A Reasonably Upbeat Update
• The Circus will not be coming to Twickenham Green this year. The decision was taken on public health grounds.
• You may have noticed a ‘Cafe to Let’ sign on the railings of Radnor Gardens. The Council are in the process of selecting a new contractor. Nevertheless, the public toilets are being kept open and run by the Council until that happens.
• Green infrastructure. A revised grass cutting approach has resulted in an increase of natural meadow area in the Borough, and I am also pleased to see that a peat-free approach is being adopted. Planting of trees was suspended due to Covid-19, but there will be a significant planting programme over the 20/21 Winter period and some extra funds for it.
• Waste Collection. The unavoidable timing of a new contractor and new vehicles with the crisis was bound to impact on service performance. An increase of volumes from 316 to 391 tonnes per week also had to be contended with. I am confident that there will be a thorough appraisal of the problems experienced.
• Electric Vehicles. Lamp column charging points are up to 272, with plans to install a further 75 by next April.
• Fly-Tipping. I really hate this. So, I am pleased by the prospect of more energetic enforcement and a change of policy to fine rather than just warn on the first offence.
• Zero-Carbon Renewable Electricity. Agreement to purchase this in October has been finalised. Combined with actions following the Energy Audits of 30 major Council buildings the switch will reduce emissions and the costs of energy.
Government Planning Proposals
It’s difficult to maintain the upbeat theme on these.
One serious concern, that I anticipate will be shared by Liberal Democrats, Conservative and Green Councillors, is the increase in the Borough’s annual target for homes from 315 to 2,247! This is generated by a revised “algorithm”. The 700% increase would be environmentally damaging as well as unachievable. A robust cross-party response is promised this month.
Permission in Principle is intended to be much easier under the Government’s proposals. A worry is that developers will wait until these changes go through, in anticipation that building bigger and higher will become more permissible.
I am on the Planning Committee and the cross-party Working Group producing the new Local Plan. So, battles ahead.
Cllr Richard Bennett
South Twickenham Ward. Leader, Green Group