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Our Push to Make Penge Roads Safer

road safety.jpg

At July’s meeting of Bromley Council, Penge’s councillors (as part of Bromley’s Labour group) presented our motion calling for the Council’s road safety policy to be reviewed.

 

Our motion followed many recent reports of accidents on roads around Penge, including many on Thicket Road, Otford Road and Ash Grove Road in recent months, and residents’ concerns of speeding and dangerous drivers. (We’ve had reports of frequent speeding on Maple Road, Oakfield Road, Lennard Road and Kings Hall Road- among many others)

We argued that the Council should be taking more proactive measures to prevent accidents in places where residents are reporting problems, particularly by changing their reliance on Killed and Seriously Injured (KSI) statistics, meaning that accidents in which, by chance, no one was injured aren’t counted when considering where road safety measures should be taken- so nothing will be done until after a particular number of people have been killed or seriously harmed.

We also called for the council to consider a wider range of road safety measures, such as ‘mini-Hollands’ and more 20mph zones (especially around schools). While (as always) the Conservative majority amended our motion for political reasons, they did agree to a more limited review by the Environment Committee.

While Bromley has seen a significant reduction is casualties over the past ten year, more recent trends show a much less positive picture- looking at Transport for London (TfL) figures from 2010 to 2016 shows a slight increase in KSIs, while in 2016, the most recent year data is available for, far from being one of the safest boroughs as the Tories often claim Bromley had the joint 4th highest number of fatalities and joint 2nd highest number of KSI casualties for all outer London boroughs.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s recently announced Vision Zero Action Plan on road safety aims to eliminate all deaths and serious injuries on London’s roads. We will continue to support residents and campaign for changes to try to make Penge’s roads safer and prevent residents coming to harm.

Thank you!

We are hugely grateful and proud to have been elected as your councillors for Penge and Cator.

We value the support of our community and will work hard to support ALL local residents, groups and businesses over the next four years.

While the Conservatives remain in charge of Bromley Council, we will continue to fight for more affordable housing, cleaner and safer streets to protect care services, libraries and other public services from further cuts and hold them to account.

With the rollout of universal credit in July and further cuts likely, we will also be doing everything we can to support anyone affected. If you ever have an issue, together with our MP Ellie Reeves, we’re here to try and help.

You can find us on the high street outside the Post Office- 10:45 to 12:15 on the first Saturday of every month or contact us using the details on the back of this newsletter.

Find  out more about us and how to get in touch on the Councillors page

Kathy, Kevin and Simon

Vaccination Rollout- Details for Penge and Cator

The start of the COVID19 vaccination rollout clearly gives us all hope that the difficult times and lockdown will hopefully end in the near future. Penge residents in the highest risk groups (starting with those aged 80+) have started being contacted by our local GPs to offer appointments to receive the first of the two vaccine doses needed. Healthcare and social care staff will usually receive vaccines through local hospitals and a small number of GP practices.

Until now appointments have been at Beckenham Beacon, but from last week this week all local practices around Penge have been able to offer appointments at a local GP Surgery to get vaccinated. It is therefore important that you are registered with a GP practice, and if you’re not. can quickly do so online or by telephoning to register.

People will be contacted by their GP practice and offered to book an appointment. This might be by telephone call or text message. Due to thousands of vaccinations happening very quickly in the area, please do not telephone your GP to try to book. The local NHS staff have assured us that people will not be forgotten and there is sufficient vaccine for everyone in the most at-risk groups.

The centre will be open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week. After receiving the first injection of the vaccine, a second appointment will be needed around 12 weeks later to get the second dose. (Both doses are needed to provide full immunity from Coronavirus)

Larger vaccination centres are also being planned for February where appointments to get the vaccine will be bookable online for those who can do so and do not mind travelling; likely to be at Bromley Civic Centre and a venue in Sydenham. 

New Year, New Lockdown, Stay safe!

Since our last newsletter in December, we have seen London and the country enter into tier 4, Christmas bubbles cancelled and now a new national lockdown to start off 2021- as always, we encourage residents to follow the Government’s restrictions and do what we all can to reduce the risk of infecting others at a time when our local hospitals are struggling.

We are very concerned that having struggled through the winter, many of our local businesses have faced a longer period of forcing to stay shut and many residents have seen extended periods furloughed or out of work completely.

We are hopeful that we will see additional support from the Government beyond what has already been announced, businesses and self-employed people can find information on whether they are eligible for a grant and how to apply here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-youre-eligible-for-the-coronavirus-local-restrictions-support-grant-for-closed-businesses

We are also hoping that Bromley Council will also take more action to support businesses and people who are struggling. Some help is already available- the council has a hardship fund to assist those on low or no income unable to pay council tax. (along with a council tax support scheme that can see council tax bills cut by 75%) To apply you need to first contact benefits@bromley.gov.uk

If you have had any problems or would like support applying, please get in touch as we are happy to offer help.

Remembrance Sunday Update

No formal service is able to take place at Penge’s war memorials this Sunday.

This year’s Remembrance Sunday will unfortunately be different to usual, due to the COVID19 pandemic and government restrictions which went into force today. Bromley Council normally supports the parade by our war memorial in the High Street by processing the necessary road closure orders, and providing Police marshalling resources.

We already knew that the road closure and parade could not take place this year, but over the past couple of days they have also confirmed that no formal services should be taking place at 11am on Sunday.

This will be the first year in a very long time that our local cadet forces will not be able to parade and we know they and residents will be very disappointed this cannot go ahead, but we hope everyone will understand why a parade and a service at the memorial is not possible this year.

Local churches St John and Holy Trinity are holding online services this Sunday, which will include the two minutes’ silence and other elements of Remembrance services, both start at 10:30 and the details to join them are:

St John’s Penge, Remembrance Sunday

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85948334114?pwd=MGJObmRNbkYzQllTL0M5K2FXdXNDZz09

Meeting ID: 859 4833 4114
Passcode: 252043

Holy Trinity Penge Remembrance Sunday

You can watch this service live using this link:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86906720790

Or iPhone one-tap :

United Kingdom: +441314601196,,86906720790# or +442030512874,,86906720790#

Or Telephone: Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):

United Kingdom: +44 131 460 1196 or +44 203 051 2874 or +44 203 481 5237 or +44

203 481 5240 or +44 203 901 7895

Webinar ID: 869 0672 0790

International numbers available: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kbsPliVJaC

You will be able to watch a recording of the service by visiting the church

website: https://holytrinityse20.co.uk/.

As your Councillors we believe it is important that wreath laying and other acts of Remembrance continue, so we encourage residents to observe Remembrance Sunday by joining these or other services if they would like, or to observe Remembrance day at home in other ways. Please remember to ensure to social distance and comply with the rules if you do choose to informally visit the war memorial at some point on Sunday.

Every November, we are proud to represent the Mayor of Bromley at Remembrance Sunday services in Penge in honour of and to remember the service of members of our armed forces, who fought and died in the line of duty, but as this is not possible this year, we will be informally laying wreaths at the war memorials in our ward (while complying with the Government rules) at some point during Remembrance Sunday.

For the past three years Cllr Kathy Bance, with local groups including Penge Partners and Penge Poppies, have coordinated putting up and maintaining knitted poppies on the railings around the war memorial on the High Street, we are grateful to all local residents who helped with knitting Poppies for this year, and also to Taylor and Abel, one of our local businesses, for creating ‘Poppy packs’ for knitters this year. Residents are welcome to add their own knitted Poppies and if you would like to knit some please get in touch- spares are needed to replace faded ones throughout the year!

Local Dementia Centre Closure Update

Following the news last month that our local dementia centre would be closing, we arranged a meet for relatives and carers affected by the closure of the Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich (BLG Mind) centre in Beckenham, chaired by Ellie Reeves, to hear from and question the CEO and Head of Services at Mind about the closure and how the activities the centre provided will continue.

Carers spoke of the huge importance of social interaction the centre provided for their relatives, and the help and support staff there provided to them- they were clear that the existing respite at home service is not the same.

BLG Mind indicated they would not absolutely rule out reopening the centre but couldn’t see how this could happen at present. They are looking at how they can provide alternative services to support users and their carers.

We will be arranging a follow up meeting later this year to find out how these plans have developed and to ensure they have continued to engage with people to provide services they need.

Fears and local support for youth employment

As a result of the Covid pandemic there are increasing fears about the job market. Many businesses are struggling as a result of the pandemic, and this has led to many people losing jobs or having their hours cut, we are very concerned about what will happen when the furlough scheme is replaced at the end of this month.

Youth unemployment in particular has majorly increased. Following the cuts to youth services and as the academy system in Bromley has produced excess school exclusions, having another barrier for our young people is concerning.

For this reason your local councillors will be discussing with the SE20 Business Improvement District, a group of local businesses in Penge High Street, to encourage them the look at how local businesses could provide apprenticeships or work experience, in particular through the governments Kickstart Scheme

The Kickstart scheme provides funding to employers to create job placements for 16-24 year olds who are currently at the risk of long term unemployment. It provides funding for a six month period and up to £1,500 per 16-24 hired to cover costs including training. These cannot replace current jobs but instead will be additional placements designed to build young people’s experience and provide practical skills and experience for future employment opportunities.

With leisure activities for young adults in Penge having been cut and uncertainty about the future of Adult Education, we hope schemes such as Kickstart can help provide employment opportunities for young people in our area.

Flu Season Reminder- If You’re at Risk, Get a Free Flu Jab

Each year, flu kills on average 11,000 people in the UK and hospitalises thousands more. 

This year, it is more important than ever for people who are at risk to get their free flu vaccination.

By having the flu vaccination, you help protect yourself and others from what can be a severe, and sometimes fatal, illness which could lead to needing to go into hospital.

It is particularly important this winter more than ever that you keep well and hopefully avoid going into hospital during a second wave of Covid-19.

This winter, many more people are eligible to have the free flu vaccination.

If you’re over 65, are pregnant, have a long-term health condition, or you’re in a shielding household, please speak to your GP or pharmacist to get a free flu vaccination. You can book online with your local pharmacist at myvaccinations.co.uk

Children aged 2-3 can get a free nasal spray at their GP surgery. School aged children up to year 7 will be offered the vaccine at school. If you have an eligible child, please make sure they get it to help stop the spread of flu.

“Flu is a very infectious disease with symptoms that can come on very quickly and is more common in the colder months”, explains Dr Jon Doyle, a Bromley GP. “The most effective way to protect yourself and those around you is by having the flu jab.  The flu spreads from person to person – even amongst those not showing symptoms.  All of our Bromley borough flu clinics have infection control measures in place so you can be vaccinated safely.”

If you are eligible for a free flu jab, your GP practice will contact you directly by letter, telephone call or text message to arrange an appointment. If you are not registered with a local GP practice, you can contact the surgery of your choice by telephone or email to register as a new patient. Further details about local GP practices and the services they offer can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-gp

Beckenham Library sale stopped- but future remains unclear

Following the Feasibility Study for the relocation of Beckenham Library to Beckenham Public Halls, the council agreed that the Library should not be moved and the site sold for housing as was proposed, because the cost to the Council would be £400,000 and in addition the library would have to reduce book stock by 39%. The Public Hall is likely to be let on a commercial lease and no decision has been made to sell the Library building.

We very much welcome this decision and change from the council’s original plans to sell the Library building and move it to the Public Halls, we believe keeping both spaces for community use is the best outcome.

For now it appears Beckenham Library’s future is safe, but the Council has not said anything about longer term plans Clock House’s Labour Councillors and our Group will continue to monitor and oppose any attempt to sell off the building that would put the Library at risk.

Local Mind Dementia Centre Facing Closure

We were saddened and shocked to hear of the potential closure of the Rachel Notley Mind Centre, which is our local dementia centre. While we have been concerned that Bromley Council’s lack of support for the centre and other day centres in the borough was putting them at risk, we had not had any notice from the Council that closure was being considered.

We, along with local MP Ellie Reeves, have all heard from many carers and families of users how important the respite and services the centre provides are how what a major blow this and other centres closing would be for residents with mental health and dementia issues, particularly following the recent closure of the Bertha James Centre.

Our Group leader Angela Wilkins asked for an urgent meeting of the Council’s Adult Care committee to receive information on the possible closure and what action the council was taking to protect this and other services- this request was turned down by the Conservative committee chair.

As an alternative, we and Ellie Reeves have been engaging with BLG Mind directly and arranged an online meeting for the Head of Service and CEO to provide carers and families with an update and answer questions on how the services the centre provides can be continued in some way. From discussions so far we very much hope it is possible to protect the day centre’s services and that, when the pandemic passes, the centre could reopen again in the future. We will also be raising this issue with the Council’s Adult Care committee, to seek assurances on the support Bromley Council will provide.

Penge Secondary School Consultation Results

Current Harris Primary School building on the Kentwood site

During August we ran an online consultation asking residents for their views on proposals for a new secondary school to be built, following news that a feasibility study being undertaken by the Harris Academy Trust to have a secondary school site based on the Kentwood site (pictured) opposite the Moon and Stars in Penge where the adult education centre and Harris primary school are already.

Summary of consultation results

Over 250 residents completed the survey and the results were illuminating. We wanted to publish the key results and explain how we will be taking this matter forwards to represent residents. (We will be publishing a breakdown on the results separately with figures and a summary of comments)

The results showed overwhelming support for having a new secondary school, which fits with what we have heard from many parents in recent years at the lack of school choice nearby. Similarly, there was significant also support for a secondary school being built on the Kentwood site, though some alternative sites were suggested (including the old Harris Inspire site on Lennard Road) and some concerns were raised in responses due to the small size of the site.

As with any planning application in our ward, we would of course listen to views of residents living in nearby roads on any development that could impact them). At present there is also no indication of alternative sites for the primary school or the Adult Education provision if these had to move to make way for a secondary school and we think it is important these are not lost.

The London Plan, which Bromley Council drafted over the last few years, does identify Kentwood as a possible site (mainly in case Eden Park was not opened- which it was) but it has generally been regarded, including by the Portfolio Holder for Education, as being too small. However, Colin Smith, the Leader of Bromley Council has in the past suggested to make it larger they could just build higher. We do yet have details of Harris’ plans but a taller building than is currently on the site could create issues for local residents, and additional traffic and other effects have not yet been considered by the Council.

Support for a Non-Harris Secondary School in Penge

Whilst the consultation showed support for a new secondary school in Penge, most of those who responded would not support this school being run by The Harris Trust. Whilst some participants said that Harris ‘invest in students’ and are well respected, a significantly larger number of responses supported an alternative Academy trust or a new provider running a new school, with comments such as ‘There is little choice outside the area’, ‘Harris has a monopoly in Bromley already’ and ‘Harris dominate the area.’

As Councillors, we respect that local parents will not all feel a particular school or academy chain is the best place for their children to be educated. For many years the Government and Bromley Council have made their commitment to offering choices in schooling to parents. We are concerned that a large group of residents, given the number of Harris schools nearby already, feel that another Harris would be failing to give them this choice and indeed many parents were frustrated when Eden Park’s catchment area, which was intended to include Penge, was altered to exclude our ward.

Views on Feeder Schools

We also asked for resident’s views on feeder schools, which is a structure where an academy trust prioritises pupils from their primary schools when allocating students’ places for its secondary schools. Over 50% of those completing the survey either opposed or strongly opposed Feeder schools, with 25% supporting or strongly supporting and others saying they did not support or oppose them. The Harris Academy Trust have both primary and secondary schools and operating them in this way will create is a genuine fear to parents at non Harris primary school such as Alexandra Juniors will be shut out from access local secondary schools should they wish for their children to attend Harris Secondary schools.

The vast majority of residents who completed the survey have children currently at primary school or younger, and we appreciate this subject is incredibly important to them- we believe that so far as possible the views and needs of local parents and their children must be taken into account and shape decision making on any plans by Bromley Council.

Cllr Kevin Brooks raised this issue at this month’s Children’s, Families and Education PDS Committee next, we will continue to engage and listen to the views of residents and keep residents updated as events progress.

As June Ends- Pride Continues

pride flag

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT+) Pride Month is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honour the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. The Stonewall Uprising was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. The first first official UK Gay pride rally was held in London on 1 July 1972 (chosen as the nearest Saturday to the anniversary of the Stonewall riots of 1969 with approximately 2,000 participants.

Pride in London (formally known as Pride London) is an annual LGBT Pride festival and parade held each summer in London. Pride in London celebrates the diversity of the LGBT (lesbian, gays, bisexual, trans+) community with the colourful Pride in London Parade, as well as the free festivity events that take place in Trafalgar Square. This event brings together thousands of people of all genders, ethnicities, sexualities, and also many people of different races. (Though some have highlighted feelings of exclusion from Pride in the past and events like Black Pride, Trans Pride and many others aim to centre and provide inclusive spaces for communities.)

Pride in London

Pride in London is one of the longest running in the country and normally attracts an estimated one million visitors to the city. There are also Pride parades and events in major cities all over the country and also the world.

A difficult decision was made this year to postpone the Pride in London parade until the summer of 2021. This decision has been made based on the latest advice from the UK Government and prior conversations with the Greater London Authority, Westminster City Council, and agencies involved in the planning of the parade.

We can still celebrate and support London Pride by taking part in virtual events, such as Global Pride, which took place over the weekend. To find out more, visit the Pride in London website.

https://prideinlondon.org/parade

As a local Labour party our branch is proud to support and celebrate our LGBT+ members and all members of our LGBT+ community, not just during Pride month but throughout the year.

Just as the recent Black Lives Matters movement, sparked by the killing of George Floyd, shine a spotlight on the serious and deep issues of structural racism and injustice, Pride month reminds us both how far the pursuit of LGBT+ equality, has come, that within many of our lifetimes, being gay was a crime and now LGBT+ people can march openly in celebration of who they are-  and that we still have far to go & cannot take progress for granted; that homophobia, biphobia and transphobia continue to harm and can destroy lives, here in the UK and around the world.

As we hope to be able and look forward to marching again next year and think of all those harmed during the pandemic, we remember to hope for a better, more equal future and continue to strive to support the journey towards it.

Written by Paul, Penge and Cator branch LGBT+ Officer