Twickenham Riverside Terrace Group

A riverside in trust for the community

Open letter

Letter to Gillian Norton, Chief Executive, LBRuT

To Gillian Norton
Chief Executive
LBRuT
Civic Centre Twickenham

Dear Ms Norton

Twickenham Riverside

On behalf of The Twickenham Riverside Terrace Committee I wish to raise the following matters pertaining to the Report for Cabinet February 25 2003. In this Report the Twickenham Riverside Terrace Group has been treated unfairly, its proposals misrepresented correspondence has not been answered and its offers of consultation and reconciliation of costs ignored.

(1) The Report to Cabinet Dec 10 2002

The decision to proceed with the Council’s Option B and the Twickenham Challenge were made based on The Report for the Cabinet of 10 Dec 2002.

The Report for the Cabinet of Dec 2002 contained a letter from the Council’s advisors claiming the TTRG scheme costs were not correct. This letter dated 27 November 2002 was not shown to us, discussed or reconciled with us before it appeared as an Addendum to the papers of Dec 10 at the time of the meeting.

The TTTRG replied to this letter on the 15 Jan 2003 with a point by point analysis, answering the assertions made and offering to discuss and compare with the Council’s advisors.(Letter 15 Jan TTRG in Appendix A)

We have received no reply to this letter.

(2) The Report to Cabinet 25 Feb 2003 has the following matters we wish to dispute, as follows:-.

3.2.2 The TRTG has not expressed forceful support for the Councils long term scheme. Reference to appendix A will not reveal any supportive letter. With regard to length of time, the TRTG scheme is flexible it can either be short or long term. It was designed to be incremental. This fact has not been reported on. The benefits of the TRTG scheme as a short term proposal in comparison with Option B the Council’s short term proposal have not been addressed. No cost benefit analysis has been provided for each scheme.

(a) The written submissions referred to, in the absence of any cross reference is taken to mean TRTG letters 15 Jan 2003. These have not been answered discussed or considered.

3.2.3 Claims that the costs of the TRTG scheme are £302,000 more than those advised by TRTG. The TRTG costs are for the whole site we replied to this assertion.(Letter 15 Jan TTRG in Appendix A) since there was no answer it was reasonably assumed there was no quarrel with our costs.

£471,000 more than Option B of the Council: The costs of the TRTG scheme are for the whole site Option B is for part of the site see .(Letter 15 Jan TTRG in Appendix A) since there was no answer it was reasonably assumed there was no quarrel with our costs.

There is apparent ambiguity since the report states that full demolition is less economical than part then goes on to claims that TRTG demolition costs should be
(b) 50% more for part of the building than for the full building.

(c) Demolition costs for TRTG are claimed to be £50,000 more than Option B.. The report claims that no provision has been made for flood defences This is not correct and suggests a selective and inadequate reading of our costing. Reference to our documentation reveals that adequate flood prevention measures have been included in our costing.

No costs for the Councils Option B with regard to the existing building or its demolition costs are given. Therefore no conclusion can be drawn except that TRTG stands by its costs and is willing to resolve this matter. TRTG has allowed for the necessary protection work with part demolition which may be the substance of (b) Resurfacing is also allowed for in the TRTG scheme which may not be required. In addition Councils Option B will need to allow for costs for the stability of the retaining wall.

4.3 Refers to renovation and soft landscaping to the pool footprint Costs have apparently been allowed for this area which will be closed to the public.

Letters 3.2.7, 3.2.11 The summary of these letters is misleading, results in selective quoting when compared with the full letters which appears to be designed to support the Councils Option B scheme. The letters are in Appendix A but no reference is made to this fact.

Conclusion The benefits of the TRTG scheme as a short term proposal in comparison with Option B the Councils short term proposal have not been addressed. No cost benefit analysis has been provided for each scheme. The fact that the TRTG costs are for the whole site has not been acknowledged in the report.

The disputed costs have been answered in our letter (15 Jan TTRG in Appendix A) This has not been answered, discussed or acknowledged. In this letter we offered to discuss costing with your advisors, the normal accepted method of clarification, and reconciliation. There is apparently no willingness to discuss, clarify or reach agreement on matters of dispute which is contrary to normal professional behaviour and good practice. Refusal to inform in advance and reach a consensus before a report to Cabinet would appear to be undemocratic behaviour of Officers.

Unanswered letters can either be taken to mean there is no dispute and the contents of the letter has been accepted. This is apparently not the case but an arrogant what our advisors say is correct attitude. A reluctance to consult reflects a lack of confidence in the Councils figures. The TRTG group contains many professional people experienced in the building industry who have contributed to the scheme who take exception to this cavalier treatment.

The Council is not being presented with a balanced factual report. This does not serve the interests of the community and raises doubts as to the Councils real intentions as well as a warning to future community participation. We would draw your attention to 3.2.20 which is particularly relevant to the foregoing. As Chief Executive of the Council we request that you investigate the procedures that have been followed by the Council in this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Ron Chappell C.Eng.F.I.Struct.E.
cc GOL
T Arbour
Audit Commission
Tom McKevitt
Cabinet members

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