Category Archives: Local Issues & News

Twickerati in New LBRuT Partnership

There are big changes afoot for twickerati Newly announced support from Richmond Council means that this blog will be able to play a bigger role in communicating news about what the Council is doing.  As part of the arrangement, this twickerati blog along with several others across the Borough will become part-funded by the Council. In return the hyperlocal websites will promote Council stories and cover  the facts Richmond’s leaders believe that locals should be focusing on.

From a twickerati perspective this is good news. Blog Editor Russell said, “The team and I have discussed this in great detail. We all genuinely believe that after nearly seven years of blogging from an independent perspective a fresh approach is required to better engage with the community.  Looking back we can see that we have often covered stories from a narrow and often rather limited perspective.  Take the Gloriana boat house for example. In hindsight we believe that could have made important strides in developing a tired and run down local park.  We now look forward to working closely with Lord True and the rest of the LBRuT team to keep Twickenham residents up to date with what’s going on.  With the Council’s resources behind us we’ll be able to do real justice to the stories that matter”.

In an El Brute Press Release, Director of Communications, Mike Coles said: “With so many unreliable news outlets and so much wanton distortion of the facts across social media this new deal will cut through to the stories that matter. We’ll be presenting the true facts using trusted partners. We begin rolling out our new partnership by adding some Richmond Council branding to twickerati, Teddingtonia and TotalRichmond, by sharing stories and through merging our twitter feeds. Our first big initiative will see leading Councillors take the news to the residents in a re-painted version of the iconic twickerati ice cream van. Keep a look out for it on Twickenham riverside.”

In a series of tweets from the official @lbrut Twitter account, Richmond Council Leader Lord True said:

“Too many pot shots from failing local media. Many blogs misinformed and overrated. So sad”

“We now have the chance for more constructive relationships with all local bloggers, bypassing mainstream media.”

“Time to get to work getting the truth out there. No more fake news. We can now deal in real FACTS”

“Joining forces with @twickerati, @teddingtonia & @totalrichmond makes sense. Great borough. The Best.”

Exciting times, eh?  We think you will like the new look and we hope you will love our more mainstream approach to covering local news. Our next feature will be an in-depth look at the plans for making Twickenham riverside great again and that will be followed in May by a re-appraisal of the Twickenham station development.

Mr Whippy. Twickerati van gets LBRuT branding.

LINKS:

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Filed under Council, Local Issues & News, Twickenham Action Plan

Memorial Art to be Unveiled for Twickenham’s Belgian Village

Noticed the Belgian flags in East Twickenham recently? If you haven’t we can reassure you that yes, they are actually there. And they’re there for a good reason.  On Saturday 1st April a memorial artwork is going to be unveiled by the Belgian Ambassador to celebrate East Twickenham’s Belgian connection.  Many of you will know the backstory to this but just in case….

 

Belgian Flag, East Twickenham

During the First World War this part of London became home to around 6,000  Belgians who had fled their home country after the German invasion in 1914. A real community developed earning the area the moniker, “the Belgian village on the Thames”.  Many of these refugees worked in the munitions factory established by Charles Pelabon in what had previously been a roller skating rink.  Pelabon, a Frenchman who had previously operated factories in Belgium, supplied munitions to the Belgian army from January 1915 and throughout the war. At its peak his East Twickenham works employed 2,000 people.

During the war years French and Flemish could be heard on the streets of East Twickenham, Belgians established shops and businesses to serve their community, while the children attended a special ‘Belgian department’ at Orleans School in St Margarets.

 

Belgian munitions workers at the Pelabon factory

After the war the community dispersed with most returning to Belgium. The Pelabon factory continued for a few more years as a general engineering  company before Monsieur Pelabon eventually sold up and returned to France. Some of the buildings remained in industrial use and part of the  site became the famous Richmond Ice Rink but that, of course, is another story.

A great deal of work has been done to uncover and publicise this hidden history especially by Helen Baker and others.  On Saturday April 1st, to celebrate East Twickenham’s Belgian connection, a public work of art will be unveiled by the Belgian Ambassador H.E Guy Trouveroy as a memorial to this unique community of Belgian refugees . It’s being organised by the East Twickenham Centennial Group. As Helen says, “We see this as not so much a celebration of war as of two communities cooperating towards a common goal and of friendship for refugees.”

 

Pelabon works, East Twickenham


The unveiling will take place on Saturday 1st April from 12.00-2.30pm at Warren Gardens, Clevedon Road, TW1 2HZ.  And of course the project team are always keen to hear from anyone with information about the time, one hundred years ago, when East Twickenham became little Belgium.

 

LINK:

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Filed under Local Issues & News, Random Stuff

Council Tax Freeze Thaws

The recent years of no or very low increases to Council Tax are over. Residents in the Borough are now seeing bills land on their doormats for increases of around 3.5% as Council budgets come under pressure from cuts to the funding received from central government. With bills frozen from 2009 to 2015 and with a modest increase last year, the new charges mark a big change. Our Dear Leaders at El Brute have said that cuts in these government grants mean that savings of £31m need to be found to cover the shortfall in order to maintain vital services but increasing Council Tax forms part of the plan too. For a Band D property the hike will average out at 3.55%, comprising 3.99% for Richmond’s own council tax and 1.46% towards the Greater London Authority.

A Council Tax pictured recently

LBRuT Deputy Leader, Big Sam (that’s Geoffrey Samuel not Sam Allardyce btw), said “With unprecedented Government cuts to our funding, and increased pressure on social care, it simply isn’t feasible to freeze the tax any more. We now need to find a new way to deliver future services, working more collaboratively with our residents and partners.  This will take time. The only way we can cover the costs of vital services for the next year is to raise Council Tax and the adult social care precept”.  Some of the savings will continue to flow from the merger of Richmond and Wandsworth Councils’ operations functions, others are no doubt ‘tbc’.

The seat of El Brute power

The rise comes at a time when business rates continue to cause concern for many local traders and when newly announced National Insurance increases for the self-employed will add financial pressure to many already feeling the pinch.

So, are you happy that El Brute says it is raising Council Tax to protect important services or hacked off that you’re facing an above inflation rise after years of stable bills? Err, or both at the same time maybe?

LINKS:
* LBRuT Press Release
* LBRuT Council Tax Page

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Wow! A Twickenham High Street Update

Wow! You just won’t believe what Twickenham town centre looks like now!!

Clickbait, eh?  Hate or despise it you just can’t ignore it. Here at twickerati HQ we’re not in the business of using sensationalist headlines to try to draw in readers. Well, not all the time anyway but we do allow ourselves the odd exception. So what has been happening over the last few months then? Well, quite a lot since you (almost) asked. Here’s our round up of the recent real changes and the alternative facts on the mean streets of south west London’s premier leafy suburb.

On York Street, estate agents Haart will no longer be where your home is. They’ve closed. You’ll just have to buy or sell your house at one of the many other agents in Twickenham. So sad. Just along from them, poshly named Hugo Oliver, purveyors of luxury bathrooms, is now open for business in what used to be the Rugby Store and before that the Bottoms Up off licence. With Bensons for Beds just across the road and some other new businesses on Heath Road there does seem to be some kind of a ‘home improvementification hub’ developing in the town. That was part of the famous Twickenham Action Plan, aka the TWAP, if you recall.

 

Hugo Oliver. In the rain.

Hugo Oliver. In the rain.

On London Road, Happicraft has sold its last pram and completed its final 100 piece jigsaw puzzle. As with many other sellers of ‘things’, competition from online retailers proved too strong in the end. Many local parents were sad to see it go.  The building is now a pop-up charity shop for the Octavia Foundation. Continue reading

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Filed under Food & Drink, High Street Updates, Local Issues & News

Pic of the Week: A Visit from Doris

Blame Doris, she did it! Strong winds from Storm Doris on 23rd February brought down a number of trees in the area including this biggun in St Margarets Road. Cue much traffic disruption until it was eventually cleared away. Stuart Ramdeen (@sramdeen82) was on hand to take this photo.

Tree Down!  Doris downs tree in St Margarets Road (Pic: Stuart Ramdeen)

Tree Down! Doris downs tree in St Margarets Road
(Pic: Stuart Ramdeen)

Twitter link: @sramdeen82

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Filed under Local Issues & News, Pix of the Week

Another Heathrow Airport Expansion Consultation

If you thought you’d had your fill of chances to ‘have your say’ on the expansion of Heathrow then you’d be wrong. If you thought that as a local resident your views would count for very little when stacked up against those of politicians and business, then you’d be right. Hey ho, that’s the way it goes but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have your say yet again in a brand new exercise. There are even things you can turn up to in Twickenham and other local towns.

This time it’s a Government consultation on their ‘approved’ option for a new third runway to the north west of the current two. It was launched recently and runs until 25th May and so there’s plenty of time for your views to be discounted. In launching the consultation, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling referenced leaving the EU as a reason why building airport capacity at Heathrow is ‘crucial’ for UK growth and thus the endless years of debate about Heathrow have become Brexitified. With Gatwick beaten into second place, expansion at Heathrow looks certain to happen, unless of course it takes so long to reach a final, final, final agreement that Star Trek style teleporting technology supersedes cramming people into giant metal tubes with engines tacked on the sides.  The current thinking seems to be that a new north west runway could be delivered by 2026, so let’s call that 2032 to be on the safe side. It might even be finished before the new Twickenham station!

Plane landing at Heathrow

Plane landing at Heathrow

Continue reading

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Filed under Council, Heathrow, Local Issues & News

Pic of the Week: Comedy Pavement or Art Installation?

Here’s a scene that raises one simple question. Why? These new flats on Heath Road, called Twickenham House, have given rise to some comedy paving or perhaps it’s actually modern art, we’re not entirely sure. What seems to have happened is that once upon a time there was a pavement with a line of edging stones next to a building, then some hoardings were put up to allow construction work to take place and then the builders decided to make the line of the hoardings the precise line for the intersection of the old pavement and their attempt at new paving. The result? Something that looks like this…

But is it art?

But is it art?

If that’s the quality of finishing for the outside space we can only hope that they’ve done a better job on the inside. Is it actually finished? We don’t know but we hope Richmond Council’s planning bods are taking a long hard look at it, assuming their eyes can stay focused on it. Paving stones? Paving stoned more like.

new flats with 'comedy paving' on Heath Road

new flats with ‘comedy paving’ on Heath Road

You may recall that these are the very same flats where the developers’ boards promised views across Mediterranean rooftops rather than of a suburban railway bridge and a Tesco Express. I suppose we now have to call these things ‘alternative facts’. It’s a funny old world.

Twickenham House on Heath Road

Twickenham House on Heath Road

Room with a view… of the Med.

Views across the Med

Views across the Med

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Filed under Local Issues & News, Pix of the Week, Random Stuff

Twickenham Stationary While Community Hub Moves Forward

2017 is up and running, we’re one month in and you’re thinking to yourself, ‘Is this going to be the year when work on Twickenham station finally gets underway?’ You think that but you know, deep down in your heart of hearts that there’s a fair chance it could end up being next year, or the year after, or maybe never. Twickenham Station? Twickenham Stationary more like!

A warm welcome to Twickenham

A warm welcome to Twickenham

Word on the street seems to be that Solum Regeneration, the company behind the big development, is planning to finally get things moving in April. It seems so long ago since their overly large mish mash of styles received approval from El Brute’s Planning Wonks. It is a long time ago. Solum has dabbled with the idea of progress but it’s been kicked back on several occasions for whatever reasons. It seems that things have proved a little more complicated than originally envisaged. Add to that part-owner Kier Property selling its share of the Solum joint venture with Network Rail to Capital & Counties Properties Plc and maybe explains part of the dither-fest of the last few years. It might do but Kier are still committed to the Twickenham scheme with C&C moving some of the others forward. So far, so nothing.

A station. In Twickenham

A station. In Twickenham

The reality seems to be that Solum and the RFU can’t get themselves organised to agree the dates at which the station work can get underway. There’s rugby (and money) at stake don’t you know. The ‘possession’ dates planned so far for 2017 begin on April 9th and are dotted across the year but some already clash with rugby or NFL games which could see them move yet again. And this is only for ‘enabling works’ such as setting up the temporary ticket office in the car park, moving cables and hoarding off works areas. Mary’s Terrace residents can expect a ring side seat for all this work and it’s not even the big stuff. The message seems to be don’t hold your breath because April 9th could easily become June or September and so on. We’ll just have to see who wins this tedious ‘tug of station love’ between the RFU, Network Rail and Solum.

Here's what you would have won

Here’s what you would have won


Meanwhile the ‘community cultural hub’ slap bang opposite the station which has been something of a mystery in terms of purpose and management will now be run by St Mary’s University.
Obviously to attract students there it’s going to require them to walk past about a dozen pubs and a couple of kebab shops first which could present a significant challenge but having St Mary’s involved might bring some fresh thinking to central Twickenham. The building will comprises a 300 seat theatre space, six multi-purpose studio rooms and a large conservatory area. So, what’s actually going to happen there then? St Mary’s say we can expect a cafe that will be open to the public, theatre, film, comedy and music nights and the inevitable conference and venue hire options. Full details have yet to be finalised but it would be good to see the building getting regular use with events that appeal to the whole community and not just becoming a satellite student union building or a bland conference facility. Managed in the right way it could bring something new to the town. Let’s hope so.

A hub. In the community.


LINKS:
* Network Rail – Kier sells its stake in Solum (old news)

* St Mary’s University to run community building

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Filed under Council, Local Issues & News, Twickenham Action Plan

Twickenham 1 – 0 Chelsea: Blues Will Not Play At Twickenham

Costa going to China? Who knows? Costa coming to Twickenham? Nah, not happening. We are of course referring to grumpy-chops goal machine Diego Costa rather than the mediocre coffee chain who have, of course, already established themselves in Twickenham. More than two years after the idea first got a serious airing the RFU has finally confirmed that Chelsea will not be allowed to use Twickenham Stadium while their Stamford Bridge ground gets redeveloped.

It’s going to take three years for Chelsea to build their new Fancy Dan 60,000 seat stadium at The Bridge but the question of where to play in the meantime has perplexed football’s biggest brains for quite a while (insert your own joke here).

Not "The Bridge"

Not “The Bridge”

Wembley might still be an option, as might staying at ‘Fortress Bridge in some way during the build. There could be ground share options with Brentford or Fulham to consider too, maybe? How about the mighty Hampton and Richmond?? With Twickenham finally ruled out by the RFU many residents will breathe a big sigh of relief that the idea of 25 or more football matches a year taking place at Twickenham is now off the table. Some may feel that with the assorted rugby matches, NFL events, concerts and the like there is already a fairly busy schedule at the stadium with a fairly significant impact on the town. And what about you? Happy now? Or are you suffering from the Blues?

LINK:
* BBC News

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