The Johnson government is insistent on not delaying the end of the transition period for our leaving the EU. Bromley Liberal Democrats demand an extension in this time of crisis and a rethink in immigration. Crashing out without a trade agreement is bad for the UK, and bad for Bromley.
Where are the pop up cycle lanes that the government have provided money for? Where are the extended pavements to enable us to walk and maintain a social distance from fellow pedestrians.
With schools starting to reopen in just a few days let us know what provision the council has made in your area? Let us know by filling in our survey here. We'll collate your replies and share the information. We need urgent action from the council - other councils of all political persuasions are managing to achieve this, let's see the same from Bromley.
We are all living through challenging times, and local councils face massive challenges with the extra demands on their services.
However, Bromley Council is no different to any other local council and there is no reason why Bromley's performance should be worse than others. They are performing particularly poorly with the lack of information coming out of the council and an inability to hold councillors to account. Key decisions are made behind closed doors. We have concerns about some particularly acute issues including reopening of schools in June and the provision for social distancing for cyclists and pedestrians - but there is no opportunity to ask questions as no full council meetings are scheduled before 20 July - and there is no guarantee about accessibility to that meeting.
Some committee meetings are taking place online where "decisions are necessary" however the council website has often been rather opaque as to when these actually are. Various powers have been given to executive and the Leader, Cllr Colin Smith to take decisions by decree. There is a shocking lack of information on what these may be, and it is practically impossible for residents to ask questions about the operation of council's activities. Julie Ireland, Lib Dem Campaigner said "There is a lot of anxiety about several key issues, including preparation for children returning to school on 1 June, adjustments to our roads and pavement to allow pedestrians and cyclists to maintain social distance, payment of grants to local businesses, concern about the lack of recycling opportunities and the increase in bonfires, and more."
Concerned residents have been told to "contact councillors direct with questions or comments at any time". However many have reported to us that they do not get responses. One resident told us that on 5 occasions she tried to get answers from a councillor and 5 times received no response.
In Liberal Democrat controlled Richmond the story is very different. All council meetings are broadcast live online, with webex or a live webcast and members of the public may speak or ask questions during the meetings.
Bromley Lib Dems have a proud history of holding the council to account asking questions on behalf of residents who community groups who are struggling to be heard. We cannot accept a situation - however temporary - where there is such a lack of information controlled by a leader operating by decree. As champions of accountability and local democracy, we have been challenging this and will continue to do so. This will involve us continuing to press for information on behalf of residents and writing further letters to the council and councillors.
Parliament has had it's first virtual PMQs showing clearly the vital role of proper scrutiny - press questioning is no substitute. Local councils all across the UK are embracing new technology enabling meetings where the participants and the public communicate online. It's time for Bromley Council to do the same. Lib Dem controlled Richmond held its first fully virtual committee meeting on 20 April - councillors, officers and members of the public who asked to speak were able to use an online video and audio application. The meeting was broadcast live via the council's website for the wider public.
We were disappointed to see that the full Council meeting scheduled for 27 April is cancelled. The Health Scrutiny Committee scheduled for 23 April is cancelled. A planning meeting on 30 April will take decisions "under delegated authority".
No one is underestimating the pressure faced by our many amazing council staff but transparency, open government and scrutiny is vital. It builds trust and helps us move forward together.
We've asked the council to publish a timetable of virtual meetings over the next month, showing which ones are accessible to the public both in terms of participation and being able to view the meetings.
Some good news for the residents who mounted an impressive opposition to the council's plans to build a 10 storey school on this busiest of Bromley's junctions. The Department for Education has announced that they have abandoned their plans to build a school of any kind at 1 Westmoreland Road following failure of a planning appeal and opposition by community and residents' groups.
The original plan to build a 10 storey secondary school for 1200+ pupils had its planning application rejected in 2017 and has gone through an appeals process in the last two years. There were concerns that the Council supported a school on this site when it appeared in their school place strategy document in 2018 so the announcement by the DfE is welcome news - if there ever was a bad place to build a school this was it!
The site will be sold and redeveloped and we'll be keeping a close eye on what the council proposes to build on this site. But for the moment time to celebrate for the residents and community groups who worked so hard to make sure that the school wasn't built.