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’s making national headlines. Again. Boris is not a fan. Zac’s really not a fan. Justine wasn’t a fan and so whoops, she got the heave-ho. And of course the Lib Dems and “our” Vince are not fans either. They aren’t, but it looks like Cam and Ozzy are. But what do we know?
The option for a third runway at Heathrow is back in the news and Patrick McLoughlin, the new Transport Secretary, is regarded as a lot more amenable to the idea than Justine Greening, the old one. Well, we say ‘old’ but we mean the one who was doing the job until a couple of days ago. A third runway was ruled out at the time of the election. It’s not a vote winner. The business folk in favour only have one vote each at election time (we hope), but so do the runway’s opponents, and they’re more numerous.
The business types want more capacity and more flights so they can ‘do business’ with trading partners around the world, especially in the far east. What’s that? So Skype or Face Time is not good enough for you, eh? Ensuring London remains a leading international city requires a world class airport hub, they say. They’re probably right. Meanwhile environmentalists and many locals are strongly opposed to the idea. Well they would be wouldn’t they? Why here, why now and what about ideas for reducing travel rather than promoting it, they say. Also true. Add to that lot those who think that adding a third runway to the jumble of Heathrow will be worse than expanding elsewhere or building a proper 21st century airport hub for London from scratch and we’ve got a right old mixture.
Professional brain-box Sir Howard Davies has now been appointed to conduct a review into airport capacity. It will report back in 2015. That’s after the next election. Funny dat. With the election outcome less than certain, the whole thing could just be an academic exercise but whatever Davies comes up with, it’s sure to be loved by some and vehemently opposed by others.
Do we need Heathrow’s expansion to secure economic growth for the UK? Or do we need more capacity but only if it’s anywhere but here. Or do we take one for the team and happily wave at more planes filling the skies over west London? The third runway? To be, or not to be? Or rather, nimby or not nimby, that is the question? And we now know that it’s a question that will continue to run for at least another 3 years.
It can’t have escaped your attention that there’s a bit of an election coming up this week. On the May 3rd to be precise. And it’s not just any election, we’re talking here about a London election. It’s your chance to decide who should be the next Mayor of this great city of ours, gawd luv it. Should it be the bumbling blond bombshell who’s made a career from “being Boris” or should it be Ken, the “professional maverick politician” who’s manner frequently seems less maverick and more “lecturer in politics at a suburban sixth form college in 1989”. There are other candidates standing but it’s essentially a two horse race… although unlike Boris and Ken there are no recorded incidents of horses squaring up to each other in office lifts over their tax arrangements.
In addition to the Mayoral election you also get to complete two, yes two, ballot papers for London Assembly members. The London Assembly is a bit like a TV show presented by Nick Knowles. You’re aware that it does exist, you’re just not quite sure why. Apologies, that’s harsh. The London Assembly has an important role in holding the Mayor to account, championing the causes and concerns of Londoners and in ensuring certain policy areas get a proper London-wide approach rather than being left solely to the 32 Boroughs. A kind of GLC-lite for those with long memories. On Thursday you’ll get to vote for your constituency representative for south west London. Currently it’s Tony Arbour (Conservative) and he’ll be standing again, trying to fend off the challenges of the other parties represented by Munira Wilson (Lib Dem), Lisa Homan (Labour), Daniel Goldsmith (Green) and Jeffery Bolter (choice party or summat like that). In addition to your constituency member you get to vote for London-wide members. As you’d expect this features all your favourite parties, a couple of independents and a few groups banging on about putting something or other first (England, London, marriage, etc).
Sometimes this whole Mayor thing can seem a bit remote from life in London’s premier suburb, after all, there are no Boris Bikes and no Congestion Charge around here and nor is there much cash coming our way from the Mayor’s Outer London Fund. Yes LBRuT secured some money in the first round but then got nothing from the funding awarded in January 2012. Thanks for that. However, even though some of the priorities for London can seem less pressing in the leafy and (relatively) affluent streets of Twickenham than elsewhere, issues such as affordable housing, jobs, transport and crime are still relevant here. We’re still part of London, after all. Happy voting. What will Twickenham decide?
* London Elects
Hot on the heels of the announcement by the developer Taylor Wimpey that it was withdrawing its bid for the Twickenham Film Studios site comes the news that a mystery bidder has appeared and may be about to save the day. Or they may not, of course. That’s the thing about mystery bidders…. the clue’s in the name.
The mystery bidder (MB) has paid the administrator a non-returnable £100k deposit to buy 4 weeks of exclusivity in which to seal the deal. Fair do’s. No point going too public until the ink is dry. MB’s intention is to continue to operate the site as a working studio and preserve the jobs based there. That sounds like good news for the Save Twickenham Film Studios campaign and all those wanting to see the area maintain its links to the film industry. But the deal’s not yet done and who is this publicity shy MB anyway? Are M and B their initials? Doubt it. But while we ponder on the next instalment in this saga, it is perhaps time to speculate wildly and inaccurately on who, with the initials MB, might be saving the day for Twickenham studios.
So we say “Hoorah” for:
* Marlon Brando (pros: big, big celebrity name / cons: dead)
* Mel B (pros: likely to tell you what she wants / cons: what she really, really wants)
* Michael Bolton (pros: knows about the entertainment business / cons: biggest days behind him. Likewise his biggest hair)
* Mister Bean (pros: none / cons: everything ever)
Who do you think it could be?
* Guardian story
Twickenham Film Studios
Twickenham’s 99 year connection with the film industry is set to end as Twickenham Film Studios close. The studios, which are actually in St Margarets rather than Twickenham but hey, why let that spoil the story, have been placed into the hands of the administrators who’ve said there’s no hope of it continuing as a viable business in the film industry. The sale of the site for property development is expected and so perhaps we’ll see some highly exclusive “Twickenham Studios Apartments” in the not too distant future. Over the years the studios have been used for everything from early silent movies, through to Beatles films and more recently Little Voice, Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows and War Horse. Twickenham Studios will be fondly remembered by many, but now their place will be in local and cinema history rather than as a going concern. A shame.
There is now a petition to try to help save the studios:
* Link to Telegraph Article
* Twickenham Film Studios
Older readers may recall the time when the arrival of ‘the plane’ caused mucho excitement. Especially for a very small man in a white suit living on Fantasy Island*. With such excitement at the sight of a single plane, imagine what our little friend Tattoo would have done had he lived in Twickenham. He’d have gone bloody mental that’s what he’d have done. But what about if he’d lived round here? What about that, eh?
Some sky (where planes go)
The flip side of such high drama at the approach of a single plane is the constant drone of engine noise for anyone living in the vicinity of a modern airport. But some people even like that kind of thing – plane spotters. We’re mostly talking men with ‘mushroom’ coloured anoraks, who live with their mothers and for whom the phrase, “and he seemed such a nice, quiet man” will make the newspapers at some point in the future. Let’s call this group “the nerds”. Bizarrely, we need more nerds. Here’s why…
Reconstruction: Papers left outside Vince Cable's office
Oh dear. Poor old Vince Cable MP. It’s less than a year since our man got himself caught out in “giggle-gate” by declaring war on Rupert Murdoch to two Daily Telegraph reporters posing as constituents and now his Lion Road constituency office has found itself at the centre of another embarrassing faux pas. This time it’s the inclusion of constituency correspondence and other sensitive documentation in rubbish bags left outside his HQ. An eagle-eyed Twickenham local spotted this occurring on numerous occasions, was suitably and rightly outraged and did some follow up work, including a trip to check that St. Zac of Richmond Park was doing things properly. Before you know it, hey presto, there’s an exclusive in the Richmond & Twickenham Times. Funny how things work out isn’t it?
This is bad for Cable. Although it’s unlikely that “our Vince” was the one tying up the bin bags and putting them out in the street, he’s the one who has to do the apologising on behalf of his constituency office. Just what he could do without. He’ll soon be earning the dreaded soubriquet “gaffe prone”. Or perhaps, given Vince’s passion for his stylish fedora, The Great Gaffesby.
But where next for our public-spirited Twikileaking local bin-sifter? Who knows? Should we all be on our guard? And can we expect a surge in demand for shredders in Twickenham this week-end? In this new climate of fear gripping Twickenham, if we were going to give some advice to Vince on the subject, we’d suggest that with so much focus on his Lion Road office, he might be better off dealing with his paperwork in a local park, as long as he can resist the temptation to “do a Letwin”, of course.
We seriously hope that lessons will be learned from this, including that if you’re concerned about what’s left in someone’s rubbish, then please tell your favourite hyperlocal website before you tell the local paper.
* Richmond & Twickenham Times story
* The soundtrack: “Vince, can only get shredder” by D:Ream (of paper)
Reconstruction: Papers left outside Vince's "gaff"
Here at twickerati, we don’t pretend to compete with the local or national press. It just wouldn’t be fair. On them. But we thought you might want to find links to some important Twickenham stories on those ‘other’ sites right here on your favourite hyperlocal blog. It’s all part of the service.
River Crane Sewage Spill
Crane Park Shot Tower
Thames Water has said that a jammed valve in a sewer serving Heathrow Airport has led to sewage being released into the River Crane. During the incident, Thames Water were able to remove some of the sewage by tankers but faced with the possibility of having sewage backing up into Heathrow airport the decision was made to release some of it into the Crane. Seven miles of river has been affected and an estimated 3,000 fish killed, no doubt with other wildlife to follow. This is terrible news for the local area, especially after the work that has been put into the Crane over recent years. The Environment Agency is conducting an investigation into the incident.
* BBC News Story
* Thames Water’s statement
Their statement acknowledges and regrets damage to wildlife but it is rather bland. And it seems just as concerned about a temporary increase in “odour” around the Mogden Lane treatment works. (We couldn’t see anything on this spill in the News Releases section of their site earlier today… but there was a new item about singing in the shower. So that’s all OK then.)
News Release from Thames Water on this issue. Chief Exec Martin Baggs says they will be working to put right the environmental damage caused by the spill.
And the comments to this story now include a link to photos and the statement issued by FORCE (Friend of the River Crane).
In other, other news:
Radnor Gardens War Memorial Thieves
Thieves have stolen a plaque from the war memorial in Radnor Gardens in Twickenham. With metal prices high, all sorts of objects are becoming vulnerable to thieves or, as the Richmond and Twickenham Times refers to them on its front page, “scum”. Can’t argue with that. Any information on the theft would be welcomed by the police.
LBRuT: Plea for its return.
Imagine the scene – and you can choose whether to imagine this scene with delight or dread – it’s the morning of Sunday 14th August and 140 lycra clad masochists come hurtling towards you through the streets of Twickenham on super sleek racing bikes pursued by a caravan of motorbikes and vans. Spectators begin to cheer then whoosh, in a blur of colours featuring national flags and corporate logos, the maniacs are gone. Yes little friends, that was the London Surrey Cycle Classic, aka the test event for the London 2012 Olympic road race, that just passed through your town. It’s happening this Sunday and, after the depressing events of the last week, it will provide a positive and exciting spectacle for Londoners to watch. If you like bikes.
Job cuts at Newsquest, owners of various titles including our very own Richmond and Twickenham Times, have prompted journos there to go on strike. Their gripe concerns post closures and the consequent drop in the breadth and quality of coverage at a time when Newsquest, is turning a decent profit. Picketing has taken place at Newsquest’s Sutton HQ but also at the R&TT offices on London Road, Twickenham. According to the picket line “special edition” of the paper, Newsquest had proposed closing 15 posts (including the entire 8-strong sport & leisure department). It then seems that management decided to save 2 (yes, two) of these posts but despite this, says the picket line special, the entire sport & leisure department could be closed by the end of the month.
We assume that for Newsquest the decisions are purely a numbers game reflecting not just recent financial performance but future projections too. It’s a tough market. The disgruntled hacks claim that it is they, and not the suits in Sutton, who understand the value of local papers and what they do for the community. They could well have a point. A weak local paper goes directly into the recycling box, putting a title on a downward spiral. A strong local paper is valued and fills an important role in the community, a role that even the most excellent of hyperlocal blog sites cannot fill.
Guardian item: here: http://bit.ly/mkRAy2
Twickerati item on the new R&TT venture “twickenhamlive” is here.