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Not wanting to be accused of spreading mis-information about El Brute’s plans to build a ‘permanent home’ for Gloriana at Orleans Gardens we thought we’d freeze the previous article. Why? Well, it’s mainly because the mahoosive number of comments (over 260!) was making it into a sprawling mess. You can still read it and all the comments but we thought we’d begin afresh, fully revitalised so to speak, with a re-cap on some of the facts, a reminder that the ‘consultation’ has begun and rapid return to some idle speculation. We’ve even got all the links you could want below. Sorted!
And we’re even regularly adding NEW UPDATES at the end so keeping checking back for those.
Here are some facts and near-facts from the recent past:
- El Brute (aka LBRuT) issued a press release indicating a plan (subject to approvals, funding and planning permission) to build a boat house for Gloriana at Orleans Gardens in Twickenham. According to the press release it would encompass a boat house, some kind of visitors centre, a new cafe and a new playground.
- We featured the story on here having previously heard rumblings of the plan from unhappy locals.
- Our Unscientific Poll shows over 72% of people opposed to the idea with about 14% in favour and 14% undecided until they’ve seen the plans. In fact, these proportions have remained fairly constant both before and after a set of possible plans were posted on this site. The poll might not be totally accurate but it’s certainly interesting.
- And of course, you don’t need us to remind you that the idea of building anything for Gloriana at Orleans Gardens was not given any air time at the recent elections despite El Brute saying they’d been working on the idea for several months.
- A consultation period was then announced – it runs from 1st to 29th July online and there will also be drop in sessions at Orleans Gallery
- After some drawings of a possible scheme appeared – including on this site – El Brute announced that these would not be the plans for the consultation (and so it has proved) and we’ve also heard that the drawings in the consultation may not be the same as those which appear if it gets to the planning permission stage.
- The proposal is going to the LBRuT Cabinet meeting on 9th July (papers available online from 2nd).
- The Council have said that if it all gets approved they expect building work to commence in autumn 2015. The original press release said 2014. This was revised to 2015 although documents suggest that some preliminary work will still begin in late 2014… subject to those planning approvals of course! Confused yet?
So far, so strange.
In our quest for clarity we emailed the six local councillors who represent the two wards along the Thames in Twickenham. We asked for their opinion on the proposal to build a barge house for Gloriana at Orleans Gardens. Here at twickerati HQ we felt that residents would like to hear the views on their recently elected representatives on this contentious idea. As at now (1st July) we have received two responses. Both made reference to the upcoming consultations and so we decided to ask again for their views on the plan. We have yet to receive further replies. Of course they’re not obliged to tell us anything and there will be some collective Council responsibility to toe the line, but we’re not aware of them publicly airing any opinions on the matter. In the meantime keep a lookout for tumbleweed rolling across the lawns of York House.
The story made the front page of the Richmond & Twickenham Times and has also been picked up by The Guardian and The Evening Standard. Comrade Cable has said on Twitter that he’s ‘very concerned‘ about the proposal while over the water, Prince Zac has said he broadly supports the idea but thinks any plan should have public support.
We don’t know if El Brute have been surprised by the strength of the reaction to the idea. If they are, we wonder what’s going on in the darkest recesses of York House at the moment – re-drafting the comms, tweaking the plans, drilling the team for the Q&A, bringing out the big guns perhaps? If they did expect this reaction, is it connected with why the publication of Lords True and Sterling’s grand vision for us came after the May 22nd vote rather than before. We don’t know. We’ll probably never know. And even if they did tell us we’d probably forget. Hey, maybe they have told us and we’ve already forgotten.
Despite El Brute’s counter-punches about ‘mis-information’, the fact remains that the idea as initially presented faces significant local opposition. Perhaps that will change when people read the consultation literature and look at the images. Or perhaps it won’t. There are plenty who like Orleans Gardens just as it is and don’t feel the need to develop the site to accommodate Gloriana, others might be amenable to some improvements, and there are a few who like the Council’s plan as it stands. Will local opposition fade if our local councillors get out there and try to sell it to the public? Hmmm. That seems unlikely.
Consultations, protest groups, press coverage, PR campaigns. Blimey. It’s all happening Twick-side! And they say the summer months are supposed to be the silly season for news. Tommy rot! This issue is hotting up to become something of a summertime sensation.
Are you ready? Here comes the bit where you put on your best Nick Robinson voice…
And perhaps, just perhaps, if Richmond Council really battle ahead with this scheme we could be witnessing the first awkward steps down the slippery slope towards their third big legal battle in as many years. After all, they do say that things happen in threes, don’t they?
You can stop the Robinson thing now, btw.
That’s all for the moment. Go! But go and take a look at the consultation material, let us know your thoughts on the design, the project, the whole blooming lot of it. Valuable proposal? Or vanity project?
Stay tuned to twickerati for more updates.
Fri 4th July
Wow! That was one angry meeting at the Winchester Room on the 3rd. Lots of questions about who knew what, when they knew it and why this seems to have been developed on the QT. Also about the impact of the development on the environment, and the potential for this being a Trojan Horse for further development. The “visitors paradox” was given a lot of coverage. The what? Basically the idea that if it’s not a visitor attraction then why does it need to be here on this prime site and if it is a visitor attraction then the local infrastructure is not equipped for dealing with it. There were also concerns about the real size and scale which some felt were not properly reflected in the designer’s ‘impressions’ on the LBRuT site.
Some LBRuT councillors were in attendance including Cllr Fleming and Riverside’s Cllrs Chappell and Dias. There were also some council officials. Unfortunately they were routinely heckled when trying to answer questions but feelings were definitely running very high indeed. One thing that did get clarified was that the Riverside Councillors were not aware of the plan before the election. Perhaps this might be understandable for the newbie Councillors who were just candidates at the time but for an incumbent Riverside Councillor like Susan Chappell not to know about it just added to people’s concerns.
There were lots of comments about possible objections on planning grounds but one commenter took the view that once it gets to the planning stage it will go through regardless of any objections that might be raised by the public. His opinion was that if the idea was going to be dropped then it would only be as a result of a political decision before that.
Of particular interest was the point that the feasibility study was begun in May 2013 and submitted in August 2013. This has clearly been something a long time in the planning despite many Councillors and candidates being unaware of it.
Mon 7th July
El Brute have announced that the 9th July Cabinet Meeting at which the Gloriana proposal is to be discussed will now take place at the Clarendon Hall. This is to accommodate more members of the public in the public gallery. However, it is not a public meeting and anyone wishing to speak must register their desire to do so before the meeting. The Council is at pains to stress that this is not a planning committee meeting and nor will it take a final decision on the idea on the day. The supporting documentation will also address “some of the false allegations made about the scheme”. The meeting will also be available to view as a live webcast.
Wed 10th July
El Brute’s Council Cabinet meeting last night saw extensive discussion about the Gloriana. Here are some observations we made watching it online but you can see it for yourself here.
Lord True said he had commissioned the feasibility study for providing a home for Gloriana. As we know, he’s a big fan of the scheme. Susan Chappell proposed amendments around providing further information about playground moves, traffic surveys and the operating model. An extension to the consultation was also proposed.
Assorted opponents raised their concerns ranging from the cost to local taxpayers (£1m), the size and scale (“equivalent to 7 houses”), lack of clarity about who will own the building, bear the operating costs going forward, and why the QRB Gloriana Trustees aren’t funding their own boathouse. Opponent Caroline Dyball summed up by asking, “Why are we paying for it at all?”. Paul Bigley spoke eloquently and in detail, including making the point about the scale of it – it will be larger than the Clarendon Hall in which the meeting took place, he said. (You can see him from 18 mins 40 secs)
There were also concerns about other specifics (dock depth, parking, industrialising the site, noise, safety) through to some pretty frank statements from James Barrett who expressed strong views over the lack of democratic process (“The Council appears to be you” he says to Lord T) and the risk of being drawn into detail in a consultation which omits the fundamental option of “We don’t want it”. (You can watch this section from 48 minutes in)
It also seemed that the £3m boathouse would effectively be the winter quarters for Gloriana whilst in the summer months it will mostly be plying its trade and undertaking its charitable duties on the Thames. (* more below)
Geoffrey Samuel (El Brute deputy leader and Councillor for Hampton North) made clear both his Twickenham credentials and his support for the scheme. He went as far as to say that residents in Hampton had shown support for the idea to locate the Gloriana locally. Oh really? In fact, he said objections and support were both valid and that balance needed to be found. He played the “nimby” card saying that those closest tended to object the most and gave the example of people supporting new schools but not wanting them next to their own home. Some might say that schools, hospitals, etc are necessary in a local community whereas royal barges are not. We could be wrong on this point though. He then went on to sing Lord True’s praises. At length.
Councillors Fleming and Hodgins re-iterated that concerns and comments would be taken into consideration. All the officials urged people to participate in consultations without prejudice. The Blue Baron reminded people that we’re only on day 9 of the process.
And the conclusion? An extended consultation period was agreed, more information will be provided and surveys done and the project continues to rumble onwards.
* Note: Gloriana’s duties? We found this via a link posted below about Gloriana’s duties in 2013. It’s an interesting read. Plenty of rowing clubs had a pull on the oars – a good idea to get the boat used. There are also tales of royals, senior visiting big wigs and trips to Henley and Eton. But it’s not just about messing about on the river, there’s an example of fund raising charity work: “Earlier in the year Lord Sterling had offered to The Princes’ Trust and Save the Children Trust as a prize at fund raising auction dinners – ‘a cruise aboard QRB ‘Gloriana’… The Princes’ Trust auction cruise was to be an afternoon canapé cruise with 18 guests aboard. A crew of ‘Gloriana Watermen’ was recruited from local clubs and livery Companies to supplement the Royal Watermen available… The guests arrived and following a welcome from Lord Sterling boarded and the barge pushed away. The guests enjoyed the refreshments being served all in aid of raising a substantial sum for the Princes’ Trust – lessons were learnt but overall a successful first event of its type with hopefully many more to follow.” Read more here: http://www.glorianaqrb.org.uk/assets/qrb-annual-report.pdf
Tue 15th July…
Two more bits of news for you:
On Tue 15th July there’s a kids party at 4.00pm at Orleans Gardens playground. There will be a picnic and children drawing lots of pictures to hang in the railings. The organisers are hoping this will become a photo opportunity to show how much the park is enjoyed in its current state. In fact, here are a couple of photos of the picture protest.
GetWestLondon is reporting that Brentford Chamber of Commerce wants Gloriana to have a permanent base at its ‘spiritual home’. Built in Brentford and launched at Isleworth, Gloriana has strong ties to the area. Possible locations suggested have been Brentford Lock or Lot’s Ait, the island between Brentford and Kew Gardens.
Read the story and vote in their poll here. At the moment, the poll shows overwhelming support for taking Gloriana to Brentford. 94% support that move while in our poll of over 1,300 votes 74% are against Orleans Gardens as the boathouse site with just 13% in favour.
Wed 16th July…
Well, further to the Brentford option appearing out of left field, the Blue Baron has come out all guns blazing to say that he won’t be giving up on his dream just yet. This is despite Hounslow Council coming out in support of Brentford as a home for Gloriana. In an updated item, GetWestLondon reports his Lordship as saying that Gloriana “is not available and I’m hoping she won’t become available”. In other words, “my idea, my rules”. In the article His Baronliness blames the negative campaign for ‘spreading lies’ about the plans. He’s hoping people will come round to the idea. “We’re not giving up” he’s quoted as saying, by which he means himself and the Gloriana team and not just him and his number two at York House, Councillor Samuel (see above). He adds, “At the moment the Gloriana team have chosen Orleans Park as their preferred site” which we thought slightly strange because we thought this recommendation came through the Council. We must have got that wrong too. Whatevs. You can read the updated article here. Meanwhile we’re still on the look out for messages of Gloriana support from Twickenham’s own Councillors and we will definitely, definitely let you know if we see any.
In other topical news, the Save Orleans Riverside campaigners have started selling wristbands and also released this specially designed campaign poster.
And, after concerns that anybody in the whole wide world can take part in the consultation (which they can) – and are being encouraged to do so on Gloriana’s own Facebook page – El Brute have confirmed that the results will be weighted differently between local responses and non-locals. In other words, locals opinions may given more consideration than those of people who, just like many Twickenhamites, support the idea of a permanent home for Gloriana but who may have no idea about Orleans Gardens as a piece of open, public land.
Fri 18th July
Apparently, there was some kind of Gloriana scheme launch event at York House on Thursday. Twitter pictures show Lord True getting into conversation with poster weilding opponents of the scheme.
Meanwhile the opposition have sent El Brute a list of Gloriana related questions for the Council Meeting on 22nd July. You can see the agenda and all the questions here but they include some important ones such as:
(i) “The current consultation questionnaire on the Council website does not allow for a YES/NO button to the scheme as a whole and a question which asks, “Do you want the Gloriana in Orleans Gardens Riverside or not?”. Would the Council agree to change/amend the consultation questionnaire to enable these responses to be considered?” and;
(ii) “Why, in these times of austerity, when so many essential services are being cut, does the Council choose to make over £1m of Council tax payer’s money available for the Gloriana boat project?”.
And of course, you can attend the drop in sessions at Orleans House Gallery which run from today (18th) through to Sunday 20th. El Brute have also announced that the feasibility study which led to Orleans Gardens being chosen is now online (subject to a few redactions). Here’s the link to the Gloriana consultation and feasibility study page.
Sat 19th July
The drop in consultations took place over the weekend. Your humble correspondent paid a visit. The event was well attended and the opposition were out and about asking testing questions of the staff on hand. We’d heard that at least one Twickenham Councillor had been there but on our visit it was left to the Gloriana’s skipper, a couple of Council officials and someone from Foster & Partners to field the questions. Meanwhile a couple of hundred metres away, the Gloriana was moored up by Hammerton’s ferry olooking all rather splendid. A funny co-incidence, we thought. And we definitely expect a bonus point for spotting Mr Lord Sterling on board!
After learning a little more about the possible scale of the thing we had a go at our own scale model using the medium of Lego. At 36m long, 7m high and 12m wide, it’s not small when compared against a 4cm Lego person and assuming them to be of average height (just under 5’10). Does this help?
To be continued…
OUR FAMOUS POLL:
If you’ve not voted, please do. If you have, please don’t.
LINKS & INFO:
* LBRuT consultations: online from 5.00pm on Tuesday 1 July until Tuesday 29 July. Drop in sessions are at Orleans House Gallery on 18th July (10.00am – 4.00pm) in the Octagon Room and 19th & 20th July (10.00am – 4.00pm) in the Stables.
* Concerned / interested residents community meeting at the Turks Head Pub / Winchester Hall, St Margarets on 3rd of July at 6.30pm
* The Orleans Gardens Blog – a new blog supporting the campaign not to develop the park
* Latest twickerati item: http://wp.me/pVBg2-2Xe