Fringe Box



MP Richardson’s Praise in Commons For Guildford’s Battle Against the Pandemic

Published on: 3 Nov, 2020
Updated on: 5 Nov, 2020

Angela Richardson speaking in the House of Commons yesterday

Guildford’s Conservative MP Angela Richardson gave an upbeat report of her constituency’s fight against Covid-19 during a parliamentary debate last night (November 2).

She said government financial assistance had: “… supported businesses, organisations, charities, arts and culture, a package that has sustained services run by our local councils and has helped our health providers continue to care for us.

“In my constituency, more than £92.5 million of bounce-back and business interruption loans have been taken up so far. The ability to furlough staff and take advantage of the self-employed grants has been lauded by everyone I have spoken to.

“I am pleased the Chancellor has extended furlough and announced the doubling of the self-employed income support scheme, as we look to implement national restrictions to help support our NHS and save lives.”

Ms Richardson said funding support in her constituency totalled £1.8 million for Guildford council and more than £1.5 million for Waverley council.

The Royal Surrey County Hospital had been given £500,000 to prepare for winter, she added, being: ” Well prepared… under the excellent direction of chief executive Louise Stead, with a new 20-bed ward specifically for a second wave of the virus, [staffed by] medical professionals who have learned much during the first wave that will benefit patients in this autumn wave.

“I could go on and on,” she said, “because the support has gone on and on, but it is important to recognise that we in Guildford, Cranleigh and our villages were already well-prepared for the impact of lockdown earlier this year, because we had in place a thriving voluntary network.

“These volunteers, including Voluntary Action South West Surrey and Cranleigh’s Street Champions, put together by Liz Townsend, the chairman of Cranleigh Parish Council, with support from many who continually volunteer in Cranleigh, must be recognised.

“The response to my Unsung Hero campaign was heart-warming: Debbie Foster in Fairlands received more than 25 nominations for mobilising volunteers, and Adrian Whitehead delivered 100 medical prescriptions a week in Fairlands from his mobility scooter.

“Special recognition must be given to Nick Wyschna and his wife Charlotte, who run the Guildford Fringe, for their drive to pull together excellent online comedy shows and live performances to bring the community together in fundraising efforts for the Royal Surrey hospital charity and the Wysch Foundation, which works to make arts accessible to everyone.

“Siobhan Fox and Scott Kerr, both pilots anxiously waiting to hear what would become of their jobs, put their own worries aside to serve refreshments as volunteers at the Royal Surrey.

“During lockdown, there was fantastic and incredibly helpful cross-party engagement. We work well when we work together, and that was my experience. It is the best way to deliver quickly for residents.

“Hope is so important right now. There is fatigue and anxiety, and we are concerned for those we know and love, for their jobs and their mental health.

“We cannot ignore any of these issues and we do not. This government and all of us in our communities are defined not by the easy times, but by the times when we have to dig into those extra pockets of reserves that we never knew we had, to keep going, and to keep fighting and not giving up.”

Ms Richardson concluded with a tribute to: “…those at all levels of our NHS for the work they have done and continue to do for us all. It truly is a national health service, which is why it is right now to introduce national restrictions to ensure all health needs can be cared for.”

Brian Creese

Brian Creese, the chairman of Guildford Labour, responded: “We are very pleased that Ms Richardson sees the positive side of the pandemic, but disappointed to note that she did not support giving NHS staff the pay rise they deserve.

“She also tells us how much money the government has lavished upon the town, but it still leaves the borough council millions of pounds in the red. There has been a 150% increase in claimants of universal credit in Guildford, and I am not sure they will see things as positively as our MP.

“We are proud of our local heroes who have got on with the job in the implementation vacuums left by government. We need competent, confident leadership to lead safely out lockdown,  a quick turnaround testing system, a fully-functioning track-and-trace arrangement and a plan to get the vaccine out quickly once we have it.

“We just don’t have those things at the moment, and it has cost lives and livelihoods. So we thank our MP for recognising local initiatives, but look beyond the money to the real lives that are threatened.”

Fiona Davidson

Fiona Davidson, chair of the Residents for Guildford and Villages said: “R4GV welcomes our MP’s support for the many organisations and, in particular, the local voluntary organisations and individuals who have contributed so much to our community over the past months.

“They deserve this fulsome praise and our gratitude. We would also add the many council officers who have been providing support on the ground to the elderly, the homeless and families in need, amongst others, and have really risen to the challenge.

“It is true that Guildford Borough Council has received nearly £2m from the Treasury, but this is dwarfed by the impact of the Covid-19 response on GBC’s budget, where the impact on reserves is forecast at £6m.  Our councillors will be keen to discuss this situation with Ms Richardson to ensure that GBC has the funds to continue to deliver essential services next year.”

Zoe Franklin

And Zoe Franklin who speaks on parliamentary matters for Guildford’s Liberal Democrats said: “Since March, individuals, charities and businesses across Guildford and Cranleigh have come together to support each other through the covid pandemic and I have no doubt that this will continue as we enter this second lockdown. Working tirelessly alongside them have been Guildford and Waverley Borough Councils and Surrey County Council.

“While Ms Richardson is right in the figures she quoted, it is important to note that the funds have fallen far short of the money needed by communities, councils and organisations to see them through these difficult times.

“For example, Guildford Borough Council face a shortfall currently identified as £10.8 million! There is also still no support for many self-employed and business owners who have come together under the banner of #ExcludedUK, and there was no funding for free school meals over half term.

“I applaud our community but the Government still has a long way to go.”

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