El Brute in Sandys Flowers Flap – UPDATED

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.



* Sandys Fishmongers – Facebook
* Petition on Change.org to keep the flowers
* LBRuT Statement


Filed under Council, Food & Drink, Local Issues & News

35 responses to “El Brute in Sandys Flowers Flap – UPDATED

  1. Floyd Kermode

    The flowers look terrific and don’t seem to be any sort of obstruction. Any council that can’t recognise this isn’t a very good one.
    As for Starbucks or Cafe Nero – well it depends doesn’t it? If the seats took up more space than those flowers, that might be different.

  2. twickerman

    Good news.
    But I’m sure it won’t be long before one of the Party Political Candidates mussels in to claim to john dory.

  3. Here’s the text of a press release today from LBRuT…

    NEWS: Council clarifies Sandys flower display

    Richmond Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways has met with Sandys Fishmongers in Twickenham to discuss the Council’s request for clearer pavements, following some inaccurate information posted online.

    Cllr Stephen Speak met with the owner of the ever popular fishmongers to clarify the Council’s position concerning his flower displays on the pavement. The Council had not asked for them to be entirely removed, but for a rearrangement that would make the footpath less cluttered for people passing by, most especially to help those with disabilities.

    The Council’s action follows an RNIB survey and complaints that street clutter and badly positioned A-boards were presenting problems. Sandys three A-boards plus the flower pots and troughs at the street edge were also creating a chicane on the pavement that sometimes resulted in people walking in the road next to a busy junction.

    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.

    Cllr Stephen Speak said:

    “It’s unfortunate that the Council’s actions designed to help the visually disabled and less mobile members of our community got interpreted as some sort of clamp down on Sandys’ wonderful flower display. The flowers help to identify the shop as a stand out destination and this Council wants to help our local businesses.

    “I’m grateful for Mr Sandys’ responsiveness rectifying the key safety concerns and that he will be continuing to brighten up Twickenham with his flowers. I hope that we have drawn a line under the “flowergate” saga.”

    • jbuzza

      Surely there are bigger fish to fry for the council. When it comes to pavements their sole purpose should be getting their skates to complete the current “improvement” works.

  4. Boss

    As something of a landscape gardening expert myself, can I just flag that the crowded pavements outside Sandy’s are not necessarily a consequence of high levels of immigration.

  5. Purple Haze

    Boss, would they be ‘experts’ though? 😉

  6. Boss

    Surely there are some keen landscape gardeners in the Borough who could give Sandy’s some tips on their flower boxes?

  7. Dorothy

    It would be good if this topic stuck to the issue in hand rather than mud slinging from UKIP towards the Conservatives.

  8. barryedwardsukip

    Cllr. Speak,
    Why don’t you ask the residents of Twickenham what they want, before you act? After accepting my help in 2009 to develop a more caring approach to local government, your leader published the saying “if you pay, you get a say”, so when did you ask the public about Sandy’s? What did they say?

  9. Purple Haze

    LBRUT… Tough on flowers. Tough on the causes of flowers. Hell yeah!
    By the way, Wild Willy Barrett and John Otway are playing at The Cabbage Patch soon.
    Remember what WWB said? “Beware of the flowers… cos I’m sure they’re going to get you!”
    How about some guerrilla gardening after dark? Cover the whole town in flowers. Come on, you know you want to!

    Love the flawed logic from Dorothy there. “…you have allowed UKIP to make political points on this thread without any editing. Clearly you support UKIP”.
    Last time I heard anything like that it was from the Politburo!

  10. twickerman

    Good luck to Sandys, so long as they don’t put their fab floral displays in the middle or on the edge of the pavement.

    With a wider pavement and a narrower road (with one lane blocked by the bus stop), it’s hardly surprising that people are cycling on the pavement!
    I don’t agree with cycling on the pavement, but it’s an inevitable consequence of crap highway design.
    El Brute had a great opportunity to improve the infrastructure in central Twickenham for all users, but blew it by failing to provide safe cycle lanes.

    • Anonymous

      Absolutely correct. Maybe we can encourage cyclists to walk that short distance until the road system is worked out better?

      As for the flowers, I am ‘leaping like a salmon’ at the good news.

    • twickerman

      Dear Anonymous,
      Controversial, but maybe we can also encourage motorists to walk that short distance until the road system is worked out better?
      That’d get results much faster.

  11. drjagz

    First they came for the flowers …
    It’ll be the chessboards next.

  12. As the “blind” Cllr who endorsed the officers’ action it should be made clear that LBRUT did not ask for total removal of the flowers. LBRUT proposed a compromise of two planters and one ‘A’ board close to the shop front. Of course councillors like Sandys’ flower display, but keeping the highway clear is a statutory requirement – and we can’t act against some while turning a blind eye to others. As a councillor I also represent the interests of the visually disabled who asked me to act.

  13. Dorothy

    What has the Gloriana debacle got to do with flowers outside of Sandys?

  14. Dorothy

    Well that’s odd twickerati because you have allowed UKIP to make political points on this thread without any editing.

    Clearly you support UKIP.

  15. Dorothy

    Shocking that my post was edited.

    • @dorothy
      Not really. There’s more than enough debate about UKIP on the dedicated election thread without having it all over this one too. Feel free to have your say about UKIP on there. It’s as simple as that.

  16. david

    Every trader in the area knows the rules. Sandys are pushing it. Just because they are a high quality shop should have nothing to do with it. I think when they had the one out on the edge of the pavement that was a bit silly but of course now the council have widened the pavement there is plenty room there so doesn’t bother me. As Hester said, their new wide pavements have meant more bikes racing down them so lets stop that first.

  17. Dorothy

    Barry you make some valid points but seem to be oblivious that the three Councillors are acting on a policy agreed by the lib dems back in 2007.


  18. barryedwardsukip

    I say keep the flowers and get rid of the three 3 conservative Councillors Fleming, Speak and Chappell. These Councillors are an obstruction to normal community life. They were also responsible for the Gloriana debacle. These Councillors are out of control. They are elected to represent the residents, well the residents like Sandys and the flowers, so my message to these “tin pot” dictators is know your place. Maybe Tania Mathias can help!! I don’t think so, the Conservatives are all in it together. I don’t know why anyone voted for them last year in the Council elections, or why any one should vote for them now. They are only in it for themselves. I did warn you.

  19. Hester Huttenbach

    So why don’t they target Reubens who has tables and chairs outside on the pavement, bus stops that are all over the place on the pavements, bicycle racks, rubbish bins that are overflowing with bags dropped here there and everywhere, Cousins who for years has blocked the pavement, Moore’s bicycles also on the pavement.!! Then on a weekend they could target all the children who ride scooters and bicycles on the pavement (and in shops) without any thought for Health and Safety of others, mobility scooters, the list is endless. Sandy’s has already removed the barrow of flowers that was on the pavement edge, the rest must stay!

  20. Sally

    For Heaven’s sake. The display gives charm and character to our greyish not always clean high street. Sandy’s is the business which holdsTwickenham together. Don’t the council give out ‘Richmond in Bloom awards?
    Piles of rubbish in the streets, street furniture outside much less agreeable shops and they are there glaring at a pot of daffs.
    I see crowds walking by the shop and have never seen a problem. However I can help. Soon I will be looking after an assistance (guide) dog for a friend. The dog is of course trained to calculate obstacles and to avoid steering it’s owner past dangerously cluttered footpaths. The dog has always taken us past Sandy’s without a care in the world. I am happy to show up with it and let it guide our councillors past Sandys as many times as they like.i can also ask the heads of local charities for people who have trouble with vision or mobility to give advice. Usually some small adjustments put things right. Unless this is just a poorly thought out heavy handed act on the council’s part.

  21. The only visually impaired people around Twickenham are Fleming, Speak and Chappell. The flowers outside of Sandys are beautiful and raise the spirits – much needed too against the background of grinding stone cutting.
    Back off – the more flowers the better!

  22. I also signed and posted on our facebook page. I’m also a vegetarian but losing the flowers will not change the product (whatever ones personal thoughts on that), it will simply make the town a sadder and blander place.

  23. Ex Twickenham Resident

    At the 2010 election hustings Lord True said he wanted more flowers in the borough!

  24. This is ridiculous. There are shopkeepers with free-standing signs and hardware shops with exterior displays of goods – fruit/veg/hardware
    etc that come out further and longer than Sandy’s flowers. It’s health and safety gone mad and a total nonsense.

  25. tortoise100

    The real clutter in Twickenham is the ENDLESS pavement work. Google Streetview shows Twickenham in June 2014 and….. pavement works. Nearly a year later….. pavement works. Fenced off with nobody working. Is anyone managing it? Good for Sandys, looks great and in nobody’s way. Other local businesses have blocked the pavement for years.

  26. Anonymous

    At least Sandy’s obstructive green matter isn’t situated right on a narrow junction, and doesn’t force pedestrians into the road!

  27. queby

    I thought they were there to hide the smell of the fish from people who work near the shop!

  28. Dorothy

    As a life long vegetarian I cannot support a shop that contributes towards animal cruelty.

    The flowers may look nice but it is the job of the council to keep the streets clear and clutter free.

    I’m sure if Starbucks or Cafe Nero wanted to put seats outside the local pen pushers would be out in force objecting.

  29. Signed the petition. Was just thinking how lovely it looked. Damn the council!