UPDATE 17/04/15: The Council and Sandys have now reached a solution to this issue. The flowers will stay! According to an El Brute press release: “In response to the Council’s request for action Sandys reduced their A-boards to one and pulled back their plants from along the pavements’ edge. There was some continuing uncertainty over the size of the planters that the Council had suggested could be retained, but losing Sandys’ flower display was not the aim. The Council and Sandys have now agreed that the existing tiered planters will stay”. We hear that part of the original ‘misunderstanding’ revolved around differing interpretations between Councillors and Council officials of how strict the enforcement of the regulations should be. Either way, we’re pleased the floral displays will stay. Or as they might say in Sandys, “brill”.
Facebookers were a-posting and Tweeters were a-twittering this week over rumours (either true, false or partially true) that El Brute have got into a tiz over the flower displays outside Sandys Fishmongers in downtown Twickenham. Strong words are flying and a petition is gathering signatures.
The story? Word spread that Sandys has been asked to remove the assorted pots as they were causing some kind of obstruction – a kind of floral equivalent of the ongoing pavement works disruption, if you will. Cue much irritation from those who regard the display as something that brightens up the town rather than detracts from it.
In the ensuing melee Sandys raised the stakes by using its Facebook page to blame local Councillors stating, “3 conservative councillors Fleming, Speak and Chappell have decided that all the flowers must go as they are a danger to the visually impaired and the Rugby crowds. We have tried to negotiate but to no avail, their opinion is that they want to break us then they will be free to move throughout the borough and strip it of all colour and individuality”.
Whilst we’re not entirely convinced that the three amigos have a cunningly devised masterplan to rampage through the Borough stripping it of all colour and individuality, here at twickerati HQ we applaud Sandys efforts to liven up their small patch of Twickenham. Without wanting to go overboard on the fish related puns one might think that the Council should have bigger fish to fry, etc but they do also have a duty to ensure people can actually get around the town. Meanwhile, fans of Sandys (and flowers in general) can sign a new petition calling for the displays to remain.
El Brute aren’t the type to take that lying down. Oh no. Their rapid rebuttal task force has hit back with its own statement on the subject of Sandys Flowergate. It says, “To reduce the amount of unnecessary clutter on the pavements and to ensure the safety and enjoyment of the public, particularly those with a physical or visual impairment, the Council introduced an Advertising Board Policy in 2007. This policy states that businesses are allowed to display one A-board outside of their premises. Over the past few months the Council has received a number of complaints regarding highway obstructions in Twickenham. The Council has its own concerns as well and officers will be liaising with the business owners regarding the Council’s policy and advise them to remove any unauthorised items from the footway, otherwise enforcement action could take place.”
Hmmm. Not just ‘a number of complaints’ (i.e. at least one) but its own concerns too! That all sounds rather ominous but the “liaising with business owners” bit might possibly suggest scope for compromise. No doubt the Council are also wary about setting precedents – allow one floral display and before you know it there’ll be a flashing neon Colonel Sanders automaton dancing the hornpipe outside KFC. Now that really is an idea!
So, are Sandys floral displays “unnecessary clutter”? We can certainly think of other things that fit that description a whole lot better and have to confess that we’ve not experienced too many problems walking along that particular stretch of pavement, but our view is, as ever, totally and utterly irrelevant because it’s your view that counts around here.