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 (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

(Cllr Gareth Elliott)

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