While we say goodbye to 2014 we can look forward to an exciting 2015. With the World Cup in October Whitton will find itself at the centre of the global stage and our village atmosphere and unique character within the London Borough of Richmond will be here for all to see and enjoy. And with the ongoing Uplift Programme continuing into 2015 we will also see the first stage of the much needed improvements to Whitton Station. While the more complex improvements, such as a new pedestrian bridge and lifts, will come in 2016 the station will get a much needed redesign in time for the World Cup including a new forecourt and improvements to the station building.
As we look forward it is also worthwhile looking back. 2014 saw the culmination of the High Street improvements and the complete transformation of Whitton into the desirable and attractive place we all know it is – a far cry from the state the Liberal Democrats left the town in 2010. From that point forward, and the election of the Conservatives, Whitton has never looked back and this was confirmed with the re-election of Councillor Gareth Elliott and the election of Councillor Grant Healy in the local election in May. 2014 also saw the important formation of the Friends of Murray Park which will prove critical in the ongoing campaign to improve this vital community asset and bring forward options for the update or renewal of Murray Park Hall. Not to forget the new additional improvements finished in Chase Green and Murray Park. Building works on the old car showroom mean that in 2015 Whitton will have a brand new purpose built Sainsbury’s which will enhance the retail offering in Whitton High Street and add to the attraction of the town for new shops. In fact, this is already happening with the publication of a planning consultation for a new wine bar at the end of 2014. With the new station, Sainsbury’s, and other new additions to the high street we hope to see even more opportunities arise in Whitton.
However, in 2015 it is important that we continue to drive and campaign for the best for Whitton. With the World Cup coming the RFU and English World Cup 2015 must ensure that they build a stage not only for rugby supporters but also for the local residents. Disruption must be kept to a minimum and adequate toilet provision must be put in place. The legacy of the world cup must also be felt in terms of community projects that will benefit Whitton beyond the tournament.
2015 is also election year and with Dr. Tania Mathias we have a real chance to unseat Vince Cable MP. After 17 years in power now is the time to ask what he has really achieved for Whitton. Up until 2010 he had failed to work with his Liberal Democrat Councillors in arresting the downward spiral of Whitton High Street which was only reversed once a Conservative Council was re-elected. He failed to bring about any update to Whitton Station. He has claimed victory in the postcode debate yet his hollow win is to force the Royal Mail to allow residents within Whitton with TW3/4 postcodes to write Whitton on their envelopes – something they do already. This will have no impact on resident’s concerns over house prices, insurance, and confusion over the use of council facilities such as waste depots. With months left in his position as Secretary of State for Business and responsibility for the Royal Mail we hope that he might bring about real change, but with 17 years of inaction we don’t expect too much. Tania will bring renewed vigour to the role of MP and we look forward to seeing her campaigning for Whitton as part of Twickenham and the London Borough of Richmond.
2015 is a year of opportunity and Gareth and Grant look forward to ensuring that our town continues to build on its success.