When we ran our April fool item about Richmond Council selling naming rights to the proposed Twickenham Town Square we didn’t really expect many people to take it seriously. In fact, we didn’t expect anybody to take it seriously. Imagine our delight when we discovered that someone had written to the Richmond and Twickenham Times to complain that the idea ‘lacks class’. Quite right too! Whether they really fell for it or just wanted to build on the joke we’re not entirely sure, but either way we appreciate that they took the time to write to their local paper about it. Respect, and indeed thanks, are due to Mr or Mrs “Name and address supplied”. Sir / Madam, we salute you!
Who’s fooling who?
* The original item
(complete with a couple of very minor edits made after midday on 1st April)
UPDATE 17/04/15: The Council and Sandys have now reached a solution to this issue. The flowers will stay! According to an El Brute press release: “In response to the Council’s request for action Sandys reduced their A-boards to one and pulled back their plants from along the pavements’ edge. There was some continuing uncertainty over the size of the planters that the Council had suggested could be retained, but losing Sandys’ flower display was not the aim. The Council and Sandys have now agreed that the existing tiered planters will stay”. We hear that part of the original ‘misunderstanding’ revolved around differing interpretations between Councillors and Council officials of how strict the enforcement of the regulations should be. Either way, we’re pleased the floral displays will stay. Or as they might say in Sandys, “brill”.
Town square site, Water Lane
The saga of the Twickenham Action Plan aka the TWAP has taken yet another twist. Regular readers will be aware of the Council’s purchase of the Santander site in Water Lane with the intention of opening up the space down to the river and creating a new town square. So far, so good, you might think. But now it seems that financial pressures caused by the lengthy road and pavement work have led LBRuT to seek new solutions for completing the project and managing the costs. In a press release from York House, Richmond Council have announced that corporate sponsorship may be used to shore up the scheme and generate a stream of much needed revenue. The document quotes El Brute’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, Geoffrey Samuel (from Central Casting) as saying, “We have been looking at options to keep costs down for hard pressed Council Tax payers and have agreed to sell naming rights to the new Twickenham Square in much the same way that football stadia and concert venues do. We believe this innovative approach will be welcomed by the residents of Twickenham. Furthermore, we have already agreed a naming deal with the FM Conway the contractors who have been working tirelessly to improve Twickenham’s roads and pavements for many, many months. We believe that when complete, Twickenham’s newly named “FM Conway Square” will be a real asset to the town”.
Conway: Proud sponsor?
The Council have also indicated that the naming rights would be re-tendered every five years and that there has already been significant interest in the proposal from a range of parties including various telecoms companies, Heathrow Airport and even the retailer Poundland. Naming rights to Water Lane may also be included as part of the arrangement which will almost certainly upset some vocal locals. It’s rumoured that Thames Water Plc may be considering this as an option.
So, are you looking forward to picnicking and partying in FM Conway Square? Or is it time to break out the banners and rock up to York House to campaign to get the name “Twickenham Square” placed firmly on the map?
If you want to complain to LBRuT you have until midday on 1st April in which to do so.
* Full LBRuT Press Release
* April Fools Day – Wikipedia
It’s an important Council meeting. Topics of relevance to the people of the Borough are up for discussion. You’re part of the opposition group. You want to scrutinise the plans of those in power and hold them to account. And so how do you decide to do this? Why, through the medium of Scrabble of course. What’s not to love about this picture from last Tuesday’s Council meeting at El Brute as snapped by Twickenham Riverside Tory Councillor Helen Hill.
It shows ‘Elengorn’ (he’s a Liberal Democrat Councillor for Teddington as opposed to a character in Lord of the Rings) having a dabble at Scrabble on his tablet. As Councillor Hill told us, “I was surprised to see him playing board games during an important budget meeting”. Quite.
Anyone for Scrabble?
(Picture credit: Helen Hill)
Speaking up in his own defence, Cllr Elengorn is quoted on the Richmond and Twickenham Times website as saying, “The only way of making it through Councillor Samuel’s bombastic boasts is to try and distract the mind. Unfortunately, I am capable of doing two things at once and every word registered. I don’t think I was the only one playing games, but I won’t name names”. Oh go on, please do!
Meanwhile the outcome of the meeting was that El Brute confirmed its budget for 2015/16 including Council tax remaining frozen for another year. However some fees and charges will increase to cover reductions in grants from central government.
* Richmond & Twickenham Times – Council Tax Freeze
Surely everyone likes a nice bit of pavement don’t they? In Twickenham they’re all the rage, although it’s now becoming hard to remember a time when there weren’t any road or pavement works going on somewhere in the town centre. When Ian Curtis sang, “Where will it end?” in Day of the Lords it’s unlikely he was commenting on roadworks in his own hometown of Macclesfield but he might well have been. London Road, King Street and Church Street are all in a ‘state of transition’ at the moment but as we wait for them to finish, if you do have any memories of a time before roadworks, please feel free to share them on our Nostalgia page.
Roadworks roll on
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
Twickenham hasn’t always made best use of its Thames-side location. It’s perfectly possible to pass through the town without realising that the main drag passes just 100 metres from the river.
Water Lane site, Twickenham
That looks set to change with the Council’s acquisition of the large site on the corner of Water Lane and King Street currently occupied by Santander, Superdrug and M&Co. It’s a TWAP* thing, of course. The plan is to redevelop the site to create a ‘town square’ at the top of Water Lane, provide better access to the river and the Diamond Jubilee Gardens (possibly including some kind of outdoor performance space), and create a mixed use development incorporating retail outlets and residential properties. Sounds good. What’s not to like?
Council supremo Lord True, aka the Blue Baron, said, “The separation of Twickenham Town from the historic riverside, that was so critical to the development of the area, has long been regretted by local people, and led to wide spread under appreciation of the quality of the unique place. By acquiring the properties, the Council is fulfilling a promise to enable the creation of a new heart and square for Twickenham that will unite town and river again”. Cue air punching and stirring music.