LBRut Cabinet meeting 20th October 2011
Last night’s Cabinet meeting was chaired by Lord True, whose style gave the proceedings a good humoured, friendly, but focused atmosphere.
A number of members and supporters of the TRTG were present; of particular interest to them was agenda item 10:
Twickenham Action Plan – Report of the Options Consultation And Way Forward
To report to Cabinet the results of the consultation on options for the Twickenham Area Action Plan and to agree the general principles to be taken forward into the draft plan.
Three members of TRTG presented observations and comments on the issues.
Ron Chappell said:
“The TAAP is an action plan for Twickenham up to 2027. Its final adoption is early 2013. In 2014 you have the next Council elections. Time is running out”
He reminded the cabinet that:
“TRTG have obtained planning permission for a feasible public open space renewal for the Riverside pool site… This is an achievable scheme that has already commenced, ensuring community use of existing land and buildings.
“It will enhance the views to the river, protect the mature hornbeam trees. It does not prejudice other projects on land not owned by the Council. It will improve the view from any future development to the South of King Street.
“It provides a Riverside amenity for all. A central Town Square, will enable a programme of community events, charity fairs exhibitions, a venue for open air ice skating, and other activity.”
He finished by saying:
“This land was purchased in 1924 for the public walks ad pleasure purposes that historic purpose should be honoured and upheld today.
“The TAAP should aid the implementation of such a community led resource and facility. TRTG is dedicated to work with the Council in achieving this public realm asset.
“For Twickenham Riverside after 30 years of neglect the public expects action, the fulfilment of election pledges.”
Tony Shoebridge spoke next, about the pool-site ‘feasibility study’, that the TRTG had been informed was already underway:
“For us, it is important that you give this feasibility study the correct scope and terms of reference, and that the Interim Scheme – which “is the subject of that feasibility study” – should cover the TRTG scheme.
“There are three reasons why the Feasibility Study should cover the TRTG plan:
1) The TRTG scheme has planning permission. It is what Broadway Malyan called the “new open space” option. It received 37% support in the TAAP questionnaire, and it was designed, so that it can be an interim fix, or part of an “incremental approach”.
2) Introduction of any new interim scheme at this juncture reduces the planning process to a farce, and would offend all those who supported the consultation. The TRTG scheme, or variation of it, long ago took the role of an Interim solution that was also resilient as a long term choice.
3) We have been working to get financial backing for the TRTG scheme, which looks promising even in the current climate. Because the scheme enhances the community and because of the absence of Council money, it can be a flagship enterprise, as part of the Big Society approach.
“We believe that if you want anything to happen in your, or my, lifetime, then it is important to have a practical, properly costed and viable scheme.”
Last up was John Reekie who spoke ‘off the cuff’:
He criticised the cost of the consultancy and the lack of direct involvement of TRTG. He said that many times recently, people who had signed the TRTG’S 10,000 strong petition, had asked him, “what is happening?” He reported a wide-spread lack of understanding of the process and goals relating to the consultancy process – he admitted he too was as puzzled. He reaffirmed that the proposal championed by TRTG was “what the community wants.” And on the strength of the petition and the Conservatives pre-election pledges “ anything else would be quite wrong.”
He added that TRTG were looking into raising the money to back its project and was in the process of becoming just such an organisation as Lord True had in the past referred to as a “Community Trust.”
Lord True then took the opportunity to reaffirm his and his Cabinet’s objectives. He stated that it was the” unanimous wish” of the Cabinet that the land should be given to the people “forever.”
At this juncture Councillor Tony Arbor reminded Lord True that next year was the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and suggested that this would be a fitting time to re-open the area. Lord True was much taken with the idea of a ‘Diamond Jubilee Garden’ which he thought would be “extremely attractive.” He, also, agreed that 2012 was to be an ideal time for the re-opening.
Lord True made further reference to the TRTG by saying any such park would be reflect the spirit of the planning permission granted to the TRTG, but it might not be exactly the same.* Lord True went on to say that he knew TRTG had been in contact with Council Officers.** He hoped the Officer’s would continue to help and work with TRTG and other groups.
There were a few loose ends. For instance, it wasn’t clear if the buildings on the site were going to form part of the gift to the community. There were a couple of further issues that will need clarification. The TRTG will continue liaising with the Council and will seek clarification on these and other issues. As soon as we receive such clarification we will publish it on this website.
*As the TRTG proposal has always had flexibility built in to it we are fairly comfortable with the statement.
** Seeking clarification and asking questions pertaining to TAAP and pool site issues – See various reports and articles on this website.