Blog

Penge Post Office Completes Reopening

While it has been open for a while on a limited basis, Penge welcomes back Riz and the Penge Post Office now it has fully opened. Having a Post Office is a huge benefit to any High Street and we local Councillors are delighted that residents, who may have had to go elsewhere during its closure, can now use the returning Post Office again.

We know how community minded Penge is and that we need to support all our local traders to ensure our High Street has a thriving future. Businesses have been severely hit by the pandemic, but despite that we have seen new businesses attracted to Penge. from well-known chains to specialist niche businesses, Penge has a diverse business community. The success of the High Street means money can be invested back into supporting community events such as Penge Day, PengeFest, Pengemas and Penge Festival. We continue to encourage residents to support all our local businesses where they can.

Our Push to Make Penge Roads Safer

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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

Boundary Changes for Local Elections

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England has recently completed an electoral review of the London Borough of Bromley ward arrangements.  As a result of the review, there have been alterations to the current ward boundaries, which come into effect from the upcoming local elections in May. These affect the ward of Penge and Cator in the following ways:

Moving into Clock House Ward – roads from Barnmead road onwards to the other side of the road from Clock Station (Including Chaffinch Road, Thayers Farm Road and Rowden Road)

Coming into Penge and Cator Ward– roads falling within the Lawrie Park Triangle and Crystal Palace Park Road (but not the park itself)

Any residents living in roads that will change ward will receive letters informing them of this.

As a result of Lawrie Park Road becoming part of Penge and Cator, we are delighted to have St. Christopher’s Hospice, which helps so many people in Penge, officially now within our ward.

Parliamentary boundaries are also being reviewed, but no final proposals have been made and these are not changing at the same time- we do not yet know whether the next General Election Penge and Cator will stay as it is or be changed under the new boundaries.

Helping Residents Win Compensation for Housing Association Failures

The number of tenants in Housing Association properties asking us for help after they have difficulties getting repair works completed satisfactorily has been escalating.

In one recent case, a tenant had tried for two years to get a faulty plumbing job fixed.  Contractors visited on numerous occasions to inspect damp ceiling patches and explain them away.  Others could see there was a problem, but they were only there to inspect and not fix.  Eventually the ceiling partly collapsed, flooded the kitchen and so damaged the white goods and decorated kitchen.  The tenant applied for compensation and was refused on the grounds that the Housing Association had done all necessary works in good time.  We did not agree, and helped the tenant put in a formal complaint so that they had recourse to the ombudsman.

They have just resolved the case, with the Housing Association paying almost twice what the tenant had originally asked for. We believe tenants should not spend months trying to get repair works completed, and while the Council accepts little responsibility for dealing with housing association problems, we try to assist with complaints as far as we can.

Safety Success on Croydon Road Concourse

Work is finally due to start on the Croydon Road concourse where, after Bromley Council allowed three parking spaces to put in, we have seen for a number of years the pavement used as a ‘highway’ for cars leaving the concourse after being blocked in by other cars, putting passers-by at risk..  

Suitable measures will now be implemented after our long campaign to prevent vehicles from being driven over the footway along this section of Croydon Road.  The bus stop was moved in the first phase of these highway safety measures, so action is now needed for the whole section of this forecourt. The plan is for a mixture of cycle stands, bollards and possibly a planter. There are also plans to raise the kerb in order to stop vehicles mounting the pavement and preventing harm to those walking by.  We hope this area of Penge will now become much safer.

Census 2021- making sure we all count!

The census is a national survey that happens every 10 years and gives the Office for National Statistics (ONS) a picture of all the people and households in England and Wales. The next census takes place on Sunday 21 March 2021.

The census asks questions about you, your household and your home. In doing so, it helps to build a detailed snapshot of different areas like Penge. Information from the census helps the government and councils to plan and fund local services, such as education, doctors’ surgeries and roads.

Census 2021 is a digital-first census, which means that the ONS will be encouraging people to respond online if they can. You will be able to complete the census using any device, including your mobile phone or tablet.

If you need help to complete it, there is an online help area on the census website and they offer help by phone, webchat, email, social media or text message. For help you can follow this link: https://census.gov.uk/help

Beckenham Harris Admissions Policy Update

At the end of last year, Beckenham Harris secondary school Academy undertook a consultation for their student intake for September 2022. Along with local MP Ellie Reeves and many local parents, we submitted comments opposing their plans to change their policy to give preference to students from a Harris Primary school, as we have concerns this will unfairly affect pupils from other local Primary schools that are not part of the Harris chain.

Following these comments, we met with the School Leadership and Harris Federation staff, to raise our concerns about their proposal and hear from them on the reasons for their plans. Whilst they provide understandable reasons for putting in place the arrangement for this specific school, which is on the same site, as they already share resources with the school and it is the most local school to Beckenham Harris, we believe that the principle of prioritising certain schools when assessing intake may lead to a wider feeder school system throughout the Borough.

Earlier in the year we carried out an online consultation of residents in Penge who had children of school age, those who responded were overall opposed to the idea of feeder schools. Children from all local primary schools can still apply to Harris Beckenham and there are a number of criteria they will apply to determine priority, but all other things being equal a child attending Harris Primary Academy Beckenham will be given a place above children from other primary schools.

While Bromley Council focus on their high overall success of children getting their preferred choice of secondary schools- Labour councillors have supported a number of families from the North West of the Borough in recent years, who haven’t been accepted to any of their chosen schools, so we continue to be concerned with any changes that could make it even less likely local parents will be able to get their choice of the best schools for their children to start secondary school at.

Council sell-off puts Penge High Street at Risk

Last month, Bromley Council’s Conservative controlled Executive voted to sell the freehold of the Blenheim Shopping Centre, despite opposition from local traders and from Cllr Kevin Brooks and Labour Group Leader Cllr Angela Wilkins, who spoke strongly opposing the proposal.

Selling the freehold weakens any influence the Council has on the site and makes it easier for a developer to turn the shopping centre into flats (indeed- the current leaseholder put in plans for a 14 level Tower Block (which they have not yet applied for planning permission for). Just as we opposed the decision, we will vigorously oppose any application that threatens the future of the High Street.

The SE20 BID, Penge Traders and representatives from Penge Forum have opposed the move Representatives from Penge Forum have also voiced their similar concerns, we believe the Council should have consulted residents before taking any decision. Just as they fail to consult residents on many other matters.

The Blenheim Centre is not any old piece of land. It is the central to Penge High Street, brings shoppers and business to Penge- almost all trading depends on it. The presence of the car park attracts shoppers and new businesses to an area which has no other sustainable parking.

The importance of (free) car parking for shoppers has become even more vital since to installation of the Penge Parking Zone. If shoppers have nowhere to park in Penge, we are extremely worried they will not come and the local economy will suffer. Which is a particular worry given many businesses have been forced to close for much of the past year and are still a long way from recovering.

We are not against any possible form of residential development and would be happy to work with developers as there is a need for genuinely affordable housing in Penge and across Bromley (mostly because the Council has not built any for decades). However, the small amount of income gained by the Council was far outweighed by the negatives of selling the freehold.

February was LGBT+ History Month (even in Bromley!)

LGBT+ History Month is an annual event in the United Kingdom taking place every February.The event came in the wake of the abolition of Section 28 in 2003. The Month is intended as a means to raise awareness of, and combat prejudice against the LGBT community while celebrating its achievement and diversity and making it more visible. History Month has three taglines -‘Claiming our past. Celebrating our present. Creating our future’, in addition to the ‘Educate OUT Prejudice’ motto of parent charity Schools OUT UK.

The Department for Education (DfES) promised funding for LGBT History Month for the first two years to help get the event off the ground. It is now very well established and has garnered support from other sources. Long standing sponsors include the Metropolitan Police Service, the Metropolitan Police AuthorityAmnesty International and the Crown Prosecution Service.

Please use the link below to access the website
https://lgbtplushistorymonth.co.uk

There are some great Films, TV series and other media which focus on moments in LGBT+ history- one which aired recently and that we fully recommend is Its a Sin, which was recently shown on Channel 4 and is available on All 4, it is a highly acclaimed Russell T Davies drama in five episodes which charts the story of AIDS and how it affects five friends in the 1980’s
Use the link below to access the website
https://www.channel4.com/programmes/its-a-sin

As usual, while many Councils across London and the UK flew rainbow flags, issued resources and held (online) events to mark LGBT+ History month, Bromley Council sadly once again did not. (Indeed they are one of the only Councils in London who do not mark Pride month in June, Black History Month and many other occasions throughout the year designed to celebrate, raise awareness or highlight the history of minority groups)

Protecting local green spaces- our response to Bromley’s Open Space Strategy

This month we submitted comments to Bromley Council’s recent consultation on their Open Space Strategy, which sets out their plans for our local parks, public gardens and other open green spaces (including Penge Rec, Royston Fields, Betts Park Alexandra Rec and Cator Park).

Among our comments, we called for sports fields and spaces for physical activity to be protected, for more support to be given to continue the great work our local Friends’ groups do to maintain our parks, with more council support for less well-off parts of the area to help maintain their local spaces, and to ensure our green spaces are fully accessible for disabled residents and others with additional needs.

We raised concerns with wording in the strategy suggesting the council would look at options to ‘develop or dispose’ and ‘increase commercial use’ of the council’s open spaces- particularly in recent times we have all seen how important having nearby access to parks and green spaces is for our physical and mental health- particularly around Penge where many people live in flats without gardens. We want to ensure all residents can continue to have access to green spaces in our local area.

Residents and other community groups also raised their concerns with these plans and the council responded with a statement indicating no parks would be sold off to private developers and lost- but have not yet committed that the plans will be changed to ensure no public land is privatised or built on- we will continue to monitor this when the final draft is published.

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.