Category Archives: Local Issues & News

Vince is Back: Cable Elected as Your New MP

It’s over! It’s done! We have the result! And the winner is… drumroll… Dr Vince Cable.

Twickenham (and surrounding lesser towns) has spoken and your new MP is your old MP even if he’s not been your recent MP. In other words, he’s back. It was the battle of the two Doctors in which Conservative candidate Dr Tania Mathias, who was regenerated as our MP in 2015, was beaten by former local MP Dr Sir Vince Cable. We say, ‘Thanks and bad luck Tania’ and ‘Congratulations Vince’ on your election (or rather re-election?) as Twickenham’s MP.  Cable’s majority is nearly 10,000, easily overturning Tania Mathias’ 2,000 majority from 2015. His win was more emphatic than the ‘cautiously optimistic’ noises coming from the Lib Dem camp had suggested. One might even say that the dance loving veteran politico achieved something of a ballroom blitz. Nationally the precise picture is still not totally clear although a hung parliament with the Conservatives as the largest party is the most likely outcome.

Phew! With the voting over we know that we don’t need to have another general election for five whole years… unless of course the five year rule is overturned if something ‘important’ crops up like an inability to form a government, a failing coalition or someone fancies an election just for fun, or whatever. See you back at the polling station soon then.

Vince Cable

Twickenham was only ever going to be a two horse race between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats and the incumbent Mathias, with her narrow 2,000 majority, was beaten by Cable who had served at Twickenham’s MP for 18 years until 2015. Cable’s challenge seemed strong – very visible, plenty of tweets, plenty of posters and ‘skateboards’ compared to Mathias – and so it proved. Did people vote on national issues like Brexit, austerity cuts and the ‘dementia tax’ or on local issues, or even on personalities?  We don’t know. Mathias has been quite popular locally and had supported local causes such as opposing Heathrow expansion and the closure of Kneller Hall. She’s also been an advocate of the rights of refugees and EU citizens, but these are issues that also feature in Cable’s thinking. Was it Tania herself or the ‘Vote Tania, Get May’ mantra that seemed to be a common theme among some local residents. Or was it a legacy of the Brexit referendum despite both candidates being remainers? Or was it just Vince Appeal? We don’t know. Continue reading

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Twickenham Festival is Back!

If you’re sick of the election and just want to spend some time enjoying life in God’s Own Outer London Suburb (or ‘the Gools’ if you prefer) then you’re in luck. Twickenham Festival is back! Other sites do far more comprehensive listings than us but we’ve included a few highlights below. It’s just the way we roll.

Twickfest 2017 just wouldn’t be #Twickfest without the Tug Off War to get things underway. It takes place at 6.30pm on Friday 9th June outside the Eel Pie pub and sees local teams huff and puff as they get a grip and try to avoid getting pulled off   their feet and across the marker on the road. Teams are cheered on by crowds of locals and, at the end of the day, the biggest yankers are the winners. Some people even film it for later viewing! [Editor: OK that’s enough!]

On Saturday 10th, new for 2017, there’s a Dog Show in the Diamond Jubilee Gardens. Registration is from 12.30pm with the main event running from 2.00pm to 4.00pm. There’s more info here on the various categories. Saturday also sees the return of the craft market in Church Street. Expect arts, crafts and a few food stalls.

On Sunday 11th between 10.00am and 12.00pm there is a children’s bike ride treasure hunt and picnic around Orleans Riverside Gardens and Marble Hill Park. You’ll need to pay and pre-booking is essential. Could be fun though?

Tugging away, Twickenham stylee

On Saturday 17th June Church Street Goes Green once again. The road will be astroturfed and filled with plants, gardening gizmos, food stalls and a generally eco-friendly mood will prevail. Let’s hope the eco-vibe isn’t soured by the groaning of planes taking off from Heathrow that day. The St Margaret’s Elastic band will be playing from 1.15pm to 2.15 pm and the Richmond Youth Jazz band will perform from 3.00m until 5.00pm. The greening of Twickenham also takes place on Sunday. Continue reading

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Vinyl Returns to Twickenham

Exciting times for music lovers in Twickenham! The resurgence of vinyl records (what do you mean you hadn’t heard! Come ON people!) is even reaching the mean streets of downtown ‘Nam.  On Church Street, the former Langtons book store turned short-lived Food Hall is being transformed into a new record store. Under the banner of Eel Pie Records the new business brings something a little bit different to Twickenham whilst also referencing the town’s rich musical heritage. Sounds like a good combination eh?

Kevin sorts out the shop

Co-founder Kevin Jones told twickerati, “We will be full of brand new and quality second hand vinyl and CDs. And damn fine coffee. We’re planning various events like classic album nights, launching new releases, live performances”. Shop staff will also be able to help punters get themselves set up with a new turntable to enjoy that old vinyl magic or just advise on what’s hot. Shoppers, browsers, coffee drinkers and anyone just looking to soak up the atmosphere is welcome to drop by. They might even be interested in your old vinyl if it’s in good nick, although your collection of “Now That’s What I Call Music” compilations might not be what they’re looking for.

Eel Pie Records, Church Street

Kevin and fellow co-founder Phil Penman aren’t new to the local music scene, they’ve been putting on live music events in Twickenham for a few years under the Drumfire Live banner but setting up a record shop has always been an ambition. And now it’s finally happening. Good luck to ’em.

The former bookstore store will also be home to Ricardo’s Cellar, a project of Last Try Wines  head honcho Ricardo Garcia and a Limpopo biltong store.

Eel Pie Records opens on Thursday June 8th. It’s going to be a big day. Why not vote with your feet and get down there to support all of these new ventures.  We’ll namecheck them all again soon in our next High Street Update so look out for that.

Store under transformation

LINKS:

Eel Pie Records
* Website: www.eelpierecords.com
* Twitter: @eelpierecords
* Facebook: www.facebook.com/eelpierecordshop

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Two Horse Election Race in Twickenham

We’re not going to refer to the candidates as horses, that would be impolite. No, nope, nay, neiiigh! Not going to happen, but Twickenham’s two horse race could be a very close call on June 8th.  A Conservative majority of only 2,000 secured in 2015 after 18 years of returning a Liberal Democrat MP means Twickenham is a potential swing seat.  With just over a week to go there has been intense campaigning in the constituency.  All three candidates have been active and visible, especially the two front runners, although if you look around Twickenham town centre for posters and election boards then you’d gauge the election mood to be largely one of apathy, followed by a sprinkling of Vince Cable window displays. But poster-spotting does not an election make.

Tania Mathias is mixing the Conservative ‘strong and stable’ message with her vocal support for the NHS and her intention to continue supporting her constituents’ on local issues such as opposition to Heathrow expansion, despite it being her party’s preferred choice. Vince Cable has also vowed to fight expansion which begs the question, who would be best placed to do that, a high profile opposition MP or a majority party backbencher, albeit one who’s chair of All Party Parliamentary Group on Heathrow?  Answer: neither. Continue reading

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Farewell to Florist as Station Development Gets Underway

Solum’s ‘regeneration’ of Twickenham station will finally get going in the next few weeks. Sort of. This was the development that dithered and dallied but was then definitely going to take place after the Rugby World Cup back in 2015. It’s now 2017 and, true to their word and the very passing of time itself, it still is definitely after the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

It’s been a long wait. The process will see preparatory work take place before and a new station building goes up and the construction of new residential blocks. Think several years’ worth of work.

Peter the florist – moved on

One of the by-products of the project is that  we say goodbye to the Puccino cafe outside the station, the ABC newsagent and Peter the Florist whose “Two bunches for five fifty therrrrre” has been a regular refrain outside the station for many years. And of course, who can forget the fateful day when prices went up 10% taking those all important two bunches from “a fiver, therrrre” to “five fifty”?

No bunches for five fifty!

Although the development itself can hardly be news to anyone let alone the traders affected – it’s been ‘almost happening’ for years – the word is that Peter was given just one week’s formal notice to vacate. Hmmm. Assuming that’s correct that’s not great Solum. His pitch is within Solum’s development boundary and perhaps they were not obliged to offer alternatives either.  And what of Richmond Council? El Brute’s Pamela Fleming tweeted that, “Our licensing officers are proactive in helping him relocate”.  That’s good, although one might wonder why nothing had been finalised with only days to go before the deadline.  Peter’s most likely destination is Teddington but at least one option in Twickenham has been explored.  Surely there must be one spot in the town where he could continue selling to local shoppers and commuters?

ABC News – closed

Hoardings are due to go up soon (note the blue marker lines on the pavement) and a building site created. Strange to think that the old sorting office site opposite has been almost fully rebuilt in the years that the station development has not been happening. Funny old world innit?

LINK:
* Richmond Council Page on Twickenham Station Development

* Sign up for updates from Solum on the construction sheme

 

And finally. Thanks for the memories….

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St Mary’s Expansion Plans Cause Local Concern

Forget trouble at t’mill, there’s trouble at t’Hill.  A plan for a big expansion of St Mary’s University is causing consternation among the residents of leafy Strawberry Hill.  The university, “off of Mo Farah”, has a grand vision to grow in size and prestige over the period to 2025. So far, so normal. So normal, perhaps until the scale of the plan becomes apparent.

The aim is to increase student numbers by close to 60% from just under 6,000 to around 9,000 and make room for them by building on the existing athletic and sports facilities at the Waldegrave Road site and developing their Teddington Lock playing fields with a new track, pitch and infrastructure.

St Mary’s University, Waldegrave Road

Concerned Strawberry Hillers (or are they Hillites?) fear the large expansion in student numbers and the accompanying new ‘student village’ will put excessive stain on their sleepy streets, fill them with students (and their cars) and generally have a detrimental impact on the area, with knock-on effects into Twickenham and Teddington. This development would also require building over Metropolitan Open Land, causing a loss of valuable green space.

Waldegrave Road sports fields and open space

Whilst we all want da yoof to get a good education ready for the exciting post-Brexit world, a 60% expansion in numbers at what is essentially a small educational establishment tucked away in a leafy suburb of a leafy suburb (yeah, deal with it, Hillers) does constitute a material change in scale.  New student halls (up to 11 in total) and new teaching blocks? Would things progress quite so smoothly if the construction work was for residential housing? We’re not so sure. But then again…

St Mary’s, Teddington Lock, playing fields

Traffic and parking is already a big issue on and around Waldegrave Road and ramping up the infrastructure at Teddington Lock will add to parking pressure in that neck of the woods too.

St Mary’s: new buildings go here. Accommodation in blue, teaching in pink

The St Mary’s “Vision 2025” states: “The intensely competitive environment for universities in the UK makes this a critical and exhilarating period in our drive to make St Mary’s a leading university. However, we start from a position of strength. We have a distinct mission and purpose, and a clear vision of the future”.  St Mary’s have worked with El Brute on a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) setting out how the estate could be developed in a way that will help deliver that vision.

However that vision is not one that chimes with some local residents.  The Neighbours of St Mary’s group are hoping to make the University and the Council take note of their concerns over the planned expansion. A representative told twickerati: “We think if the development is allowed to go ahead, it will destroy Strawberry Hill village forever, at a time when the Council themselves are trying to increase the village feel as part of their recent Village Planning… Why can’t the University do what others have successfully done, building second campus sites or spreading halls around an area using brownfield, low impact or town centre sites?”

So there you have it, the conundrum of a grand educational vision but one which will have a significant impact on a quiet residential neighbourhood. Who’s right? You decide.

LINKS & INFO:
St Mary’s are running drop in sessions on from 6pm to 8pm on 24th April 2017 and again on 6th May 2017 (10.30am-4pm). Stop by if you want to find out more or have your say, or click on the links below.

* St Mary’s University – Vision 2025
* Neighbours of St Mary’s University – local residents group

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Twickenham Decides… Again

9th May

In more candidate news:

Labour have announced their their candidate in Twickenham will be Katherine Dunne. She works at NPL in Teddington and lives in Hounslow where she’s also a Labour Councillor and Cabinet Member for Housing.  According to the Labour Party website she believes that a “reckless Brexit should be resisted” and will be “campaigning on the issues that matter most to local people”.

Meanwhile after the recent local ‘progressive alliance’ meeting the Green Party has announced that its candidates for Twickenham and Richmond Park will stand aside. The Greens have endorsed Liberal Democrat candidates Vince Cable and Sarah Olney in the two constituencies. The Green Party says it has much that it does agree on with the Lib Dems including holding “similar views on stopping ‘blank cheque’ Brexit, and  Heathrow Expansion”. Tactical stuff eh?

 

27th April…

In candidate news:

In addition to Tania Mathias (Conservative) and Vince Cable (Liberal Democrat), the Green Party has announced that its candidate for Twickenham will be first-timer Caroline Wren. The local Labour Party office has said that it will have announced its candidate by next week. There is no news yet on whether UKIP intend to field a candidate in Twickenham.

In neighbouring Richmond Park, Zac Goldsmith will be the Conservative Party candidate, returning to the fold after resigning over Heathrow expansion and then getting beaten by Sarah Olney of the Liberal Democrats when standing as an Independent in the subsequent by-election. Andree Frieze will be the Green Party candidate.

 

Meanwhile all this talk of so-called Progressive Alliances and tactical voting has manifested itself locally in the form of a meeting planned for 3rd May in Richmond. The local Green Party has invited members of “all progressive parties – and of none or the non-aligned” to a meeting to “discuss the options for ensuring centre-left politicians win or retain seats” in five local constituencies including Twickenham and Richmond Park.  Will a spirit of enlightenment and co-operation emerge or will party interests be hard to break down, as in “You’re very welcome to stand aside in favour of our candidate”.   The panelists will come from a range of parties and groups. It’s not yet known if the Judean People’s Front or the People’s Front of Judea will be attending.

 

19th April…

In June 2016 Twickenham said “Bremain” but the Nation said “We’d Bretter Brileave It”.  With a clear majority in favour of leaving the EU (a whopping 52% versus a measly 48%) the nation is united like never before. So bloody united in fact that the best way to show that national unity is by having a general election on June 8th. Hurrah! More voting, more punditry, more analysis. It’s clearly a dig at all those people who thought this country already had too many experts and too many polls.

Here in Little Ol’ Twickenham we’ll get to have our say too and send a message straight to the very heart of Westminster, wherever the hell that is.  In the last general election way back in May 2015 longstanding Liberal Democrat incumbent Vince Cable was narrowly defeated after a big swing to the Conservatives and their candidate Tania Mathias. Labour trailed in third with UKIP and the Greens following some way back.  A couple of other blokes stood too. Continue reading

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Twickenham Traders Bemused by Council “Regence-frication” Plan

Twickenham shopkeepers have again found themselves in conflict with the Council since the latter unveiled their renewed plan to spruce up the notoriously ailing high street last week.  With work on the controversial Riverside Piazza soon to begin, there is now a concerted push from York House for the immediate surrounding area to keep up with the classical theme and aesthetics.

Time for a spruce up?

As the LBRuT  statement reads: “One significant response to our recent, wide-reaching consultation with the people of Twickenham was the general feeling of inadequacy and neglect suffered by the main high street.  We have listened, and are now rectifying this situation by returning this veritable artery back to its former unspoilt glory.” This is to involve the compulsory removal of all bright, artificial-looking signage in exchange for more subdued colours provided by chief heritage advisers and sponsors, Farrow & Ball Ltd.   Many shop names, to be newly rendered in classic typefaces and in gilt, may need to be adapted, in some cases entirely renamed.  Failure to comply will result in hefty fines.

Particularly incensed was managing director of Poundland, Phil Barsguits, who told us “quite out of the blue we have been ordered to take down our distinctive bright green and white signage and replace it with what looks to me like the Harrods livery.  And if that wasn’t enough we are to be renamed Pounde Lande.”  Equally infuriated was Claire Bunne, head of central public relations at Iceland Foodstores UK, inexplicably to be re-branded in Twickenham as “Ireland”, who complained, “This is yet another example of local administrators stamping their authority over freedom of trade and expression.  Sadly we are bound by law to comply, as we found to our cost after Southend Council’s successful case to rename their local branch Viceland.” Most other retailers have been given the option to precede their name with “Mr” (for example Mr. Kentucky, Mr. Waterstones) or end with “& Sons” (Boots & Sons, WH Smith & Sons) or both (Mr. Starbuck & Sons).  Only Marks & Spencer seems to have escaped unscathed on all counts.

In defence of the scheme, dubbed “Twickenham Regence-frication”, Councillor Pamela Ewing explained that “in less than a year a very run-down corner of Twickenham favoured by vagrants will become the jewel in the Borough’s crown, with a splendid new piazza and town crier.  We simply cannot let the rest of Twickenham fall by the wayside.   This is a simple solution that will please absolutely everybody.”

New: LBRuT offical signage guidance

Contributor: Rich Monrode

LINK:
* LBRuT Press Release 1st April 2017

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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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