Twickenham Riverside Development: Will LBRuT Listen?

REVISED: This item is an updated and re-vamped version of the one published on 12th July.

Twickenham riverside site from Embankment

Twickenham riverside site from Embankment

Folks, for months we had been expecting the big reveal, the grand unveiling, or, if you will, the presentation to end all presentations! We are of course talking about the revised plans for the Twickenham Riverside development. Remember that old thing? How could you not? It’s big. Well, after trailing the pop-up shop to review the revised designs, we’re now told we’ll have a wait a while yet as more consultation is required. Apparently.

As you full well know, and do not pretend that you don’t, when El Brute presented their regency inspired ‘design concept’ for the site last year it was met with views that ranged from mild disappointment all the way to downright anger. OK, so there was indifference too and even a small smattering of delight but for the most part the ideas presented fell quite a way short of what most residents were hoping for. Be honest, have you actually met anyone who really liked the design? The much discussed town square seemed to be missing, the opening up of the King Street shops to the river via Water Lane hadn’t happened and the prospect of a regency inspired amphitheatre with up to 40 flats on top didn’t really compute with the brief of making best use of this prime riverside location. The colonnade of shops didn’t go down well either, although the creation of garden space in front of the Diamond Jubilee Gardens was generally popular… except with people who currently park their cars there.  So far, so meh! For others, the fact that the plans were not a new lido also presented a major obstacle.

Extract of design from LBRuT website

Extract of design from LBRuT website

El Brute sought feedback and the result was a resounding ‘no thanks’ from the hundreds who took the time to reply. Of the 754 consultation responses received just 93 said the plans met the needs of the local community. Ouch! A local Riverside Action Group was formed to try to persuade Richmond Council to re-think the whole process but the Council pressed on, telling you lot that it would listen to your views and make amendments to the designs that had been created by its chosen architects, Q&F Terry (esteemed “designers of new classical buildings”) who had won El Brute’s ‘competition’. Continue reading

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Pic of the Week

The River Thames was unruffled by the result of last Thursday’s referendum. It was good to see someone, or rather something, keeping calm early on Friday morning as the result became clear. 

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Richmond and Twickenham Say Remain While UK Brexits

ice-cream-van-twickenham-twickerati And in other news… After months of campaigning, claiming, counter-claiming and downright confusing-ing, the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union. In a tumultuous referendum, the country has decided to roll back over 40 years of Project Europe and try to re-assert its political independence. Nationally it was a close call, with 52% voting to leave and 48% to remain but here in London’s premier borough the result was more clear cut with 31% opting for out and 69% to stay in.  El Brute announced the Borough’s results in the early hours of the morning but even before then the direction of travel was clear.

Local MP Tania Mathias described herself as ‘Euro cautious’ but voted Remain. Meanwhile over the river Zac Goldsmith voted Leave. Uncertainty across the country and internationally about the impact of Brexit will also see yet another airing of questions of local importance such as a third runway at Heathrow. Is it more or less likely now? And what about the impact on jobs, inflation and house prices?

So, as you digest your Full English Brexfast this morning you can ponder on why Twickenham and Richmond bucked the national trend and whether, like Scotland, calls will grow for an independence referendum in the Borough to allow it to secure its very own membership of the EU.  After all, if Luxembourg can get a seat at the top table, why not Richmond? After all, they’re both duchies of a sort.

Oh, and here’s the LBRuT announcement.

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It’s Twickfest Time Again – Twickenham Festival 2016

Live Music, Twickenham

Live Music, in Twickenham, in the past

It’s June and Twickenham Festival is back! Long gone are the days when we’d do comprehensive listings of every fair, fete, and effing alliterative fun day on this site. It’s just too time consuming and your subscription fees just don’t cover it anymore. But, because you’re nice and we wouldn’t want you to miss out, we’ve dropped a few pointers to selected highlights below.

The ‘official’ start of #Twickfest is Friday 10th June with the traditional tug of war competition. It begins outside the Eel Pie pub at 6pm. Expecting lots of heaving, grunting, groaning, sweaty faces and blistered hands. If that conjures a rather troubling image then fear not, it’s actually an entertaining event.

If you’re after something a little more culturally highbrow then that same weekend sees the Conchord Festival of chamber music take place at St Mary’s Church. Not too far away, All Hallows Church is also running its own music festival across the weekend. Continue reading

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Eel Pie Island Museum Seeks Support & Crowdfunding

In 2015 the plans for a museum dedicated to the music heritage of Twickenham’s Eel Pie Island became a reality when the museum ‘popped up’ above Twickenham library. It provided a fascinating journey through the Island’s place in Britain’s jazz, blues and R&B music scenes from the 1950’s to the very early 1970’s. The exhibition ran through until the autumn and since then the small team behind it have been looking to secure a permanent home for the extensive collection of musical memorabilia.

The good news is that the Eel Pie Island Museum has just been given the green light from LBRuT to use some space in central Twickenham to establish it on a more permanent basis. Museum Curator, Michele Whitby told twickerati, “This is really exciting news! Last summer proved that there is a ready market of people who want to discover more about the fantastic music heritage of our town, so the team at EPIM are raring to get going again and build upon last years achievements”. Good news indeed.

Eel Pie Island Museum

Eel Pie Island Museum

Michele and co have launched a campaign on crowdfunding website Spacehive to raise some more essential financial support. The project is linked to the Mayor of London’s Crowdfunding Programme, and with a little help from the twickerati, (i.e. you lovely lot), the Museum could receive a contribution from the GLA to boost their coffers. As Michele says, “The more we can prove that the local community are behind us with this, the more likely we are to get a pledge from the Mayor. So, if people could take a couple of minutes to register and ‘like’ the project that would be great. If anyone would also like to pledge an amount to back us, however large or small, then that is even better! Every penny will help to achieve our goal of establishing a permanent tribute to Twickenham’s musical and river-related heritage.”

Eel Pie Island Museum

Eel Pie Island Museum – pop up

If you’re not familiar with Eel Pie Island’s place in the grand scheme of things then you’ll certainly have heard of some of the names that performed at the famous hotel there: Acker Bilk, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, The Artwoods, Rod Stewart, Davy Jones (soon to become David Bowie) to name a few, but of course there were many, many more.

The EPIM team point out that for the project to really take off the important thing is to show that there’s widespread local support for the idea, so to find out more about it, take a look at the Spacehive link below. The Museum is also keen to hear from any businesses who may want to pledge an amount as a form of sponsorship.

The museum team can be contacted on info@eelpiemuseum.co.uk to discuss ideas and options. The GLA starts judging the various campaigns on 6th June and so there’s no time like the present to help promote the past. Chop chop.

 

LINKS:
* Eel Pie Island Museum on Spacehive
* Eel Pie Island Museum
* Previously on twickerati (Oct 2015)

Other Twickenham Music Heritage Links:
* Swinging 60s Shuttle Bus
* Live Music @ The Eel Pie Club

eel pie island hotel

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Man Dies After Being Hit by Train at St Margarets

A man died yesterday (Tuesday 24th May) after being hit by a train at St Margarets station. The incident happened after the morning rush hour with British Transport Police being called to the scene at 10.15am. Quoted in the Richmond and Twickenham Times, a BTP spokesman said: “Colleagues from Metropolitan Police Service and London Ambulance Service also attended, and a person was pronounced dead at the scene. The person’s death is not being treated as suspicious and officers are now working to identify them and inform their family”.

MORE:
*  Richmond & Twickenham Times

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Harlequins: Marking the End of the O’Shea Era

We don’t often cover rugby on this site but, and it’s a big but, Harlequins are Twickenham’s top flight team and in the last few years under the direction of Conor O’Shea the club has achieved some notable success including winning their first (and only) Aviva Premiership title in 2012. Now O’Shea’s leaving the club and heading to Italy, times are changing and we felt it was worth paying tribute to the man and the success he brought to The Stoop. Occasional twickerati roving reporter and big Quins fan Bill Webb-Ellis looks back on the O’Shea era and ponders on what the future may bring…

 

With the reduced, ‘de-funned’ (for which read, de-deathed due to excessive drinking) London 7s last weekend, as well as the Aviva Premiership semi-finals taking place, the players at Harlequins were busy posting photos of themselves in Cannes on Instagram. Their coach for the past six years however may well be ruing his send off the previous Friday night in the European Challenge Cup Final.

With 80 minutes played and trailing by seven points, Quins had possession in their own half, if they could get a converted try, they could take the game to extra time. The ball came to flyhalf, Ben Botica, who inexplicably kicked it up field, giving possession to Montpellier who carried it out to win the match and the cup. Botica had already signed to play for Montpellier next season, and the conspiracy theorists had a field day. In truth, the game had been lost in the previous 80 minutes with Harlequins out-muscled by Jake White’s strong South African bolstered side, unrecognisable from the team that Harlequins put 41 points past at home in November 2015.

Conor O’Shea arrived at Quins in March 2010 among the embers from Bloodgate, and took over from caretaker coach John Kingston after Dean Richards resigned and was then banned from rugby for three years. O’Shea won 35 caps for his country as a stylish full-back and had played, captained, coached, been Director of Rugby and even Managing Director of London Irish, before working for the RFU as Director of Regional Academies and then National Director of the English Institute of Sport.

In O’Shea’s first full season, he took Harlequins to victory over Munster at Thomand Park in a Challenge Cup semi-final, becoming only the second club to beat the Irish province at home in a European Competition. In the final, Quins beat Stade Français with a last-minute try from Argentinian wing Gonzo Comacho, sent through the French side’s defence by a grubber from Danny Care; the conversion by Nick Evans gave them the cup by a point, 19–18 at the Cardiff City Stadium.

The confidence that came from the cup win after the lows and humiliation from the season before brought about a new Quins’ style. O’Shea held a summit with his four coaches as to what was needed to move on. The words and phrases that cropped up were leadership, culture, empowering players, discipline, and the response was immediate. In the 2011–12 season, Harlequins won their first 10 premiership games before losing to Saracens at Twickenham in the Big Game 4. A home playoff semi-final against Northampton Saints saw a 14-man maul go over the line for Joe Marler to score the winning try and secure a 25-23 victory.

Quins v Wasps [copyright Seconds Left Images]

Quins v Wasps  (Copyright Andrew Fosker / Seconds Left Images)

Continue reading

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Dr Tania Mathias: Being Twickenham’s MP One Year In

Who’d be an MP? Not us that’s for sure!  The long hours, having to deal with all those constituents, the listening to long speeches, learning how to wave order papers in the air in that special way, it’s all a bit too much. And that is why it’s a job best suited to other people.  Here in leafy Twickenham we had Vince Cable as our MP for 18 years and then, on the 7th of May last year, a day of big political upsets, Dr Tania Mathias the Conservative Party candidate, was elected as Member of Parliament for our humble ol’ town.

But what is it like being a new MP?  We’ve absolutely no idea (see above) and that is why we decided to put ten questions to Dr Mathias about her first year in the job. And can you guess what happened next? That’s right, she agreed to answer them.

 

Tania Mathias

Dr Tania Mathias MP

Here’s what we asked, and, more importantly, here’s what she had to say…

1. What was going through your mind in the early hours of the 8th May 2015 as you were declared Twickenham’s MP? And did Vince Cable give you any words of advice?

TM: At 4am on 8th May I was taken by surprise and I didn’t have a speech prepared. I found myself thinking of the young schoolboy Daniel who had told me on election day morning that he was going to stay up to hear the result. Mostly I was glad that all the supporters in the room and watching the results at home knew their efforts had brought success.

There wasn’t any time for a handover that morning and my duties started the following Monday so I didn’t manage to get any tips or advice from Dr Cable until later in the year.

2. How easy (or tough) has it been adapting to life as a new MP?

It’s been relatively easy because I’ve always had jobs that are all-consuming. There’s also a lot of support from colleagues from both sides of the House especially from those who entered Parliament at the same time.

3. What has surprised you most about Westminster life?

The biggest surprise is that the House of Commons as a workplace – from the doorkeepers to librarians – is one of the friendliest and most helpful I have worked in.

4. How well do you think you have represented your Twickenham constituents in your first year?

I’d like to think I have represented Twickenham constituents well. Whilst I’ve supported the delivery of the manifesto on which I stood, I have not been shy to challenge the government when it has been wrong. I have replied to over 10,000 emails from constituents, handled over a thousand individual cases, and held weekly surgeries throughout the year.

5. What are you most proud of from your time in Parliament so far?

I’m proud of already being known for standing up for local concerns – opposing Heathrow expansion, fighting for Kneller Hall – and for standing up for those who need help such as single parents on tax credits and unaccompanied refugee children.

6. You’ve said you are in the ‘remain’ camp for the forthcoming EU Referendum. What is that decision based on and do you think it reflects the views of your constituents?

I have based my decision on our economic needs for small businesses and on security. While I describe myself as ‘Euro cautious’ I believe we can be strongest in a reformed EU.

7. You’ve come in for criticism, especially on social media, after voting for cuts to ESA disability payments. Planned changes to junior doctors’ contracts are also proving controversial. As a doctor yourself, do you stand by these policies?

ESA will be fully protected for those who are not able to work, but I did support changes for those who can do some work – existing policies to support people with disabilities to find work have not been as effective as they should have been. I have met with disability groups and individuals with disabilities in Twickenham about the 2017 changes for new claimants and I share their concerns that current work programmes are not helping enough people. The changes to ESA need to go hand-in-hand with better, more individual support for claimants to find work.

On the junior doctor contract, I have met with the junior doctors and with Jeremy Hunt and have urged both to negotiate without pre-conditions. I do not agree with the Government’s move to impose the contract, but nor do I support the strike action. It is only through negotiation and compromise that a reasonable solution will be reached.

8. Heathrow expansion. You’re opposed to it but isn’t it just a matter of time before it happens anyway?

Whatever the Government decides, I will continue to fight for a ‘better not bigger’ Heathrow, and I will do all I can to oppose a third runway. I believe that pollution concerns will ultimately stop expansion anyway – noise and air quality are already unacceptably poor for too many people in Twickenham and beyond.

9. Now you’re an MP rather than ‘just’ a local councillor, how do you view your role in terms of getting involved in local issues? Could you ever see yourself disagreeing with LBRuT?

My job is to speak up for my constituents and this will mean disagreeing with my own party either in government or in the council – and that has already happened on some issues. I am, however, able to discuss my concerns with local government colleagues.

10. And finally, what are your priorities for the year ahead?

Nationally, I will continue to push for the issues I stood on at the election : a strong economic policy to maintain lower personal taxation, and low corporation taxes and investment allowances support local small businesses. I will continue to promote engineering and science in our schools. I will also continue to support human rights both in the UK and abroad.

Locally, I will continue to oppose Heathrow expansion and push for the airport to do more to tackle current levels of noise and air pollution. I will fight for better rail services and CrossRail 2 for our constituency; I will fight to keep a military presence at Kneller Hall; and I will fight for better flood defences.

 

You’ll probably be pleased with some of what you just read. You’ll probably be displeased with some of what you just read. Please feel free to delete as applicable. Well, actually you can’t delete it but you could always add a comment below.

 

Spring sprung?

Twickenham from Eel Pie Island bridge

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Pics of the Week: Spring & Water

If you can’t always remember what’s great about living in Twickenham then spring mornings and spring tides should be near the top of your list. Need some photos to remind you? Here’s four for you then.

Looking towards Radnor Gardens

Looking up river towards the Heart of Darkness (aka Teddington)

Early doors, Twicke-side

The Thames, early doors, Twick-side

Oh no, not again.

Oh no, you’ve only gone and bloody parked there again.

Arriving at The White Swan in style

Arriving at The White Swan in style

There are probably a bunch of other reasons too but we’ll come back to them another time (when we actually remember them).

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