Government testing shambles leaves Kingston in line for second wave

Local residents have been left struggling to get access to the Conservative Government’s coronavirus testing facilities, even though the Royal Borough of Kingston was home to the first testing centre in the capital.

The testing site at Chessington World of Adventures was set up back in March by the Government in response to the pandemic, and a regular mobile testing unit has been frequently visiting the Cattle Market Car Park in Kingston. Despite this, local residents have been left unable to book tests at either centre.

Shockingly, the testing centre at Chessington appeared to be completely empty on Friday last week, with Surrey Live publishing photos from the site. Whilst there is a fully stocked and staffed facility within the borough, local residents are instead being offered appointments as far away as Aberdeen and Northern Ireland.

The availability of testing was highlighted this week as children return to school and Kingston University welcomes new and returning students for the academic year to its campuses throughout the borough.

A number of local schools across the borough have also called for more tests to be made available to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Children showing any symptoms are being sent home until they can get tested and given the all clear. The lack of tests now forms the biggest threat to keeping our schools open.

Lib Dem Leader of Kingston Council, Cllr Caroline Kerr, added, “What’s truly shocking is how desperate people across the borough are to get tested and look after our community here in Kingston, but they are unable to get access to these tests. As children and young people return to their education this month, we need more tests to be made available to keep Kingston safe. The people of our borough, and indeed the whole country, deserve better.”

Gareth Roberts, Lib Dem candidate in next year’s Greater London Authority elections and Leader of Richmond Council, said, “It’s outrageous that the Government’s testing facilities are so underused despite the growing threat of a second wave this autumn. Recent photos taken at the Chessington site show it worryingly quiet despite local residents trying to book tests. In other parts of South West London, Munira Wilson MP (Twickenham) also reported that people trying to get a test in her constituency were being sent as far away as Aberdeen. The Government must act now to keep us all safe.”

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