Thursday, 23 December 2010

Christmas Message – Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year


With the snow falling and likening Whitton to a winter fairyland I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a prosperous and happy new year. As we enjoy this well earned Christmas break to spend time with our family, friends and loved ones I would like to take this opportunity to reflect back on what has been a busy seven months.
In May of this year I was deeply honoured to have been elected Councillor for Whitton ward, not only my home but the town in which I grew up. It was a busy election and I want to thank all those that helped in what was ultimately a very successful campaign. I fought the campaign primarily on the basis of rejuvenating the High Street. Seven months on, and through difficult economic times, our Town Centre is now fast becoming one of the success stories of the Borough. I sought on getting into office to immediately rectify the eye-sore that was the old Co-op site, an example of the thirty years of shameful neglect by our Liberal colleagues. By engaging with the business association, Lidl, local residents and the Council it is with great pride that we can now see the hoardings going up outside the store as Lidl seek to bring this building back into use. This rejuvenation will not only benefit the  ground floor shops, but  also the residential flats above, which the company will be refurbishing, thus bringing much needed housing stock back onto the market.
A new relationship with businesses, including the forging of a strong partnership with the Whitton Business Association and its tireless chair, Geoff Reyner, in the High Street, including a new willingness to listen,  has led to a revival in Whitton and the welcoming of several new shops. More are in the pipeline which only underlines the resilience of the shopkeepers and people of Whitton in hard economic times.  This work will continue and I am keen to ensure that Whitton is part of the plans that will be put forward as part of the Rugby World Cup 2015. Planning must begin now and Whitton, as the second gateway town to this prestigious event, should be in a prime position to benefit.
Being asked to stand as Governor of St Edmunds School was a special moment for me as it was the school that I myself attended. It is a great school with amazing teachers that strives for the best for its children – something that hasn’t changed since I was there. It has been a privilege for me to return the favour and I have been greatly impressed by the dedication of the Governing board and the head teacher Mrs Carmel Moreland. (To be honest I still feel strange calling teachers there by their first names). 
Since the election I have met with many new people, old friends and former colleagues, many of which still live in Whitton. This is a fantastic town and, although I always knew it, I have been struck by the pride that Whittonians have for this town. Evidenced by the huge turnout at the Christmas Extravaganza or through the lively debate on our town’s very own community website www.whitton.ning I am hugely encouraged for the future. 2011 is set to be another great year for Whitton and with your help I look forward to doing my utmost to make sure it will be.
As ever, I am always available and you will see me over the festive period no doubt rushing around buying a jar of something that I have forgotten or perhaps you will see me enjoying a drink in one of our local pubs.
Merry Christmas to you all

Cllr Gareth Elliott

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Invest in Whitton – Richmond Council’s new investment programme

Recognising the importance of building strong partnerships with businesses and commercial landlords, in order to strengthen local economies and ensure a strong and robust recovery, the Council has launched its Invest in Richmond Upon Thames Programme, including the Invest in Whitton website.

http://www.richmond.gov.uk/home/business/invest/invest_locating_your_business/invest_whitton.htm

Cllr Nicholas True, Leader of Richmond Council, who was once a business owner in the borough, said: “It is the private sector that is going to drag the country out of the hole it has got into and I am extremely conscious that councils can do many things to help business but they can also get in the way. If there are silly rules that exist which hinder businesses, they will disappear."

“We are keen to help our smaller businesses and we very much welcome our larger firms that are already here, and those we look forward to bringing in through this investment programme. Here in Richmond, we have a cabinet member dedicated to supporting firms and shops and a Council that is pro-business, surely there is nothing that can stop us? We believe in business, welcome business and are open for business. I am looking forward to working towards a prosperous future for all in this borough.”

A comprehensive inward investment information pack and website at www.richmond.gov.uk/invest will be used as reference materials for commercial agents, chambers of commerce, traders networks and investment agencies like Think London, which specialise in attracting new businesses, as well as individual firms.

Cllr Gareth Elliott said: “Private enterprise is crucial to economic recovery and the Invest in Whitton and Richmond programme offers current and potential businesses a clear point of contact and a commitment from the Council to review policies to make life easier for businesses. This is great news.”

Leader of the Council, Cllr Nick True, comes to Whitton High Street

Meeting with Cllr Gareth Elliott and Cllr Virginia Morris, the Cabinet member for Environment, Cllr Nick True, the Leader of the Council, visited Whitton and its High Street over the weekend to take a closer look at the improvements being scheduled.

Highlighting the gateway improvements Cllr Gareth Elliott pointed out how the town centre will benefit from the investment being proposed by the Council. The tour included the old co-op site, which is now subject to a planning application by the supermarket chain, Lidl, and had been derelict for decades, the Library and a walk around Whitton’s shops.

Cllr Gareth Elliott said “It was great to have Nick down to Whitton and his visit, one of many I hope, shows the new found enthusiasm and confidence this new administration has in Whitton. I look forward to working with the Leader of the Council to ensure that we can rejuvenate Whitton and its town centre.”

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Whitton commuters WILL be able to top up Oyster cards

It would appear that after pressure from the Government South West Trains have finally given in and agreed to allow commuters to top-up their oyster cards.

South West Trains had, until last week, been the only rail operator to refuse to operate Oyster operable ticket machines. This meant that those commuters travelling from Whitton travelling into central London would have to top up their cards before they travelled or remember to do so before they left the city.

The changes will now allow commuters to top-up at Whitton station from May next year making journeys into London much simpler and easier. 

SWT managing director Andy Pitt said: “We have been committed to finding a solution to make it possible for passengers to also top up their Oyster cards at our stations.”

Monday, 15 November 2010

Heathfield Library - Cllr Gareth Elliott's letter to the RT&T

Dear Sir,

While I bemoan the need to close any library the current furore being generated by the Liberal Party about Heathfield Library has left me baffled. After all it must be pointed out that the decision to demolish the library and replace it with a poly-clinic was actually taken by the previous Liberal administration and not the Conservatives.

The situation now is that we must look forward and decide how best to maintain library provision, particularly for the children at Heathfield School. While the Liberals are very good at organising a photo shoot they seem strangely unwilling to help out in terms of looking at alternative options, something I have already discussed with Cllr Pamela Fleming who, in the spirit of coalition, has invited Heathfield, Whitton and West Twickenham ward councillors to a meeting next week and I hope they will approach this in a positive way so we can consider the best possible options for our residents.

Library services must remain accessible and in pondering this question i see the potential of redeveloping Whitton high street and Whitton library for the benefit of both Heathfield and Whitton residents as a huge opportunity. Whitton library was the only major library not to be updated by the previous Liberal administration and it now appears opportune to turn the closure of Heathfield library into a positive. Whitton library sits at the heart of the town centre of both wards. With the recently announced £230,000 improvements to the High Street and the purchase by Lidl of the old derelict Co-Op site it would be sensible to integrate improved library provision. Accessibility is also likely to be vastly improved with the potential diversion of the 110 bus route to the top of the high street directly linking Heathfield residents with their main shopping centre.

Whitton Library is already used by a significant number of Heathfield residents and if we improve facilities I am sure more people will be attracted to use the library services. After all, as the nearest major shopping centre people from Heathfield are already travelling to the High Street to shop and relax. Better library services as well whilst they are there is a potential win-win for all.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Gareth Elliott

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Lidl consultation - plans revealed to the public

Today I attended Lidl’s public consultation on its proposed new store in Whitton High Street. The Lidl team were on hand to outline the new store, its look and feel and how it would operate. The plans were very impressive and the staff very informative and friendly. The new store will also be the first Lidl in the London Borough of Richmond and it came across to me that this was a source of pride to the team.

Once again the response from the people of Whitton was extraordinary which highlights the power of consultation and civic pride within our town.

I will contact the team to see if I can post an artists impression up on this site - check back soon.

Recycling extended to include plastic containers and drinks cartons

For many, and that includes me, it has been a source of frustration and waste. Drinks cartons and margarine pots which state that they are recyclable on the packet are continuously left behind by the Council’s recycling trucks. Well this is set to end as the Conservative administration extends recycling to plastic containers and drinks cartons.

The move will save more than 1,000 tonnes of extra waste and lead to a two per cent rise in the borough’s recycling rate. A small but very necessary move in Richmond’s efforts to limit its carbon emissions, and one which I fully endorse. As an avid recycler it is always annoying that these items cannot be recycled and end up in the general rubbish. Now we can fully reduce, re-use and recycle.
Cllr Virginia Morris, Richmond Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said: Richmond upon Thames’ residents are already among the best recyclers in London, but in recent years our recycling rate has leveled off at around 43%. This is a good rate, but more can be done.
“Once these proposals to extend what can be recycled are adopted, we should see a step change in how much rubbish can be re-used.  Residents haves asked for many years why they can’t recycle yoghurt pots, margarine tubs and juice cartons and, having listened, we are now acting on their wishes.”

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Cllr Gareth Elliott attends Whitton Improvements Consultation

On Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the Council’s drop-in session for the Whitton Improvements consultation where i was able first hand to outline to residents the plans to update the High Street.

What struck me about the consultation was the sheer number of people who took time out of there day to come and see the plans and also to discuss them with me. It has often been said to me that Whitton is more of a village than a town and the pride and enthusiasm that was on show simply reinforced this.

Many people were particularly interested in the gateway improvements and how they might improve the view of the town as people come in from the Admiral Nelson and Station ends. Residents highlighted that these improvements will go a long way to reversing the tired look that has come about due to long term neglect and the oft said view that Whitton is the ‘forgotten town’ of the London Borough of Richmond.

The previous Liberal administration neglected Whitton. These improvements show what can be done when a new and enthusiastic Conservative administration are given the chance. I promised to bring Whitton back to the top table and the plans put forward in this consultation represent a new enthusiasm for this great town.

NOTE: Please see blog post below for details to send in your consultation response.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Whitton High Street Improvements - Online Consultation Link

A quick update to my previous blog. Please find below the online link to the Council's consultation. I would urge all residents to take part in this consultation involving exciting improvements to out town centre.

Whitton High Street Improvements

http://www.richmond.gov.uk/home/environment/urban_design/whitton_high_street_improvements_-_consultation_2010.htm

Friday, 15 October 2010

Whitton Town Centre Improvement Consultation launched today

Today I am happy to announce that the after months of hard work the Council will be launching a consultation on important improvements to our town centre.

Following on from my maiden speech where I spoke of my desire to reverse years of neglect from Richmond Council to our town of Whitton I am delighted to be able to announce that the tides are now turning. Today the Coucil have launched a consultation that will seek the views of Whitton residents, a key pledge of the Conservatives, to significantly improve the street scene of Whitton High Street.

Chief among the proposals are the creation of 'gateways' at both entrances to the High Street, with improved lighting and new tree planting throughout the High Street along with some footway and raised table repairs, especially at the zebra crossing at the bridge to control traffic.

The consultation is now open and residents will start to receive their consultation letters and documents to feedback their comments. Larger plans will be available at Whitton Library throughout the consultation period (15th Oct - 1st Nov) and details will be made availble online (website link to follow). Two drop-in sessions will also be held at the library at which council officers will be available to answer questions on Friday 22nd Oct 9:30am - 12:30pm and Saturday 23rd October 10am - 1pm.

The works are expected to begin early January 2011 and be completed by the Spring 2011.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Sponsorship target breached – over £2,000 raised for MIND

A big thank you to all those who sponsored me and my fellow crew in our epic rowing adventure on the River Thames. I am extremely proud to say that we have raised over £2,000 in sponsorship for MIND.

For those of you who wondered if we would sink or not we managed to complete the race in four hours and twenty minutes and came fourth in our class. Well done to my crewmates.

It's not too late to sponsor - http://www.justgiving.com/doloronauts

Saturday, 18 September 2010

RFU Match Day/Concert Committee - Post your concerns

On Thursday I attended the my first RFU Concert and Match Day Committee. This is an excellent forum by which Community Representatives and Council officials can liaise with the RFU to discuss how the RFU's concerts and rugby matches will impact upon the local community. More importantly it is also the forum by which local people, through their representatives, can air any greivances.

I have been nominated to attend as the community representative for Whitton. I would therefore welcome any comments from residents who would like to raise any issues they have regarding the rugby events or concerts with the RFU.

The Committee meets quarterly and the next meeting will be in December.

I would also like to highlight the helpline number which is operational on match day and concert days:

Twickenham Stadium Concert and Match Day Line - Telephone 07764 569 402

Whitton's Green Spaces Need Protection

Whitton is a town that is designated as 'an area poorly provided with public open space'. Apart from Murray Park and the grounds at Kneller Hall Whitton does lack in open spaces. It is for this reason that Roger Hackett (Conservative PCC) and I spent a day going around the ward seeking out areas which could potentially be protected under the Council's DPD or Development Plan Document which is currently being finalised.

I have put forward 10 potential sites but if residents have other suggestions please email them into me at Cllr.GElliott@richmond.gov.uk

Here are some of the suggestions i put forward;

  • Green triangle of land outside Regan's fish shop where Nelson Road meets Warren Road;
  • Shrubbery where Cypress Avenue meets Bridge Way near the top of the high street
  • Green land in front of Kneller Hall on Kneller Road as it meets Warren Road and continues in front of the Grade II listed building past the Duke of Cambridge
  • Chase Garden adjacent to the A316 after Godfrey Avenue

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Cllr Gareth Elliott speaks out for Whitton and the 110 bus route diversion

Yesterday I gave my first maiden speech at Council and took the opportunity to use the occasion to speak out for Whitton Town and to raise a question to the Cabinet Member for Transport about the potential diversion of the 110 bus route through Whitton High Street.

Highlighting a perceived ‘Great Divide’ that has been created between Whitton and other towns of the London Borough of Richmond I called on the new Conservative administration, with my assistance, to work tireless to ensure that our town is seated at the top table. Whitton is not simply a periphery town located on the border but is in fact an important centre with the borough’s fourth largest shopping centre.  It is also the second gateway town to the world-famous Twickenham rugby ground and includes cultural sites such as Kneller Hall, the Royal School of Military Music.

Speaking about the 110 bus route i put the following question to the Cabinet Member for Transport:

“Will the Cabinet Member for Transport be acknowledging the petition [conducted by local resident Ann Goff] and will she be seeking to open up negotiations with the bus operators and TfL to scope out the possibility for linking Heathfield with Whitton’s Town Centre and railway station? I understand that budgets are under pressure but I would be keen that a solution could be found and if possible phased in over time?

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Cllr Gareth Elliott will be rowing in the Great River Race - in aid of MIND


I have signed up to row the great river race from London Docklands to Ham, Richmond in what can only be described as a large bath tub called the Delores. I and my fellow mariners shall be doing this in aid of the charity MIND - the country's leading mental health charity.


Mind campaigns vigorously to create a society that promotes and protects good mental health for all - a society where people with experience of mental distress are treated fairly, positively and with respect. They do this through community support, telephone information lines, lobbying, publications, legal advice and training. It's a fantastic cause.


I am now in training although with four weeks to go i think i am leaving it late so thank you to all those who have offered to assist me in this endeavour so far. So if you do see me struggling through the streets of Whitton feel free to offer some encouragement.


If you would like to support our endeavour and help those experiencing mental distress we would welcome your donations – please follow this link:




We shall be setting out on our voyage on 25th September so if you would like to wave us by we shall be the boat at the back of the pack going very slowly (if still afloat).

Gareth and my fellow
team, Chris, George, Ken, Nick & Russell.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Richmond Furniture Recycle Scheme

Over the weekend I had the pleasure to visit the Richmond Furniture Recycle Scheme which provides a resource for people to recycle old furniture. The project also supplies furniture at low cost to people who could not otherwise afford it.

The staff are extremely friendly and happy to help. They are currently looking urgently for donations so if you are looking to update your furniture please think of the furniture scheme.

The address is 1a Fortescue Avenue, Twickenham, TW2 5LS. They can also be found at: www.richmondfurniturescheme.co.uk

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Lidl - Old Co-Op Site: UPDATE

Having spoken with Lidl i would like to provide you all with an update.

Following on from the news that Lidl have purchased the old Co-Op site including the flats above the company have now met with the Council as part of the pre-application procedure prior to submitting a full application. The supermarket have informed me that these discussions went well and that they hope to be submitting their application over the next month. This works within their schedules and their intention to open the new store next year.

I will come back with more details as they become available.

Jolly's Restaurant - new planning application

Following on from the news that the retrospective planning application for a bar extension behind Jolly's Restaurant had been refused and upheld by the Planning inspectorate it would appear that a new application has been lodged.

During the election i was contacted by residents who were concerned about the wooden construction. I would urge all those that did so before and others who would like to have a say about this application to log their views with the council. The website address for this planning application is as follows:

http://www2.richmond.gov.uk/PlanData2/Planning_CaseNo.aspx?strCASENO=10/2292/FUL

The case code is 10/2292/FUL

Capital funding for Twickenham (Whitton) Academy confirmed - opening September

Cllr Gareth Elliott and Roger Hacket, PPC
With the news that central Government has confirmed capital funding for the rebuild and refurbishment of the school’s existing facilities it means that Twickenham (Whitton) Academy can now open this September as planned. This is great news and means that a lot of the concern i have heard already from parents about the uncertainty of the School’s position can now be lifted. I look forward to speaking with parents and pupils over the coming year as to their experiences at the new school.

Strategic Cabinet Member for Education, Youth and Culture on Richmond Council, Cllr Christine Percival, said:

“We welcome this decision by the Government. As an administration we are committed to improving the standard of secondary education in the borough - redeveloping school facilities will contribute to this.

“We want local people to be involved in influencing the future of the borough’s academies and we will look for opportunities to do this as the design and building work progresses. It is important that families whose children will be taught in the academies, and the local communities in which they are located, will have input into shaping them.

“I would like to reiterate that the capital development for these two sites is a fixed sum and no additional money will be made available. Money is tight at the moment and we will do everything in our power to ensure these projects are delivered on time and to budget.”

Welcome to my new blog

Hi All

Welcome to my new blog. Unfortunately there was some issues with my previous website so i have updated and moved over to this one. I intend to use this site to update you on my activities as Councillor and to comment on news and issues that happen in Whitton and beyond.

Please note that if you have any personal comments or issues that you woudl like to discuss with me i would ask that you email me privately on my Council email address.

I shall be trying to upload some of my older blogs to over the coming days so if some do appear a little off date at start please bear with me.

Best Regards

Cllr Gareth Elliott