El Brute has a pile of (your) dosh up for grabs to repair cracked pavements and fix pot holes in the streets of the 14 “villages” around the Borough.
A village street.
That’s right, if there are lanes in your village that can’t be fixed by chucking a bit of extra straw into them or which those damned farm carts keep churning up then you can apply to the Council to get them sorted out. Each village has a £35,000 pot hole to spend (did you see what we did there?) although how many cracks and holes that will repair isn’t stated.
If you want to get your hands on a slice of the loot you can either fill in a form or apply online. The deadline to nominate your favourite piece of sub-optimal street environment for the ol’ El Brute makeover is 13th December. Oh, and anyone who spots a crack in those shiny new York stone pavements in York Street will have the Blue Baron himself to deal with. And you can bet your bottom guinea that that won’t be pretty.
* Community Roads & Pavement Fund
If it came to a scrap between Michael Heseltine and Michael Gove, despite the age gap, you’d have to put your money on the Tory grandee rather than the Education Secretary.
If you’re not the betting type, be honest, you’d still want Hezza to win. And he bloody would too! Micky Gove might have all the fancy talk but Micky H’s is a man of action… a doer not a pontificator. It’s just a shame we’ll never get to see such a spectacle. In fact, it could be just the opposite. If things come to pass, rather than conflict we might actually witness a harmonious coming together of the Gove worldview and Hezza’s empire, Haymarket Media, currently based just down the road in Teddington.
As you very well know, the Richmond College site in Egerton Road Twickenham has been the subject of much debate. Could it accommodate a new secondary school? Could the Clarendon School for young people with special needs also move there from Hampton? Could Haymarket Media Group bring something to the party too?
The proposal now getting a more thorough airing courtesy of El Brute is for the site to be redeveloped to contain a new HQ for Haymarket Media, a new secondary school (and we’re talking a non-faith, non-selective community free school, of course) whilst still keeping the college to provide the post-16 education. It’s a bold idea and we suspect it’s exactly the sort of thing that The Govemeister-General would love – business and education coming together on one site to serve the community.
Work to give Twickenham Embankment a major overhaul is now underway. Phase 1? Cut down all the trees. Now, here at twickerati HQ we like a tree as much as the next person. We like the leaves, the branches, the trunks and even the humble twig, so it’s a shame when they get the chop. But it has to be said that that particular stretch of prime riverside location was not being put to best use. It was pretty much a case of tall trees screening the river and shading a car park. With the site cleared it’s possible to see just what a big area it is. The plans do include the return of (smaller) trees as well as new planters, improved lighting and clearer crossings. Freeing up some of the parking spaces to give better river views and access wouldn’t go amiss either. Unless you live on the Island perhaps.
So, is this latest Council initiative just a case of environmental El Brutalism or is it a long overdue attempt to improve this slightly shabby expanse of prime riverbank? Only you know the answer to that. Oh, and please don’t suggest they build a new primary school there, that would be simply too much.
* El Brute website
* Previously on twickerati: Embankment makeover
If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to see the likes of the Blue Baron in a speed skating duel with the Yellow Knight, or Councillors Marlow and Head dancing on ice to Ravel’s Bolero or maybe even Scott Naylor and Gareth Roberts in a ‘Blades of Glory’ style grudge match then you won’t have long to wait. Well, to be honest, you will have a very long time to wait because these things will never happen, but at least El Brute HQ will soon have the capability to host such scenarios should the need arise. Do what? We’re talking about this winter’s ice rink in the grounds of York House, of course.
It almost happened last year but it’s definitely going ahead this winter. It’s on the internet so it must be true. In fact it opens on November 30th. OK, so a rink over the York House tennis courts might not have quite the same pulling power as gracefully gliding around in front of Hampton Court Palace or Somerset House but a temporary Twickenham rink could do well. It also gives a brief nod to local history and the days when Twickenham had its own rink. In fact, this Twickenham Alive organised event seems to be following that bygone tradition by emphasising the Richmond angle just as the old Richmond Ice Rink in East Twickenham did. The new “Richmond Rink” will operate in the grounds of York House, Twickenham from Saturday November 30th to Sunday January 12th. There’s more detail on the link below.
Ice rink here?
Stories of Councillors skating on thin ice or making embarrassing slips will, no doubt, be added to this website as appropriate. And who knows, with his penchant for a spot of ballroom dancing we might even see St Vincent de Cable turning up to have a go. In the meantime you can ponder on which of our Borough councillors might be awarded top marks from a panel of independent local judges. Hey, perhaps our very own Twickenham Advisory Panel could be enlisted to do the judging. They’d just have to hope that El Brute were prepared to go along with their recommendations. Or perhaps a skate-focused consultation could be run, just to break the ice so to speak.
Tickets are now on sale. Happy skating.
* Twickenham Alive Richmond Rink
* Previously on twickerati (Oct 2012)
[UPDATED: See end of item for updates.]
Strange times at York House. In a short and to-the-point press release that raises as many questions as it answers, Richmond Council announced that Virginia Morris, Cabinet Member of the Environment, was being replaced in that role by Pamela Fleming “with immediate effect”.
The reason? Nope, not a defection to UKIP or anything like that, but rather because “she has indicated that she intends to commence legal action against the Council”. Do what? Yep, that’s what it says. It goes on to quote Council Leader (and her fellow East Sheen ward councillor) Lord True as he points out that in the circumstances it would not be appropriate for her to continue with her cabinet post and thanks her for the work she’s done up to this point.
And what is this legal action about we ask ourselves. It would be rude to pry. Rude but interesting and possibly even relevant. And maybe even relevant to Twickenham! Is it a cabinet matter, a council matter or a private matter? Needless to say the Press Release doesn’t go into that kind of thing. But do stay tuned for any further developments.
UPDATE 1:It turns out that the reason for the legal action is school places, or rather the absence thereof. Cllr Morris claims that despite battling hard for many months the Council have still not provided a suitable school place for her four year old daughter. She is quoted in the R&TT as describing her experience of dealing with the Council on this matter as ‘horrific’ and that legal action is a last resort. Obviously it’s an important personal issue for Cllr Morris but also a potentially embarrassing one for El Brute who’ve placed a lot of PR emphasis on their schools admissions policy and the choice it offers. There’s more about it all in the R&TT.
UPDATE 2: And now the Evening Standard reveals that it’s all about the address used for allocating places. Apparently Cllr Morris’s daughter was not offered a place at the oversubscribed Sheen Mount Primary despite it being “50 metres from her front door”. It seems the Morris family have been living there for 9-10 months while their Hampton home is being developed. The child was offered a place at Buckingham Primary as the Hampton address is the one on which council tax is being paid. So, are El Brute just being brutish? Or is the Council simply applying its admissions policies fairly? How long do you need to live 50 metres from a school to stand a good chance of getting a place, anyway? And if your house in Hampton is being developed why move several miles away to rent a house next to a very desirable school in East Sheen? What happens if you then move back to Hampton once the work is complete? Do you give up that valuable place and have to ‘settle’ for the local primary? Like the LBRuT Press Release, the Evening Standard article raises more questions than it answers.
There may be plenty of good reasons behind all this but at the moment it’s all rather confusing. Confusing and interesting.
* El Brute Press Release
* Richmond & Twickenham Times
* Evening Standard
What is Twickenham’s greatest asset? Its rugby connection? No. Its wide selection of charity shops, curry houses and cafes? Nope! Its people? Come off it! The only time “people are our greatest asset” is on that poster gathering dust behind the filing cabinet in HR. Well what then? It’s the river, stupid.
Our location on the banks of the greatest river in London, if not in the whole of Englandshire, is what raises Twickenham from being just another London suburb to being somewhere special. And we really do mean special rather than ‘special’. But there’s a dark secret at the heart of all this specialness. And it’s this: Twickenham does not always make the best use of its riverside location. But things have been changing and more change is on the way. The next few months will see improvements to Twickenham Embankment, and specifically to the section in front of the Diamond Jubilee Gardens which at the moment looks, well, a bit crap (see below).
Embankment, Twickenham (a bit crap)
We’re talking new paving, new flower beds and planters, new lighting, clearer crossings. The work will also remove the current trees – presumably good news for those who park underneath and regularly get birds dumping on their cars (we don’t even want to think about what the blokes get up to!)
Anyway… the work follows in the footsteps of the creation of the Diamond Jubilee Gardens in 2012 and the 2009 improvements to the eastern end of Embankment near the Barmy Arms. The makeover will give a boost to this underused section of riverbank where the trees and ranks of parked cars effectively place a screen in front of the river. The work falls under the Twickenham Action Plan umbrella and the artist’s impression on El Brute’s website looks good. And cor blimey, they’ve even managed to make the majority of the cars disappear too. Now that’s magic!
A longer term plan should be to move the parking further back from the river (the ice cream van can stay, of course) and properly link up the Gardens to the river frontage but in the meantime, improving this section of “Twickenham’s greatest asset” is a good move. Work will start at the end of September and last for 21 weeks.
* LBRuT Page
“The gentleman at the back with the flowery shirt and the moustache. No, not you Sir, the person to your left. Ah, I see, my sincerest apologies Madam!”
The seat of El Brute power
Have you ever wanted to have Sir David of Dimbleby fix you with his steely gaze as you direct your incisive, finely honed question to the Question Time panel with the primary aim of securing an ego-boosting round of applause from your fellow audience members? You have? Great! Well, now you’ll get the chance to do that right here in Twickenham. Sort of. In our case it’s going to be Council Leader Lord True and some ‘senior cabinet colleagues’ who’ll be the stars of the show in El Brute’s “all things Twickenham” Question Time event on 17th
With some of the regeneration work now underway as part of the TWAP (aka the Twickenham Area Action Plan) and a bunch of other local issues generating strong feelings – both for and against – it could make for a lively evening. And if that’s not enough for you, on the following day the Blue Baron himself will be taking to Twitter to answer questions fired at him using the hashtag #twickenhamrediscovered.
Consultations, improvements and going Dutch with Alice. Oh yes, it’s all happening in Twickenham. We’ve got three issues to assist with your enlightenment and spiritual wellbeing so please read on, dear reader, read on…
Twickenham to Become a Mini-Holland?
Some bikes, but not Dutch ones
Yep, skin up, sit back and relax whilst also supporting a football team that plays an attractive game but which never quite delivers the silverware. Oh, and get on your bike too. Putting the lazy stereotypes aside for one moment the “mini-Holland” thing is El Brute’s bike-focused bid submitted to Transport for London. Apparently TfL and Boris have cash to splash on cycling provision and the Council have put an ambitious set of proposals into the mix. To be fair, the mini-Holland is the theme of the whole shebang rather than El Brute’s own creation but we digress.
If it all comes to pass we’ll be cycling along railway lines (or at least near them), cycling over the river at Twickenham (or at least on a new bridge over it), using quiet routes, routes linking local centres and fast routes into London, and enjoying improved road junctions for cyclists. In other words, more and better. It all sounds impressive. They might even provide you with a free basket to hold your freshly baked scones as you cycle from the rectory to the village fete. Splendid! It’s also a long way from the cycle lane provision contained in the original Twickenham Area Action Plan (aka the TWAP) but that’s a good thing.
The bid is a vision of how things could be with a lot of external funding to make it all happen. And the bridge over the Thames at Twickenham? This idea has been promoted for a while in the form of a crossing from Radnor Gardens to Ham, although in the mini-Holland document 4 options are proposed. New bridges are also one of the suggestions in the Greater London Authority press release about the bidding process. Funny dat. True, a Twickenham crossing would provide extra options for walkers, cyclists & joggers and, although it doesn’t feel like there’s a burning demand for it, it could certainly be a ‘nice to have’.