In the leafy suburbia of Twickenham and Richmond it’s sometimes easy to overlook the very real problem of homelessness that exists in our local area. Not so for SPEAR. The Twickenham based charity has a strong track record for its excellent work tackling homelessness across the borough and more widely across south west London. This year SPEAR marks its 30th anniversary with what must surely be mixed emotions. It’s a great achievement to have played a key role in helping people in need for three decades but this must be balanced with concern that it still has a vital role to play in 2017. In fact, the demand for SPEAR’s services is increasing and SPEAR is needed as much today as 30 years ago when founded by Penny Wade.
The Penny Wade House hostel
To mark its 30 years, a special Anniversary event is taking place on the evening of Tuesday 11th July at Richmond Adult Education College It is not just a celebration of those SPEAR has supported from Homelessness to Independence, but also recognises the tremendous hurdles the charity and its supporters have faced in helping those most vulnerable over the last 30 years. The words of SPEAR’s founder Penny Wade are still relevant today: ‘No-one should die because they don’t have a home’.
Being based on Heath Road in the heart of Twickenham, SPEAR continues to be thankful for all the support given from the local community, to those most vulnerable. One local client said: “I’ve never looked back and never spent a night on the streets since – there is nothing like SPEAR in other boroughs and I feel lucky to know them – they give me what I need and more and I wouldn’t be here without them”.
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.
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
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
The was mild panic on Christmas morning across a swathe of South West London (and yes, that includes Twickenham) after a water pump failed at Thames Water’s Hampton works leaving thousands of homes with no water. Here at twickerati HQ the pressure dropped to a level that there was just a trickle from the kitchen tap. For others in TW1 and TW2 there was no water whatsoever. Not ideal, especially on Christmas Day. And what does one do in a situation like that? One takes to Twitter of course! Plenty of questions were being asked about when the service would be restored but also about whether it was possible to cook sprouts in wine and drink only alcohol for the day. The White Swan were quick to point out that although they had no water they did have plenty of booze.
For those attempting to cook Christmas dinner there was there great debate about whether to press on or postpone. Even at twickerati HQ the monumental step was taken to defer the arrival of 12 guests for an hour and a half as we waited for updates from Thames Water…. so there are always some positives to come out of situations of adversity.
After a few hours the problem was fixed, water was restored and thousands realised how reliant we all are on seemingly simple things like having water on tap (literally). But how was it for you?
Some tap water: in happier times
In January we did something of a bumper High Street Update as it had been many months since our last shops-related confession. But that was January and this is now and there’s more to tell. Things have happened. In telling you this tale we’re going to go with the theme of brevity and we hope you’re going to buy into it because we really need you with us on this journey. Let us begin…
Food Sanctuary, new on York Street
Marc Jason’s Shoeworld, purveyors of cheap footwear to the TWs is closing down. To be fair, with its endless sales and discount banners it has always looked as if it’s been on the brink of closing but the words ‘closing down’ in the window do seem to be a big, big clue as to its current state. We don’t know if Marc Jason has other ‘worlds’ beyond Shoeworld but it does seem to be the end of the line for this particular Heath Road outlet. The shop has lasted longer than you might think although we do say this without any insights as to how your brain actually works. So, how long do you think it’s been open? Two years? Three? And the answer is…. almost four and a half years. Plenty of other places have come and gone in that time. Continue reading
There’s bad news on the local jobs and business front today. Greggs, purveyors of bread, pies and pasties to the nation, has announced that it is to close three of its UK bakeries as part of a corporate re-organisation. The three facing closure are in Edinburgh, Lincolnshire and in Gould Road right here in Twickenham. The company expects to lose 355 jobs as part of the process which is designed to shift focus away from being a traditional baker and more towards selling ‘food-on-the-go’ products. Yes, and these can even include salads. At the same time, the company has said it intends to upgrade its Enfield bakery in north London.
What does this all mean for the large Greggs site tucked away in the side streets between the Green and the River Crane? It’s too early to speculate… but we will anyway. Would a business of similar scale move in there? Seems unlikely so perhaps it’s time to start a book on whether it gets divided up into industrial units, turned into a school or, let’s hazard a wild guess here, gets snapped up for extensive residential development.
So, no more bakery trucks clattering through the narrow roads but it’s bad news for business, bad news for jobs and bad news for those who enjoy the smell of doughnuts wafting through the TW2 evening air.
Greggs Bakery, Gould Road, Twickenham
* BBC News
There’s growing concern locally about the recent Ministry of Defence announcement of plans to sell Kneller Hall. The sale of the Hall in Whitton will form part of wider MoD property strategy to raise funds and plug funding gaps. It is sure to have developers rubbing their hands at the prospect of acquiring the listed building and its adjoining land. Kneller Hall is home to the Royal Military School of Music and has been home to Army bands since it was taken on by the War Office in 1857. The prospect of breaking that 150 year link and seeing the listed building pass into private ownership has met with strong opposition from local people, local councillors of both the blue and yellow persuasion and Twickenham MP Tania Mathias.
Dr Mathias has said she was ‘dismayed’ to hear the announcement of the plans and that she will be fighting against them. She has asked to meet with ministers to try to persuade them to reverse the decision. Meanwhile Council Leader Nick True, aka the Blue Baron, has got himself into ‘slamming mode’ once again. In an El Brute press release he says, “This is a decision which the people of Twickenham and Richmond-upon-Thames Council will seek to resist in any way possible… Kneller Hall is an important piece of not just local, but national cultural and military heritage. It should not be tossed away to please junior accounting clerks in the Treasury with no understanding of the place of military music in London’s life and our nation’s military history.” Wallop! ‘Ave it! In your faces ‘Junior accounting clerks in the Treasury’, you have been warned!
An online petition has been set up to try to save the Kneller Hall from being sold off. To be continued…
* Save Kneller Hall Facebook
* Online Petition
* Richmond Council page
* Tania Mathias MP page
* Kneller Hall – Army site
* Kneller Hall – wikipedia
Extract of design from LBRuT website
Arguments over the plans for Twickenham riverside rumble on as LBRuT’s 11th December deadline for feedback fast approaches. The idea for the newly purchased site running down Water Lane from King Street to the river hasn’t met with universal approval. OK, forget universal approval, it doesn’t even seem to have met with widespread Twickenham approval. We recently ran a simple 24 hour poll on Twitter. It read: “What’s your view on LBRuT’s new design concept for the Twickenham Riverside development?” and it offered a choice of two options:
(a) Broadly right
(b) Simply wrong
121 voted, not a large sample we’ll admit and not a very scientific poll but the results were:
(a) Broadly right 37%
(b) Simply wrong 63%
Interesting. Comments on other social media platforms tell a similar story. The Richmond & Twickenham Times ran their own poll and managed to find a few more people in favour, but not too many more.
King St / Water Lane
There’s no local issue guaranteed to get Twickenham people all fired up quite like the fate of the old swimming pool site by the river. Apart from Heathrow expansion, the RFU, the Gloriana boathouse debacle, schools, cycle lanes and traffic that is, but let’s put them to one side for a second.
When it comes to the saga of the old Twickenham Baths site, or more specifically the piece of land running from Water Lane down to Embankment then this week is an important one. It’s time for the big reveal. Woohoo! This is the week when you get to see LBRuT’s plans for a town square (and other stuff) which will, so we are told, ‘give a focus to the town’ and help open up the space between King Street and Twickenham’s greatest asset. And by ‘greatest asset’ we don’t mean the twickerati ice cream van or even that giant pink rugby ball, we mean the riverside. The concept being promoted by El Brute is a ‘regency style’ development complete with covered arcade, colonnade and amphitheatre. Well, at least we can say that there’s not a lot of that in Twickenham town centre at the moment. Continue reading