Twickenham Panel, Come On Down!

Last week Richmond Council announced that they’d identified 10 suitable candidates for the Twickenham Advisory Panel. As you’d expect, the excitement levels went up a notch as rumours were rife about who these people were. And why.

Today another milestone as LBRuT have gone so far as to name them. These brave souls will help El Brute with the regeneration of Twickenham. It’s a bit like having a Board of Governors or bunch of Non-executive Directors only with less power. For the record, we think it’s a good idea to get citizens involved in Project Twickenham and having a small group of keen locals on a Twickenham Advisory Panel un-hindered by party political ties (we hope) will provide some fresh resource to the Council and offer some additional impetus to the various initiatives already underway. It’s a big ask.

The tricky bit (which we assume has already been dealt with) is to ensure that our 10 panelists are not SIFs, wonks, nimbys, or gonks*. It’s important that as well as having ideas and vision for the town, these people are independent minded and not afraid to say so. Will the public and lobbyists be allowed near them? How long are will they be signed up for? We’ve no idea but hey, let’s get the Panel in place first. Sure, they’ll have political views of their own but we’d rather they were “10 good men & true” rather than “10 good men and True” (geddit? Lord True??). And yes of course, women are also eligible.

Here’s what’s going to happen next:
Lord True stands on a raised platform at the entrance to York House, microphone in hand. Hundreds of locals fill the grounds cheering and waving. The atmosphere is electric. Cameras flash.

True raises the mike and says: “Hello Twickenham. This is Nick speaking. Panelists, you are about to be introduced live to Twickenham. Please do not swear!”

The first of 10 black stretch limos hoves into view. Security guards leap from the slow moving car. It draws to a halt. A guard opens the rear door. A foot emerges and touches down on the hallowed tarmac in front of York House. We are ready to meet the first of the Twickenham Panelists…

Blimey, it’s only bloody Nick Frost. The east-end boy turned west-side suburbanite and star of numerous comic adventures on film & TV is perfect for the role. He’s got popular appeal, does a great “gormless” look (but we assume that’s the acting) and he’s a bit fan of a local business in the form of the TCB Tattoo studio. Get in! We’re off to a flyer…

Next car. It’s Peter the florist from Peter’s Petals. The one and only Mr “Two Bunches for Five Fifty, Nowww” from outside the station. This guy must know the comings and goings of Twickenham commuters like the back of his hand. He’s also well placed to take a view on the station development. Now then, how much for two bunches did you say it was, nahhhh?

Limo number three and it’s the guy who operates the Hammerton Ferry from Twickenham to Ham. He’s been chosen to represent the border control aspects of Twickenham life, to keep tabs on people trying to sneak into Twickenham by river. He’ll surely keep those snobbish Surrey types at bay.

Fourth limo. Cor blimey, this is amazing. It’s Jane “Little Voice & Tesco Adverts” Horrocks. El Brute have clearly decided that it’s important to demonstrate the town’s broad demographic, and so who better to do that than someone from “up north”.

From limo number five we see the little legs and long socks of Mr Rob Brydon. Twickenham’s rugby stadium plays host to visitors from all around the world and so in another nod to the broad mix of folk we have our very own representative from the international community. First the north, now Wales. Whoever next?

Limo Number 6…. Where is Limo Number 6?? Well, then we all woke up and our Fantasy Panel disappeared. Instead of the razzmattaz of a grand parade into York House we just scanned the Council press release to see if we knew any of the following:

* Judith Bunting
* Graham Henderson
* John Kelly
* Paul Leonard
* Philip Morgan
* Zarina Naqvi
* Ben Rostron
* Martin Seymour
* Judith Strong
* Graham Strudwick

We soon realised that we didn’t know them. Any of them. We’d like a brief bio on each of them but in the meantime we wished them well for the important task ahead but couldn’t help but speculate on what might have been with Twickenham’s “Ultimate Panel of 10”.

So, who’d be on your list? Let’s be ‘avin ya!

Council Press Release

* Glossary:
SIF – Single Issue Fanatic.
Wonk – Someone obsessed by study or political policy
Nimby – Not In My Back Yard (derog: opposer of progress)
Gonk – Fluffy toy made from plastic body and brightly coloured fur.


Filed under Council, Local Issues & News

16 responses to “Twickenham Panel, Come On Down!

  1. ‘Council press release: [Apr 28] Action plan for Twickenham takes shape: A comprehensive plan for the regeneration of Twickenham’s town centre and riverside is taking shape. The Town Centre Action Plan will provide a long term strategy for the development of the town centre. It sets out three broad scenarios of how the town can develop over the next 15 – 20 years . . Subject to Cabinet approval on 10 May, a number of options will be put out for public consultation over the summer. These will be considered in conjunction with the results of the All in One survey and in particular the Area Planning Meeting for Twickenham. A draft plan will be drawn up for approval by the autumn . . ‘
    Read all about it at:

  2. And rest, two, three.
    Let’s not turn this into the Jeremy Kyle show of local politics. Please ensure any further comments relate to the issue at hand, namely the mysterious “Twickenham Ten”.

  3. Tony Elsom

    I hope that other readers will note a touch of petulance in Gareth’s last post – that’s a pity, he’s usually far better than this. Perhaps high office is going to his head.
    As an example, he says: “There’s a world of difference between talking to a party and slavishly putting all your efforts into getting them elected at the risk of losing all credibility as an independent force”.
    What an extraordinary bit of pomposity! Talking to a party! How about leaping into bed with them at the first sniff of real power and promptly ditching a core manifesto pledge about tuition fees? – If that isn’t a sure way of losing all credibility, I’m Don Quixote. RUG was, and probably still is apolitical – I tried to explain that to Gareth on several occasions in the past, sadly it seems to be a concept beyond his comprehension. What he fails to grasp is the simple fact that, as an apolitical group we were not hidebound by any ideological dreams and beliefs. RUG was formed thanks to the efforts of John Reekie. It probably wouldn’t have happened if Serge Lourie and his LibDem administration hadn’t decided to impose their will on us regardless of public opinion – more fool them. I’ve detailed the issues in my earlier post. Fortunately, by helping to remove the LibDems from power, we achieved most of our objectives which would not have happened otherwise. If that makes me a Tory puppet then I’m happy to be Lord True’s Pinocchio rather than Stephen Knight’s Punch or Judy. After all, I’ve already been cast as a rusty Knight, haven’t I Gareth?
    As to RUG disbanding, I don’t think so – as is so often the case, Gareth leaps to a conclusion. I referred only to my membership – I have other things to do now.
    Way to go Gareth!

  4. Gareth Roberts

    Hello Tony

    There’s a world of difference between talking to a party and slavishly putting all your efforts into getting them elected at the risk of losing all credibility as an independent force.

    There were, I’m sure you’ll agree, more factors in play in May last year than just the actions of one protest group. Certainly the Riverside was a well fought campaign and a deserved win, but lets not forget that a significant number of people in the Riverside ward voted Lib Dem and between Denise Carr and the most high profile of the RUGServative candidates, Scott Naylor, there was just 77 votes so not the wipeout that would seem to be suggested.

    And as for skin of the teeth, Geoffrey in Hampton North had a scare when he saw his majority slashed from over 170 votes to about 40 votes.

    Anyway, it’s a shame that RUG has disbanded (the past tense regarding membership didn’t escape notice) just imagine if they’d embraced their third force role instead of becoming a Tory puppet. We might still have Heathfield Library, Tangley Hall and Twickenham Day Centres could have a more certain future and a more well thought through free parking system might be on the cards. Oh well.

  5. Tony Elsom

    My first post, so I hope that my somewhat contentious thoughts are welcome – if not, I will vanish as fast as I appeared.
    Gareth Roberts, the new Hampton LibDem councillor suggests that RUG could have become a 3rd force in local politics if it hadn’t got into bed with the Tories. Mr Roberts who was not a member, as I was, might be surprised to learn that there is a very strong socialist presence in the group. The original members were drawn together by a common interest to challenge the autocratic LibDem policies about Twickenham Riverside and the “linked sites” housing schemes, the pointless CO2/CPZ tax regime and C’llr Carr’s proposed decimation of Meals on Wheels. Councillor Roberts acknowledges that we live in a 2 party borough and Councillor Lourie, then LibDem leader of the council chose to brand us as liars in the press which effectively stopped any further meaningful debate with him. Is it any wonder that we decided to talk to the Tories? After all, Gareth, isn’t that what your party has done to grasp a little bit of power and achieve your aims?

    Could I also remind Gareth, that, as a result, we achieved some of our objectives? – The CO2/CPZ nonsense is ditched, the Twickenham Riverside sell-off is ditched and the contract to sell the “linked sites” only went ahead because it was signed on the day of the election! Lourie lost his seat as did all 3 of the Twickenham Riverside councillors and Sir David Williams hung on by the skin of his teeth – time for a bit of serious reflection Gareth? This election result was no accident.

  6. Gareth Roberts

    I think that, to an extent, is fair comment Paul. I’ve said in the past that a straight two party system isn’t particularly healthy. That said one or two independents or Labour councillors holding the balance of power wouldn’t be particularly beneficial either.

    I’ve said before on other websites that there was , in my opinion, an opportunity with the Richmond United Group. This group had the potential to be a real third force in local politics; unfortunately, either by design or accident it was decided that the way forward was to side with the Conservatives and a whole opportunity was simply thrown away.

  7. Paul B

    2 former Councillors appointed by existing Councillors. Usual ‘fudge’ to keep those once involved, involved. Same old politics continue to be played out in Twickenham. An opportunity for 2 new voices to be heard, taken by those who’ve already had the opportunity to state their views.

  8. gawain

    Philip Morgan is a nice and good man.

  9. Thanks Chris,
    Some of that sounds like the appointment of sub-councillors. We get the Chair of the local Conservatives (Mr Seymour) and, to help ensure no backlash from the Lib Dems, we get their man too (Mr Morgan). Some people might think that. Perhaps the Hampton Hill dwelling Mr Seymour works in Twickenham??
    Either way let’s hope they’ve also got fresh ideas, and different perspectives to bring to the table.

    Are we being harsh here?

    But yes, we do like the sound of Poet in the City.

    (Re licensing & pubs. One for the future, perhaps.)

  10. Google yields a few details about the other members:

    Ben Rostron, Twickenham.
    Graham Henderson, Chief Executive, Poet in the City, Twickenham.
    Graham Strudwick, Twickenham.
    John Kelly, Twickenham.
    Judith Strong, Twickenham, member of the River Centre Working Party and the Arts Advisory Group; director of a-ap consulting.
    Martin Seymour, chairman Twickenham Conservatives, Hampton Hill.
    Prof Paul Leonard, Honorary Professor within the Institute for the Environment, Brunel University, Chair of the Friends of Strawberry Hill.
    Zarina Naqvi, Owner, London Seed Emporium, Member of the Corporation of Richmond upon Thames College.

    So there only 2 former councillors, both of whom were very active on the council and remain so in their communities; they were both expecting to be re-elected in apparently safe wards for their party but lost out to vigorous campaigns by their opponents which produced ‘split’ wards, with 2 Lib Dems and 1 Tory councillor each. Such are the perils and vagaries of democracy.

    Philip Morgan is well qualified to represent the residents of north Twickenham, who have a different outlook to those who live south of the railway line. Also he has served on the Licensing Sub-committee and knows about the problems of licensing and policing the towns pubs, an issue which concerns residents greatly but which Twickerati has not yet touched upon.

  11. Gareth Roberts

    Maybe he’s being kept in reserve to be the new Borough Retail Champion!

  12. Telemachus

    Why the bloke who plays the fiddle outside Boots is not on the panel is beyond me!

  13. Mark Walker

    Shame that we have two former Councillors, we need fresh blood and new ideas in Twickenham. I wish the panel well but cannot help but feel this more of the same.

  14. So far it looks like the Twickenham Establishment is well represented. Let’s have some bios.

  15. Judith Bunting is chair of the Twickenham Riverside & St Margaret’s branch of the Liberal Democrats. Philip Morgan chairs the N Twickenham Residents Association.

  16. Gareth Roberts

    There are, in fact, at least two former councillors represented on that panel. Philip Morgan was, until May 2010, a Lib Dem ward councillor for St Margarets and North Twickenham and Martin Seymour was, again until May 2010, a Conservative ward councillor for Hampton North.

    So at least there’s cross party balance!