MP Vince Cable has defended his decision to stay out of a row over Richmond Council's plans for Twickenham Riverside.
The Twickenham MP defended his stance as business owners protested outside York House before handing in a petition signed by 160 independent traders to Richmond Council at its cabinet meeting on July 14.
The proposals include plans for a river centre and a housing complex but traders say a leisure centre would be of greater benefit to residents and their businesses.
Protesters carried banners aimed at Twickenham MP Vince Cable, reading 'R U Mr TV or R U Twickenham's MP' and 'Vincent Cable did you forget your local halo'.
But Dr Cable said it was not his job to interfere with local planning issues. He told the Informer: "I have made my views on the subject clear – I support the river centre but I think there are too many houses in the proposals.
"I have been doing my job as an MP – I am not a councillor. This is a council matter. I work closely with local traders and I will continue to do so but the campaigners must get out of the way of thinking that it's the job of an MP to solve local planning matters."
Campaigner Teresa Read said: "Stretching from Richmond Bridge all the way through to Twickenham Green, including Twickenham town centre and the village of St Margarets, traders and retailers have said no to the development of Twickenham Riverside."
At the meeting Tory spokesman councillor David Marlow tabled a motion asking the council to accept the results of an independent referendum - conducted by the Electoral Reform Services and funded by campaigners – which recorded a 93.5 per cent vote against the plans.
Council leader Serge Lourie has refused to accept the referendum, as he says the question – 'should public property on Twickenham Riverside be sold to a property developer' – was leading.
Raj Atwal, who runs Snappy Snaps in London Road, said local businesses would prefer to see a leisure development built there. "I've been a resident of Twickenham all my life and I remember a time when I used to go swimming on the site with my parents in the 70s. It seems a crime to sell this public land off to a private company.
"This development will bring in 30 or so families as potential customers to our local businesses but a community or leisure site would bring in so many more. The site has been derelict for so long and the right development could bring the town centre to life and help local businesses."