If you’ve got a bit of spare time and you want to help people in your local community, you could do a lot worse than have a wander down to the Richmond Volunteering Fair on Thursday 9th May. What’s going on? Good question, glad you asked. There will be over 35 organisations and charities showcasing what they do and looking for new volunteers. Whether it’s helping out with arty stuff, young people’s stuff, old people’s stuff, health stuff, environmental stuff or just some other kind of stuff there’s likely to be something that suits you. We’re talking ’bout the likes of Age UK, Orleans House Gallery, Richmond Carers’ Centre, River Thames Boat Project, Victim Support, Shooting Star Chase and loads more. It all takes place at Clarendon Hall, York House and runs from 1.00pm to 7.00pm. Drop on by, why don’t you?
* The Richmond Volunteering Fair
UPDATE: Deadline for online voting is Thur 16th May.
Previously: Back on the subject of Heathrow expansion, next week El Brute will be sending out ballot cards to voters in the Borough to allow them to have their say on the matter. The poll will provide an opportunity for residents to confirm that they don’t want a third runway at the airport and nor do they want any increase in flights. The deadline for voting will be 16th May, although the precise date on which the foregone conclusion will be announced has yet to be confirmed.
Residents wanting further information about what a third runway and an increase in flights might mean for them can find out more from the Richmond Council website. There will also be information stalls set up around the Borough on specific days. In Twickenham the info-stall will appear on 23rd April at our very own ‘speakers corner’, namely on King Street outside Santander bank. And if you want to get really heated, there will be a Question Time type event in Richmond on the evening of Friday 3rd May. Expect Vince, Zac, the Blue Baron Lord True, and others to show up to express their opposition to expansion of the airport. The Council are even hoping to find a pro-expansion lobbyist or two to sit on the panel and be shouted down by residents.
Ooh. And there’s a YouTube video too where the great and the good from the local political scene voice their concerns about Heathrow Expansion.
So, will it be useful for Richmond Council to know that 83% of the people that voted (as opposed to say 79.2%) are opposed to Heathrow expansion? Perhaps. But then again, perhaps a quick opinion poll could have done it more cheaply.
* Richmond Council ‘Be Heard’ – voting deadline: Thur 16th May
* Cross party Richmond Council You Tube video
* Previously on twickerati (including Zac’s mega-runway-rally on 27th April)
There’s nothing like an airport to bring out the nimby in us all. Well, maybe that or a nuclear power plant… or a new abattoir. Or perhaps even a nuclear powered abattoir with a giant picture of TV’s Nick Knowles on the side? How d’ya like them apples?!
Although Howard Davies is not due to report on Heathrow expansion until after the next election, funny dat, the war of words rumbles on with claim and counter claim from the various lobby groups. Residents and local authorities are fretting about increased noise levels from a third – and possibly fourth – runway. Millions if not billions of Londoners lives will be ruined by the roar of jet engines overhead as we all gag on a smog of aviation exhaust. Airport and business types tell us that’s all a load of scaremongering and that the extra capacity will give us a much-needed economic boost as futuristic planes take-off and land with about as much noise as feather colliding with a big fluffy ball of cotton wool at 2 miles per hour.
In other words, we can we believe any of them? Dunno. So what’s the latest anyway? The 2M Group which represents local authorities concerned about the environmental impact of Heathrow on their communities, and which includes our very own Richmond Council, has warned that, “A four-runway Heathrow could blight the lives of three million people and spoil the quiet enjoyment of huge parts of our city”. This would represent a mahoosive increase from the 1 million currently estimated to be affected. Earlier this week the Evening Standard published a ‘noise contour’ map produced by 2M showing the full noise impact of four runways. Twickenham’s already affected by noise but more runways would lead to changing flight paths and potentially more disruption. For many other areas it could lead to significant increases. Needless to say pro-airport lobbyists rubbished the map saying that the runways would not necessarily in those specific positions and that, hey, maybe just the three runways would be enough thanking you kindly.
Who’s right and what’s to be done? Well, the battle of claim and counter claim, political lobbying and carefully placed press briefings will continue. That’s a given. And as part of all of that local(ish) MP Zac Goldsmith is helping organise a so-called “mega-rally” on 27th April to show the strength of opposition to Heathrow expansion. Although it’s billed as an all-party affair with a range of speakers, Boris will show up to steal some limelight. Make of that what you will. Time to get your placards out and start waving them around? And no Boris, that’s not a euphemism.
The mega-rally takes place from 9.30am-10.30am at Barn Elms Playing Fields, Barnes, SW13 9SA.
* Evening Standard ‘Exclusive’
* 2M Group
* Zac Goldsmith and his Heathrow Mega Rally
It ain’t over ‘til it’s over… again. The Battle for Twickenham Station took another turn yesterday when the Court of Appeal gave TRAG permission to appeal December’s High Court decision in favour of El Brute’s approval of the Solum scheme. According to the TRAG website, “Lord Justice Sullivan declared that he believes one of the grounds within our overall appeal argument “has a real prospect of success””. He does, does he?
The flaws in the Solum scheme are well documented. TRAG (aka Twickenham Residents Action Group) hate the whole thing. Others, including this actual very website, think it has a few good aspects but that it also misses quite a few tricks in terms of functionality and design. A bit of a missed oppotunity to build something really great for Twickenham, if you will. Some like it. And, let’s face it, some aren’t bothered as long as the new station ends up being better than the current one.
So will TRAG actually appeal and pursue their quest for a low rise alternative to Solum’s mish-mash of modern blocks and faux-Georgian terrace? They’d bloody love to. But they need money and lawyers don’t come cheap. If they do raise the funds and they do appeal and they do then win, there’s still a bit of a way to go. TRAG will probably need to show there’s sufficient current support for their low-rise vision given that the Council’s original planning approval was well over a year ago. El Brute will then need to twist Solum’s arm to ‘encourage’ them to revamp their scheme in line with the Council’s own planning framework. Maybe Solum will then launch an appeal? Who knows? Oh, and the RFU will probably want to have some kind of influence, what with the Rugby World Cup coming up in 2015 etc, etc. It could all happen but it does feel like a long way off at the moment.
So, is it time to move on and just get this thing built, or is it time to fight on? You live around here, you decide.
OK, so you’re bored with the same old discussions and arguments on here about new schools in the area. Even if you don’t admit it to yourself, we can still sense it from the way your eyes are already glazing over as you read these very wordzzzzz. We’ll be brief, so very brief. More brief than a lawyer, carrying a brief case whilst sporting a particularly brief pair of briefs. A bit like Michael Mansfield QC in Speedos. It’s a troubling image, you’ll surely agree.
Friday 1st March was ‘national offer day’ for places at state secondary schools. It’s probably the kind of day when the captain of the Tracy Island chess club, Michael Gove, pats himself on the back and, as a reward for a job well done, vows to make ‘O’ Level Ancient Greek a compulsory part of the national curriculum. In our fair town it was the day when many parents and their Year 6 children found out which schools they will be attending next September (well, only the children will be attending, obviously). El Brute was happy, issuing a press release to confirm that 72% of children secured places at their first choice of school and that 91% were offered a place at one of their top three preferences. That’s good news, and both figures are higher than their equivalents last year.
Boom! It’s war! It’s long been a dream of ours to begin an article with that word de nos jours. And now that we’ve done it, what’s left? Nothing of course, all our ambitions have been fulfilled. But why the ‘boom!’ in the first place? Well, the next bitter battle in the development of Twickenham is expected to be fought over the weeks and months ahead. This time it’s the regeneration of the old Royal Mail sorting office site that is going to get people all agitated and hot under the collar. Except that it probably won’t. Why? Because the development looks like a good scheme.
Twickenham Sorting Office Site
The draft plans have been online for months and given an airing at a couple of community meetings, but it’s only now that the detailed application has been validated by El Brute that you get to take a look at the full monty on their website.
The scheme is being proposed by the developer St James and architects, JTP. And it’s at this point that we should stress that JTP are actually not, repeat not, architects, they are in fact “international place makers”. Just like you, we have no idea whatsoever who or what an “international placemaker” is, so we’ll stick with the words architects and designers for the time being.
No one loves a consultation more than us. No one, that is, except Richmond Council. And that, oh little ones, is why they’ve just launched another one.
Now, you’re thinking to yourself, “What else can there possibly be left to consult on?” And the answer of course is… schools and education again, obvs. Truth be told, this one’s about the future of the Richmond College site in Twickenham’s Egerton Road. Richmond College is the Borough’s sixth form college (in oldspeak) and offers a wide range of academic and vocational courses as well as ‘traditional’ A levels. Although the College does get some decent results, it’s not always the destination of choice for local sixth formers, many of whom head off to Esher or Strodes Colleges to continue their education. The proposals under consideration include improving facilities and partnership opportunities at the College; moving the Clarendon school for pupils with learning difficulties and special needs from Hampton to the site; and, developing a new co-educational, non-denominational secondary school. A new secondary school? Yes folks, with Lord True and his acolytes having got the controversial exclusive Voluntary Aided Roman Catholic school safely nailed down at the Clifden Road site, they’ve decided it could be time for another conversation about meeting the growing demand for secondary school places in the Borough. As was overheard recently at Ambassador’s reception, “Your Lordship! With your school consultations you are really spoiling us
OUTSOURCING PLANS RUFFLE FEATHERS
Since 2010 Conservative led Richmond Council have been working with other boroughs developing opportunities to share services. And when it comes to the provision of children’s services, they’re getting pretty chummy with Lib Dem run Kingston.
Council offices, Twickenham
In fact, the two boroughs are establishing a jointly owned organisation, ‘Achieving for Children’, to deliver children’s services in this part of south west London. It’s headed up by Nick Whitfield, formerly of Kingston Council, more recently of El Brute and who is now Joint Director of Education and Children’s Services across the two boroughs. Moving to a situation where a jointly owned body takes on this responsibility moves both councils further down the route of becoming commissioners rather than providers of local services.
El Brute have just announced that a £35,000 ‘community road and pavement funding pot’ is now available for making minor street repairs in each of the ’14 village areas’ in the Borough (£490,000 in total). Obviously this poses a bit of a problem for Twickenham given that, despite having our own green complete with cricket pitch, it’s actually a town and not a village. But anyway, let’s hope we can still sneak under the wire when it comes to getting a share of the loot in the ‘pot hole pot’. All you have to do is nominate your favourite cracked paving slab or hole in the road for death by tarmac and the wise heads at the Council’s Department of Pot Hole Services will decide if there’s anything they can do about it.
The deadline for nominations is 1st March, so it’s time to get voting. Or, as @centricneil would have it on Twitter, it’s Pot Idol!
* El Brute Pot Hole Nomination Info
So there we have it, the plans on the tricky issues get the green light at the Overview & Scrutiny Committee and now go back to the Council’s Cabinet for approval. However, the two controversial issues within the Street Scene and Highways Improvement plan have still not been resolved to the satisfaction of some. Moving the bus stops out of King Street to nearby roads looks set to proceed despite opposition from a local charity representing residents with mobility problems. And the battle of the bike lanes rumbles on. El Brute have made changes to the original plan (which would have seen cycle lanes disappear in King Street and London Road) by re-instating ‘advisory’ cycle lanes through the town centre but it still does not meet the expectations of those who want to make Twickenham a really great place for cyclists.
And in case you’re wondering what an advisory cycle lane is, it’s generally marked by a dashed line and cars are not supposed to drive in it… unless they really need/want to. This differs from a mandatory cycle lane which is something that cars have to keep out of. It’s da law. So, there has been some movement on the issue but the cycling lobby are still not impressed and there’s plenty of detail still to be worked through.
Meanwhile the other aspects of the plan such as advanced stops for cyclists at traffic lights, a 20mph limit, better street furniture, wider pavements, more bike parking all look set to proceed as previously planned, which is definite progress.
A Richmond Council meeting tonight (7th Jan) will see the next step on the road to improving Twickenham town centre. And when we say ‘on the road’ we really do mean it. That’s because El Brute’s ‘street scene and highways improvement’ plan goes before its Environment, Sustainability and Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee tonight (yes, that’s what it’s really called). It’s all linked to the TWickenham Action Plan…