The battle over the future of Twickenham riverside recommenced briefly this week, after the decision to grant a 125-year lease was called in.
Richmond Council agreed to grant the lease of the Diamond Jubilee Gardens to the Twickenham Riverside Trust (TRT), which said it wanted to preserve, protect and improve the riverside, provide charitable facilities for community events and educate people on the history and environment of the area.
Details of the lease are still to be ironed-out, with covenants in place to ensure a get-out should things not go to plan.
The decision was called in by the Liberal Democrats and the call-in was heard on Wednesday, April 9, at York House.
Speaking at the start of the meeting, Councillor Martin Elengorn said: “There are two issues I have been seeking reassurance on.
“One is about are what efforts were made to assess the capabilities of this group. The second is the more interesting issue that is the terms of the lease.
“When I suggested to the council that this was not a usual lease I was sent the main terms of it and it is unusual. The council is left with a lot of responsibilities such as accidents, not a great deal is passed on to the trust.”
In 2010, the council carried out the Barefoot Consultation, a questionnaire and series of meetings asking people what they felt was important and needed improvement in Twickenham.
The survey found that 49 per cent of those polled considered a town square a priority.
Other important facilities mentioned were parks and open spaces, further pedestrianisation, shops as well as recreation and entertainment.
Other key points discussed were whether a councillor should be a trustee of the TRT.
Coun Samuel said: “A council officer is involved in the trust and I find it amazing that any councillor sits there and questions if the trust have professional abilities.”
Barry Edwards, UK Independence Party candidate and campaign manager, wanted the decision be referred back to committee.
He said: “A lot of people who shop in Kingston and Richmond said Twickenham should have all that as well.”
After the meeting, Mr Edwards said the future of Twickenham was “no longer in the hands of the community”.
Sheila Hale, one of the trustees, spoke about the make-up of the trustees, giving councillors details of those involved and their background.
Fellow trustee Edward Davies also spoke in support of the TRT’s plans.
The committee noted the decision, which enabled the project to progress.
Speaking after the meeting, Coun Samuel said: “I thought we comprehensively defeated them.
“Martin Elengorn said it was a worthwhile meeting but there were previous occasions to call it in and instead it is left until five weeks before an election - it is obvious what they were up to.
“Barefoot set the scene but things move on - we have continued the approach and developed it.
“It was a shameless attempt by the Lib Dems to derail the whole project.”