• Webcast and Minutes of the Council debate on the barge house, November 25 2014

http://www.richmond.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/153502/start_time/7380000

Debate starts at 01:34.

From the Minutes:

55. Debate on Opposition Priority Business: “The Gloriana barge house project”.

“Cllr Knight introduced his call for a debate, saying that the matter was topical and had resulted in significant amounts of Council expenditure. He stated that the expenditure had taken place without consultation, debate, scrutiny, or announcement, adding that the Gloriana project had only became known to Cllrs on both sides of the chamber because the Leader had mentioned it during a dinner event.  The Leader of the Opposition felt that the project had been pursued in secrecy without any desire for openness or accountability, particularly at the ballot box, as emphasised by a lack of published decisions and public awareness until after the election.  Cllr Knight said that the breakdown of costs that had been provided did not take account of the time Council officers had spent on the project.  He concluded by saying that he hoped the Leader would apologise and offer reassurances that there would not be any future abuse of process.

Cllr Fleming said that she felt the opposition were “miserable” and against any improvements being made in Twickenham.  She said it would have been an honour for the borough to host the work of a local master boat builder and that it would be of great benefit to local people.  She accused the opposition of lauding misinformation which scuppered any chance of the project coming to fruition.  Cllr Fleming felt that a majority of local people wanted the Gloriana to be housed locally.

Cllr Ehmann stated that Lord True had had over a year to prepare for a debate on Gloriana, but instead worked in secrecy.  Cllr Ehmann noted the results of the consultation which showed that around 8/10 people were against the Gloriana being housed on the Orleans Park riverside.  He accused the administration of being “covert”, with the Leader having made plans prior to the election, but choosing to keep any knowledge of them away from the public and the Conservative Group.

Cllr Samuel said that the sum of money that had been spent on Gloriana was insignificant when compared to that spent on the failed Twickeham Riverside project, led by the then Liberal Democrat administration in 2010.  He stated that it was correct to seek various ecological and financial reports before any firm proposal was formulated, especially as Gloriana’s operators had set out a detailed specification for any boatyard.  He concluded by saying that the Administration took account of consultation results, which was something he accused the opposition of not doing in 2010.

Cllr Roberts stated that the feasibility study had been completed during 2013 and so believed that Gloriana should have been public knowledge in time for the election.  He said that residents were disappointed Gloriana was now not going to be hosted in the borough, stating that this was the result of the Administration’s mishandling of the project.

Lord True said that he had ambition for Twickenham, after it had suffered many years of neglect as a town.  Lord True felt that Gloriana would become part of the nation’s heritage, so chose to use what influence was available to him to try house it in Twickenham.  He said that the operators of Gloriana had specified very particular needs for housing the vessel and as a result, a feasibility study was undertaken prior to a consultation which rejected the proposed site.  The Leader believed that apologies should be made by the opposition for circulating disinformation.  Lord True concluded by saying that he will continue to put forward creative ideas for Twickenham.”