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?
* LBRuT Press Release
* LBRuT Council Tax Page
Wow! You just won’t believe what Twickenham town centre looks like now!!
Clickbait, eh? Hate or despise it you just can’t ignore it. Here at twickerati HQ we’re not in the business of using sensationalist headlines to try to draw in readers. Well, not all the time anyway but we do allow ourselves the odd exception. So what has been happening over the last few months then? Well, quite a lot since you (almost) asked. Here’s our round up of the recent real changes and the alternative facts on the mean streets of south west London’s premier leafy suburb.
On York Street, estate agents Haart will no longer be where your home is. They’ve closed. You’ll just have to buy or sell your house at one of the many other agents in Twickenham. So sad. Just along from them, poshly named Hugo Oliver, purveyors of luxury bathrooms, is now open for business in what used to be the Rugby Store and before that the Bottoms Up off licence. With Bensons for Beds just across the road and some other new businesses on Heath Road there does seem to be some kind of a ‘home improvementification hub’ developing in the town. That was part of the famous Twickenham Action Plan, aka the TWAP, if you recall.
Hugo Oliver. In the rain.
On London Road, Happicraft has sold its last pram and completed its final 100 piece jigsaw puzzle. As with many other sellers of ‘things’, competition from online retailers proved too strong in the end. Many local parents were sad to see it go. The building is now a pop-up charity shop for the Octavia Foundation. Continue reading
Blame Doris, she did it! Strong winds from Storm Doris on 23rd February brought down a number of trees in the area including this biggun in St Margarets Road. Cue much traffic disruption until it was eventually cleared away. Stuart Ramdeen (@sramdeen82) was on hand to take this photo.
Tree Down! Doris downs tree in St Margarets Road
(Pic: Stuart Ramdeen)
Twitter link: @sramdeen82
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
Here’s a scene that raises one simple question. Why? These new flats on Heath Road, called Twickenham House, have given rise to some comedy paving or perhaps it’s actually modern art, we’re not entirely sure. What seems to have happened is that once upon a time there was a pavement with a line of edging stones next to a building, then some hoardings were put up to allow construction work to take place and then the builders decided to make the line of the hoardings the precise line for the intersection of the old pavement and their attempt at new paving. The result? Something that looks like this…
But is it art?
If that’s the quality of finishing for the outside space we can only hope that they’ve done a better job on the inside. Is it actually finished? We don’t know but we hope Richmond Council’s planning bods are taking a long hard look at it, assuming their eyes can stay focused on it. Paving stones? Paving stoned more like.
new flats with ‘comedy paving’ on Heath Road
You may recall that these are the very same flats where the developers’ boards promised views across Mediterranean rooftops rather than of a suburban railway bridge and a Tesco Express. I suppose we now have to call these things ‘alternative facts’. It’s a funny old world.
Twickenham House on Heath Road
Room with a view… of the Med.
Views across the Med
2017 is up and running, we’re one month in and you’re thinking to yourself, ‘Is this going to be the year when work on Twickenham station finally gets underway?’ You think that but you know, deep down in your heart of hearts that there’s a fair chance it could end up being next year, or the year after, or maybe never. Twickenham Station? Twickenham Stationary more like!
A warm welcome to Twickenham
Word on the street seems to be that Solum Regeneration, the company behind the big development, is planning to finally get things moving in April. It seems so long ago since their overly large mish mash of styles received approval from El Brute’s Planning Wonks. It is a long time ago. Solum has dabbled with the idea of progress but it’s been kicked back on several occasions for whatever reasons. It seems that things have proved a little more complicated than originally envisaged. Add to that part-owner Kier Property selling its share of the Solum joint venture with Network Rail to Capital & Counties Properties Plc and maybe explains part of the dither-fest of the last few years. It might do but Kier are still committed to the Twickenham scheme with C&C moving some of the others forward. So far, so nothing.
A station. In Twickenham
The reality seems to be that Solum and the RFU can’t get themselves organised to agree the dates at which the station work can get underway. There’s rugby (and money) at stake don’t you know. The ‘possession’ dates planned so far for 2017 begin on April 9th and are dotted across the year but some already clash with rugby or NFL games which could see them move yet again. And this is only for ‘enabling works’ such as setting up the temporary ticket office in the car park, moving cables and hoarding off works areas. Mary’s Terrace residents can expect a ring side seat for all this work and it’s not even the big stuff. The message seems to be don’t hold your breath because April 9th could easily become June or September and so on. We’ll just have to see who wins this tedious ‘tug of station love’ between the RFU, Network Rail and Solum.
Here’s what you would have won
Meanwhile the ‘community cultural hub’ slap bang opposite the station which has been something of a mystery in terms of purpose and management will now be run by St Mary’s University.
Obviously to attract students there it’s going to require them to walk past about a dozen pubs and a couple of kebab shops first which could present a significant challenge but having St Mary’s involved might bring some fresh thinking to central Twickenham. The building will comprises a 300 seat theatre space, six multi-purpose studio rooms and a large conservatory area. So, what’s actually going to happen there then? St Mary’s say we can expect a cafe that will be open to the public, theatre, film, comedy and music nights and the inevitable conference and venue hire options. Full details have yet to be finalised but it would be good to see the building getting regular use with events that appeal to the whole community and not just becoming a satellite student union building or a bland conference facility. Managed in the right way it could bring something new to the town. Let’s hope so.
A hub. In the community.
* Network Rail – Kier sells its stake in Solum (old news)
* St Mary’s University to run community building
Costa going to China? Who knows? Costa coming to Twickenham? Nah, not happening. We are of course referring to grumpy-chops goal machine Diego Costa rather than the mediocre coffee chain who have, of course, already established themselves in Twickenham. More than two years after the idea first got a serious airing the RFU has finally confirmed that Chelsea will not be allowed to use Twickenham Stadium while their Stamford Bridge ground gets redeveloped.
It’s going to take three years for Chelsea to build their new Fancy Dan 60,000 seat stadium at The Bridge but the question of where to play in the meantime has perplexed football’s biggest brains for quite a while (insert your own joke here).
Not “The Bridge”
Wembley might still be an option, as might staying at ‘Fortress Bridge in some way during the build. There could be ground share options with Brentford or Fulham to consider too, maybe? How about the mighty Hampton and Richmond?? With Twickenham finally ruled out by the RFU many residents will breathe a big sigh of relief that the idea of 25 or more football matches a year taking place at Twickenham is now off the table. Some may feel that with the assorted rugby matches, NFL events, concerts and the like there is already a fairly busy schedule at the stadium with a fairly significant impact on the town. And what about you? Happy now? Or are you suffering from the Blues?
* BBC News
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?
York House: The seat of El Brute power
* 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
* LBRuT Village Plan events
If you like watching classic and cult films which rarely get an airing on television or in cinemas then you’re in luck. A new cinema club is launching in Twickenham to do just that. Called, rather unsurprisingly, Twickenham Cinema Club, the aim of the new venture is to create a club run by members, for members. You can expect an eclectic mix of film with the idea that the members are the curators. There will also be a social element to screenings with an opportunity to chat before and afterwards. The opening film is 1945’s ‘Mildred Pierce‘ starring Joan Crawford. It’s something of a noir classic, a tale of ambition, struggle and mother daughter rivalry and is based on the novel by James M Cain whose other books include The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity. How’s that for pedigree?
To join the club costs £10 per year with the first film free and subsequent films at £7. Otherwise it’s £10 on the door for non-members. For local film buffs, the new club is a welcome complement to Richmond Film Society which has been running since 1963 and focuses on world cinema with screenings at St Mary’s University.
Mildred Pierce is showing at Patchworks at The Cabbage Patch pub on Wednesday February 8th.