I spoke with Richard Deverell, the Director of the Kew Royal Botanical Gardens about a possible reopening of Kew Gardens in the near future. He is keen to reopen as soon as they can do so while assuring the safety of both visitors and staff. He told me they are developing plans to reopen on a limited basis, contingent on government announcements he hopes will come this week. He says that “Initially (and probably for quite an extended period) we will have all indoor and congested venues closed (e.g. glasshouses, Children’s Garden etc) other than a few toilets. We may limit access to certain groups initially and require online pre-booked tickets with timed slots through the day to minimise congestion at gates.” He would like to assure all residents and members that they will re-open as soon as possible.

TfL has launched a London Streetspace programme that will rapidly transform London’s streets to accommodate significant increases in cycling and walking when lockdown restrictions are eased. With London’s public transport capacity potentially running at a fifth of pre-crisis levels, millions of journeys a day will need to be made by other means. TfL plans will rapidly repurpose London’s streets to better serve walkers and cyclists. This will involve:

• Rapid construction of a strategic cycling network, using temporary materials, including new routes aimed at reducing crowding on public transport
• Wider footways on high streets that will facilitate a local economic recovery, with people having space to queue for shops as well as for others to safely walk past
• Creating low-traffic neighbourhoods right across London to enable more people to walk and cycle as part of their daily routine, as has happened during lockdown

TfL has also asked me to remind everyone that public transport is only for people making essential journeys. The lockdown has not been lifted and the government is still asking everyone to stay at home this May bank holiday, do not travel and save lives.

The managing director of South Western Railway has written to me to say that they are working their way through all of the refund requests they have received as rapidly as possible and have taken on extra staff to help. Currently the average time for a claim to be processed is around 33 days. People who are still waiting for the promised December strike compensation will also receive their refunds as soon as they can be processed.

Cleaners and nannies have been told they may return to work in domestic settings as long at all the members of both their household and their employer’s household are well and free of coronavirus symptoms. There is guidance on how to do so safely here.


York House in Twickenham will be lit green tonight to show support for those working in social care. For the last few weeks, the Council building has been lit blue on Thursday evenings as part of the national ‘Light it Blue’ campaign to show thanks to the courageous NHS staff. This Thursday, as well as recognising the vital work that NHS workers are doing, York House will be lit green to reflect the continued dedication and hard work of all social care workers.

Richmond Council will resume highway maintenance and improvement schemes from Monday 11 May. The Government has confirmed that all highway maintenance works are considered critical to the borough’s economic recovery and should continue. Initial works to recommence include:

• Clare Lawn Crescent, East Sheen – w/c 11th May 2020.
• Boileau Road, Barnes – w/c 11th May 2020.
• Queens Road, Richmond – w/c 11th May 2020.
• Ham Gate Avenue, Ham – w/c 11th May 2020.
• Clavering Avenue, Barnes – w/c 11th May 2020.
• Barnes Avenue, Barnes – w/c 25th May 2020.
• Ham Street, Ham – w/c 25th May 2020.

The Council is also currently preparing an Action Plan of measures to support walking, cycling and physical distancing in key locations across the borough. Further information on this will be available soon.

Please look out for my special newsletter on air quality improvement tomorrow. I wish you a very pleasant bank holiday weekend, and reiterate the request that you enjoy yourself at home as the lockdown remains in place.


Sarah Olney MP

Earlier updates can be accessed here.