Sports Letters: Rugby is alive in Richmond

Sir: Richmond upon Thames Council is not anti-rugby (Alan Watkins, 13 October). We have allowed Harlequins to expand, and we have allowed the Rugby Football Union to modernise so that the Twickenham stadium is one of the finest in the country.

As a rugby fan and as council leader I have been pleased to chair many meetings between rugby clubs and local residents, attempting to improve the understanding of both sides. In particular, Richmond Council was instrumental in 1996 in preventing a complete meltdown of the RFU's community relations, which have dramatically improved since.

Richmond and London Scottish have chosen to move their first-team games from Richmond Athletic Ground because they decided to change to a professional game, needing much larger attendances than they could fit into their ground. My council refused planning permission because all the extra building was environmentally unacceptable..

Alan Watkins' article is at least the third in The Independent this year putting the views of the clubs. Neither I nor my council's press office have ever been contacted for our side of the story. This would be automatic for a political story. Presumably sports journalism is an altogether rougher trade.

DAVID WILLIAMS

Leader,

Richmond upon Thames

Council

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