Here below is an update on what I have been focusing on in the last few months of 2013. It begins with Parliamentary issues and moves on to more local issues. 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 issues, please feel free to get in touch by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Very best wishes for a happy New Year,
MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston
EUROPEAN UNION REFERENDUM BILL
I was one of 12 Conservative MPs to formally sponsor James Wharton MP’s EU Referendum Bill. If passed, the Bill will legislate for an ‘in-out’ referendum before the end of 2017. The Bill has moved to the House of Lords for scrutiny. LINK
On the day of the first debate, I joined Cross Party MPs and campaigners outside the House of Commons for an event organised by Business for Britain, to demonstrate my support for the Bill. LINK
RECALL OF MPs
I continue my campaign to hold the Government to its promise to introduce powers for voters to ‘Recall’ their representatives if they lose confidence in them. On 4 December I introduced a Private Member’s Bill on Recall. Although Government Ministers abstained in the vote, the Bill was backed by 127 MPs, and opposed by just 17. You can read my Press Release and the debate itself at this link: LINK
I made a short film for the BBC’s Daily Politics programme on why we need a proper Recall system. You can view it HERE
For more information about the campaign, please see this: LINK
Finally, if you support the campaign, please sign my e-petition for a true Recall system HERE
The Government’s Airports Commission has delivered an interim report that puts Heathrow expansion back on the agenda. Although Government policy remains the same (“there will be no third runway”), we must be under no illusion that once again, the threat of Heathrow expansion is critical.
I have expressed strong disapproval in a number of media interviews. For example:
-Click HERE to view my interview on Newsnight
-Click HERE to view my appearance on the Daily Politics Show
-Click HERE to view my interview with BBC News
I remain confident we can and will win the campaign against Heathrow expansion, but it will require as many people as possible to get involved. If you have not already done so, please sign and help circulate this urgent petition: LINK. I also encourage as many people as possible to make their views known to Sir Howard Davies at the following email address: email@example.com
I continue to work hard with our local Conservative Council and MPs from all Parties to combat this very serious threat. If you’d like to read more about how you can get involved, please ensure you are on my email list, or see HERE for Heathrow news.
While all the focus is on Heathrow expansion, the Government has published stage two of their consultation on aviation noise, entitled: Night Flying Restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted Stage 2 Consultation. As is so often the case with Government consultations, the process is overly complicated, however, HACAN has prepared simple guidelines for those residents wanting to respond. See:LINK . The consultation itself can be accessed at the following LINK, and responses can be made online, or by email to: Noise.firstname.lastname@example.org clearly marked as a response to ‘Night Flying Restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted Stage 2 Consultation’. The deadline is January 31st, 2014.
ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE AND SUPERBUGS
I continue to press the Government to get to grips with industrial scale use of antibiotics within intensive farms, which is linked to increasing antibiotic resistance and superbugs. The decline in the usefulness of antibiotics is among the gravest health threats we face, and I am disappointed that the issue remains so low down the political and media agenda. However the Commons Science and Technology Committee is undertaking a welcome inquiry into antibiotics, and I have shared with the Committee all the correspondence I have had with the Department of Health on this issue. See here for my debate on antibiotics earlier in the year: LINK
ELEPHANT POACHING AND WILDLIFE CRIME
I am leading a campaign in Parliament for the Government to use its influence and the Aid budget to help combat elephant poaching in Africa. I wrote this article for the Independent explaining why it should matter to us all: LINK
I tabled Early Day Motion 773: African Elephants and the Ivory Trade LINK, which has achieved cross party support from more than 100 MPs. In October, I joined thousands of protestors at the International London March for Elephants. See: LINK. Early next year, I will take a delegation of campaigners to meet the Foreign Secretary William Hague MP ahead of the Government’s high level conference in London on Illegal Wildlife Crime in February 2014.
GREEN ENERGY MEETING WITH THE PRIME MINISTER
I joined a group of MPs at a meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss concerns about some of the briefings emerging from Number 10 about green levies and Energy Investment. We discussed the importance of securing investment in renewable energy projects, the green economy and the need to maintain the ambitions as set out in the Coalition agreement, even while reviewing policies to ensure they deliver value for money for British taxpayers.
I responded to a speech by the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson MP on GM food with an op-ed article in The Guardian. Read it in full at the following LINK
I led a debate in Parliament (LINK) some time ago on the case for reducing plastic bag use by copying the Irish or Welsh example, and was delighted with the Government’s announcement that it intends to adopt a Welsh-style scheme involving a levy on single use plastic bags. LINK
NATURE CHECK 2013 LAUNCH
I hosted the launch event for the Nature Check 2013 report. The report is supported by 41 leading environmental groups, and is an assessment of the Coalition Government’s progress against its commitments to the natural environment in England. Environment Minister Lord de Mauley was the keynote speaker. LINK
ENERGY ACT 2013 AND A ‘NEGAWATT REVOLUTION’
The Energy Bill 2013 received Royal Assent on 4 December 2013. I led a campaign for a Government amendment to the Bill which will place rewards for energy efficiency on a par with incentives for energy generation. I am pleased that the Department of Energy and Climate Change has subsequently announced a pilot scheme for next year, backed with at least £20million of funding which I hope will be expanded in years to come.
CONSERVATIVE PARTY CONFERENCE 2013
At this year’s Conservative Conference in Manchester, I chaired a debate organised by HACAN, entitled, ‘Hub Airport or Hub London?‘ Speakers included former transport minister, Stephen Norris, Nigel Milton, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Heathrow Airport, and James Colman, Director of Corporate Affairs & Sustainability, Gatwick Airport.
CHARITY PLANT SALE TO SUPPORT THE LT DOUGIE DALZELL MC MEMORIAL TRUST (DDMT)
My parliamentary office held a charity plant sale recently to raise funds for the Lt Dougie Dalzell MC Memorial Trust (DDMT), which among its activities funds ‘Soldiers in Mind’ to provide support for recently bereaved soldiers’ families. Learn more about the charity HERE.
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, Code for Sustainable Homes and the Housing Standards Review, Biodiversity offsetting, and Marine Protective areas. You can view publications on these reports at the following LINK
A very large number of constituents approached me with concerns about the Government’s Lobbying Bill. I share those concerns, and voted for amendments tabled by Labour’s Graham Allen to strike out the controversial Part 2 of the Bill. At a time when we all want to maximise people’s participation in politics, it makes no sense at all to raise the entry bar for charities and local groups by over regulating them in the run up to elections.
I have written to Ministers on behalf of constituents about a great many issues, including:
Arms exports – Autism – Breast cancer research – Copyright reform – Corporate tax avoidance – Environmental and conservation issues – EU trade issues – Marine Protected Areas – Electric vehicles – Female asylum seekers’ protections – Female genital mutilation – Financial services – Housing benefit reform – Human rights abuses abroad – Inheritance tax – International aid priorities – Legal aid reform – Firefighters pensions – Planning system failures – Primary and higher education reform – Prisoners abroad – Royal Mail reforms – Shaker Aamer – Small businesses support – Syrian refugees – Gaza blockade – Teachers pay – VAT thresholds – Welfare reform – Youth unemployment – Part 2 of the lobbying bill – the Chilcot inquiry report – Anti-Slavery Policy – Internet censorship – Russian arrests of Greenpeace protestors – Fracking – retrospective tax -International Students – Care Bill – E-cigarettes – Dementia provision – Badger cull, and the Under Occupancy Penalty.
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:
• Private Members’ Bills LINK
• Cycling Safety LINK
• Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill LINK
• Climate Change Act LINK
• Wildlife Crime LINK
• Natural Capital LINK
• Aviation Strategy LINK
• Amendments to Bills (Explanatory Statements) LINK
• G8 Summit on DementiaLINK
• Recall Bill: LINK
• Aviation: LINK
EARLY DAY MOTIONS & WRITTEN QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS
I have proposed, seconded or signed 165 EDMS since becoming an MP. Recent EDMs include:
Retrospective Legislation and Section 58 of the Finance Act 2008 LINK
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership LINK
African Elephants And The Ivory Trade LINK
Open Government And Animal Experiments LINK
Capita And Arch Cru LINK
Badger Cull Parliamentary Assessment And Vote (No. 2) LINK
Nuclear Subsidies And The Coalition Agreement LINK
Detention Of Greenpeace Activists In Russia LINK
Arms Sales To Authoritarian Regimes LINK
Statutory Regulation Of Practitioners Of Herbal Medicine 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 AND NORTH KINGSTON NEWS
COUNCIL TAX IN RICHMOND/KINGSTON
Local Lib Dems have sent out a slightly odd letter asking people to sign a petition demanding a Council tax freeze in Richmond. As residents will know, Council Tax HAS been frozen for a record three years, and will be frozen again next year. This is a first for our area, and compares with the 14% rise that Richmond residents saw when the Lib Dems were in charge from 2006-2010. It also compares well with Lib Dem-run Kingston Borough, where Council tax has skyrocketed by 37% since 2002. Although as an MP, I can take no credit for the successes of our local Councillors, I am pleased to put the record straight and to take this opportunity to thank Lord True and his Conservative team in Richmond for delivering value for money locally.
CANBURY POST OFFICE CONSULTATION
The Post Office have begun a 6 week public consultation on the possible relocation of the Post Office at 76 Richmond Road, KT2 5EL to 23 Richmond Road, KT2 5BW. Local residents can view the proposals and take part in the consultation at the following LINK
The consultation will remain open until 24 January 2014, so if you have strong views, please do register them before the deadline.
RICHMOND AND KINGSTON SHORTLISTED FOR MAYORS CYCLING FUND.
I welcome news that Richmond and Kingston are included in a shortlist of eight London boroughs, and given the chance to share £100 million in funding made available through Mayor Boris Johnson’s “mini Holland” cycling initiative. The winners will be announced early 2014. More information about the Mayor’s vision for cycling can be found HERE
OPENING OF CHOHOLE PATHWAY IN RICHMOND PARK
In November, I joined Secretary of State, The Rt. Hon. Justine Greening MP in Richmond Park to celebrate the opening of the new shared-use Chohole pathway and Beverley Brook Bridge. The new pathway, which runs through the Park from Robin Hood Gate to Chohole Gate, provides an alternative route for pedestrians and cyclists wanting to avoid the busy A3. LINK
DAVID CAMERON SUPPORTS CARRIER BAG CHARGING.
I arranged for children from Stanley Primary School, Teddington to visit Downing Street to lobby the Prime Minister to limit the environmental impact of plastic bag usage in England through the introduction of a charge. He met them on the steps of Number 10, and promised action. True to his word, he announced in September that England would be joining the rest of the UK in introducing a 5p charge from 2015. HERE
ENERGY SAVING ADVICE DAY.
I hosted a free energy advice day on the 6th of September at Duke Street Church to help local residents reduce their energy bills and become more energy efficient. Carillion Energy Services, Richmond CAB and Scottish Power were on hand with advice. More information about the event can be found HERE
NO NEW TESCO ON RICHMOND PARK ROAD.
Following local rumours that Tesco was to convert the Richmond Park Tavern Pub into a Tesco Express, I requested and received confirmation that no such plans were in place. For more information click HERE
FUND BOOST FOR RICHMOND CHARITY
I was delighted to see that Richmond based Cruse Bereavement Care has been chosen as one of sixteen charities to benefit from the Chancellor’s Armed Forces Covenant (Libor) Fund. The £500,000 grant allows Cruse to develop bereavement support for military families, which will include a pilot military family peer support programme and the development of self-help resources. The funds made available by this fund – some £35 million in all – come not from the taxpayer, but from the money paid in fines by banks for their part in the Libor rate-rigging scandal. Read more HERE
SMALL BUSINESS COMPETITION
I was pleased to help spread the word about the Government’s Small Business Campaign, which allows residents to vote for their favourite small business. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and are an essential part of the economic recovery. Our local businesses are playing an important part in the national picture and have the opportunity to earn recognition for their work. To nominate your favourite, please click on the following LINK
PLEDGE TO TACKLE DEMENTIA.
In September, I joined 200 MPs and representatives from the Alzheimer’s Society to provide a handwritten statement of action to support people with dementia and their carers. Dementia is a devastating disease which affects one in three people over the age of 65. I also took part in November’s Parliamentary Debate on the issue, and pressed the case for investing more in prevention research: LINK
RHP’S ONE EVENT
I supported the return of Richmond Housing Partnership’s ONE EVENT in October. It is held annually, to assist local residents find work and training opportunities, to increase their chances of securing employment. It was the third event of its kind, and showcased over 100 current vacancies from more than 30 employers, as well as offering sessions on how to improve CVs and brush up on interview skills. 1,000 local jobseekers were thought to have sought help from expert consultants at the event.
For more information on the exhibitors, see HERE
BARCLAYS APPRENTICE EVENT
Joining business directors and managers from in and around the Richmond area, I co-hosted a ‘Grow your business – with an Apprentice’ event, hosted by Barclays. At a time when youth unemployment is unsustainably high, apprenticeships provide an opportunity for hundreds of thousands of young people. More details can be found HERE
RELATE CENTRE OPENING
In September, I was delighted to officially open the new Relate counseling centre in Richmond. Relate provides a vital service to our community to help support good couple and family relationships. For more details, including Relate’s contact details, please click HERE
RICHMOND HOUSING PARTNERSHIP: CALLING ALL CREATIVE WRITERS!
Richmond Housing Partnership is running a project to encourage budding creative writers to interview older residents and then write a short story based on the anecdotes that emerge. The best short stories will be published and distributed locally. For more information and advice on how to get involved, email: Natalia.Revi@rhp.org.uk
RICHMOND RUNNING FESTIVAL.
I had the pleasure of launching September’s Richmond Running Festival in Kew Gardens. More than 2000 runners took part including, Olympians Sonia O’Sullivan and Steph Twell, who ran for two local charities; Shooting Star Chase and the Mo Farah Foundation. For pictures and more details of the event click HERE
BRENTFORD STADIUM PUBLIC MEETING
I hosted and chaired a public meeting regarding plans for Brentford FC’s new stadium on Lionel Road. The panel included Chris Gammon and Brian Burgess from Lionel Road Developments, Kew Councillor David Linnette, Jon Freer from Richmond Council and Giles Dixon from the Kew Society. More information can be found HERE
HOSTING OF JEREMY IRONS DOCUMENTARY TRASHED
I hosted a special screening of the new Jeremy Irons documentary, TRASHED, at Tiffin Boys School in October. More than 200 residents joined me at the school to watch the film and to take part in a Q&A session with Jeremy Irons. More information about the event can be found HEREand details about the film can be found HERE
PROSTATE CANCER UK
During this year’s Conservative Party Conference, I took part in an event set up by Prostate Cancer UK. Over 250,000 men living in the UK are affected by prostate cancer and I was pleased to help raise awareness of this important issue. Read more HERE
OPENING OF WHOLE FOODS RICHMOND
I joined children from eight Richmond Borough schools to celebrate the official opening of Whole Foods Market in Richmond Town Centre. The pupils raised over £500 for School Food Matters, which will be invested into food education programmes.
BIG BARNES PONDER
I attended the inspiring Big Barnes Ponder event, organised by the Barnes Town Team in October. A 10 year plan for Barnes is being drawn up, and local residents were invited to submit their suggestions to the team for consideration. You can read more about Barnes Ponder and other schemes HERE
NEW FOOTBRIDGE FOR NORTH SHEEN
Residents have been asking for a new footbridge at the North Sheen Crossing on Manor Road for many years, and I am delighted that local Conservative Councillors and I were able to secure agreement from Network Rail to deliver one. I am grateful that Network Rail and South West Trains have listened and acted on the wishes of so many residents. For more information, please click HERE
PUBLIC MEETING WITH ENERGY MINISTER, GREG BARKER MP
Residents quizzed Greg Barker, the Minister for Energy and Climate Change, on a wide range of issues at a public meeting I organised at Duke St Church. The Minister described his vision of encouraging many new entrants into the market to break the stranglehold of the Big Six. Additionally Ham Hydro, a local energy generation project gave a short presentation to make residents aware of their plans and to garner local support for their initiative. To read more about Ham Hydro see LINK
STAGE 2 NIGHT FLIGHT CONSULTATION.
The government has published stage two of its consultation on aviation noise, an issue of fundamental concern and importance to a great many residents. I am strongly encouraging residents to answer the consultation before the closing date of 31 January 2014. The consultation can be accessed HERE
Local campaigning group HACAN, have published a very helpful guide on answering the consultation, which can be viewed HERE
NORTH KINGSTON SECONDARY SCHOOL UPDATE.
In early December, we had the latest meeting for prospective parents of students for the new North Kingston Secondary School. The purpose of the meeting was to provide an update in regards to progress so far, and to outline the next steps. Also at the event, a competition to decide the name and branding for the school was launched, the details of which can be found HERE. For more information and to review a copy of the presentation please click HERE
ROYAL PARKS COMMERCIAL DOG WALKING LICENCE
The Royal Parks have been consulting on proposals to introduce a scheme where dog walkers with more than 4 dogs must have a licence. I don’t oppose registration in principle, but I am very concerned that restricting the numbers will have a disproportionate impact on professional dog walkers, the vast majority of whom do an important and responsible job. I have made my views known to the Royal Parks.
TUDOR DRIVE SURGERY
I was delighted to present the team at Tudor Drive Surgery with the RCGP Quality Practice Award. This prestigious award is given to GP practices in the UK, in recognition of very high quality patient care given to patients by members of staff. LINK
SOME OTHER ACTIVITIES SINCE THE SUMMER. BRIEFLY, I…
Arranged and hosted Question and Answer sessions for numerous University groups, Community groups, and Primary and Secondary Schools at the House of Commons.
Hosted 9 coffee mornings for residents throughout the constituency
Started the World Child Cancer charity walk in September. I was also pleased to host a special coffee morning for the charity at Duke Street Church. LINK
Started the Richmond Running Festival in Kew. LINK
Visited NATS Air Traffic Control operation centre in Southampton to learn more about one of the world’s busiest airspaces.
Joined residents at Hickey’s Almshouses for a special coffee morning to raise money for Macmillan Cancer research. LINK
Presented the prizes at the Richmond Business Awards 2013. LINK
Spoke to guests at Richmond Golf Club’s Ladies Annual Dinner about my life as an MP
Joined Councillors, residents and young activists to support Small Business Saturday, a national initiative set up to support small businesses throughout the UK. LINK. To find out more about how to get involved in future events click HERE
SOME RECENT MEDIA INTERVIEWS
READ: My article for The Independent on the danger facing elephants LINK
WATCH: I discuss Heathrow expansion on Newsnight
WATCH: I tell Going Underground why I am campaigning for Total Recall. LINK
WATCH: I tell the Daily Politics why we need a proper Recall system LINK
WATCH: I speak to Max Keiser on Russia Today about the importance of democracyLINK
WATCH: I tell BBC’s Daily Politics why the Government’s plans are a fudge: LINK
READ: My article in The Guardian on GM. LINK
Throughout the year, I organise and attend coffee mornings at venues across the constituency. 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 HEREif 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
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 8th January : Ham Hydro Public meeting in Teddington
Location: TBC. Contact: RPNK Association Office for more information on 02088787866
Friday 24th January 2014: Ham, Petersham and Richmond Riverside Coffee Morning at 9.15am
Location: Roebuck Pub, Richmond Hill
Monday 27th January 2014: Coombe Hill Coffee Morning at 9.15am
Location: Kingston Lodge, Kingston Upon Thames
Friday 14th February 2014: Love Kingston Coffee morning at 9.15am
Location: Canbury Arms, Kingston Upon Thames
Thursday 16th January 2014: Ham, Petersham and Richmond Riverside Curry supper at 7.30pm
Location: Saqui, 317 Richmond Road, KT2 5QU.
Contact: RPNK Association Office for more information on 02088787866
Saturday 8th February 2014: North Richmond Action Day
Contact: RPNK Association Office for more information on 02088787866
Tuesday 11th March 2014: RPNK Supper Club at 7.30pm
Contact: RPNK Association Office for more information on 02088787866
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 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.
Post: 372 Upper Richmond Road West, London SW14 7JU
Telephone: 020 8939 0321
Follow me on Twitter: @ZacGoldsmith