A few of the issues of interest and concern to me, and which will continue doing so in February.
The number of cases is falling, but, with so many in intensive care, deaths have still been rising. Richmond continues to be below the England average for both – a small mercy.
The vaccination programme made an impressive start in the Borough. The atmosphere that accompanied it was wonderful to witness. The quiet fortitude of older patients encountered great organisation, fantastic volunteers and cheerfulness. The progress on vaccinations has created hope and optimism for many people whose lives have been stunted in the past year.
We know that some of the enforced changes from lockdowns will only be partially reversed. Internet shopping was growing steadily for the 10 years before last March, and then almost doubled in 4 months. Working from home will also remain at higher levels. Most people want to continue permanently or some of the time. Many businesses look to reduce office space and change location.
The talk is of “repurposing” retail and office space. It could present opportunities, but, without care, it can produce more rapid, uncontrolled degeneration of high streets and town centres.
In producing a new Local Plan for the Borough we are having to respond to government proposals that would remove planning constraints on permitted development. My own view is that some of the proposals will be dropped or compromised on, but enough will remain to continue the trend to further limit local government’s control over planning applications and planning in general.
The problems from the change of contractor coinciding with both the virus outbreak and greater volumes have been serious for missed collections and, often, repeated misses. I believe that the evaluation has been frank and the actions taken effective. More and better contractor management/supervision, plus new vehicles with cab technology, have led to the essential improvements and reduction in complaints. This has been achieved even with the workforce being impacted by the virus. I hope that residents are seeing a difference?
Cross Deep Traffic
Concerns about Cross Deep traffic have been a constant for some time. So, I am pleased that residents have received a letter to gauge their views on a one-way system and traffic calming measures. This consultation is open to February 19th. I shall, with fellow Councillors, press for early feedback on the views expressed and the Council’s response.
Twickenham Riverside Consultation
This closes on February 6th. You can find what is proposed on the Richmond website.
It is now thought to be 201,713, and a rise of 6% by 2030 is expected.
Cllr Richard Bennett
South Twickenham Ward. Leader, Green Group