly encourage you to participate when the time comes. I will do my best to let you know.
Lord True, Leader of Richmond Council, has announced that a local referendum will be held in Spring 2013 about future capacity at Heathrow. This will have no legislative effect, but it will enable our community to send a powerful message to the Government about the consequences of failing to listen to half a million voters and consider the alternatives to expansion. Further details will be released nearer the time and I strongly urge everyone who is eligible to participate.
FUTURE OF LATCHMERE PRISON SITE
Following the Ministry of Justice’s decision to sell the Latchmere House prison site, Richmond and Kingston Councils have been working together to prepare a planning framework which will help ensure that any future proposals are appropriate for the surrounding area. Local residents will have the opportunity to express their views through a formal consultation process before any final decisions are made about the site’s future use.
I will chair a public meeting about this issue on the evening of 30 January at Tiffin’s Girls’ School. This will be a good opportunity for everyone to find out more and discuss any concerns before contributing to the consultation. Further details will be confirmed slightly nearer the time.
NORTH SHEEN FOOTBRIDGE
I am concerned that construction work on this important community project has been delayed, but I believe it will begin early in the new Year. The footbridge is sorely needed by local people, and I will continue to push for early completion.
Together with North Richmond Ward Councillor, Stephen Speak who designed the bridge, I will continue to actively encourage all parties to work together so that it can be completed as soon as possible.
NORTH WORPLE WAY RAILWAY BOUNDARY WALL
Network Rail recently offered to replace the railway boundary wall along North Worple Way, which is in a dangerous, unsightly state of disrepair and enables easy access to the tracks at several points. I actively pushed the proposal and work is expected to begin soon.
BARNES BECOMES TOWN TEAM PARTNER
I am delighted that, after narrowly missing out on becoming a ‘Portas Pilot’, Barnes High Street’s potential for regeneration as a retail hub has been recognised by its nomination as a ‘Town Team Partner’. It will benefit from £10,000 of funding and access to a national support network. More information is available HERE.
ECONOMICS OF HAPPINESS FILM SCREENING
In September I arranged a screening of The Economics of Happiness at Duke Street Church in Richmond. The film investigates how many of the problems created by globalisation can be solved by greater economic localisation. Afterwards I interviewed the film’s producer, Helena Norberg-Hodge, about some of these issues. You can find out more about both the screening and the film HERE.
MAKE IT CHEAPER ENERGY SAVING CAMPAIGN
I have endorsed a campaign that aims to cut small businesses’ energy bills and usage by making it easier to leave contracts and switch suppliers. This could save Richmond businesses around £20 million by 2014. You can find out more and how to join HERE.
I was delighted to support the launch of the Richmond Foodbank. The scheme enables people to donate small items from their shopping baskets, which are then sorted and distributed to those in need. It was hosted by Richmond and Twickenham Waitrose branches in late November and early December and supported by a Civic Pride Grant from the Council.
RIVER THAMES VISITOR CENTRE
I was pleased to support an application by the River Thames Visitor Centre to the Heritage Lottery Fund for financial support for its relaunch. The project is currently moored in Richmond and will promote better environmental and commercial understanding of the River and its uses. You can find out more HERE.
I supported overwhelming local opposition to plans for a 2,000 capacity entertainment venue at the Gala Bingo Hall in Kingston. I am therefore very pleased that the proprietor, Kingston Arena Ltd, withdrew an appeal against the decision to reject its application for an entertainment licence in early October. Find out more HERE.
OUT AND ABOUT – INTERVIEW
I was interviewed about Heathrow in Out and About magazine recently. You can read it HERE.
RICHMOND YOUTH SUMMIT 2012
I was joined at the Richmond Youth Summit in October by Vince Cable MP to answer questions about national and local issues affecting young people. More information about the event, which was attended by over 100 young people, is available HERE.
RICHMOND RIVER RUN
I sounded the starting horn for the fourth Richmond 10K River Run HERE. Competitors raised more money for charities – including Help for Heroes and Cancer Research UK – than in any previous year.
I became a member of SurreySave, Kingston’s new credit union. Many people are understandably distrustful of the financial sector these days, but this bank is mutually owned and operates purely for the benefit of community projects and local people. You can find out more about this exciting scheme, including how to join, HERE.
TALKTALK DIGITAL HEROES
We sometimes hear about the atomising effect of new digital technologies on our society, but they can also be used to strengthen local communities. That is why I encouraged local people using information technology for community benefit to enter the TalkTalk Digital Heroes awards: see HERE
for more information. Unfortunately we did not produce any winners this year, but I hope this will not discourage anyone from entering next time.
I was pleased to note that, thanks to the efforts of Kingstonfirst’s ‘Rangers’, grafitti has decreased by 50 per cent in the area since 2008. More information HERE.
It is always a pleasure to welcome new businesses to our community, and in September I helped celebrate the opening of AJP Bathrooms in Kingston. Further information HERE.
SCHOOL FOOD MATTERS’ ‘PUMPKIN PATCH KIDS’ HARVEST SALE
I remain a strong supporter of the brilliant School Food Matters campaign, which promotes healthy sustainable school food and better understanding of the food supply chain. You can read about how a group of local schoolchildren took their produce to Borough Market for the day HERE.
Throughout the year I organise and attend as many of coffee mornings with local residents as possible, at a range of venues. These are great opportunities for me to answer questions and hear back directly from residents. Planned coffee mornings for 2013 can be found in the ‘Dates for your Diary’ section of this newsletter.
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.
GET INVOLVED WITH THE COUNCIL
If you would like to get more involved or find out more about the Council and your Councillors please contact Richmond Park Conservative Association at: Richmond Park and North Kingston Association, 372 Upper Richmond Road West, SW14 7JU / 020 8878 7866
I am backing Meningitis Research Foundation’s ‘Meningitis Matters’ campaign, which is raising awareness of meningitis and septicaemia. The campaign calls on the Government to ensure that tackling the disease remains a top public health priority while the current NHS reforms are implemented. LINK
I joined Barn Elms Sports Trust and Richmond’s Mayor, Cllr Rita Palmer, to help mark the opening of Barn Elms’ new Pavilion. The fields are now preserved for public use and will not be allowed to slip back into disrepair. LINK
I joined residents and local businesses at The Barnes Community Charity Fashion Show. The event raised money for three local charities; Castelnau Community Centre, the Friends of St. Mary’s Barnes and Trekstock, which supports young people with cancer. LINK
I joined residents and community members at Richmond Hickey Almshouses for a charity coffee morning, to help raise funds for MacMillan Cancer.
Millers Ark Animal Farm visited Galsworthy House Care Home in November, and I joined residents and Dolphin Nursery School pupils to welcome to them on site. The Mobile Farm concept embraces the desire to bring children and adults into close contact with farm animals, inspiring interest and respect in the security of their own environment.
I attended the Conservative Party Conference, and took part in a Heathrow fringe debate, hosted by HACAN’s, Jon Stewart.
I hosted a Q&A session in Parliament for two local groups; the Kingston Pensioners Forum and the Kew Society. I also hosted 7 separate Q&A’s for local school children in Parliament
I had tea with residents of Oxford House Retirement Home in East Sheen, and spent time answering their questions about local and national issues.
I took part in a special Bite The Ballot panel discussion on the Environment with Caroline Lucas MP and Environmental activist and poet Danny Chivers, House of Commons Speaker John Bercow MP chaired the discussion, and fielded questions from a young audience. LINK
SOME RECENT ARTICLES AND INTERVIEWS
The Guardian: ‘A third runway would be an off-the-scale betrayal’ LINK
The Spectator: ‘No ifs no buts, we need a decision on Heathrow now’ LINK
New Statesman: ‘The Third Runway is lazy thinking by those who should know better’ LINK
BBC News: Zac makes the case against IOD’s call for two additional runways LINK
Catch 21: New Mpinions LINK
Ban the Bag campaign at Party Conference: LINK
MEET ME AT A SURGERY OR A COFFEE MORNING
In addition to my thrice-weekly surgeries where I try to resolve individual problems, I have held more than 170 public meetings, resident gatherings and coffee mornings throughout the constituency since the election. If you would like to meet me for a surgery or organise a wider gathering, please contact me at: email@example.com
DATES FOR YOUR DIARY
Latchmere Public Meeting – 30th January at 7pm at Tiffin’s Girls School
Aviation Q&A (TBC)
Richmond Chamber of Commerce Breakfast meeting- Friday 15th February
Barnes Coffee Morning- Monday 28th January at 9.15am
Kew Coffee Morning- Monday 11th February at 9.15am
South Richmond Coffee Morning,- Monday 4th March at 9.15am
Coombe Hill Coffee Morning- Friday 22nd March at 9.15am
NOTICE: UPCOMING MOPAC POLICE AND CRIME PLAN CONSULTATIONS
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, became Police and Crime Commissioner for the capital in May 2012. A key part of the Mayor’s role is to produce a Police and Crime Plan, which sets out the crime reduction strategy for London for the next four years, and explains what the Metropolitan Police Service and other agencies should be doing to tackle crime in the capital.
From 7 January 2013, MOPAC will be consulting with anyone who lives, travels or works in London. The consultation runs from 7 January 2013 – 4 March 2013, and town hall meetings will be hosted in every London borough throughout January and February. The Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Stephen Greenhalgh, and senior Metropolitan Police officers will be sharing a platform at each event to answer questions and discuss the issues.
Finally, please encourage your friends and neighbours to get in touch if they would like to receive my email updates. They can contact my by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill in the online form on my website: LINK
I assure you I will not be sharing your email address. It will be exclusively for my use and will enable me to keep you up to date with local and national news.
Address: 372 Upper Richmond Road West, London, SW14 7JU
Phone: 020 8878 7866