Tag Archives: london

Cable Takes Lead

Vince Cable

Twickenham’s MP Sir Vince Cable has become leader of the Liberal Democrats after no other candidates stood against him. He has previously served as deputy leader of the party and in the cabinet of the Conservative Lib Dem coalition from 2010 t0 2015. Having first become Twickenham’s MP in 1997, Cable was deposed by Conservative Tania Mathias in the 2015 General Election only to regain his old seat in June of this year. The 74 year old takes over from Tim Farron who stood down after the election. Cable is a vocal Europhile and has said he feared the UK was ‘heading for a disastrous outcome’ over leaving the EU and said he felt there should be an ‘exit from Brexit’.

But what does all this mean for little old Twickenham you cry? etc etc. Probably not a huge amount – less time for constituency matter perhaps – but we wish him well with the new gig. Someone’s got to do it, we suppose.

LINK:
* BBC News

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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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RideLondon for SPEAR

Many of you will have had that familiar feeling when the mail comes through the letterbox and you just know it’s not going to be you — again. Another opportunity missed. Another chance to prove yourself among peers gone. Maybe next year. Maybe.

Or maybe this year. For those who like me, were rejected again by RideLondon (WHY ME?!?), there is still hope, and not only hope but the promise of helping others as well as testing yourself against the fastest.

It's a 'no'. But it doesn't have to be

It’s a ‘no’. But it doesn’t have to be

Local homelessness charity SPEAR have RideLondon places for cyclists willing to raise sponsorship for them. For an initial registration fee of just £30, you can secure a place to ride the 100 miles from the Olympic Park to the Surrey Hills before heading back to a spectacular finish on The Mall.

If you’re not aware of what SPEAR does, it’s been going for almost 30 years. Set up by local resident Penny Wade after two homeless people died in 1986 when sleeping rough in Richmond, SPEAR helps people from homelessness to independence. Initially a night shelter was started, but this became permanent accommodation on Kew Road in Richmond, now known as Penny Wade House, able to provide 14 people at a time with the chance to make a fresh start away from the streets.  SPEAR now operates across south and west London. Its head office is on Heath Road, Twickenham. Continue reading

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Pic of the Week: High Tides in Twickenham

The last few days have seen some very high tides in Twickenham complete with the usual array of flooded cars on Embankment. We especially liked this photo from near St Mary’s Church taken by @twickerman and posted on Twitter. Not bad, eh?

Eel Pie Island, High Tide (Feb 2016) Photo credit: @twickerman

Eel Pie Island, High Tide (Feb 2016)
Photo credit: @twickerman

Take care out there… and park wisely!

LINK:
* Government Flood Warnings Map
* Environment Agency Flood Alerts

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Turner’s House Launches Crowd Funding Appeal

Twelve months ago we reported how the Twickenham ‘country retreat’ of artist JMW Turner had received Heritage Lottery funding to carry out essential restoration work and put in facilities to open it up to the public. It was a good news story to kick off 2015.  However, it now seems that the funds raised so far aren’t going to be quite enough to finish the job so now the Turner’s House Trust is looking to make up the difference from crowdsourced funding. (That’s the like of you lot, btw). A £25,000 target has been set.

Turner's House, Twickenham

Turner’s House, Twickenham

The Grade II listed house, Sandycombe Lodge, was designed by Turner in 1813 and used by him until he sold it in 1826. Heritage Lottery funding and other grants and donations have contributed to the majority of the £2.4m project costs but a last push to close the funding gap is now running until early March.

According to a BBC News report ‘inflation and building costs’ have meant the original estimates for the work had to be revised upwards. Donors are being offered inducements such as preview tours ahead of public opening and a printmaking workshop led by artist Sasa Marinkov. Time to dig deep for this piece of local history?

In the meantime, if anyone has ever met a builder who’s looked at a half-finished job, folded their arms across their chest, nodded solemnly and said, “Great news, this project is actually going to come in under budget!” we suggest you put them in touch with Turners House Trust asap. In fact, why not tell all of us.

 

LINKS:

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Twickenham MP Votes for Syria Air Strikes

Tania Mathias

Tania Mathias

Twickenham’s new Conservative MP Tania Mathias last night voted in favour of air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria. Dr Mathias who has previously worked with refugees in Gaza and also marched against the Iraq war in 2003, said the situation faced today was different. “I believe that Daesh has effectively declared war on us. I do believe Tunisia and the seven thwarted attacks are effectively acts of war… Today I do believe it is different”. In the conclusion to her speech she fought to control her emotions as she said, “When I go through the ayes lobby, it will be for the refugees and it will be for the security in Twickenham”.

LINK
* Daily Mail (with video)

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Heathrow Third Runway Gets The Nod

Insert planes here ^ ^ ^

Insert planes here ^ ^ ^

So there you have it. SO. THERE. YOU… oh hang on a minute, let’s just wait for that plane to pass…

… There, that’s better.

So there you have it, we’re gonna take one for the team! The Davies Report into UK airport expansion has been published and recommends a third runway at Heathrow. We can exclusively reveal that no one at all expresses much surprise at that but that plenty of people will express anger and some will express joy, not least the airport’s Spanish owner Ferrovial and its shareholders. Get ready for tens of thousands of extra flights a year… although not for a while yet.

The Commission focused on the business case for the UK, looking at growth, jobs and trade whilst trying to give due consideration to issues such as noise, pollution and pressure on infrastructure. On the business case, it does feel like a bigger Heathrow was always going to be the winner. The Commission says a third runway will add “£147bn in economic growth and 70,000 jobs by 2050”. But of course life isn’t just about pure economics, if it were, Londoners might as well start campaigning for devolution from the rest of the UK.

The report recommends that strict conditions be applied around a commitment to no night flights and no fourth runway as well as other protections around noise, etc. You know, the kind of stuff that will get chipped away at quite quickly. The Sir Howard Davies ruled out the ‘extended’ second runway plan at Heathrow but expansion at Gatwick is billed as ‘credible option’ giving politicians a get-out clause if opposition to Heathrow all gets a bit too much for them.

So what next? We can expect a lot of rubbishing of the recommendations from the various opposition groups, or “report slamming” to use the correct phrase. And we can also expect a few smug and self-satisfied tweets from the Back Heathrow boys. You might be thinking there’s no difference between smug and self-satisfied but we’re playing safe here and reckoning they’ll be ticking both boxes ‘for the community’.

Boris and Zac will be rolled out to voice their objections and we can expect “our Tania” to do the same. Probably. Richmond Council leader Lord ‘The Blue Baron’ True has already come out, all guns blazing with his own brand of slamming. In an LBRuT press release he says: “In a democracy people look to their Government to listen to the voice of Londoners, who already contribute massively more than any other community in Europe in accepting airport pollution, noise and danger. Ministers should bin this flawed report; they should not put the self-interest of the big overseas interests who own Heathrow and their paid lobbyists before the reasoned case of Londoners”.

It’s gonna get nasty. It’s gonna get noisy. And, after all of that, there are plenty of folk saying it still might not ever happen. Or will it?

LINKS:
* The Commission Report
* BBC News
* El Brute Press Release
* Teddington (& Twickenham) Action Group
* Back Heathrow

Plane landing at Heathrow

Plane landing at Heathrow

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And Your New MP is… Tania Mathias

And so there we have it. Twickenham has spoken. And so have Hampton, St Margarets and Whitton. Even little old Teddington piped up. Bless. The polling stations have closed and the votes have been counted.  The result? Vince Cable is ousted and we have the Conservative Tania Mathias as our MP for the next 5 years.

Are you surprised? We are. It’s one of the shocks of the night.

It was always going to be a two horse race between Vince Cable, Twickenham’s MP since 1997, starting off as clear favourite with his 12,000 majority, and the Tories’ Tania Mathias. A tale of two doctors, if you will. Over recent weeks Tania Mathias and her fellow Conservatives have been busy trying to chip away at the Liberal Democrat lead and even overturn it but it’s felt like something that they’ve been working on, if not for this election, then for the next one whenever that might be. Last minute visits to Twickenham by Messrs Clegg and Cameron added to the excitement and gave a fleeting sense that this might actually be a seat where an upset could take place but was a Lib Dem victory in real doubt? It didn’t feel like it but then again politics is a funny old game.  They might well have taken a battering elsewhere but Twickenham seemed a relatively safe seat for the Lib Dems. In the end Cable’s 12,000 majority was overturned to give a 2,000 majority to Mathias. It’s a big big swing from yellow to blue. In his speech on the platform Cable said it was a “terrible night” for the Lib Dems and put the result down to a “well organised national campaign by the Conservatives”. For her part Mathias was gracious in paying tribute to his long service as an “amazing local MP for Twickenham” who it will be an “absolute privilege to follow”.

So, after 18 years as Twickenham’s voice in parliament Vince Cable must find something else to do with his time and Tania Mathias will have to get ready for a new career ‘up West’.

And what of the other candidates? Labour’s Nick Grant finished third picking up more votes for Labour than in 2010, with Barry Edwards of UKIP and Tanya Williams of the Greens trailing in behind. Again, no surprises there. Despite all the heated UKIP-related debate on this site and elsewhere, there was no big change to the landscape in the political garden here in Twickers.

Six candidates. Five are now disappointed

Six candidates. Five are now disappointed

What does all this mean for the next Government? After having a high profile MP for many years and a member of the cabinet for the last five,  Twickenham’s MP will be a backbencher. At this precise point in time we don’t know the final outcome of the election but a very narrow Conservative majority looks likely. If it isn’t it may be a while before we get any sense of what coalitions might be viable. As they might say in the non-existent film Carry on Governing, “Just how well hung is our parliament going to be?” It’ll take a little while longer to find out. Discovering what it all means locally for the likes of schools policy, Heathrow expansion, job creation, affordable housing and mansion taxes may take longer still.

And that’s all for the moment, we say ‘Thank you and farewell’ to Dr Cable and ‘Congratulations and good luck’ to Dr Mathias.

The 2015 Results
Tania Mathias (Conservative) 25,580
Vince Cable (Liberal Democrat) 23,563
Nick Grant (Labour) 7,129
Barry Edwards (UKIP) 3,069
Tanya Williams (Green) 2,463
Dominic Stockford (Christian Party) 174
David Wedgwood (Magna Carta) 26
Majority 2,017
Turnout 77.3%

The 2010 Results (BBC website)
Vince Cable (Liberal Democrat) 32,483
Deborah Thomas (Conservative) 20,343
Brian Tomlinson (Labour) 4,583
Brian Gilbert (UKIP) 868
Steve Roest (Green) 674
Chris Hurst (BNP) 654
Harry Cole (Citizens for Undead Rights and Equality) 76
Paul Armstrong (Magna Carta Party) 40
Majority 12,140
Turnout 59,721 (74.8%)

LINKS:
* BBC Twickenham Constituency Results
* Cable loses seat – BBC

Our previous General Election items are now both closed to new comments but can still be read here:
*  The ‘All New’ Election Spectacular
*  The Original ‘Defunct’ Election Spectacular

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Twickenham House Fire Caused By Nutella Jar

Nutella jar was used to store loom bands

Nutella jar was used to store loom bands

A blaze which tore through a family home in Twickenham was caused by sunlight refracted through a glass jar on a window sill. The fire took hold on Sunday 15th February at the home of the Murphy family in Fielding Avenue in Twickenham and caused substantial damage to the property and led to the death of the family’s pet dog, Chilli. Mr and Mrs Murphy and their two children (aged 7 and 3) were not at home at the time. London Fire Brigade investigators identified a glass Nutella jar which was being used to hold ‘loom bands’ as the source of the fire. The combination of sun’s rays and glass jar were sufficient to cause blinds in a bedroom to catch fire.

Loom bands

Loom bands

The fire brigade has advised people to be aware of the risks presented by glass and crystal left in direct sunlight. News websites quote the fire brigade as saying that in the last five years there have been 125 fires caused by the sun’s rays and that these can occur in winter as well as in summer. This sad and bizarre story has now even made the news in the USA and Australia.

 

 

Pictures on the London Fire Brigade Flickr stream:
pic1
pic2
pic4

LINKS:
* Get West London
* BBC London
* London Fire Brigade (Flickr)
* New York Post

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