Two months after he announced proposals to bring the Gloriana to Twickenham, Richmond Council leader Lord True spoke to the RTT’s Tom Ambrose of his sadness as the project lay dead in the water:
Q. What prompted the early decision not to proceed with the Gloriana plans?
A. The council thought it would be a nice idea. The Gloriana is one of the beautiful works of art created in this country. There were those who said it was a done deal from the start and they were wrong. It became clear from emerging results there would be a significant majority against this site so why not take an early decision?
Q. Could planning issues have been resolved if a planning application had been submitted?
A. In the cabinet report, there were those issues that needed to be addressed. I think a number of them certainly could have been dealt with – for example, some thought was being given to the size of the structure. But we never want to impose something on an unwilling public.
Q. Do you have any regrets about the way the council handled the proposal?
A. I wish it had come out later. My regret is that, having heard the news they [Gloriana trustees] were minded to go ahead with a planning application, I blurted that out at the mayor-making dinner because I thought it was good news. We should have waited to prepare the consultation, allowing us to present the facts. It wouldn’t have allowed people who invented untruths to get their stories out.
Q. Is it true you turned down the opportunity to attend a cross-party crisis meeting with local MPs and councillors about the Gloriana site?
A. This was an idea from the failed Liberal Democrat candidate Dr Susan Burningham. She sent me an email late in the day. I think it was a spoiling move, not a serious move. It was a matter for the Gloriana trustees and I certainly think we wanted to see the results of the consultation – why should I pre-empt the results?
Q. Are you sad about the way it turned out?
A. Of course I would be sad to see it go elsewhere when it was built by our own Mark Edwards. I’m sad in the sense that it is a pity we could not provide it with a home in the borough it was conceived. But I am not personally aggrieved that I put forward an idea that didn’t come to fruition . .