Thursday, 21 December 2017

Richmond Council demands Government must address growing issue of HMOs

The Government must make changes to housing and planning legislation in order to deal with the growing issue of sub-standard and overcrowded houses in this borough and beyond.

A letter to the Minister of State for Housing and Planning from Richmond Council Cabinet members calls on the Government to urgently, and without delay, address the issues relating to Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMOs).

HMOs are houses in which at least 3 tenants live, forming more than 1 household and facilities such as toilets, bathrooms and kitchens are shared with other tenants.

In particular, the Cabinet members for Environment, Planning, and Housing and Public Health urged the Government to prioritise removing the ‘storey rule’ so all houses, regardless of how many floors, with five or more people from two or more separate households are within HMO licensing regulations. The Council will then be equipped to tackle poor standards, migration and the problems being seen in high risk smaller properties as the sector has grown.

Cllr Pamela Fleming, Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for Environment, Business and Community said:

“The current legislation regarding HMOs is flawed and requires immediate attention. The Council is particularly concerned that the Government continues to drag its feet with changes only due in April 2018, almost two years after they were first proposed.

“In the meantime, the number of HMOs has grown whilst Councils still lack the legislative authority to ensure housing in our borough is of a high standard, and that our residents are not living in cramped, unhealthy developments.

“We want to make it clear to the Government that it must prioritise action over HMOs before sub-standard, over-crowded housing, and all its flow-on effects begins to impact the character and quality of life within our borough.”

Cllr Martin Seymour, Cabinet member for Planning and Strategic Development said:

"The Council intends to apply for an Article 4 directive to remove permitted development rights in these instances and deal with the issues arising from HMOs in the borough. The current planning controls available to the Council could be even more effective if there was a clearer Government definition of what constitutes an HMO. So we would like to see the Government make these directives stronger so it is more effective in regulating the spread of HMOs.”

 Cllr Mark Boyle, Cabinet member for Housing, Public Health and Community Safety said:

 “There is significant concern that the current system allows landlords to game the system by registering bedsit rooms within an HMO as separate self-contained flats despite the property clearly being an HMO in planning and licence terms.

“These landlords are then able to claim housing benefits far in excess of what they should be entitled to, thereby wasting a significant amount of resources and taxpayer's money and these issues need to be addressed.”

Deep Concerns raised regarding South Western Railway's Proposed Timetable for Whitton

Responding to changes proposed to the scheduled railway timbale into Whitton, Cllr Gareth Elliott, said:

"I am deeply concerned about the changes that are being proposed by SWR and its impact on Whitton, particularly the suggested changes to peak time semi-fast trains into London Waterloo.

"Whitton is a significant commuter town with more entries and exits than some larger cities. Additionally, Whitton station has recently been upgraded which makes these proposed changes seem rather perverse."

Cllr Elliott added that he is working with Richmond Council to raise this issue urgently with South Western Rail.

You can also respond to South Western's consultation on the issue here: www.southwesternrailway.com/contact-and-help/timetable-consultation

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Richmond Borough Conservatives Survey

Dear Resident
Whitton and our wider Richmond Borough is a wonderful place to live and work and we are proud of our record of delivering for local residents and businesses. 

We strive to run a Council that listens to its residents and we would be grateful if you could spare a few minutes to complete this short survey by clicking on the link below.


https://www.richmondboroughconservatives.org.uk/form/richmond-survey


Many thanks

Cllr. Gareth Elliott, Cllr. Grant Healy and candidate, Sophie Lister
Whitton Conservatives - Passionate about Whitton
#TeamWhitton

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Catch Up QT: Whitton Question Time


Catch up on Whitton's very own Leader's Question Time with several issues discussed including Turing House, Twickenham School, Parking, Whitton Station among others.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Need help with your IT - Council Taster Sessions Available

Need help with some office applications or would like a refresher on Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher? Want to get your digital files and folders stored and sorted? Then this month’s free IT help sessions could be just for you.

They take place at the Information and Reference Library, Richmond in the second week of November and are great hands-on sessions. Get some great tips from our friendly and knowledgeable staff who will guide you through the basics.

Sessions are free but booking is essential.

Date

Time

Topic

To Book

Monday 13 November

10.30am-11.30am

Word

Go here

Tuesday 14 November

2.30pm-3.30pm

PowerPoint

Go here

Wednesday 15 November

10.30am-11.30am

Publisher

Go here

Thursday 16 November

2.30pm-3.30pm

Excel

Go here

Friday 17 November

10.30am-11.30am

Files and Folders

Go here

Saturday 18 November

10.30am-11.30am

Apps for Beginners

Go here

 

Cllr Gareth Elliott, Cabinet Member for Digital and Technology, said:

“Today, more of our lives, whether at home or at work, are spent using digital devices and require a basic level of digital skills.

 

“Whether you are dipping your toes into the digital world for the first time or are looking to refresh some of your knowledge these sessions present a great chance to get useful tips on how you can maximise the value of your digital devices.  

 

“The friendly and knowledgeable staff will be on hand to walk you through the basics, answer any questions and give you some great tips. These sessions are always popular so I urge you to book sooner rather than later!”

Monday, 30 October 2017

Take care this Bonfire Night

Richmond Council is asking you to take care of yourself and be thoughtful of others if you’re celebrating bonfire night on Sunday

 

The Community Safety Partnerships wants to remind people that, although fun, fireworks can be dangerous and cause serious harm if used incorrectly – so please take care. 

 

Cllr Mark Boyle, Cabinet Member for Housing, Public Health and Community Safety, said:

 

“Bonfire Night is a great British tradition and an opportunity for families and friends to come together and enjoy themselves - but we’re asking people to have fun responsibly. 

 

“Statistics from previous years tell us a majority of injuries sustained from fireworks being used incorrectly have been pre-school children, some even as young as one. The last thing anyone wants is to have to spend bonfire night seeking medical care, so we ask parents to keep a particular eye on younger kids.

 

“Whether you’re setting off fireworks in your own garden or in public it is important to take care, be thoughtful of those around you and be sensible.“

 

Parm Sandhu, Borough Commander of Richmond Police Service added:

 

"Bonfire Night is always a fun evening but it is important that people understand the dangers fireworks pose. I would encourage people to go to organised firework displays if they can, but if they do decide to hold their own display, that they follow the firework code.

 

“We are working with retailers and colleagues from the Fire Brigade and Council to ensure that shops don’t sell fireworks to children. Safer Neighbourhood teams will be patrolling in the evenings and will deal very positively with underage possession and misuse.  Overall we want people to have a great evening and stay safe.”

 

The Community Safety Partnership are also asking residents to be vigilant and ensure they buy fireworks from a licensed retailer and not to buy loose fireworks that may have been tampered with. 

 

It is legal to set off fireworks in your garden if you are over the age of 18. However, it is illegal to set off fireworks in your own garden before 7am and after 11pm. On Bonfire Night you are legally allowed to set off fireworks until 12am.

 

Tickets for Richmond’s Annual Fireworks Display are on sale from www.vistrichmond.co.ukand from the Civic Centre. Prices start from £8 for adults and £5 for kids (under 16).


Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Richmond Upon Thames voted happiest place to live in London

Richmond upon Thames has been voted the happiest place to live in London after almost 17,000 people across Great Britain were asked to rank how happy they feel in their local area.

Property website Rightmove asked people to rank twelve factors about their local area, ranging from how friendly the neighbours are and how much people feel that they can be themselves, to how good the local services are.

Richmond upon Thames came top in London – beating all other boroughs for its nature and green spaces, friendly and polite residents, a borough with a ‘sense of belonging’ and community spirit.  The borough scored 8th in the UK.

The leader of Richmond Council, Cllr Paul Hodgins, said:

"It is great to come top again and get confirmation of how we feel about Richmond locally. It is a superb place to live and work, and our residents and businesses are happy as a result of the quality of life in the borough.

“We go a step further in our friendly rivalry with other boroughs and say that Richmond is the best borough to live in. One of our borough's Freeman, Sir David Attenborough, says it is his favourite place in the world. We agree. 

“We have physical beauty in parks, open spaces, and our stretch of the Thames. But more importantly, we have an incredibly active community, with over 18,000 volunteers. 

“Our resident survey last year showed that 97% of residents were satisfied with the local area. And, we have worked closely with local people over the past few years on a number of local regeneration programmes across the borough. We have invested millions of pounds.

“We are the best in London and almost the whole country for value for money. We have outstanding schools, and we are one of the safest boroughs.

“As a result, our borough offers a strong community with a high quality of life, and this survey shows that residents are happy.”

Whitton ward Councillor Gareth Elliott said:

"For anyone who lives in this borough, this is something we already know and are extremely proud of.

"What frustrated me is the opposition Liberal Democrats who continually try to paint a picture of negativity that is completely at odds with the reality.

"We live in an amazing borough and we should sing loudly at what a great place it is. This survey vindicates what we already knew."

Thursday, 28 September 2017

UPDATE: Whitton Street Cleaning

Commenting on the ongoing street cleaning in Whitton High Street Cllrs Gareth Elliott and Grant Healy would like to update residents with the following:

"We are both very happy that the Council has undertaken to give our High Street a deep clean following calls from residents that the new York Stone paving has lost some of its shine.

This request was accepted and announced following a question from Cllr Healy at the last full Council meeting in September. 

The process is now ongoing but following a close inspection by both Cllrs Elliott and Healy, it was clear that the machines and processes being used were not adequate to the job. As a result, both requested the clean to be re-done and to look at new equipment that would be better able to finish the deep clean as expected.

Cllr's Elliott and Healy are happy to say that this request was accepted and agreed and new equipment will be brought over from Wandsworth to finalise and complete the deep clean in Whitton.

As this is the first cleaning of the new York Stone it was a new process for Richmond Council and lessons have been learned for which will make future cleaning easier and more effective.

Cllrs Elliott and Healy are proud that Whitton has one of the best high streets in Richmond and we want to keep it that way."

Bin It Your Way - chewing gum campaign launches

Today marks the start of a campaign to encourage people to throw their chewing gum away rather than dropping it on the street.
 
As part of the campaign, the Council will be setting up a photo cut out in the Civic Centre. We will also be taking the photo cut out to prominent places around the borough. So you can come on down and show how you bin it your way to support keeping our streets free of gum.
 
Cllr Pamela Fleming, Cabinet Member for Environment, Business and Community said:
 
“Dropping chewing gum is not only anti-social but it ruins the beautiful environment we are lucky to enjoy in the Richmond upon Thames.
 
“People may not know it costs Richmond Council £1.50 to clean up a 30p piece of gum. 
 
“I’m sure everyone would agree that money is much better spent on other services which enable residents to maximise their enjoyment of our outdoor spaces.” 
 
As part of efforts to clean up Richmond’s streets, people who drop gum could be subject to a fine of up to £80.
 
Pledge on www.richmond.gov.uk now to show others that dropping gum is not acceptable.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Whitton's High Street Deep Clean

High streets in Whitton, Twickenham and Richmond will be cleaned next week, in response to resident feedback.

As part of a wider Uplift improvement scheme, in 2011 Richmond Council invested £2m improving Whitton High Street. Similar investment was seen in 2015 when £5m was invested on King Street in Twickenham and prior to 2010 millions of pounds was also spent improving George Street in Richmond.

In recent months there have been a number of complaints by residents regarding the staining on the pavement caused by pollution, general wear and tear and chewing gum. 

York Stone is a well-used material used for pavements. It is long lasting. But it does take a number of years to settle. Any surface dirt will naturally wash away in periods of rain but the Council is conscious that there have been greater and extended periods of drier weather this year.  In response to residents’ requests, next week Richmond Council will commence with a ‘clean and wash’ in an attempt to try and tackle some of the grime.

Cllr Pamela Fleming, Richmond Council Cabinet Member for Environment, Business and Community said,

"We have invested millions of pounds improving roads and pavements across the borough through our Uplift and redevelopment programmes and initiatives such as the Community Pavement Fund.

"People are proud of their high streets and I fully understand their concerns regarding the staining on the new pavement stones. We have listened and have organised that next week we will carry out a clean of the three main high streets in Twickenham, Whitton and Richmond."

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

iTea & Biscuits: help sessions take place next week

Free IT Taster Sessions are being held next week to help Richmond upon Thames residents who want to know more about what’s available online.
The Council’s Library Services are encouraging people to come along to the IT taster sessions at the Information & Reference Library in Whittaker Avenue, Richmond where friendly, knowledgeable staff can help residents discover how to get the most from the world online.
Whether it’s setting up Facebook, Twitter or Skype accounts, learning the basics of eBay shopping or digital photography, or even how to get online TV, radio and eMagazines, our staff will be on hand to help you, and to ensure you stay web safe.
These free sessions are designed to help residents discover a little of the huge range of services available online and offer a gentle introduction for those new to what the internet can provide.
It’s just one part of our commitment to being a truly digital borough.
Booking is essential for all except the Tablets Made Easy drop-in session: www.richmond.gov.uk/events_in_libraries
They will be held:
DATE
TIME
TOPIC
Monday 11 September
5.00pm – 6.00pm
eBay for Beginners
Tuesday 12 September
10.30am – 11.30am
Facebook Basics
Tuesday 12 September
2.30pm – 3.30pm
Introduction to Skype
Wednesday 13 September
2.30pm – 3.30pm
TV & Radio Online
Wednesday 13 September
5.00pm – 6.00pm
eMagazines
Thursday 14 September
10.30am – 11.30am
Pinterest
Thursday 14 September
2.30pm – 3.30pm
Tablets Made Easy
Friday 15 September
10.30am – 11.30am
Digital Photos Basics
Friday 15 September
2.30pm – 3.30pm
Online Safety
Saturday 16 September
10.30am – 11.30am
Twitter for Beginners
Saturday 16 September
2.30pm – 3.30pm
Family History
 
Cllr Gareth Elliott, Cabinet Member for Digital and Technology, said:
“People are increasingly seeking out information and services online so it is only right we, as a council, keep pace with the digital world.
“The Council is increasingly focused on providing easy access to information and services online. These sessions are a great opportunity for residents to learn more about the range of services available to them.
“Whether you’re a beginner or just need a refresher, I hope you will take advantage of these sessions to improve your skills and boost your confidence with using technology.”

Friday, 1 September 2017

Have your say on 20mph zones - Grasmere Ave, Whitton Manor Drive and Old Manor Drive

Residents in Grasmere Avenue, Wills Crescent, Old Manor Drive and Whitton Manor Drive are being asked for their views on introducing 20mph speed limits and zones in their area.
The changes are being considered following a decision by Hounslow Council to introduce a borough-wide 20 mph rule.
Cllr Peter Buckwell, Cabinet Member for Highways and Street Scene said:

“These cul-de-sacs will be affected by Hounslow Council’s decision to alter speed limits as they join directly onto Hounslow Roads where the speed limits are being changed.
If residents support the change, we will work with Hounslow to advertise the traffic order – the legal document required to change speed limits – and implement the scheme.
There will be minimal disruption as the change only requires 20mph signs to be painted onto the road surface at various locations and no additional signage would be required.”
The deadline for feedback is 29 September 2017.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

UPDATE: Further Progress on the Duke of Northumberland River Walk

Cllr Elliott with the RFU's
Chris Donnelly
The Duke of Northumberland River is a wonderful hive of activity with all kinds of wildlife and flora and fauna. It is also a fantastic riverside walk but unfortunately, it can be a bit of a challenge to all but the most intrepid.

However, Richmond Council has been installing a new walkway which up to now has only got so far as the Harlequins’ Twickenham Stoop and Warren Road. Once the walk reaches Chase Bridge School and along Twickenham Rugby Stadium it reverts to a wild walkway. This has partly been because of ongoing negotiations between the Council and the RFU and fence lines and nature protection concerns.
RFU fenceline to be moved back

Cllr Elliott has been negotiating with the RFU to ask for their fence line to be moved back to install the new walkway and after sustained pressure, it is now on the table. Cllr Elliott met with the RFU’s Community Relations Manager, Chris Donnelly, who has agreed that the rugby union will indeed move the fence back and also work with the Council to enhance the area. Additionally, the RFU has also agreed to create a new nature garden at Chase Bridge School for the children.

Cllr Gareth Elliott said:



“It is great news that the RFU has agreed to work with the Council to open up this fantastic river walk to the people of Whitton. With the amazing wildlife and flora and fauna, this is a hidden gem in Whitton that I hope people, once the walkway is finished, enjoy and utilise. I look forward to when the works are finished.”

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Students in Richmond upon Thames school sixth forms are once again celebrating as they receive their A Level results.

Yesterday’s results show that the 429 pupils in school sixth forms achieved A Level results above those seen nationally. The proportion of all entries graded as an A* to C was 85%, an increase of 7% points since last year. This compares with the national average of 77%. 

 

The proportions achieving A* to B were similarly above national averages, whilst those achieving the top grades were in line, with 27% of all entries grades A* or A. 

 

The overall was pass rate was 99%. 

 

Cllr Susan Chappell, Richmond Council Cabinet Member for Schools, said:

 

“This is a fantastic set of results. This is only the third year since our secondary schools opened their sixth forms, giving parents and children greater local choices. 

 

“Over 400 students selected their school sixth form as a preferred local option and 99% of them passed! Plus, with 85% getting A* to C – our sixth forms are already performing way above the national average. Seeing improvements since 2016 is particularly impressive given the changes to the A-Levels.

 

“My congratulations go to the pupils, teaching staff and governors for their achievements and the amazing work that they do.”