Richmond Council has hit back at Vince Cable in a dispute over exercise groups using Twickenham Green, claiming the Liberal Democrats leader doesn’t have the authority to interfere.
The Twickenham MP had called for the council to end its ‘jobsworth’ approach and show some common sense towards the One Element fitness group who want to increase their membership.
In response, the council has ruled out removing the cap of 20 people taking part in any outdoor exercise groups run by the One Element Bootcamp.
Elinor Firth, head of communications for Richmond Council, said: “Mr. Cable does not have the authority to change the terms of the permit that has been issued to One Element.”
The council feels that they have been very reasonable towards the fitness club who have breached their agreed contract.
They issued One Element with a permit for Twickenham Green which was terminated as they did not adhere to the conditions, they then issued them with a new permit to facilitate an increase in numbers.
However, they have then asked for their membership to be increased again which could cause overcrowding as they are not the only people to use Twickenham Green.
“The cricket and rugby club use the green, we have to take everyone into consideration. “I would suggest that Mr Cable look into all of the facts before commenting,” said Miss Firth.
The response will come as a blow to Mr Cable and One Element owner Tom Maurien, who have both reiterated a desire to make it easier for people in South West London to keep fit.
The council has claimed that the reason for limiting the number of members is because the group inflicts damage to the green.
Mr Cable watched the group’s fitness session for himself to assess the situation and see if there was any actual damage being caused.
He said said: “I am somewhat mystified as to the attitude of Richmond Council on this issue, especially after seeing the group in action and having seen the condition of Twickenham Green. As far I can see the exercise group inflicts no damage at all. This is in marked contracts to other events, such as fairs.”
Mr Maurein said, “The people who don’t want us to train on the green see us as an eye sore and obviously have friends in high places within the council.”
All members of the One Element fitness group live within a mile or two of Twickenham, and the council’s current position is making it more difficult for them to exercise.
Mr Cable has also pointed to the fact that exercise by the local residents should be encouraged and not discouraged.
He hopes that a compromise can be found and that certain areas can be ear marked for the group to carry out their fitness sessions.
Mr Maurien hopes that this saga reaches a conclusion as it is also affecting his business and is delighted that Mr. Cable has offered assistance.
Mr Maurien said, “I was over the moon when Vince Cable stepped in to help and really surprised that he has come out in support of us.”