You will be looking forward to this year’s Rugby World Cup with either excitement or dread. Or indifference. Indifference might not be the best option given that the event is going to have a much greater impact on the town than the usual Six Nations and Autumn International matches.
The tournament begins with England v Fiji on 18th September, the first of ten games at Twickenham Stadium over a six week period. In addition to the usual match day stuff that you’ll be well used to by now, there will be international teams based locally ‘for training purposes’, visitors staying in the town (no doubt you’re registering with airbnb as you read this) and a ‘Festival of Rugby’ across El Brute’s domain with arts and music events as well as oval ball related antics. Oh, and there’s an agreement ‘in principle’ to close sections of the A316 on match days. Yikes. In other words, Twickenham will be busy.
If you want to find out more about these arrangements to help you prepare (or perhaps to help you plan your escape) then El Brute are running a series of community briefings in the coming weeks. There are business briefings on 27th February and 3rd and 12th March. These are now fully booked although the resulting FAQs will be made available online afterwards.
Briefings for residents (that’s people like you, btw) will take place between 5th and 23rd March. Details are:
* Thursday 5th March, 6.30 – 8.30pm, Chase Bridge School, Whitton
* Monday 9th March, 6.30 – 8.30pm, Turks Head pub, St Margarets (Full, apparently)
* Tuesday 17th March, 6.30 – 8.30pm, Clarendon Hall, York House, Twickenham
* Monday 23rd March, 6.30 – 8.30pm, Richmond Adult Community College, Parkshot, Richmond
* LBRuT – briefings page
* El Brute RWC main page
* Rugby World Cup 2015
The school report about delivering more much needed primary school places in Twickenham would say something like, ‘needs improvement’.
Ryde House, Richmond Road, East Twickenham
This time it’s East Twickenham that’s in a state of agitation and not without foundation. The plan for a new free school, Richmond Bridge Primary, took a knock recently when the peeps who are setting it up, Bellevue Place Education Trust, announced that they’d found a suitable site… in Richmond. So, the school that’s going to open in September 2015 is no longer Richmond Bridge Primary, it’s now Old Deer School and it’s going to be on Lower Mortlake Road, TW9. Good news for Richmond but bad news for East Twickenham and St Margarets. The trust says it will still welcome applications from TW1 types to the new school and that it still intends to open a school in the East Twickenham area in the future. (Do you remember the future? It was going to be a place full of wonderful things)
Once again it all boils down to the thorny issue of finding a suitable site. Ryde House on Richmond Road had been the intended location but with Lidl now planning to convert it into a supermarket, the school had to find a home elsewhere. Locals are now ramping up the campaign to get a primary school sorted for East Twickenham and have set up a website and petition to focus attention on the issue.
Elsewhere we wait to see what happens next in the saga of Twickenham Green Primary School whose proposed site, Heathgate House, squeezed between Colne Road and Heath Road didn’t impress Green-siders last December. And there’s a final call on another chance to comment (yes, really!) on the plans to turn the RUTC Egerton Road site into the Richmond Education and Enterprise Campus aka REEC. How. Many. Times? An outline planning application for that is expected in February.
We have to assume that all this location-related malarkey is well within the parameters of what Michael Gove would have expected when championing the free schools approach. We called the Department for Education to ask him to comment on the matter only to find that he’d been shunted sideways to the Chief Whip post. Some might observe that while Richmond Bridge Primary has gone east, Gove’s career might be heading south.
* East Twickenham Village site
* SET – Schools for East Twickenham
* Richmond Bridge Primary School – now to be called Deer Park School, TW9
* Lidl – Richmond Road
* REEC (comment deadline 30th Jan)
Filed under Council, Schools
The seat of El Brute power
The dream of an independent Twickenham took another blow this week when Richmond and Wandsworth Councils announced plans to create a ‘shared staffing arrangement’ across the two boroughs. The expectation is that the new model will deliver savings of £10m per annum in the two local authorities once it goes live in March 2017.
Fans of El Brute can take some reassurance that the each council will retain its separate status with its own elected officials. So, if you were expecting some kind of super-authority with fewer councillors you’ll be disappointed. Ah well, another time maybe. The arrangement will initially deliver savings in management costs but cost reductions in service commissioning and provision are expected to follow.
At the top of the tree the two councils will be managed by a single Chief Executive and single Deputy Chief Exec. These are expected to be Paul Martin, currently Chief Executive at Wandsworth (Richmond’s Gillian Norton will retire in 2016) with Mark Maidment as his Deputy (currently El Brute’s Director of Finance and Corporate Services). Well, at least the head honcho issue has been resolved nice and early.
And as for Kingston Council with which Richmond had been flirting for some time in search of new ways to jointly commission and provide services, El Brute Leader Lord True, aka the Blue Baron, said, “We could not agree on a single, joint management approach which could work effectively for both authorities”. Bam! So, it looks like a case of, “Sod you, you can have the bloody Gloriana and be done with it”.
With councils across the country needing to make big savings, it makes sense for them to look for new ways to cut costs. What this means for the residents and businesses of Richmond, Wandsworth and, of course, Twickenham who use their services remains to be seen. Indeed, what this means for those currently employed by the two councils remains to be seen too. The intention is that each council will retain its own identity and be able to focus on its own priorities. How this new model actually works in practice with a shared infrastructure supporting two boroughs is likely to be the biggest challenge of the new approach. What does it all mean? Will it succeed? Only you know the answers to those questions… and our dear leaders, of course.
* Richmond Council Press Release
Gloriana at Twickenham in 2012
After last summer’s Battle of Orleans Gardens, it looks as if the royal row barge Gloriana will be going to Kingston. The site in question is Canbury Gardens. According to the Kingston Guardian, barge boss Lord Sterling has written to Kingston Council saying that the non-tidal location would be ‘an ideal home for Gloriana’. The intention, at least on Lord S’s part, is that the project can ‘meet a deadline of June 2016′. Kingston Council are supportive of the plan. It will be interesting to see more details on exactly what’s being proposed, who’s going to be paying for it and what the locals think.
As you probably know, Canbury Gardens already has a large boathouse and pub and so whatever gets built for Gloriana would be in good company. Good location? Bad location? Most would agree that it’s a better location than Orleans Gardens.
* Kingston Guardian link
Give us a wave!
So you don’t want more planes groaning their way over your house on their way into and out of Heathrow Airport? You are not alone. You think Gatwick might be a better option. Or Bournemouth even? You are, perhaps, a bit of a nimby. Don’t worry, that’s not only normal, it’s sometimes even laudable. Or maybe you think we shouldn’t be facilitating more flights at all, most of which probably aren’t really necessary. Well, get you and your green credentials! On the other side of the debate, who’s shouting loudest for more aircraft capacity? It’s Heathrow of course. That’ll be Heathrow Airport, the airport owned by Ferrovial of Spain, whose primary concern is (or at least should be) keeping its shareholders happy. Its priority is not protecting local jobs or supporting a community or even boosting the UK economy generally. Heathrow is a business. If building a hub airport in the Thames Estuary or on the sleepy village of Upton-upon-Dupton made better commercial sense than expanding Heathrow, they’d be all over it like a rash. If they could outsource a third runway to India, they’d be strategising it and workshopping it right now. That’s fine, and that’s why nimbys are fine too.
Good news for fans of the footbridge across the A316 at St Margarets roundabout. As you will recall, last summer TfL proposed to do away with the footbridge and install a new ‘toucan crossing’ facility at the site. Cue much outrage from regular crossing users, not least the pupils (and parents) at St Stephen’s Junior School just next door. Improved crossings seemed sensible but doing away with the footbridge, perhaps the safest way to get across the road, seemed more like a way of saving money on repairs than improving anyone’s road crossing ‘experience’.
After an online consultation and much lobbying from various quarters TfL have now announced a revised plan. The new “at-grade two stage toucan crossing facility” (their words, not ours) will be installed as planned but the bridge will now be retained (and maintained) for a further two years beyond the installation of the crossing. TfL have also announced that they will consult again in the event that further proposals to remove the bridge are put forward. So, it seems that after much debate, discussion and plenty of bridge-related photo opportunities, a sensible outcome has been reached.
The new crossing will be in place by the time the Rugby World Cup begins in September of 2015. Happy now?
* TFL A316 consultation page
It’s fair to say that some things remain totally baffling to us here at twickerati HQ. How apples fell from trees before Isaac Newton invented gravity is one. The success of the television career of Nick Knowles is another. And, although it might seem strange to say it, the state of Church Street in Twickenham is yet another.
A flowered up Church Street
Do people love Church Street? They surely do. It’s everyone’s favourite Twickenham street, isn’t it? Al fresco dining in summer; French markets; Christmas lights; a couple of great pubs; some quirky shops, a smattering of local businesses and a decent selection of restaurants. All great. Is it a roaring success? Maybe, a bit. Sometimes the place is buzzing. And yet on the other hand we continue to see empty shops – Par Ici, Escape, Langtons, and Mercado to name but four. Complement to name five. Take a look around on weekdays and even weekends and you’ll see that it’s not exactly heaving. Where is everyone? As a shopper you’re more likely to have to step aside for a passing car than as a result of the press of fellow punters.
Where are you? Mid morning on a mild October Saturday
And yet, look at just about any promotional publication or website focusing on Twickenham and you can be pretty damn sure that lil’ old Church Street will feature. And rightly so. But where are the millers, the bustlers, the browsers and the leisure pursuitists? Some might be in the shops but the others are, well, elsewhere.
Sandycombe Lodge, the house designed by the painter JMW Turner and used as his ‘country retreat’ between 1813 and 1826 will be saved thanks to a £1.4m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The villa in Sandycoombe Road, Twickenham (yeah, so what if it’s really St Margarets, deal with it!) can now be restored and opened to the public. Although the house does currently allow for some visitors, it’s on English Heritage’s ‘at risk’ list and in need of significant restoration. Turner designed the house himself although the original structure has been modified since Turner sold it in 1826. These modifications will be removed as part of the work. After the completion of the project it is expected that the house will be open for 46 weeks of the year from 2016 and will include state of the art visitor information and offer an expanded range of educational programmes.
Good news, and well done to all those Turner in Twickenham fans who worked hard to make this happen.
Turner’s House, Twickenham
Next stop: Rebuild the Temeraire!
* Turner’s House
* BBC News
Big congratulations are in order for Twickenham-based inventor Trevor Baylis on being awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours List. Mr Baylis, an engineer, inventor (and sometime swimmer and stuntman) has invented and patented numerous products over a long and varied career but is most famous for inventing the wind-up radio. He was awarded an OBE in 1997. Mr Baylis has continued to develop new products and, through his company Trevor Baylis Brands, has campaigned to improve the way inventors and their inventions are treated in the UK, help them protect their intellectual property and bring their products to market. As of 2015, he can now add a CBE to his collection of awards.
Trevor Baylis has lived on Eel Pie Island for over 40 years and if you’ve not seen him strolling around the town then perhaps you’ve seen him out in his classic E-type Jag, another great British invention. How very appropriate!
* Trevor Baylis Brands
* BBC News
* Richmond & Twickenham Times