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.”
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.
Beckenham and Bromley Liberal Democrats are running a road safety campaign Safer to School | Safer for All. By making our roads safer for the journey to school we can make them safer for all.
Beckenham and Bromley may have Kent postcodes, but like other parts of the borough traffic problems are inner-London. Many roads are notorious for speeding, rat-running and lack of safe crossings. The school-run is especially problematic on residential roads. Families who walk to school are concerned about the lack of safe crossings on route, but some routes are so dangerous families choose to drive, which of course adds to the congestion. And the Council have proved resistant to the pleas for change from local residents - pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike.
We have long spoken out about the issues facing our Borough’s schools - chronic under funding by the Conservative Government, a lack of secondary school places, the weakness of Ofsted, and the damage caused by league tables. The need for a radical overhaul of the school system featured strongly at the Liberal Democrat Conference in Brighton from 15-18 September and received whole hearted backing from the National Education Union.
Kevin Courtney, joint General Secretary, said: “The Liberal Democrats have grasped the main issues that are blighting our education system. A chronic shortage of funding and low pay alongside an inspection and assessment system that is not fit for purpose has led to unmanageable workloads and the recruitment and retention crisis. Teachers are leaving in their droves and many graduates do not consider teaching as an attractive option”.
Layla Moran, Liberal Democrats spokesperson for Education, and former teacher herself, told the Conference: ‘The Government is failing our children. Funding pressures mean that we’re dropping subjects from the curriculum – shrinking the scope of learning and limiting horizons for the future at the very point when we need those horizons to be stretched to the limit. School inspections should look at the culture of a school and focus on the wellbeing of teachers and pupils as much as academic results. And where a school is struggling, an inspection system should support that school to improve, not punish it.”
She also reiterated our opposition to league tables – all of us in Bromley saw the damage that league tables cause in the scandal that hit St Olave’s School in 2017 when Year 12 students were illegally refused places in Year 13 based on their likely exam results. “It beggars belief that we insist on publishing league tables which cultivate a damaging system where schools compete so ferociously that they forget their true purpose: to improve education for all”.
Education is for all and for life, not just the very rich, the very fortunate or the very clever.
To find out more about our Education policies visit:
You can read Layla Moran’s speech in full here:
We published our own response to the Bromley Masterplan in August, we've now heard from the MP for Bromley & Chislehurst (Bob Neill) and it's good to hear that there's a general consensus across parties on the response to this plan. You can see his letter here.
His response is about the Masterplan for Bromley Town centre but there are planning applications about several important developments, links shown at the bottom of this article.
The Liberal Democrat View
These plans will change Bromley beyond recognition over the next 15-20 years. We are not opposed to development - every town centre must change over time if it is thrive and stay current - but we are opposed to several elements of these plans and the approach being taken.
The town centre needs an all round plan, offering a long term holistic approach that plans for housing, transport, health, education, our environment, as well as commercial and retail opportunities. Many of these services are already at breaking point, the focus on building first and providing services second is not workable.
For residential developments the emphasis must be on the provision of affordable housing, both for sale and for rent. Bromley Liberal Democrats have a clear housing policy including ensuring 35% of all new homes built are affordable, and that new homes must include some social housing. Bromley is fast becoming an area that is unaffordable to many of our friends and family, for key public workers and for lots of the people we rely on to run our vital services. We need a mix of people of all ages and income brackets to build a Bromley for the future.
The plans should incorporate strategies that encourage walking and cycling and use of public transport, building and redesigning roads and junctions that are safe for everyone as well as improving health and air quality, and which improves the neighbourhood by creating green spaces and community hubs.
And we want to make sure that Bromley is still Bromley - it should still feel and looks like the town we all love, so that it retains its heritage and the facilities we appreciate are preserved - Library Gardens (next to the Churchill Theatre) is under threat from the Churchilll Quarter plan for example. The high rise buildings that form part of this development will dwarf the High Street and neighbouring street, dominating the skyline for residents living up to a mile away.
It is vital that there is full consultation with the local population, and that the people who express a view feel they are listened to - we would like the council to set targets for how many replies to the consultation should be received, and if it is not enough to go further, perhaps employing 3rd parties to reach out and hear the people's views.
Consideration for residents must be paramount. The residents around Bromley South have already suffered years of disruption during the building of St Marks Square, the Masterplan promises them more misery, and the residents of Ethelbert Close have been under planning blight for 6+ years - threatened compulsory purchase orders means they've been unable to sell their homes, and they face uncertainty about whether any compensation offered will be enough for them to purchase a comparable home nearby.
Tell the Council what you think - before it's too late
On each of the pages listed above we provide links for you to take part in consultation about the different developments, and where there are none you can register your views on our own survey so that your views can be communicated to the council.
Our detailed response to current planning proposals