Saving Twickenham Riverside - Page One
For many years the derelict site of Twickenham outdoor swimming pool or lido on Twickenham Riverside was an important factor in local elections in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. It was thought this situation came to an end when a referendum was carried out which overwhelmingly stated once and for all that the people of Twickenham did not want the land sold for property development. The plot of land in the 2009/10 episode of Twickenham Riverside became a public park called Diamond Jubilee Gardens. [update 2016]However, the remaining part of the plot, and an additional adjacent part of the site, recently purchased by the Council for around £6m, has caused the battle to recommence.
Like the history of Twickenham Riverside the story of the referendum is covered by the mist of time (even a year or so!). These are the facts:
27 February 2009: I made contact with the government Department for Communities to enquire about ways of assessing public opinion
5 March 2009: The Department for Communities provided information on calling a referendum
17 March 2009: the Council was asked whether a referendum would be supported
Following the Council's refusal for a referendum I contacted Electoral Reform Services (ERS) and contracted with them to ballot 4,000 people at a cost of approximately £1 for each ballot. At this stage it was necessary to sign a letter of authorization and agree to underwrite the Referendum. I entered into the contract with Electoral Reform Services on 12 May 2009.
14 May 2009: A constituted body (Referendum on Riverside) and a bank account were set up: (a) to organise a referendum and (b) determine the popularity of proposals for the Riverside and to promote the community use of Twickenham Riverside.
18 May 2009: email from Electoral Reform Services: Hi Teresa, The result will be given to you 24 hours of the close: A proof will be provided within the two week turnaround period.
22 June 2009: email from Electoral Reform Services: Hi Teresa, As with all ballots and elections I will provide the results directly to you (and to you only) as the client.
25 June 2009: I received the final report on the Referendum from Electoral Reform Services:
Number of Eligible Voters: 4,090
Total Number of Votes Cast: 1,928
Number of votes found to be invalid: 18
Total Number of votes to be counted: 1,910
Question: Should public land on Twickenham Riverside be sold to a property developer?
Number voting YES: 125 (6.5% of the valid vote)
Number voting NO: 1,785 (93.5% of the valid vote)
Total cost: £4,000
Referendum costs were underwritten by myself as Electoral Reform Services required one person to sign the letter of authorization and take responsibility for costs; two local residents donated two-thirds of the Referendum costs and between the three parties we were able to pay the initial cost of £3,750 and the remaining £250 was paid once I received the results. Subsequently local residents donated money for the referendum and helped to repay much of the money to the initial donors.
Note: the area chosen to distribute referendum papers was based on the parish of St Mary the Virgin, Twickenham.
Teresa Read 24th June 2013
Articles written for the local media by Teresa Read in 2009
17 March Local Democracy in Action
29 March Planning for Sustainable Communities
22 April Twickenham Riverside Referendum
10 July The People of Twickenham Make Their Position Clear
15 July Support the Referendum
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