Having not had the chance to actually vote on the government's proposals to expand Heathrow, at long last the opportunity finally came. It was a long debate and though we did not quite win the vote to stop expansion, I believe that those of us who spoke in the debate won the argument. We will see whether we can ever get the current government to admit that it is wrong on its plans. However, it's not the only important issue that we're facing locally with some concerning plans about car park charging in Richmond Park, so read on below for more of an update:
Heathrow vote against expansion narrowly lost….
We finally had the Heathrow expansion debate this Wednesday afternoon and I'm very pleased that I got chance to speak for our community. A third runway and all day flights will both have a bad impact on us locally, with flights over areas such as Southfields, West Hill and parts of Roehampton that are currently unaffected. I used the opportunity to raise not just our concerns but to let other MPs know that Ministers also admit the environmental risks of expanding Heathrow are high. I also put on record the Secretary of State's admission in a letter to me that public health will be affected by the expansion plan. Here's a link to my speech http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2009-01-28a.299.1&s=speaker%3A11771#g340.2 We lost by just 19 votes with MPs from all parties voting against the plans, although I was the only Wandsworth MP who voted against expanding Heathrow. If 10 MPs had changed their votes, we could have won - it was that close.
….whilst Geoff Hoon breaks his promise to come to Putney
Geoff Hoon, Secretary of State for Transport said in the Commons he would come to Putney but the prospect of having to justify his proposals directly to us seems to have proved too unappealing. He's now written to me to say that he will meet MPs but only in Westminster and we are allowed to bring 3 constituents each. It seems ridiculous that MPs are meant to ration down the thousands of residents who wanting to get chance to voice their concerns directly. At the time of our brief exchange in Parliament, Mr Hoon admitted never having met any residents, citing legal advice. Im trying to find out what legal advice he was given that meant he could meet BAA but not our community.
Richmond Park car park charges
As you may have seen on PutneySW15.com, the Royal Parks Agency (RPA) is now proposing car park charges for Richmond Park. I am very concerned about what this will mean for the many local residents in Putney, Roehampton and Southfields who use the Park. It seems amazing that the RPA want to charge us for enjoying what is a fantastic community park that we've been able to drive and park in without charge for years and years. I've already written both to the Royal Parks Agency Chief Executive, Mark Camley expressing my concerns and asking for a meeting on this. I've also written to the Parks Minister in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It seems very unfair and especially for residents on our side of the Park. We have been promised two new Roehampton pedestrian entrances to the Park by the RPA. That's great, but we're still waiting for them, so many of our local families have little alternative but to get in their car to get to Richmond Park, not to mention those who are perhaps elderly, disabled, or just less able to use public transport. Bus connections to Roehampton gate, Priory Land and Clarence Lane also very poor, something that I've already been working hard on with TfL to get improved. For many of us, this car park charge is effectively a charge to use Richmond Park and it's not acceptable. It may also create more parking around the Park which could hit our area, especially parts of Roehampton.
If you are concerned about this proposal aswell then please do email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. The more local concerns I can present to Mark Camley, Chief Exec of the Royal Parks Agency, the better chance we have of getting this plan ditched!
I work hard on lots of local issues, but I also spend a lot of time helping individual constituents with individual issues and concerns. If you need my help as MP then do email me on email@example.com, or you can always write to me at House of Commons, Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA. I have a weekly MP surgery too, that's always at a local library so its easy to get to - give my office a call on 020 8946 4557 to get more details if you prefer to meet up face to face. I'll do my best to help.
Justine Greening MP
January 30, 2009