The ripples of Sadiq Khan’s attempts to redistribute the political balance of London will be felt as far out as London’s premier borough (by which we mean Richmond of course). In fact it could be good news for Twickenham which can expect to see a return to borough status for the first time in over 50 years. Khan’s plan to rationalise some of the boundaries of London’s 32 boroughs will draw on the recent merging of Richmond and Wandsworth’s administrative functions to create a new Surrey based ‘super borough’. However, the sheer scale of this, combined with the presence of the Thames as a natural boundary, will see Twickenham, Whitton and Teddingon as the focal points of the new administrative area.
Twickenham would give its name to the new borough which would also incorporate areas such as the Hamptons, Sunbury and Upper Halliford. Our fair town will also become the administrative hub but there is a hitch. The demise of LBRuT as we know it will be a shame for those of us who have come to know and love the ‘El Brute’ epithet, however with Richmond and Wandsworth joining up we hope we can expect to see “El RaW” make its way into common parlance. As for what a bunch of Councillors from Twickenham, Whitton and Teddington will be called, we’ll let you work that one out.
One issue that is expected to be more contentious is that York House will continue as the council centre for Richmond and Wandsworth for the time being. The nascent Twickenham Council has been in lengthy discussions with Strawberry Hill House and the word is that the House will become the home for the new borough.
El Brute Council Leader Paul Hodgins said, “The changes are good for all but Richmond will need to keep hold of York House. We have seen how important it has been for Russia to support its Kaliningrad exclave between Poland and Lithuania. Although Russia has been in the headlines recently for the wrong reasons, we have looked to them for a model of how to operate administrative districts successfully. The Thames is effectively our Baltic and keeping a presence on the Middlesex bank is important for maintaining strong relationships with our neighbours and for our own security”.
In a strange twist Hodgins went on to say that he was planning to step aside from his post as Council Leader to let Lord True return to frontline local politics. It’s been well known that the Blue Baron has effectively been running Richmond behind the scenes since he stepped down as leader, waiting for the time when the borough’s constitutional arrangements would allow him back into the leadership role. True said, “Hodgins has done a first class job minding the shop for the last few months but this is a time when strong leadership is required. We’ve seen that in China, the USA and Russia too. I have listened to my public and the changes to the borough boundaries and the upcoming elections have given me the chance to step back into a leadership position and complete what I started”. To us here at twickerati HQ it sounds like some in council circles have been looking further east than just East Sheen.
Commenting on the new plan, Twickenham MP Vince Cable said: “It’s not too late to reverse Brexit and so it’s not too late to reverse this decision. Brexit will do untold damage to the economy and spinning off Twickenham into a separate borough may well be bad for the local area. Like Brexit. However if it does turn out to be good news then it probably won’t be like Brexit”.
For the soon to be revived Twickenham Council, the race for control of the White House (of the Strawberry Hill variety) is likely to be very open. Parties vying for supremacy in May include the Conservatives, Lib Dems, Labour, Greens, Enact, React, Protract, Stop Heathrow and the “Just Don’t Like It” party. You can read more about them in our upcoming local election special.
So, are you happy that Twickenham will say “Bye bye El Brute” and be back as a borough in its own right, mixing with the big boys?
[Update: applies only before midday on 1st April]