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.

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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.

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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).
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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.

How the Hayes Line Could Get Back on Track

Life after Southeastern could look a lot brighter now for passengers on the Hayes Line, with more frequent services and longer trains.

Some readers will have been aware of the new proposals for Transport for London (TfL) to take on responsibility for suburban rail services within Greater London.

Overall, the new partnership between the Department for Transport and TfL has three main aims:
– More frequent services, better interchanges and increased capacity
• Greater reliability for all passengers
• High standards of customer service

With the South-Eastern franchise being re-tendered soon (the new contract starts in 2018), TfL will now take the leading role in selecting the new operator.

TfL wants to see all stations served by at least four trains per hour, but as this may require infrastructure improvements this is has been billed a ‘medium term’ goal, with a target of 80% of stations running these more frequent services. It’s not clear yet whether the Hayes line would be among that 80%, what works would be required (if any) and the effect on residents near the line. However, this is positive move and we’ll be lobbying to ensure that the Hayes line can benefit with minimal disruption to residents – be they regular rail travellers or not.Hayes Train 01.JPG

There are also suggested improvements to station staffing and a long term aim for all services to run 12 carriages as the norm. There is also a passing mention of more night-time services on suburban routes, an idea which will have to be balanced against the concerns of those living near the line.

The plans promise to deliver the sort of improvements that were promised by TfL with the controversial extension of the Bakerloo line to Hayes (a plan that seems to have been shelved for now for the route past Lewisham). However it may do so at a lower cost and, crucially, without the loss of direct services to London Bridge and the City which the Bakerloo proposals would have entailed.

You can have your say in the consultation, available here, until 18th March 2016.

What’s Happening About Paper Banks Over Christmas?

We know that around Christmas the paper recycling banks get very full (and then some). So, what is the council doing about it, and how can you help?

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Firstly the contractor, Veolia, will be emptying as many of the banks this week as possible to try and make as much space available as they can ahead of the big day(s).

However, this year we are anticipating particular issues with Christmas Day and Boxing Day falling on a Friday and Saturday, thus delaying by another day the work to empty the bins.

Veolia will be back out again on Monday and Tuesday (28th/29th) to catch up. However, we are asking residents, where possible (we do understand some will have more space at home than others), to hold off taking used wrapping paper and packaging to the paper banks until after Tuesday 29th.

Not only will this help keep the appearance of the sites tidier, it will also improve the borough’s recycling rates, since anything left outside the recycling bins goes to landfill (because it is not practical or cost-effective to sort through random bags and boxes left in this way).

More generally, the council has also been looking closely at the various sites and collection routes, taking in account the amount of paper, cardboard and other material that gets left there at this and other times of year.

Finally, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Budget 2016-17: Your Views Wanted

mxied_coins_200Bromley Council is seeking residents’ feedback and comment as part of the 2016-17 budget setting process. This builds on the approach taken last year and will include an online survey as well as sessions with representatives from residents’ associations and a public meeting. The aim is to seek views on the main themes of ‘Building a Better Bromley’ and the future shape and direction of the Council, taking into consideration the resources to deliver these, given significant budget reductions.

The council wants to encourage as many people as possible who live in the borough to take part in the online survey and to attend the public meeting. The online survey and background information is available at: www.bromley.gov.uk/budgetviews

Hayes Place Redevelopment Enters Final Stages

The first of the new houses at Hayes Place, by the green, are almost ready for occupation by their new owners, who are expected to start moving in this month (November).

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Peter, Graham and Neil outside the showhouse

Once the site is completed next year, it will be end of a long saga in which your councillors have been involved for many years. Following our intervention, the number of the units in the development was reduced to make the site less cramped, and a block of flats was included which will go a small way to replace the provision for senior residents that was on the site previously.

In answer to some queries that have been raised with us, there has also been a change of scaffolding contractor on the site, so residents may have noticed scaffolding being removed and replaced during this and last week.

Road Works Planned for Hayes Lane (UPDATED)

Major road works are to take place along the Bromley end of Hayes Lane over the summer holiday period, as a gas main is replaced.

Southern Gas Networks (SGN) have agreed with the council for the works to be completed during the six week school holiday period when the roads are noticeably more quieter. The works are located between Masons Hill (The A21) and Hayes Road, Bromley and the first part of the project – lasting some two to three weeks – will see the works being managed under a ‘half road closure’.

This means that, during this first phase, traffic heading north towards the A21 will be unaffected, while traffic that would usually turn into Hayes Lane from the A21 (towards Hayes)* will have to follow the available diversion routes. There will be two diversions in place depending on which direction you are travelling from:

Diversion One (from the south-east): A21, Oakley Road, Croydon Road, Baston Road, Hayes Street, then arriving at Hayes Lane.
Diversion Two (from the north/north-west): A21, Masons Hill, Westmoreland Road, Hayes Road, then arriving at Hayes Lane

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SGN are proposing to start works on Monday 03/08/2015. The council has authorised them to work extended hours (07:00-19:00) and also Saturdays to allow them to complete the works as quickly as possible. Once the road is re-opened (after the half road closure), there will be temporary traffic lights in place until the project is complete. The council has made it clear to SGN that they will not be allowed any extensions and that works must be complete before the start of September when the schools go back.

* Following engineering difficulties, the one-way working was replaced by a full closure of this stretch of Hayes Lane on 11/8/15, however, the original one-way working arragnement has now been restored.

Further updates will be posted to our Facebook page.

Bromley F.C. Unveils New Stand Plans

BromFCSStandBromley Football Club, following their successful promotion to the Vanarama Conference Premier League, have unveiled plans for a new South stand, together with additional facilites.

We understand an upgrade of the stand is necessary under league rules, but the plans also include “a multi purpose facility with badminton, volleyball and indoor cricket facilities, a café and viewing boxes”. The proposals will undoubtedly garner a lot of interest, particularly among the club’s neighbours.

The full plans can be viewed here.

A232/Hartfield Crescent Crossing – TFL Consults

A232 Croydon RoadAnother step has been taken in the long running effort to get a pededstrian crossing installed on the busy A232 Croydon Road, near the junction with Harttfield Crescent.

Having received the blessing of the City of London (custodians of West Wickham Common) and Bromley Council, Transport for London (TfL) is formally consulting residents on the proposal.

You can add your voice of support here. The consultation closes on Friday 28th August.