Aware that his position had changed somewhat over the recent weeks, the St Margarets Community Website has asked out local MP, Dr. Vincent Cable to clarify his current position on the wine bar and explain his reasoning.

He stated that, “I wrote to the council in support of the objectors and I have not changed my position.”

I was originally approached by Broadway Avenue residents who had accumulated a petition and made a strong, well argued case for rejecting the application.

I frequently decline to be involved in planning matters, for which there is an established local government quasi judicial process, and do so selectively. I do so either where there are broad issues of policy or, as here, where a substantial number of objections are involved and there is clearly a strong community interest. I decided on this occasion to assist the residents who had approached me for help.

I now gather that there have been written expressions of support from other residents in favour of the project and the developers have approached me to explain, inter alia, that they have made serious efforts to accommodate local objectors. Overall, however, I believe, on balance, that it is right to have spoken up for the objectors for three reasons. First, the problems resulting from a large new wine bar development are experienced by the immediate neighbours, not by the residents living further a field who patronise it. Second, I believe that there is more than enough drinking capacity in the borough already. I have been heavily involved over the summer trying to help local residents, living near licensed premises, cope with the implications of the new licensing act and have been struck by the growing intensity of feeling about the amount of disturbance, in the form of noise and anti-social behaviour, caused by even the most ‘upmarket’ establishments. And, third, other things being equal, I tend to take the side of objectors on planning issues since the planning system is already biased against them. The developer can appeal against a rejection of the application. They can also reapply. Objectors have no right of appeal once the application is passed.

Dr Vincent Cable, MP 2a Lion Road Twickenham TW1 4JQ Member of Parliament for Twickenham, Teddington, Whitton and the Hamptons