The not-so-new Tory Council is really getting into this consultation lark. And why shouldn’t it? It sounds like a good thing and if it all goes a bit Pete Tong it gives them the opt-out of saying, “Don’t say we didn’t ask you first”.

Current hot topics seeking a stream of consciousness from Twickenham residents include the library services offered across the Borough, money saving ideas, the very future of Twickenham itself (wow, that’s like really, really deep man) and, as if that’s not enough, they’re consulting on just about everything else they do. In the world, ever.

To hazard a guess it’s probably fair to say that Twickenham will continue to exist in the future although, “in these difficult times”, the same cannot automatically be said for libraries or some other Council services. These consultations sound good but of course the proof of the pudding etc etc as it might say in the mission statement of the Council’s Department for the Provision of Hot and Cold Desserts.

Book’em Danno
Admit it. Libraries are a great thing. You go along, you get some books, you read the books, you take them back, you get some more books. Simple and brilliant. It is brilliant but it’s also a fair guess that fewer people are using libraries as more of what they offer is available online. After all, who needs reference books full of facts when there’s Wikipedia to cut and paste from. And who wants to walk all the way to the library when Amazon can fill your bookshelves with Penguin Modern Classics without you having to leave the house. But libraries deserve to be used and deserve to stay. Sure, they need to continue evolving but they’re one of the great services that local authorities provide. So, if you use your local library or even if you don’t then you should fill in the Council’s survey. It also contains some killer questions as to whether you’d actually be prepared to help run the thing. Perhaps that’s the acid test of how much we value them. Is that the Big Society in action? But whatever your view, it’s worth having your say, after all, you might not get another chance.

A Barefoot Future
Meanwhile, do you remember all that Barefoot Consultation business back in July? The one where the Council wanted your views on the key issues facing Twickenham and everyone wrote, “Vote for my idea to redevelop the riverside”? (Here’s a quick reminder). Well, they said they’d report back to the good burghers of Twickenham in October and that’s what they are going to do. There’s a big post-Barefoot session at the RFU on Saturday 30th October to mull over the Future of Twickenham. The public can attend but you’ll need to get in touch with the Council first as there will be no riff raff allowed to barge in on the day. No doubt Twickenham station will feature on the list as will the riverside. Whether the twickerati website idea for a bandstand for Twickenham will make it onto the agenda is a different matter. As with the Consultation itself it’s an interesting concept and one that will stand or fall on whether it delivers any tangible benefits to residents and local businesses especially at a time when money is so tight. And there’s always a risk that trying to act on too many ideas just ends up with lots of things being done badly rather than really cutting through with a small number of big ideas. Here’s hoping for a clear vision of what Twickenham should be like in ten years time.

All in One Stop Shop
And if all that isn’t enough, November will see all Borough residents given the chance to have their say in an All in One survey. It’s an opportunity to express an opinion back to the Council on just about anything that takes your fancy. Parks, education, refuse collection, recycling, the weather, you name it you’ll get the chance to either sing its praises or have a jolly good rant. As Councillor Pamela Fleming says in the press release, “The survey will give us a clear understanding of local people’s priorities and what they expect from us…We intend to listen to the concerns of local people and act accordingly, bringing their views to bear on all that we do as a Council”. All sounds pretty sensible and of course if they don’t deliver you can either suggest they get the chop as part of their quest for cost cutting ideas or just vote them out next time around. Simples.

Those consultation links again:
Library services
Future of Twickenham
All in One

And the Council’s consultation finder is here: