The appeal against Bromley Council’s decision in January 2018 to refuse planning permission to build a new school on St Hugh’s playing fields in Bickley is being heard this week (6 to 9 November 2018). The major revelation from the first day was the Council’s U-turn on a key reason for their refusal. Having maintained that the impact on local traffic as a result of the new school would be “severe” and therefore qualify as a valid planning ground to refuse permission, at the 11th hour the Council team admitted that in fact the traffic impact would “fall short of severe”. One can only guess at the waste of public funds arguing for that point only to concede it at the last minute.
The Planning Inspector deciding the appeal has confirmed that her decision will come down to road and pedestrian safety only; so looking at crossings of Bickley Road and the fact there is a narrow pavement on one side of Chislehurst Road only. We have always been of the view that if improvements need to be made here they are within the gift of the Council (funded under s106 by the ESFA/school) and so should not be a grounds to refuse but instead a condition of approval. If we are right about that, whatever the outcome of the appeal it seems an avoidable waste of public money (costs of such an appeal would easily exceed £1m).
The hearing will however hear from all those who requested to speak and on all issues including the shortfall of school places without the new Boys School and impact on residential amenity. It is notable and disappointing that no Tory Cllrs (who represent the wards closest to the school site and most in need of a local boys school) will speak at the hearing despite repeated requests by the school and parent campaign even those who had been very vocal and supportive of the school in the run up to the May local elections.
The hearing runs from 6th to 9th November inclusive 10am to 5pm at the Civic Centre, Stockwell Close, Bromley and si open to all members of the public.
Our latest election leaflet has now been delivered to every door in Bromley Town. You can read it here.
For too long the Conservative Council has prioritised the rights of the driver with regular public quotes such as “Bromley residents love their cars” and “drivers have rights too”. That may be true but as ever with this Council is short termist and out of touch with many residents. We have spoken to many people who would like to cycle themselves or for their children to cycle to school but are too afraid to do so in Bromley. And Bromley Council doesn’t even bother to apply for all funding available from TFL for such improvements.
Our latest update to local residents follwing the news that Bullers Wood for Boys school will make 1 Westmoreland home its temporary home from September 2018.
One of Bromley's Tory Councillors made the London wide news this week when the Evening Standard reported that Cllr Owens called Theresa May "stupid" over the new gender pay gap reporting requirements in an email to Cllr Arthur, the Councillor in charge of HR at the Council. Given that the Council itself has a gender pay gap of 16.5% despite almost 70% of the highest paid quarter of its staff being women, it is extremely disappointing that these Tory Councillors do not appear to understand let alone respect the very real issue of gender pay gaps.
Our latest Bromley in Focus leaflet will be coming through a letter box near you in the next week or so. Read it first here.
Sam Webber, one of our Council Candidates in Bromley Town, had the misfortune to experience first hand the chaos on trains stranded outside Lewisham station for nearly 5 hours on the evening of Thursday 2 March, when snow brought the rail system to an actual standstill.
Many residents around Bishops Avenue have told us how worried they are about cars speeding down the steep hill on that road particularly during school pick up and drop off times as there is a school gate at the bottom of that hill. The opening of La Fontaine school has increased these concerns, with many more children using the gate which is poorly signposted with no road markings. Rhian Kanat is a Lib Dem candidate in the council elections on 3 May – she is a local parent with a child at Bickley Primary and crosses Bishops Avenue every day; she echoes these concerns.
Here's the latest Bromley in FOCUS newsletter from your Bromley Town Lib Dem team!
On Wednesday 7 February, Rhian Kanat, Lib Dem Council Candidate in Bromley Town, asked the Council whether its code of conduct was fit for purpose. The question made reference to the negative public reaction to Cllr Catherine Rideout’s participation in the planning meeting on 25 January which revoked the Bullers Wood for Boys planning approval. Cllr Rideout had previously campaigned against the school as Chair of a local residents association, including authouring extremely partisan literature on the subject, but failed to declare that interest at the start of the meeting and then proceeded to speak in opposition to the application.