High Rise School Blocked

Plans for a high rise school for 1200 pupils on one of the Borough’s busiest junctions at Bromley South have been refused by the National Planning Inspector who upheld the Council’s earlier decision to refuse planning permission.

We applaud the tireless and determined campaign by the local residents’ opposition group. A victory for them, the community and common sense. There is a desperate need for new schools to meet growing demand but this site has to rank as one of the most unsuitable in the borough.

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Lib Dems win fight to ban ‘upskirting’

Back in June last year, a Private Members’ Bill brought by Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse, making upskirting a specific criminal offence, was shamefully kicked out of Parliament by a backbench Conservative for no good reason. But we didn’t give up.

We kept campaigning and forced the Government to bring back the Liberal Democrat Bill.

The bill has progressed all the way through Parliament, and this week it became law.  

It gives people who wear skirts the strong legal protection they deserve. For too long this heinous, invasive practice was not considered a criminal offence, meaning that victims were unable to seek justice or protection. We are proud to have changed this.


It's a victory for women across the country, and a victory for progressive, forward-looking politics. 

Huge victory for renters’ rights

For too long, landlords have been able to impose huge unfair charges on renters with little government oversight.

Three years ago, the Lib Dems introduced a bill into Parliament to ban letting agents from charging excessive admin fees and protect tenants from rogue landlords.

This bill was left unfinished when the snap election was held in 2017, but we have continued to fight for renters’ rights.

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Lib Dem Pint

Thank you to everyone who came out in the rain to our Lib Dem Pint at the Goldsmiths Arms in Penge on 6th February. 

It was very jolly, and great to meet new members, old members and non-members alike.  Who doesn't enjoy the chance to have a good political gripe and help put the world to rights?


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The beginning of the end of Brexit?

"This is the beginning of the end of Brexit. With Parliament in deadlock, it is time to go back to the public."  So said Lib Dem leader, Vince Cable.   After one of the most fraught parliamentary weeks many of us can remember, no one is sure what will happen next, but the prospect of a people's vote is becoming closer than it's ever been.

Now Labour's no confidence vote has been lost, and the prospect of a General Election has all but disappeared, we must now all of us work to persuade Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party to follow the recommendations of their own party conference and support a People's Vote. 

Bromley Lib Dem Spokesperson Rich Wilsher said "Bromley voted in favour of remaining in the EU in the 2016 referendum, and the results of our public canvassing over the last two weeks shows that the number of people in favour of a people's vote in Bromley is higher than ever.  We urge the representatives of the Labour Party in Bromley to send a clear message to their leaders."

Take our survey and share your views on what you think should happen next.  

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Paddy Ashdown

Bromley Liberal Democrats share the sadness of the whole LibDem family at the news yesterday (22 Dec) of the death of Paddy Ashdown following a short illness.   

Vince Cable spoke for all of us when he said "This is a hugely sad day for the Liberal Democrats and for the very many people across political and public life who had immense affection and respect for Paddy."

Former leader Tim Farron said Paddy Ashdown had "saved and revived the Liberal Democrats at our lowest ebb ... we owe him our very existence".  

Tributes to Paddy have poured in from across the political divide and beyond.   As a party we owe him a huge debt, individually we all have our personal recollections of an energetic, inspiring and remarkable man who loved his country and was committed to serving it to the very end.    The voice of liberalism has just become slightly quieter.   

The party have set up an online book of condolences - you can add your name and comments here: www.libdems.org.uk/book-of-condolence-paddy-ashdown

Bullers Wood for Boys gets Planning Approval!

So pleased to hear that Bullers Wood School for Boys has won their appeal against Bromley Council’s decision to revoke their planning permission - the school will now be built on St Hugh’s playing fields, Bickley. A huge personal thanks and congrats to the core parent #BWSFB campaign team who worked tirelessly to achieve this result, never taking no for an answer despite the many bureaucratic and often unnecessary obstacles put in their way. Many questions about the financial and human cost of this drawn out process remain (the school first applied in July 2016), but for now, this news is a very welcome early Christmas Present to many. 

You can read the Planning Inspector's decision in full here.


Public Inquiry into New 10 storey school at 1 Westmoreland Road Concludes

The public inquiry into whether a 10 storey secondary school with no playing fields should be built on one of the Borough's busiest and most polluted junctions concluded on Friday 23 November 2018. Lib Dem campaigner, Rhian Kanat, spoke at the hearing as part of the residents group opposed to such a large school on this site. You can read her speech in full here.


There was disappointment amongst the local residents who have campaigned against locating the school here.  The Council failed to defend its refusal of planning permission, leaving local residents to try and fill in the key gaps in the defence, and the Council's transport expert did a U-Turn a week before the hearing and then gave evidence that he had "changed his mind" and no longer believed the school could be refused on transport and travel grounds.   Rhian Kanat commented: "It was a great pleasure to work with and support the core local residents group who led the campaign against this school, all of whom spoke intelligently and passionately at the hearing but the council's behaviour was nothing less than disappointing."  

The other major issue working against the Council at the hearing was the role of their own Draft Local Plan, which allocates the site for Education Use with specific reference to a 6-8 Form Entry secondary school on the site. This was used to great effect by the school's legal counsel to make cogent arguments that the Council itself had already approved a school of the size, height and scale of this proposal when it approved the draft local plan (given that it would be impossible to get a 6-8FE school on such a small site without a very high rise building). It was also repeatedly noted that the Area Action Plan for Bromley Town, another key piece of planning policy, designated the site for a tall building. It is hugely disappointing that the same Development Control Committee of the Council that refused the school planning permission in December 2017 had not also effectively challenged the designation of the site for a school in the Draft local Plan that they approved in June 2016. In fact the minutes of that meeting show that whilst several amendments were proposed, no comment was passed on this site being used for a large secondary school.

The Inspector also noted that there had been a public consultation about the Draft Local Plan and no residents had commented on this site's designation as part of that consultation. However, residents were never specifically alerted to the plans for such a large school on this site, despite Bromley Town's Conservative Councillors having been consulted about the Department of Education's plan for a 6-8 form entry school on the site.   It is surely the role of ward councillors to alert residents to policies in such a complex document that might impact residents.   Instead, residents only became aware of the plans for this school when planning permission was applied for in January 2017, conveniently, although perhaps not coincidentally, just a few weeks after the public consultation on the draft local plan had closed.

We remain hopeful that common sense will prevail, and the Inspector will uphold the Council's refusal of planning permission for this high rise school on this site, but the Council's defence was certainly far more of an uphill struggle than it needed to be. The Inspector's decision will be known on or before 18 February 2019. 


Bromley Well Represented on Brexit March

Bromley Liberal Democrats joined people from other parties, and many people from no party, in the historic march of 700,000+ people through Central London on Saturday calling for a People’s Vote. 

 The Lib Dems travelled up by train collecting members along the route from Orpington Bromley and Beckenham.   We knew something special was happening as the normally empty mid morning train filled up to capacity with people travelling to the march” said Rich Wilsher, one of the organisers of the Bromley contingent.  “There were people of all ages, some family groups, some with placards, some with face paint and some just came as they were, all just wanted to go there and be counted.”

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Police Take 54 minutes to Respond to ‘999’ Calls in Bromley

In Bromley Police are taking an average of 54 minutes to respond to 999 “priority” calls – an increase of 10 minutes in just 6 months – and in more than half of the London boroughs this has increased to over an hour.  Particularly worrying for Bromley residents is that there is a clear increase in waiting times in boroughs where police forces have been merged into larger command units – this is due to happen to Bromley in early 2019 when Bromley is merged with Sutton and Croydon forces. 


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