Tag Archives: Richmond Council

Twickenham Riverside Park… not Car Park?

El Brute’s “New Heart for Twickenham” project continues to generate plenty of debate. Not all of it supportive. The designs, the “up to 40” flats, the changes in the scheme, the sheer scale of it, the choice of architect, the disappearing town square (where did it go?). We could go on. We often do. But since our last item on the Great Twickenham Riverside Debate the question of car parking has perhaps been the one that has generated the most agitation. Just bloody well check the hashtag #twickenhamriverside on Twitter if you don’t believe us!  See! It’s a veritable ‘park not car park’ thing.  The deadline for comments on the latest designs is midnight on 11th July. If you’ve not yet had your say, do it now!

 

 

More cars please we’re British!

It’s hard to accept that the current arrangement of having Twickenham Embankment as a giant car park is the best use of this prime riverside space. Yes we 100% agree that Eel Pie Islanders and other locals need somewhere to park but can it really be the case that what we have now represents the very best solution to this conundrum?  It’s a large site and a bit of creativity from those more expert than us ought to be able to work something out. Let’s get the experts in! Use the service road, use parking spaces under the new build, redevelop the whole site with undergound parking? Why not?  Richmond has a car free riverside. Why can’t Twickenham? (Still needs space for a certain ice cream van, obvs.)

Richmond Riverside… with ice cream van and not much else

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True Time is Over at El Brute

The 4th of July marks the final day of the Blue Baron bossing the show at El Brute.  Conservative Council Leader Nick True, aka The Blue Baron aka The Duke of York (House), is stepping down from the role after 7 years in the hot seat. True will also bring to a close his position as Councillor for East Sheen by not standing in next year’s local elections.  He is being replaced as leader by Councillor Paul Hodgins who has yet to be assigned an appropriate twickerati nickname.  Hodgins is Councillor for Barnes and has been gracing the corridors of York house since 2006 where he has most recently been Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools. We’re not privy to the workings of the Council or the local Conservative Party but we might have expected a more high profile name such as Pamela Fleming to get the gig but that’s not the case. Is it a case of going from Lord True to Mr Who?

True’s legacy will be the subject of debate for years if not decades to come. OK, probably not but his quotes in assorted El brute press releases were always entertaining and irritating in equal measure.  He certainly did a lot of “slamming” and of course who could forget his withering request for “A period of silence from certain all too well ventilated local voices”.

He has been vocal in opposition to Heathrow expansion, has presided over the merger of the administrative and commissioning functions of Richmond and Wandsworth Councils and has led an authority which largely kept Council tax flat whilst making savings to its operational budgets and services. In Twickenham the early part of his Baronial Reign saw the redevelopment of the derelict swimming pool site to create the Diamond Jubilee Gardens.

He generated his fair share of controversy too. A campaign against LBRuT’s approval of Solum’s large scale development of Twickenham station was defeated in law.  He also championed the creation of a new Roman Catholic Secondary School with ‘voluntary aided’ status. That also went to legal fisticuffs in which the Baron triumphed again. But he didn’t get his way when it came to the Battle of the Gloriana. When True announced that the park at Orleans Riverside would become home to a large boat house for the former royal barge owned by fellow Lord, Lord Sterling, the locals weren’t impressed.  A very vocal campaign rallied against developing (and paying for) a new greenfield riverside home for the boat and eventually the plan was dropped. True’s dream of a “crystal palace for a fairy craft” (yes real words!) had turned to dust.

True’s Council took the positive step of aquiring the rest of the old pool site and nearby shops to improve Twickenham Riverside but now it will be left to Clls Hodgins and Fleming to carry the torch for Francis Terry’s retro-themed riverside scheme as the debate on the best use of the site rumbles on.

Twickerati van gets LBRuT branding and a special server

We hope that new Leader Paul Hodgins does what’s best for Twickenham, whatever that is and of course only you know that.  And we say, best of luck to Lord True in new ventures… although we’re not sure he’ll take up our suggestion of serving up ice creams from the van. Nice idea though eh?

 

UPDATE

Hodgins (or is that Paul “Whodgins?”) has already announced his own reshuffle of the El Brute Cabinet.  In ‘selected highlights’, David Marlow (South Twickenham) will become Deputy Leader while remaining as Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health.  Pamela Fleming (South Richmond) will also become Deputy Leader and continue as Cabinet Member for Environment, Business and Community. Stephen Speak (North Richmond) takes on the expanded role of Strategic Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance.  Children’s Services and Schools (Hodgins’ former brief) goes to Susan Chappell (Twickenham Riverside).  Two new roles have been introduced: Martin Seymour (Hampton North) takes on the new role of Cabinet Member for Planning and Strategic Development. He’s the lucky lad who will need to help Pamela Fleming sort out Twickenham Riverside, and Gareth Elliott (Whitton) will take up the new post of Cabinet Member for Digital and Technology. What a time to be alive eh?

 

And finally here’s something that is totally unlreated and was definitely not filmed at York House. It’s not a tribute or even a “Trubute”.  We find it amusing though, eh Ted?

 

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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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Filed under Council, High Street Updates, Local Issues & News, Twickenham Action Plan

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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Council Tax Freeze Thaws

The recent years of no or very low increases to Council Tax are over. Residents in the Borough are now seeing bills land on their doormats for increases of around 3.5% as Council budgets come under pressure from cuts to the funding received from central government. With bills frozen from 2009 to 2015 and with a modest increase last year, the new charges mark a big change. Our Dear Leaders at El Brute have said that cuts in these government grants mean that savings of £31m need to be found to cover the shortfall in order to maintain vital services but increasing Council Tax forms part of the plan too. For a Band D property the hike will average out at 3.55%, comprising 3.99% for Richmond’s own council tax and 1.46% towards the Greater London Authority.

A Council Tax pictured recently

LBRuT Deputy Leader, Big Sam (that’s Geoffrey Samuel not Sam Allardyce btw), said “With unprecedented Government cuts to our funding, and increased pressure on social care, it simply isn’t feasible to freeze the tax any more. We now need to find a new way to deliver future services, working more collaboratively with our residents and partners.  This will take time. The only way we can cover the costs of vital services for the next year is to raise Council Tax and the adult social care precept”.  Some of the savings will continue to flow from the merger of Richmond and Wandsworth Councils’ operations functions, others are no doubt ‘tbc’.

The seat of El Brute power

The rise comes at a time when business rates continue to cause concern for many local traders and when newly announced National Insurance increases for the self-employed will add financial pressure to many already feeling the pinch.

So, are you happy that El Brute says it is raising Council Tax to protect important services or hacked off that you’re facing an above inflation rise after years of stable bills? Err, or both at the same time maybe?

LINKS:
* LBRuT Press Release
* LBRuT Council Tax Page

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Another Heathrow Airport Expansion Consultation

If you thought you’d had your fill of chances to ‘have your say’ on the expansion of Heathrow then you’d be wrong. If you thought that as a local resident your views would count for very little when stacked up against those of politicians and business, then you’d be right. Hey ho, that’s the way it goes but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have your say yet again in a brand new exercise. There are even things you can turn up to in Twickenham and other local towns.

This time it’s a Government consultation on their ‘approved’ option for a new third runway to the north west of the current two. It was launched recently and runs until 25th May and so there’s plenty of time for your views to be discounted. In launching the consultation, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling referenced leaving the EU as a reason why building airport capacity at Heathrow is ‘crucial’ for UK growth and thus the endless years of debate about Heathrow have become Brexitified. With Gatwick beaten into second place, expansion at Heathrow looks certain to happen, unless of course it takes so long to reach a final, final, final agreement that Star Trek style teleporting technology supersedes cramming people into giant metal tubes with engines tacked on the sides.  The current thinking seems to be that a new north west runway could be delivered by 2026, so let’s call that 2032 to be on the safe side. It might even be finished before the new Twickenham station!

Plane landing at Heathrow

Plane landing at Heathrow

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Question Time for El Brute at Village Events

Richmond Council, aka El Brute, are running a series of engagement sessions around Twickenham and Strawberry Hill to get your views on the state of the world in God’s Own Outer London Suburb (GOOLS). The sessions take different formats ranging from a Leader’s Question Time, with no less a personage than Lord True, the Blue Baron himself, via drop-in sessions and all the way through to ‘walkabouts’ where you can roam the streets pointing out all the things you don’t like, and maybe some that you do.

It’s part of LBRuT’s grand scheme of  ‘village plans’. These are all about trying to shape how your local area will develop and what the key issues, priorities and opportunities are. El Brute say these will help inform their work on improving the villages (Editor: And towns please! Twickenham is a town!) across the borough.  Previous Question Time sessions have taken place in the last couple of years at various locations, including East Twickenham, St Margarets and Whitton. Lord True’s state carriage will be travelling to Strawberry Hill and to The Stoop in Twickenham.

What’s hot? Parking, pot holes, traffic, schools, planning, noise, empty shops and dare we say the word ‘Riverside’?

Will you be having your say?

 

The seat of El Brute power

York House: The seat of El Brute power

 

 

Upcoming dates
* Wed 11th Jan 6.30 to 8.30pm. Strawberry Hill – Leader’s Question Time at Strawberry Hill Golf Club
* Wed 18th Jan 6.30 to 8.30pm. Twickenham – Leader’s Question Time at The Stoop (Harlequins Rugby Club)
* Sat 25th Feb 10am to 4pm. Strawberry Hill and Twickenham – Drop in consultation at the Emmanuel Centre, St James Church, Popes Grove
* Sun 26th Feb 10.30am to 12.30pm. Strawberry Hill Walkabout – Meet at Emmanuel Centre, St James Church
* More details and more dates in March via the link below

LINK:
* LBRuT Village Plan events

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Council Publishes Twickenham Riverside Feedback

Last week El Brute published the feedback from its most recent exercise to listen to residents’ views on its ideas for Twickenham Riverside.  After getting roundly lambasted, damned, slated and panned after their initial publication, Richmond Council had another go at doing some listening to the locals (by which we mean trying to find support for continuing with their preferred course of action).

Water Lane car park - Twickenham riverside

Water Lane car park – Twickenham riverside

 

What do we know so far?  The Council’s chosen firm of architects was Q&F  Terry. Now that young Francis has separated  from his father’s firm, the Council’s preferred architect is Master F Terry. Same but different? Dunno.  What we do know is that just about everybody in Twickenham wants to see better use of the riverside site and that very few liked the original Terry design proposals – ill-suited architecture, too much residential development, large scale, no clear town square, too much parking by the river (or perhaps not enough depending on your point of view and where you live) were just some of the complaints. Cue more Council ‘listening’ but not much sign of any intention to go back to the drawing board for a wider ‘taking stock’.
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