Bromley Living Streets’ inaugural event drew a large gathering of local residents to Bromley Central Library on Mon 3rd June, including a number of Liberal Democrat members, interested in plans to encourage walking, cycling and use of public transport around Bromley’s neighbourhoods.
The Liberal Democrats came first in London in the European Elections, returning 3 MEPs and pushing Labour into 2nd place and the Conservatives into 5th place. And the total Remain vote (Lib Dem, Green, Change) was more than twice the Brexit Vote (Brexit Party, UKIP). London is most definitely an unapologetic Remain City.
In the Bromley Borough, the Lib Dems came first or second in every ward - winning outright in Copers Cope, Bromley Town, Bickley, Crystal Palace, Penge and Cator and Clock House. While the Brexit Party won the most votes in the Borough, the Remain Vote was a clear winner with 44% of the vote compared to 34% for the Leave parties showing that support for Remain has grown considerably since the 2016 Referendum.
Bromley Council revealed to have no plans to improve air quality in the borough. The Liberal Democrats have demanded Bromley Council take “urgent action” after revealing it has no up-to-date and publicly available monitoring of air quality within the Borough.
The latest council air quality monitoring report from 2017 shows that Bromley regularly exceeds the recommended limits of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2). Bromley Council has failed to revise its air quality management strategy or provide automatic monitoring stations across the borough to provide residents with live information about air quality in their area. Bromley is the only council in the South East who have failed to declare the borough as an Air Quality Management Area.
Bromley Liberal Democrats demand better of Bromley Council. We demand a series of measures including:
- more publicly available data on air quality monitoring in Bromley;
- more automatic air quality monitors across the borough and;
- a revision of the Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) plan this year.
The long awaited Planning Appeal took place on 4th April, with former Lib Dem Councillor Jane Green in attendance. The decision of the Inspector is not expected for some weeks.
Residents will be surprised to know that not one local ward Councillor attended to speak on behalf of local people and businesses at the appeal, nor did they they attend the public gallery to report on events. This was surprising given the high profile nature of this development and the record number of objections received from local residents.
There were two parts to the appeal, the first appeal was for amendments to the conditions relating to hours of opening (and servicing) for the already approved planning permission for change of use from the Garage to retail, the second concerning the hoardings around the site.
On Monday 8th April, I went down to Bromley Council again to follow the action and listen to some of the pressing issues that have developed since the last council meeting. Unlike meetings in the past, this week's proceedings started differently. Before any business was attended to, the Mayor, Councillor Kim Botting, requested that the council chamber take a minutes' silence to remember the lives of the 50 Muslims who were tragically murdered in the horrific Christchurch terrorist attack in March.
20mph Speed Limit Outside Schools Petition:
First on the order paper was a petition brought to the Council by Ruth Fabricant on behalf of the Bromley Green Party, which sought to introduce 20mph speed limits outside of schools and other places of need. In accordance with the Council's Petition Scheme, Ms. Fabricant had five minutes to address the chamber and outline her petition. In her speech, she outlined how residents across Bromley Borough were in favour of introducing such measures, with the head teacher from Worsley Bridge Primary School and parents from Balgowan, Harris Academies Kent House and Shortlands all voicing their concerns. In areas where a 20mph zone outside was already in operation, such as Perry Hall Primary School in Orpington, parents and teachers reportedly spoke highly of the safety measures. In her concluding remarks, Ms. Fabricant drew attention to the issue of Lollipop Ladies/Men no longer being fully funded by the Council, instead receiving a small grant which needed to be supplemented by parents and others. This raises questions about the safety of children who attend schools in less affluent parts of the borough, where such additional funding is less likely to come. Does the council not have a duty to reinstate full funding for Lollipop Ladies/Men with money raised from council tax-paying residents to ensure that all children's lives across Bromley are cared for, no matter their social mobility?
Petition Debate: After listening to the petition, the council began debating the issue. Councillor Huntington-Thresher started things off by thanking Ms. Fabricant for the petition but quickly explained how such speed zones are not a priority; rather, reducing road accidents across the borough overall was the council's first aim. In addition to his comments, Councillor Huntington-Thresher suggested firstly that councillors in areas most affected by speeding cars could work with schools to educate pupils on road safety, and secondly that implementing 20mph speed zones would make little difference, given that drivers do not currently abide by the 30mph limit.
In response to Councillor Huntington-Thresher's remarks, the Labour bench replied with a more pragmatic approach. Councillor Dunn praised the introduction of 20mph limits in Bristol, where a recent study showed that there has been a drop in road casualties in the city and also around schools. Meanwhile, Councillor Allan attacked the Conservative council for, what she described as, "needing accidents" to happen before safety measures are implemented. Councillor Simon Jeal further suggested that such speed limit zones should also be extended to nurseries, particularly around the Kings Hall road area of Penge and Cator ward. Perhaps most heart-wrenching was Councillor Ahmad's account of her time talking to pupils at Worsley Bridge road in Beckenham, where a ten year-old pupil said to the councillor that she "felt as though I'm going to die crossing the road". Although the Labour members are outnumbered 9/50 on the council, and despite their promotion of 20mph speed limits outside of schools, none raised their hands to at least show discontent towards the council's approach despite and the motion to take no further action on the petition carried.