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Dominic Palacio – Changing Lives Through the Power and Influence of Sport

Dominic Palacio, Head of Community at Richmond Rugby, spoke to The Richmond Society on Thursday 15th April 2021 about the extensive work of Richmond Rugby in the community, particularly during the pandemic.

Dominic writes:

Richmond Rugby Community department, at its basic level is to promote and encourage the participation of rugby in local borough schools and we now deliver weekly rugby coaching in over 20 schools. Since the Covid pandemic hit we have had major restrictions delivering our normal work, so we decided to focus our resources helping those most in need in our local community.

Each school holiday we have cooked and delivered a nutritional meal to vulnerable children – averaging over 60 meals per day, we even cooked and delivered a Christmas meal for entire families on Christmas Day. We have a team of nearly 20 local volunteers who help us with the daily deliveries.

When schools were shut again by government in early January we focussed our effort in receiving and then refurbishing second hand laptops and tablets from local people every Saturday throughout January. To date we have had donated over 800 devices, and over 200 of which have been professionally wiped and refurbished and distributed to over 23 local schools.

Our other work extends to running a Rugby Rehabilitation programme for young men aged 15 – 18 years of age in HMP Feltham Youth Offenders Institute. And a joint partnership with the Met Police and the MCC foundation running a crime prevent programme – using sport as the platform to help educate children in deprived areas of the risks of gangs and criminal activity.

Sir Peter Hendy – Fifty years in public transport

Sir Peter Hendy, Chair of Network Rail, spoke to The Richmond Society on Thursday 18 March 2021 about his wide ranging and continuing experience in public transport in London and the rest of the country.

Sir Peter Hendy CBE, is arguably Britain’s foremost public transport expert. He is Chair of Network Rail, and was previously Commissioner of Transport for London for nearly ten years. He is also Chair of the London Legacy Development Corporation which is developing the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. In addition, he recently published his interim report into the connectivity of the four nations of the United Kingdom, a task commissioned directly by the Prime Minister.

Sir Peter lives in Richmond and is a member of our Society. He started his career in 1975 as a London Transport graduate trainee. He is a trustee of London’s Transport Museum and of the Science Museum Group. He was knighted for services to transport and the community in 2013 following the successful operation of transport during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, having been made CBE in 2006 after the London bombings of 2005.

The Richmond Society responds to the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames Culture Review

The Richmond Society, a civic and amenity charity of nearly 1,300 members in North and South Richmond Wards and part of Ham, Petersham and Riverside Ward, held a forum on Thursday 15 October 2020 to discuss how the Arts could help to revive Richmond. Participants were leading figures in the Arts and business in Richmond as well as the Council’s spokesperson for the Arts.

The forum was in the context of the deleterious effect on mental health and wellbeing caused by the coronavirus pandemic and its adverse effects on public life. At that point, people had been deprived of cultural nourishment for more than six months, although the availability of abundant open spaces in the immediate area and across the borough had been important to the preservation of physical and mental health in the face of widespread challenges affecting all sections of the population.

Richmond is rightly celebrated for the diversity and richness of its cultural and leisure offerings. When post-pandemic life returns to normal it is unlikely to be as it was before COVID-19 began to infect people at the beginning of 2020. People will have adjusted to a pattern of less frequent commuting and increased working from home, with more time for cultural, social and other leisure pursuits which they will seek increasingly in their immediate or nearby neighbourhoods.

Hence the concept of the 15-minute city in which proximity permits minimal travel between homes, workplaces, restaurants, cultural venues, parks and sports facilities. Richmond is ideally placed to benefit from this behavioural change. In many ways, it is already a 10-minute town.

Our virtual forum recognised that the Arts have a part to play in restoring vibrancy to a town centre made desolate by the demise of many retail, entertainment and hospitality businesses. It also showed that business and the Arts can work together for mutual and public benefit. For example, businesses have employees who are potential daytime consumers of the Arts; they may also have funds to sponsor something that fits their objectives. Property developers and landlords, with the encouragement of the local authority, could be asked to do more to support the culture sector. Hoardings around development sites could be made more interesting with information about local history or old photos. Recently, Be Richmond (the Business Improvement District) has led the way on this by producing colourful vinyl coverings for the windows of vacant shops. They feature local places of cultural interest – an initiative that we applaud. Be Richmond has other initiatives in the pipeline.

Our Borough is blessed with an abundance of parks and open spaces – amenities that make it so attractive as a place in which to live, work or visit. The present consultation should usefully examine whether they provide adequate facilities and are kept safe for the enjoyment of residents of all ages and abilities in the face of increased incidents of anti-social behaviour, particularly since the start of the public health emergency.

Although the decline in the retail sector began with the trend towards online shopping – i.e. before the pandemic – it was exacerbated by the effects of government measures to deal with the spread of the disease. People have been obliged to learn new habits. So the revival of the High Street may not be possible on the same terms as before. Fresh thinking is needed to bring shoppers, who are contributors to the local economy, back to retail centres. People will need another reason beside the acquisition of things to be persuaded to return. The shopping experience will have to be raised to a higher level of engagement and retailers will need to offer more than artful window displays and enticingly stacked shelves. The Arts sector can be a partner to them and to the local authority in devising imaginative ways to make this happen.

Many ideas for restoring vitality to the town emerged at The Richmond Society forum. These included:

  • Creation of a new town square as a permanent outdoor performance space for cultural performances near the under-utilised Old Town Hall and the Riverside.
  • A street-level location for the Museum of Richmond, which is all but hidden in a remote, difficult- to-access part of the Old Town Hall.
  • Pop-up exhibitions of contemporary visual arts in static window displays in vacant shopfronts.
  • Use of hoardings around building works to depict local artists.
  • Creation of a vibrant, creative studio space – possibly one or more of the many empty shops – to host active artists and help them financially to develop their own ideas, engage the community and create work that animates the townscape.
  • Allocation of studio space in vacant buildings such as the former House of Fraser department site in George Street where artists can work and produce everything from fashion to sculpture to music.
  • Production of a performing arts, circus-style street festival.
  • Bring landlords and artisans together.
  • Engage young people in re-building the cultural scene.

The present review of cultural services flows naturally from this initiative.

The Richmond Society is pleased that the Council is looking towards a ten-year vision for the culture sector and we are keen to work with all stakeholders on how it can be implemented.

Our enthusiasm is tempered only by our conviction that the need is more pressing than a ten-year view would allow. Therefore we would encourage the Council to take more immediate, shorter- term steps to support the cultural community.

Society to Council: Open public loos now to prevent anti-social behaviour

The Richmond Society has urged Richmond Council to provide public lavatories in a bid to prevent a repeat of anti-social behaviour witnessed in popular gathering places last year.

Action is needed urgently before the start of finer weather and the visitor season if Richmond is not to be plagued by incidents of urination and defecation on public and private property, including residents’ gardens.

Provision of public lavatories is under review by the Council with the aim of agreeing a plan of action by the end of March. There has been no indication that the Council will accede to residents’ demands for a permanent solution to the dearth of facilities or, as a temporary measure, install portaloos.

The Society is working with councillors for South Richmond, which attracts most visitors and where most incidents occurred in 2020. Areas affected included the Green, the Riverside and the Hill.

The Society’s Chairman, Barry May, in a message to Council Leader Gareth Roberts, said the absence of facilities raised issues of public health, hygiene, safety and decency.

He asked whether there is an allocation in the current financial year’s budget for provision of public lavatories. If not, what re-allocation is envisaged so that facilities can be put in place in time for this year’s visitor season?

“Given the damage inflicted by lockdown and other consequences of measures to deal with the coronavirus pandemic on the local hospitality, leisure and retail sectors it is only natural that the Council would wish to attract visitors. To do so without providing adequate facilities, however, would be reckless,” he wrote.

The Council’s Community Toilet Scheme, in which hospitality, leisure and retail premises are paid a monthly fee to allow members of the public who are not customers to use their facilities, whilst helpful in theory, has failed in practice.

Portaloos, although considered by some to be an unsightly second-best solution, would be better than no solution. They can be only a temporary stop-gap, however.

Homebase, Manor Road – development to go ahead

Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, has just declined to call in the development plans for the Homebase site in Manor Road. This means that the Mayor of London’s decision in October to approve the application stands and that the development will proceed, subject to the developer Avanton agreeing s106 terms with Richmond Council and the GLA securing the affordable homes and other contributions to make the development acceptable in planning terms.

Richmond Council despite expressing “extreme disappointment” at Mr Jenrick’s decision, has apparently decided not to seek a judicial review of the Mayor’s decision so unless a third party does so the development will proceed.

The development approved by the Mayor is for 453 new residential units in five blocks ranging from four to eleven storeys. This contrasts with the scheme which Richmond Council rejected in July 2019 which proposed 385 homes with buildings of four to nine storeys. The Richmond Local Plan has a maximum of six storeys!

The pictures show the scale of the proposed buildings compared with the current setting.

Photo mockup of Manor Road Development

Drawing of Manor Road Development indicating scale

Ironically the letter from the Ministry of Housing says: “The Government is committed to give more power to councils and communities to make their own decisions on planning issues, and believes planning decisions should be made at the local level wherever possible.”

The Mayor of London and the Government have ignored over 700 objections to the original plan rejected by Richmond Council. After the Mayor took over the role of planning authority in place of Richmond Council, the plans were further revised to increase density and height of the buildings. Thus the original objections which were principally about the effect on the immediate community, that the scale of development was over development of the site and would change the nature of the area and that the local amenities, especially transport, would be inadequate for the number of residential units applied even more to the revised plans but all were rejected. In addition the provisions of Richmond’s Local Plan have been overridden.

In this case local appears to mean regional!

A final point is that this development may set a precedent for other applications for buildings in excess of six storeys. Less “rus” in “urbe”.

Homebase – update

Since our last update the Council met on Tuesday 26 January and passed the following resolution which was proposed by Cllr Fleming (South Richmond), seconded by Cllr Baldwin (North Richmond), and received unanimous approval from councillors:

“The Council expresses its disappointment that the Secretary of State has not called in the Homebase application which the Mayor has resolved to approve though it would damage the character of the area. It recognises the strong feelings of residents on the subject and will continue to explore with them and their Ward Councillors the implications of the application and the scope for amelioration or challenge.”

It is heartening that this was a cross-party resolution reflecting the approach of Richmond Councillors and we look forward to working with them and local residents. It would seem that the Council has been advised that a successful judicial review of Mayor Khan’s decision is unlikely and that it would not be an appropriate use of resources to pursue one.

There remain issues about the weight the Mayor attached to the site’s good transport connectivity as part of his reasons for approving the development despite this not being so. For example, the hearing report claimed that North Sheen is served by 8 trains per hour to Waterloo despite 4 of them going away from Waterloo on the loop. Likewise, no account was taken of the changes announced by TfL in June 2020 reducing the bus services. Stephen Speak raised this point at the Council meeting and we hope the officers will consider the issue.

Heathrow’s expansion is lawful says the Supreme Court … but it is still a Pipe Dream

From the Richmond Heathrow Campaign,
Wednesday 16th December 2020:

The Supreme Court today upheld Heathrow’s appeal and concluded that the Transport Secretary was entitled in 2018 to ignore the UK’s climate change commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change and that the decision to progress Heathrow’s expansion to the planning stage is lawful.

There were always major gaps in the arguments for Heathrow’s third runway and the world has changed so much since 2018, not least because of Covid-19. Climate change is the greatest risk to aviation growth and last week the Climate Change Committee’s 6th Carbon Budget emphasised no net increase in UK airport capacity and that an increase at one airport means a reduction elsewhere – in other words levelling down the regions. Bio-fuels and carbon removal from the atmosphere are only partial solutions and demand will have to be constrained to achieve aviation’s net zero carbon.

If Heathrow still wants a 3rd runway it will have to restart the already delayed planning process with diminishing chance of success. The pandemic has highlighted Heathrow’s lack of financial resilience and the improbability of raising finance for a very expensive expansion in the face of growth constrained by climate risk. Heathrow should not waste billions of pounds on ill-judged expansion. Shareholders are unlikely to want to dilute a steady cash flow with the poor return from risky expansion without tax payer support.

Heathrow should give up its impossible ambition and focus on making Heathrow a better airport and re-enforcing London as the best served city in the world with its five airports.

Better surface access, more passengers per flight and replacement of international-to-international transfer passengers with UK passengers would be a good start. Reducing carbon, air pollution and noise, including no night flights, are crucial. It would be of great benefit to the UK generally for the recovery and subsequent expansion of air traffic to be shared across UK airports, instead of concentrated at Heathrow, thereby levelling up regional jobs and economies and better serving demand and world-wide access.

More than two million people, including Richmond and Kew residents, are exposed to Heathrow’s aircraft noise and attendant health risk but worse still they have experienced the threat of expansion for over a decade. Heathrow and the government should abandon a further decade of expansion and flight path uncertainty and focus on reducing existing noise misery. Residents now know how much better life can be without aircraft noise.

One certainty is the opposition to Heathrow’s expansion from community groups, NGOs and local councils is stronger today than ever with the environment playing a much bigger part in society’s goals. Richmond Heathrow Campaign will continue to ensure that Heathrow’s expansion remains a pipe dream.

Richmond Heathrow Campaign represents three amenity groups in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames: The Richmond Society, The Friends of Richmond Green, and the Kew Society, which together have over 2000 members.

Jason Debney: Rewilding Arcadia

Jason Debney, Co-ordinator, Thames Landscape Strategy returned to The Richmond Society on Thursday 12 November 2020 to speak about how a multi-year project is setting out to help the river reclaim its floodplain in a managed and sustainable way, restoring the natural processes and habitats that once governed life along the Thames.

Notice of Annual General Meeting 10 December 2020

All members of The Richmond Society (Charity number 1169079) are invited to attend the Annual General Meeting which will be held virtually by Zoom on Thursday 10 December 2020 at 7:30 pm.

Please register in advance to attend this virtual AGM by sending an email to secretary@richmondsociety.org.uk. We need at least 20 members to attend online to enable the meeting to go ahead and to transact the necessary business.

Agenda

Before the formal business of the meeting the Trustees will present a review of the Society’s work during the year and members will have the opportunity to ask questions. In addition, a presentation on the Society’s future visual identity will be shared with members.

1. Trustees’ review of the Society’s work during the year and presentation of new visual identity

2. Ordinary resolutions

a. To note the Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of 5 December 2019

b. To receive the Annual Report and Accounts for the year to 30 September 2020

c. To elect the Chairman, Honorary Secretary, Honorary Treasurer

d. To elect or re-elect other Trustees

3. Any other business

Elections

The current Trustees are:

   

Chairman

Hon Secretary

Hon Treasurer

* Barry May

* Anne Koutsabeloulis

* Andrew Coleman

    Marketing & Comms

Membership

Vice Chair and Planning

Systems & Heathrow

Infrastructure

Landscaping and Riverside

* Simon Clarkson

Ginny Curry

Louise Fluker

Neil Maybin

* Stephen Speak

* Nicky Wood

The following being eligible offer themselves for election: Barry May as Chairman; Anne Koutsabeloulis as Honorary Secretary and Andrew Coleman as Honorary Treasurer.

The Society has 6 trustees (other than the Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer), one third of whom must retire in accordance with the constitution. Accordingly Nicky Wood and Stephen Speak retire and being eligible offer themselves for re-election having been proposed and seconded.

Under the constitution trustees who were appointed during the year must retire but are eligible to stand for election. Simon Clarkson was appointed a trustee on 11 August 2020 and being eligible for election has agreed to stand. He has been proposed and seconded.

Noel Flannery CIPFA has acted as Independent Examiner for 2019-20. He feels he cannot continue as he is moving away from Richmond.

Further Nominations

Nominations are invited for the positions of Chairman, Honorary Secretary, Honorary Treasurer and other Trustees. These must be submitted in writing by 19 November 2020 to the address below or by email to the secretary at secretary@richmondsociety.org.uk. Candidates for election must be Society members who are willing to serve, and must be proposed and seconded by Society members.

How to Participate

Please register in advance to attend the virtual AGM by videoconferencing by sending an email to secretary@richmondsociety.org.uk.

We need at least 20 members to attend online to enable the meeting to go ahead and to transact the necessary business so please do join us.

The meeting will be held via Zoom. Your video conferencing experience will be better if you have downloaded the Zoom app and it is up to date. Once you have registered, you will receive a confirmation email containing instructions and the Zoom meeting link which will allow you to join the meeting. You will need to keep this safe and easily available for Thursday 10 December. Check your spam/junk mailbox if you are unable to find it. If you have any problems receiving the link or any queries, please email secretary@richmondsociety.org.uk.

We will open the meeting just before 7:15 pm and send you to a virtual waiting room until shortly before 7:30 pm when you will be admitted to the meeting.

The final agenda and relevant papers will be circulated by email in advance of the meeting and will also be available on our website www.richmondsociety.org.uk.

If you have household membership, each of you has a vote. As voting will be done electronically you each need to register separately and you each need to use your own device for your votes to be counted.

How to ask a question

Zoom has a function called Chat at the bottom of the screen on a laptop or desktop, but it varies depending (a) whether you are using the Zoom app or linked through your browser or (b) the type of device, so you will need to familiarise yourself with this before the meeting.

Press the Chat button then type your question in the space provided and press send. The Chairman will see questions as they are entered and will take them in order. You will have the opportunity to ask a supplementary question after the answer (provided you have unmuted yourself).

After all relevant questions have been answered, the Chairman will put each resolution to the vote. This will be done on screen.

How to vote

When it is time to vote, the Chairman will put each resolution to the vote by means of an electronic poll and will launch the voting. You will see on your screen a box with options to vote in favour or against the resolution or to withhold your vote. You vote by choosing your preferred option. Once everyone has voted, the poll will be ended and the results announced.

Meeting Recording

Please note that we will be recording the meeting for the purpose of producing the minutes and this may be posted on the Society’s website. If you do not wish to be recorded on video, please make sure you disable the video camera icon on your screen.

Richmond Society Heritage Walks 2020

Inevitably our planned series of Summer Season Heritage Walks, our forty-first series, scheduled for alternate Wednesday evenings through May, June and July had to be postponed due to Government restrictions on public gatherings from March onwards.

However, with a sense of optimism and mindful of the need to implement necessary social distancing and other measures, we planned a series of three walks on alternate Wednesday evenings through September under the titles ‘Celebrating Richmond Bridge and Riverside’, ‘Celebrating The Terrace Gardens and The Hill’ and ‘Celebrating The Green and Richmond Palace’ – each limited to twenty, pre-booked places.

Much to our surprise and delight, the three, planned walks were vastly oversubscribed, and led to our doubling each of the walks, planning a series of six walks between 2nd September and 7th October. Our walks along the riverside between Old Palace Lane and Petersham Meadows on the evenings of the 2nd and 9th September were most successful, saving for the now inevitable conflicts with the ever increasing number of cyclists using the towing path between Water Lane and the Meadows, even in the early evenings. In accordance with long-established custom, each walk finished with an adjournment to the spacious Rose of York on the Petersham Road and lively conversation until closing time.

Very sadly however, the coming into effect of the Government’s more restrictive Regulations on Monday 14th September, two days before our third scheduled walk; their lack of clarity and lack of consistency with the official Guidance only published the previous Friday; and the Committee’s concern not to place members at undue risk, led to our having to disappoint the eighty or more members who had booked for the last four walks in the series by bringing the series to a premature end.

We very much hope that by next summer we will be able to reinstate the summer series of walks free of the increasingly complex and ambiguous restrictions under which we presently live.

Paul Velluet and Adam Harrison