Six months after installing the controversial, unpopular and ill-planned one-way system on residents without warning, Bromley Council has partly reversed it. Albemarle Road has become two way again, the cycle lane towards Beckenham has gone to make space for the 2nd lane of traffic, leaving cyclists with a cycle lane on one side going towards Shortlands. The most controversial part of the system - making Westgate Road Bridge one-way (which pushes extra traffic to Beckenham Junction) - remains in place. An alternative solution - introducing traffic lights to control traffic on the bridge which had funding from TfL - has been rejected by the local Conservative Ward Councillors despite receiving majority support in the Council Consultation.
The Albemarle Rd Cycle Scheme was a golden opportunity to use TfL funds to make cycling in Beckenham safer but was sadly implemented badly by our Conservative-led council. There was barely any consultation before it was installed, making Westgate Road Bridge one-way without taking the time to engage local people, to assess the immediate impact of the displaced traffic, or to recognise the wider impact of the scheme on residents living and travelling through this part of Beckenham. The failure to consult was a fundamental mistake. Conservative Bromley Council have done a disservice to the benefits of active travel and cycling schemes.
We have tabled two questions about the scheme to the Council Meeting next Monday (12th July) asking what road use data, if any, persuaded the council to make this change and what level of consultation with local residents was carried out. We'll report back when we get a response.
There are lots of opportunities to make road improvements in Beckenham and local people have made many suggestions in our road safety survey (you can complete it here). We look forward to be sharing the results with the Council and hopefully working with officers to implement some of them.
Bromley's recycling rate has dropped dramatically - in January and February 2021 the rate dropped to 34%. The average for the year was 47%, the lowest rate for more than 8 years.
Bromley Liberal Democrats have asked for more information to find out where the problem has occurred. We found out earlier in the year that 85% of paper and card collected for recycling was incinerated because it was too wet to be recycled. The problem was caused by several months of very wet weather plus a leaking roof at the recycling centre. We urged the council then to find some practical solutions to this problem - including providing recycling bins with lids, keeping local residents informed about the need to keep paper dry - the cost to the council financially is considerable but of course the longer term cost is the environmental damage and the loss of credibility in the service by residents who take time to separate their rubbish.
The volume of household rubbish has increased everywhere during lockdown - most councils are reporting increases of up to 10% - but Bromley's increase was only 3% (2020/21 compared to 2019/20).
Has your business been impacted by the pandemic - for good or bad? What are the main challenges you're facing as you re-open? Take our short survey to help us to help you get the support you need in Bromley.
There are so many planning applications affecting the High Street it is difficult to keep track. Recently we've seen the council reject an application to build a 12 storey development on top of the old Maplins shop (although only by one vote), revised plans approved to build a 9 storey block at 25-27 Elmfield Road (the old Conservative club), building a 10 storey office block at 19 Elmfield Road (Prospect House), and we're expecting an update from the developers about Site G ("Churchill Quarter") imminently where 40 houses in Ethelbert Close will be demolished and replaced with 410 flats towering over the High Street and Library and Church House Gardens. And of course there are more developments in the pipeline.
And in the middle of this plethora of developments, with the background of vital services being seriously pared back, we hear about the Council's plan to spend £1.2m on a greenhouse style structure and two controversial statues with virtually no consultation.
Update on Biggin Hill Airport Expansion 27/5/21
Thankfully Bromley Council's Executive voted unanimously against the change of use plans proposed by the airport. Good news for all of us - for air quality, traffic and noise. Now let's keep the pressure on the council to ensure that the agreed Noise Action Plan is enforced (pre lockdown the view was that it wasn't), and let's see the air pollution data that the council is obliged to collect made public as soon as possible so that trends can be monitored. Biggin Hill Airport brings a lot of benefit to the local community and economy, and they've previously shown a willingness to work towards minimising their impact on the environment, so let's continue with the positive dialogue.
Here's our original article about the change of use application:
Biggin Hill Airport have applied to Bromley Council to change the permitted use of the airport to accept fare-paying passengers. This is due to be decided at a council meeting on 26th May - so please let your ward councillors know your views as soon as possible. We concerned about the impact on the lives of local residents in terms of noise and infrastructure, but also have major concerns about the environmental damage such an expansion would cause. We are also dismayed by the lack of consultation with local residents.
Under the terms of its licence Biggin Hill can only handle flights that have been chartered for business use or for private flying. The application to accept fare paying passengers could indicate a significant increase in flights and a change to the type and size of aircraft using the airport. There are restrictions on the number of passengers and noise levels but campaigners say these restrictions are sufficiently ambiguous or unrestricted for them to offer any significant protection against this increase in traffic at the airport. The restrictions on number of flights is about to expire in any case. And there is every chance that Biggin Hill Airport will make further applications for these restrictions to be amended.
Apart from the impact on the lives of individual residents in terms of noise, a major concern is that expansion will have a dramatic effect on the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. The impact on the climate must be taken into account - apart from the impact on the air we breathe here in Bromley there is every likelihood that expansion of airports like Biggin Hill will compromise the national government's ability to reach its own net zero target.
The quieter skies of lockdown are already starting to sound a little bit noisier, and over the next 12 months we'll expect to see a return to pre-pandemic air traffic. We all remember how much impact the extended flying hours made to us, seeing an increase in size of aircraft as well as the hours they were operating.
Please email your local councillors plus the leader of the council ([email protected]) to make sure they know your views.