All posts by Cllr. Neil Reddin

Conservative councillor for Hayes and Coney Hall ward in the London Borough of Bromley.

What’s Happening to Bromley’s Libraries?

Bromley’s Conservative Councillors have moved to dispel fears over changes to the borough’s libraries following a misinformation campaign by activists.

Some residents have been in touch with us recently about the proposals to ‘outsource’ Bromley’s libraries to a not-for-profit company.

The Council has confirmed that the proposed changes to the library service will not lead to a single library closing, or a single minute being taken off opening times. If the proposal is approved, the operator would need to run the same level of service or better.

The Council has spent a lot of time looking at the way it works in order to protect frontline services, bearing in mind the tough financial environment it’s facing. Over the next few years, Bromley has to find £24m of savings from a £192m budget. Doing nothing is not an option. It has long been recognised by councils of all political colours, that commissioning companies and charitable trusts to provide services brings value for money for the council tax payer and improved efficiency.

The proposal would keep all libraries open while reducing costs. The libraries would remain in council control, with professional librarians, but would be run by Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) – a not-for-profit organisation which was established by a Labour authority to run their library and leisure services. It is virtually identical model to the charitable trust which has successfully run the Borough’s leisure centres since 2004. Staff will be transferred under TUPE regulations protecting their terms and conditions and membership of the Council’s pension scheme.

The savings would be achieved through economies of scale; GLL operates more libraries than Bromley council, so it has greater buying power – for example when purchasing books and computers. It could also reduce back office costs through avoiding duplicate tasks.  Public consultations have been supportive of the proposals. In a consultation of 1,837 people in 2014-15, 57% of respondents supported the option of the library service being run by a trust or charitable provider. This is exactly the proposal.

The council also continues to invest in libraries – with brand new ones opening in Penge, Orpington and Biggin Hill over recent years – and is looking to continue that trend, for example at Chislehurst library.

Stevenson Heating Site – Changes Afoot?

Rumours have been circulating about the future of the Stevenson Heating premises in West Common Road.

There have been significant changes to the business including a management buy-out, though happily  Stevenson Heating will continue to trade, as they have for nearly 90 years. However, we understand that an interest has been shown in the current site for use as a residential care home or ‘assisted living’ scheme.

Clearly such a proposal will need to go through the planning process, but your Conservative councillors will be keeping a close watch for further news.

Road Resurfacing Programme Confirmed

The council has confirmed its highway resurfacing schedule for 2017-19.

In our ward Birch Tree Avenue, Chilham Way, Constance Crescent, Farleigh Avenue, Hurstfield, Larkfield Close and Trevor Close are due to be resurfaced, as well as the section of Chestnut Avenue between Queensway and Sylvan Way. Nearby, Layhams Road south of the police dog training centre is also included in the plans.

A232/A21/Locksbottom Roadworks

Though not in our ward, many Hayes & Coney Hall residents will be affected by road resurfacing works that Transport for London have announced for the Croydon Road (A232), Hastings Road (A21) and Farnborough Common (including the Fantail/Chapter One junction). The project is scheduled to start on Tuesday 7th March lasting until Thursday 13th April. Various closures and diversion will be in place, though the actual works will take place at nighttime between 9pm and 5am.

The timetable is as follows:

7-14 March 2017 – TfL will put in some temporary traffic lights, enabling traffic to continue to flow on the A21 Hastings Road From 21:00 each night until 05:00 the following morning

15-23 March and 3-6 April – The A232 Croydon Road will be closed between the junctions with the A21 Farnborough Common and Oakley Road. Please follow the signed diversion

26 March – 2 April and 9-13 April – The A232 Croydon Road will be closed between the junctions with Hollydale Drive and the A21 Farnborough Common – The A232 Crofton Road will be closed between the junctions with Farnborough Common and Elm Walk. Please follow the signed diversions.

roadworks

Phone Boxes Becoming a Thing of the Past?

BT are consulting on the proposed removal of a number of telephone boxes around the borough, including in Hayes and Coney Hall.

Boxes where very few calls have been made are being earmarked for removal. In our ward these are:

  • Junction of Hayes Lane and Mead Way (19 calls in the last year)
  • Junction of Mounthurst Road and Bourne Vale (12 calls)
  • Outside the the Day Lewis pharmacy at 3 Station Approach (25 calls)
  • Outside the Co-Op in Croydon Road, Coney Hall (4 calls)

Any comments should be sent via the council planning department who have been asked to respond to BT by 4th December at the latest.

Coney Hall Tennis Courts – What Next?

We have received messages from residents, and seen the conversations on social media about the state of the tennis courts in Coney Hall Recreation Ground. We thought it would be useful to set out the current state of play oConey Hall Tennis Courts (2007)n the issue.

The last manager pulled out of running the tennis courts some years ago after repeated vandalism and thefts. The council left the nets up anyway but eventually a local child became tangled up in the nets and so the Council’s insurers advised their removal.

We have been making enquiries into possible solutions, possibly including using more robust equipment, but of course such ideas will have to work financially. In any case we will need to work closely with the Friends of Coney Hall Park, who do sterling work looking after the park and who would want to be closely involved in any plans.

We will of course keep residents updated if and when things develop.

Council Sets Out Road Resurfacing Schedule

The council has set out the programme of road and pavement resurfacing for the 2016-17 financial year.

Included in the schedule are resurfacing of the carriageways in Crest Road and Sylvan Way, with Farleigh Avenue and the pavements in Wolfe Close proposed for inclusion in following years. As your ward councillors we have also recently received requests for Birch Tree Avenue to receive attention, among other roads, and will be pushing for these to be included as soon as possible.

All roads are included in the programme after technical surveys and with regard to the levels of traffic, type of usage and other factors.

Road Surface

Conservatives Hold Down Council Tax Rise

  • Just 0.9% Average Over Last Four Years
  • Financial Boost Given to Local Priorities

Bromley Council has once again set a balanced budget, despite continuing financial pressures, with a council tax rise of just 42p a week at Band D.

Total Council Tax, including the Conservative Mayor of London’s portion, will increase by just 1.6% – close to the current inflation rate of 1.3% (RPI). This is despite the council facing a budget gap of £25m over the next four years, as central government continues to drive down the national deficit still lingering after Labour’s thirteen years of mismanagement.

In fact, thanks to sound Conservative financial management at both Bromley Civic Centre and City Hall, total council tax has increased by an average of just 0.9% in the last four years.

mixed_coins.jpg
Included in this year’s budget was a 2% ‘ringfenced’ council tax increase for social care, and £19m in savings focussed, as far as possible, on non-essential expenditure and administration cuts.

Council Leader Cllr Stephen Carr said: “We have had to make this increase in Council Tax this year to help balance the budget and have introduced the 2 per cent precept allowed by the Chancellor to help meet the costs of care, as our population ages and more people have complex care needs. This is particularly acute in Bromley where we have a larger-than-average ageing population. During our budget consultation last year many residents again said they understood the need for a rise in Council Tax to help protect essential services.

“We have the lowest funding per head of population in London and, as budgets contract, we have to do things differently, even stopping some services. Supporting people to be more self-sufficient with signposting to online services, for instance, helps to conserve limited funding for those who need help most and for services that reflect the priorities of local residents.”

The budget also includes two years’ transitional funding from Central Government, won after intervention from the borough’s Conservative MPs including Bob Stewart.

The Leader of the Council also added: “As a result of our strict and determined budget monitoring, I am delighted to announce we are in a position to set aside £750,000 from underspends in the current year’s budget to allow us to further enhance our environment.

The proposals are:
• £250,000 to enhance our environment, particularly to help with the maintenance of trees and replacing those that have been lost.
• £250,000 to attack the scourge of environmental crime, especially fly-tipping.
• £250,000 to enhance and improve local shopping parades, building on a successful programme of local shopping district improvements over the last couple of years.

Another Phone Mast Refused

The mobile ‘phone mast proposed for the green at the junction of Birch Tree Avenue and Queensway was turned down by a council planning committee last night.

The committee heard representations from both residents’ associations and Cllr. Graham Arthur, who cited the quality of consultation, lack of explanation as to why alternative sites had been ruled out, and the potential harm to the openness of the green caused by the equipment cabinet. The committee then agreed unanimously to reject the bid by Vodafone and Telefonica (O2).
20160121_135555 522x283.jpg
Pre-empting accusations of ‘Nimbyism’, Cllr. Arthur had pointed out that an application for another, more appropriate, site in the ward had recently been approved without opposition from local councillors.

The refusal comes after last year’s plans to erect a taller mast on another green, at the junction of Kingsway and Gates Green Road, were turned down on similar grounds.