Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Cllr Gareth Elliott asks what will be the legacy of the World Cup for Whitton?

Transcript of Cllr Gareth Elliott's speech to Richmond Council, 27 January 2015

The Rugby World Cup will be an amazing event. There is no question of that. But it is important that rugby is not the only winner. 

Whitton will be host to the World Cup and it is essential that this is not all it will be. As a host we have to take the positives with the negatives. We mustn't forget what our residents will endure; traffic congestion, noise, hoards of rugby supporters taking over the town and much more. And by and large this is accepted and taken as part of being a neighbour to the RFU.


However, a World Cup’s success is built not only on the success of the sport, and hopefully the home nation, but on how a legacy is built around it. You only have to look across the City to see how Stratford benefited from the Olympics. New shopping centres, transport links and the fantastic Queen Elizabeth Park to name but a few. 

But what is the planned legacy for Whitton? What about the critical infrastructure requirements needed not only to alleviate rugby traffic but also to improve the lives of local residents. Yes, Whitton Station is getting rebuilt but this is part of an original planning agreement on the construction of the South Stand.  What about the possibility of opening up access to the station from the A316 to allow rugby supporters a direct route to not only Twickenham Stadium but also Harlequins’ Stoop? 

Additionaly, residents of the Rosebine estate are concerned about being cut off from Whitton and Twickenham. They have called for a pedestrian bridge. Is not now the perfect opportunity to consider utilising the World Cup to bring about legacy projects such as this that will benefit the long term transportation, access and living requirements of supporters and residents alike? A bridge would also go a long way to improving safety when crossing the A316.

And finally, I would also like to raise the plight of Murray Park and its hall. This is Whitton’s key open space yet it is blighted by a hall which is crying out for investment. Only this week I have been contacted by residents complaining that it is being used more as a climbing frame than a community asset. 

Here is a chance for the RFU\EWC2015 to engage with the Council to transform the park and the hall by creating a fantastic legacy for not only the people of Whitton but also future rugby stars by providing a space and facility for kids and adults alike to come to play and watch rugby. The hall could be refurbished or rebuilt to provide changing areas and a cafĂ©. Much like the rejuvenated and highly successful hall in Kneller Gardens. What an amazing building this could be and what a long standing legacy to the World Cup in Whitton.

The park could benefit from rugby posts just like other parks across the country that have benefited from the RFU’s ‘Post for Parks’ initiative. Murray Park is the closest park to Twickenham Stadium yet it doesn't appear to have been considered in any plans for the World Cup. This would be a missed opportunity and I ask this Council to ensure that this won’t be the case and the it works with the RFU\EWC2015 to ensure that Whitton, alongside rugby, benefits from this World Cup.