Thursday, 22 September 2011

Whitton's First Tweet Up - Record of the Meeting

A historical day for Whitton… it’s first Tweet-up (a meeting set up through Twitter), led by Councillor Gareth Elliott.
It was great to see how passionate people are about their hometown, and with the ‘Uplift Programme’, made possible through mayoral and council funding, enthusiasm to develop the high street was in abundance. Residents are evidently already pleased with relatively new businesses such as Eye-Smile, giving a ‘personal, professional and friendly service’, and the chique new beauty parlour that has opened next to the new dentist!
With all these local services emerging, Whitton residents were keen to put their views to their local councillor and help build a happy and prosperous town. Part of the uplift programme will be to enhance the village atmosphere of Whitton, by stressing it’s uniqueness and revelling in our history. The place has been around since medieval times. However, looking to the more recent past, the idea is to give the high street a face-lift and a 30s vibe. To aid the creation of a character, rather than uniformity, the idea was put forward to make Whitton High Street a Conservation Area, thereby laying down guidelines in place for shop fronts, signage and so on. A contentious issue at the moment was Lidl’s proposals to erect a 7m tall flag pole with a signpost with it’s logo on, just in front of the library. Residents raised the current appeal with the Planning Inspectorate which is open for comment.

In keeping with the quest to re-establish Whitton’s identity, residents expressed their dismay in the political district being different to that of the post-office, whereby residents with TW3 postcodes are apparently being classed as Hounslow residents, when they are paying taxes to the Richmond Borough. Considering we’re the fourth largest village in the borough, our identity is so important. This brought the group on to the very topical debate about the Boundary Commissions latest proposals. As MPs are being reduced in number to 600 and each constituency only needs 75,000 voters, plans have been put forward to abolish the Twickenham constituency that Whitton comes under. Richmond would then join with Twickenham under new boundary guidelines, leaving Whitton with the prospect of coming under the heading of Teddington and Hanworth. This would encompass Heathfield, Teddington, the two Hanworths, three Hamptons and Whitton. The plans were met with real concern by the participants who indicated they want to ensure their voices are loudly heard as part of the ongoing consultation and public debate.

To conclude, today’s discussion was about identity, identity, identity! To move forward we definitely not only need to preserve what Whitton already has to offer, but look to develop in a positive, structured way.

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