Backing Noise Reduction and Jobs at Biggin Hill

Residents are set for new, effective noise controls on air traffic to and from Biggin Hill airport. The new measures are being planned in response to the airports bid for longer operating hours.

Last Wednesday night your local councillors voted in favour of the Council’s proposed negotiating stance on Biggin Hill Airport’s request to increase their operating hours.

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The airport’s proposals are to open later on weekdays – until 11pm – and for longer hours at the weekend and public holidays – from 6:30am to 11pm on Saturdays and 8am to 11pm on Sundays and public holidays. They have also proposed reducing their current ‘cap’ on annual movements (flights) from 125,000 to 50,000 and tighter restrictions on hours for single engine light aircraft and flying training.

They are also proposing modifying the current ‘shoulder hours’ – the periods at the start and end of the day – to allow a maximum of 8 flights in each period – currently there is no limit on the number of movements, only a condition that any such aircraft must be based at the airport.

The council, however, although agreeing in principle to a change in hours, is putting forward alternative proposals reigning back the airport’s suggested weekend and public holiday hours to the later start time of 8am and an earlier closing time of 10pm on Sundays and public holidays.

Crucially, Bromley is also insisting on enforceable noise limits – which have not been possible under the current lease and the technology available when it was originally signed.

These new limits will require the airport to carry through their promises to raise the altitude of the flight paths and approach paths, and constant, publicly accessible monitoring. The airport has also requested the removal of the ‘stacking’ beacon at the airport, which is responsible for many of the larger aircraft seen in the borough’s skies.

The new hours will provide the conditions that prospective new businesses at the airport need to invest in the area and provide – according to the airport – up to 2,300 new jobs over the next fifteen years.

In parallel to these developments, the borough has brokered talks between the BHAL, Bromley College and other parties with a view to setting up a specialised precision engineering college at the airport.

The council and airport will now enter detailed negotiations around the hours, enforcement mechanisms, financial arrangements and other issues, with any final proposals being subject again to public scrutiny.

A232 Crossing: Focus Moves to the Guildhall

Following a number of meetings with your local councillors and residents in the West Wickham Common area, Transport for London (TfL) have prepared a number of options for providing a pedestrian crossing near the junction of Hartfield Crescent and the A232 Croydon Road.

There are two options favoured by TfL, both include the widening the top of Hartfield Crescent where it crosses the Common, both for highway safety reasons and to provide a formal pedestrian footway up to the Croydon Road and along the opposite side of that main road.

However, these options involve some degree of ‘land take’ from the Common, which is the responsibility of the City of London. At the City’s West Wickham Commons Consultative Committee in January, Cllr. Neil Reddin and representatives from the West Wickham Common Residents Association saw the plans and made various comments, all generally in favour of at least one or more of the options.

A decision to agree, or otherwise, the loss of common land must now be made by the City of London’s Epping Forest and Commons Committee on the 9th March. One point that was made at the consultative committee was that there have been other (rare) examples of such land take being permitted in the interests of road safety on other areas under the ownership of the City.

A232 Croydon Road nr Hartfield Crescent

Positive Agreement Reached on BYMT’s Future

At the Council’s budget-setting meeting, it was announced that an agreement had been reached with the Bromley Youth Music Trust (BYMT) regarding the final phase of the council’s reduction in funding for the trust.violin

The proposed cut in funding for 2015/16 of £230,000 was scaled back to £153,000. The proposed full withdrawal of the direct grant for 2016/17 remains, however the existing peppercorn rent for the Southborough Lane site – equivalent to some £200,000 per annum – also remains until the end of the lease in April 2017.

In addition, the Trust is responding more positively to the Council’s efforts to assist them in securing more sources of funding from elsewhere. The agreement should set the scene for a successful transition for the Trust to greater independence from the Council without compromising its nationally recognised reputation for youth music.

Council Tax Set for 2015/16

pound_coinsAt last week’s Council Meeting, the 2015/16 council tax in Bromley was set at £1,325.14 at Band D – an increase of just 1.2%.

At the same time, savings of £8.8m were approved. Council leader Cllr. Stephen Carr said there could be “no gimmicks, short term political decisions” and noted that while other councils have been cutting essential core services, such measures have been laregly avoided in Bromley. Even so, tough decisions will still be necessary in the future, as the council still faces a forecast £52m budget gap by 2018/19.