Thursday, 26 January 2012

Cllr Elliott Respond to Whitton.ning member concerns


Hi All
And thank you for the words of support but as has been said by others it is on actions that I must be judged. And on that basis if I could update you on a few of the points that have been made:
1/. Outer London Fund – while it is a huge disappointment that we lost the second round funding we did win a substantial amount in the first round which is greatly appreciated. We are currently looking at how we can supplement the hoped for funds with the monies set aside in the uplift funding. It is my hope that we can ensure plans for improved paving will be a big part of that as this was the main request in the bid. I have had good conversations with the Leader of the Council, Lord True, and the Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Virginia Morris, regarding the next steps and they have confirmed that the Council will look to see how we can ensure the uplift strategy continues.
2/. Uplift update – This morning I came out of a meeting with the Uplift team and while I wait on the updated programme of works I can confirm the lampposts have arrived and are due to be installed at the end of Jan (imminent) or early Feb. Unfortunately we are competing with Twickenham in terms of resourcing so it may be us or them that gets them in first. The shop frontages have been through planning and discussions with the WBA have been had to ensure the shops are happy with the designs. These should begin in Feb\March. Other non-visible elements of the campaign are in process including a marketing strategy being led by the town centre manager Bridget Clements and over Christmas we were lucky enough to have the Winter Emporium. I visited a couple of times and it was great to see the innovative use of the empty shop. I hope that we can replicate this again in the future although I would prefer to have occupied shops.
3/. Parking – following agreement with Traders a new parking regime will be instigated in the High Street offering two hour slots. This is to stop traders who park all day and take up customer car parking spaces and also commuters who park in the high street all day while they go off to work.
4/. Car Show Room – there is an application currently in with the Council for this building. Unfortunately it appears to be stuck in planning and I am attempting to see if we can clear the log jam – which is very frustrating.
5/. Lidl Windows - this is very frustrating on my part as i fought so hard to ensure that this site was opened. However, Lidl accepted a planning condition to replace like for like or refurbish the steel crittal windows that were part of the look and feel of the building. However, on upgrading the building the company ignored this condition and put in the pvc windows as you see now. The Council are upholding the condition and that is the hold up. Unfortunately we see this tactic time and again and while I agree that the windows at present do look much better the Council have a duty to ensure the company honours its obligations.
Whitton has suffered from a lack of enforcement on planning in the past which is why the high street has a complete mish mash of window designs that detracts from the architectural merit of the buildings. As more and more refurbs ignore planning conditions it sets a precedent on others to do the same leading to the situation today. It is a similar story with shop frontages and the reason why Whitton does not look like other areas such as Richmond which take pride in the way their town looks. We shouldn’t settle for any less in Whitton and while this is extremely unfortunate where companies agree to something they should honour it. Sadly this is a legal and planning matter.
I hope this provides an update for you all and please remember that I am available via my email gareth@whittonconservatives.co.uk (my council email has recently had a keypad code added which makes it difficult for me to view during the day). I am also to be found walking up and down the high street most days to and from work and during the weekends. Please do not hesitate to stop me as I am always happy to answer questions on the street.

Kindest Regards

Gareth
(Cllr Gareth Elliott)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Time to Street Party! Get Ready for the Queen's Jubilee


Diamond Jubilee street parties are being encouraged by Richmond Council, which is again covering the costs of all road closures in streets where residents would like to organise celebrations.
The Council met the official costs for street parties during the royal wedding celebrations last year, and will do the same when the Queen celebrates 60 years as monarch in June. The authority will pay for making signs to close roads and paying for formal adverts required to make drivers aware. Neighbours and residents groups will only have to find the cost of the party, like food and drink, themselves.
Lord True, Richmond Council’s Leader, said: “We saw a great outpouring of goodwill across our borough for Prince William’s wedding, and I would love to see the same at our monarch’s Diamond Jubilee. Last year we swept away pages of needless bureaucracy to reform the application process, to make it easy for neighbours who want to celebrate together. We will again do our bit for local people this year by covering the costs of closing roads, helping people mark this great national occasion together.
“Last April during the wedding many neighbours met each other for the first time, and it’s to be hoped those good memories will inspire residents to do the same this year. There were more parties in Richmond upon Thames than any other part of London last year. We set a precedent as being the most community-spirited borough, the jubilee is our chance to again show what a happy and neighbourly place this is.”
Advice from Richmond Council is to prepare well in advance, including talking to neighbours, and applying in good time to have roads closed. The Council will on Monday re-launch its street party information webpage, which includes a simple form giving the date and time of parties and details which roads would need to be shut.
The form also includes useful information on planning and preparing for a party. Visit www.richmond.gov.uk/street_parties for details. Last year, there were 85 street parties to mark the royal wedding in Richmond upon Thames.
As well as supporting street parties for the Diamond Jubilee, the largest section of Twickenham Riverside to date to be opened up to the public, will also be unveiled during the celebrations. The new Jubilee Gardens will include a town square, new garden and a tree feature marking the anniversary.
The Council will also be running an art exhibition charting the borough’s royal connections. The Council is looking for volunteers to help curate the show, and to contribute their own memories of royal events in the past.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Outer London Fund Round Two Disappointment - show must go on!


Whitton has missed out on funding in a second phase of grants to Greater London boroughs from Mayor Boris Johnson’s Outer London Fund.

The Council won £1.2 million in funding in the first round of grants last year, more than any other borough, after three submitted bids were approved. Thanks to the first round funding, the street scene in Twickenham, Whitton and Barnes is already being improved to create a better environment for local traders. However projects which the Council hoped would receive round two funding will be reviewed. The Council hopes central Government funding could be available, and the authority’s own money could also be used to fund some schemes.

Whitton ward coucillor Gareth Elliott said: "While the loss of round two funding is a set back we mustn't let it deviate us from our goal of reinvigorating Whitton. Already we have achieved so much and with the uplift strategy still in place i will ensure that we continue to build on the good work already achieved."

Lord True, Leader of Richmond Council, said: “We are naturally disappointed that we have not repeated our remarkable success in the first round. However, no doubt the GLA will have felt the need to balance contributions across London.

“Further contributions from the Mayor would have been a major fillip to our plans for improvement in the areas of the bids, but this is not the end of the story. The Council will be considering how to take the ideas forward along with others in our village plans programme. The emerging plans will need to take into account the implications of this announcement.

“We are still grateful for the contributions we received in the first round – and the benefits of the Mayor’s fund will be seen this year on the streets of the borough.”