Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Are you interested in looking after Whitton's open spaces?

Richmond Council is asking local organisations if they would be interested in managing their local green spaces on behalf of the Council.

Last year, as part of its efficiency programme the Council agreed to move towards commissioning services rather than directly providing them. There has also been a commitment to involve residents in the planning and delivery of services.

Currently the borough’s parks and open spaces are managed by a team of Council officers. As part of this new and pioneering approach the Council is exploring the possibility of entering into formal agreements with community focused local groups and organisations, which would see them take over the day to day management of specific sites.

This management could involve carrying out activities such as removing litter and weeding and planting throughout the year. Groups could also be expected to take on the role of being the first point of contact for the rest of the community and managing any events or sports bookings at each site.

Cllr Virginia Morris, Richmond Council Cabinet for the Environment, said:
“In the All in One survey last year, residents told us how much they value their local parks as the most important service the Council provides. And to reflect this, the Council has made a clear commitment to ensure the quality of the boroughs parks and open spaces remains high.

“In recent years the Council has made a significant investment to improve parks, ensuring that our open spaces are amongst the best in the country. However, we do have to consider more creative ways of providing our services that have a community focus. The priority objective of this approach is to ensure that our sites are maintained to a high standard whilst giving an opportunity to allow the community to actively manage some of our open space.

“At this stage, we would emphasise that we are seeking an initial expression of interest, which will not be considered as a formal commitment from either the group or the Council.
“This is a unique opportunity for local people to work directly with the Council and shape what happens in their local area.”

Conservative Cabinet agrees Catholic Secondary

Richmond Council’s Cabinet last night agreed that the Clifden Site should be used for a new Catholic primary and secondary school.

This decision follows on from last week’s Education and Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee where members voted to support the Diocese of Westminster’s proposals to establish voluntary-aided Catholic schools, on the Twickenham site.
At the meeting, Cabinet members reviewed the recent consultation results where sixty seven per cent of parents and residents who responded agreed that the site should be used to establish a new, five-form entry Catholic Secondary School, with thirty two per cent disagreeing.

In relation to the primary school proposals, members took into consideration the fact that fifty seven per cent of respondents also agreed with the proposal that a new, one-form entry Catholic primary school should also be established on the site with thirty four per cent of respondents disagreeing.
Members also reviewed the proposals from the Diocese, and the results from their statutory consultation.

The Council will now prepare a legal liaising agreement for the Diocese. At the same time the Diocese will work up further plans for the schools, considering issues such as staff, admissions and curriculum.

Cllr Paul Hodgins, Richmond Council Cabinet Member for Schools, said:

“Last night’s meeting clearly showed the strong feelings in the community about the future of this site. Whilst we have always said that it has been a long standing commitment of the Council to support the establishment a Catholic Secondary in the borough, we also made a commitment to listen.

“Over 4,000 residents took part in the consultation, with an overwhelming number of people wanting the site to be used for the Catholic schools. We also said in advance that we would carefully consider the merits of the arguments put forward on either side. Last night we did this.
“I now look forward to working with the Diocese to develop plans for the site further.”
Bishop John Sherrington, Chairman of The Diocese of Westminster Education Commission, said:
“The Diocese of Westminster is delighted with the approval from Richmond Council for the development of a new Catholic Secondary and Primary school at Clifden Road, Twickenham. Working with our partners in the Archdiocese of Southwark, we are grateful to members of the Cabinet for funding a way to deliver on a long-standing manifesto promise to make a Catholic secondary school a reality. My thanks also go to the very many people within the Richmond Catholic community and others who have done so much to bring this dream to fruition in order to further the common good. We now look forward to working in partnership with the Borough to establish the school at the heart of the community in Twickenham."
Paul Barber, Director of the Diocese of Westminster Education Service added:
"The approval of our proposals for new schools in Richmond is an exciting development in the history of Catholic education in the Diocese, including our first new secondary school in twelve years.

“We must pay tribute to the officers and members of the Council in ensuring that a robust and open consultation process took place. That gratitude extends also to those holding differing views who were prepared to put their time and energy in to ensure that the important issues of principal were aired and debated in a true democratic spirit.
“We want to continue to work with the whole community in Richmond to create a vibrant and inclusive Catholic school which is a full and active member of the Richmond family of schools."

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Crew Required - Dragon Boat Racing - 16th June

Dear All

I am looking to pull together a rag bag team of 16-18 to compete in this year’s dragon boat race on the River Thames for the Jubilee Festival on Saturday 16th June.

It will be a lot of fun and Whitton's Pride is at Stake!

The cost of the boat is £150 to be split between the crew so about a tenner per person.

If you’re interested in joining me in this swashbuckling adventure on the high seas – well old Father Thames – email me back ASAP at gareth@whittonconservatives.co.uk.

Ho Ho Ho and a bottle of rum!

Cllr Gareth Elliott

Monday, 14 May 2012

Richmond signs legal pact to support armed forces

Richmond Council is set to be one of the first London Boroughs to launch a community covenant for the armed forces, in a move designed to give greater assistance for servicemen and women and their families.

The Armed Forces Community Covenant is a voluntary statement of support between the civilian and local Armed Forces communities and is intended to complement the national Armed Forces Covenant, which outlines the moral obligation between the country, the Government and the Armed Forces, at the local level.

The local agreement between the Council, Richmond Council for Voluntary Service, NHS Richmond and the military means that new support, e.g. training, housing, school admissions, adult social care or medical needs, for service personnel and their families will be given.
The Council's housing allocation policy recognises the contribution of returning members of the armed forces. The recently approved Housing Allocations Policy has introduced a quota for local ex service personnel in housing need.  Richmond is also signed up to the pan London shared ownership scheme which prioritises ex-service personnel for low cost shared ownership. , their families and veterans than exists at the moment.

Whitton ward Councillor, Cllr Gareth Elliott, said:
"Our armed forces personnel are true heroes and it is only right and proper that they are treated as such both during and after their service. I applaud the Council's decision to be one of the first London Borough's to launch this covenant. With our own cherished connection with Kneller Hall in Whitton this is truly fitting."

Lord True, Leader of Richmond Council, said:
 “With Kneller Hall, the Royal Military School of Music, right on our doorstep, we are proud of the borough’s connections with the armed forces.

“This agreement will encourage support for the armed forces in Richmond upon Thames and allow organisations and agencies to recognise the sacrifices made by members - particularly those who have given the most.

“As well as giving help to those who has been involved in the forces, the covenant will also ensure the families and loved ones of all ex-service men and women are supported too.
“I am delighted to be signing this agreement which will help to provide much needed support to our servicemen and women, and their families.
Deputy Commander of London District, Brigadier Matthew Lowe MBE, from the Armed Forces, added:

“We are delighted that the London Borough of Richmond plan to sign the Armed Forces Community Covenant which will help to cement the enduring relationship between members of the Armed Forces: Sailors, soldiers and airmen, and the communities of Richmond.  There is much benefit seen with this mutual support in place and we look forward to working together.”