BROMLEY TORIES IN CHAOS OVER EDUCATION POLICY
As you may have read in the national press, Bromley Tories have been in fighting over the proposed policy by Councillor Peter Morgan (Plaistow and Sundridge) to fund private schools in the borough where parents, particularly in the last year of school for their offspring could not afford to carry on paying fees because of redundancy or reduced financial circumstances. Baston School in Hayes closed at the end of the Summer term. David Cameron had to step in and block this Tory policy as the Leader Stephen Carr was warned by him not to rock the boat. It just goes to show how much some Bromley Tories are totally out of touch and what they would be like if they were ever to get their hands on the levers of power nationally. How many of them are sympathetic to the claims by the Tory MEP Daniel Hannan over his remarks attacking the National Health Service in the wake of the health debate in America? Peter Morgan was one of the many Tory Councillors to challenge for the Leadership of the Tory group in May. As usually happens with a large majority, they have become very divided.
LANGLEY PARK BOYS SCHOOL REDEVELOPMENT
At the end of July, the Court of Appeal surprisingly quashed a planning application that had been granted by the Council for the demolition of the existing school buildings, the retention and refurbishment of certain existing buildings, and the construction of a new secondary school including provision of a 600 seat enhanced performance space, a new 9 court indoor sports hall, and other facilities at Langley Park School for Boys in Beckenham. The Council are currently considering future options on this matter and the governing body of the Boy’s School have decided to submit a new application for full planning permission. The application is similar to the previous scheme but includes adjustments to the siting and alterations to the appearance of the main school building including the performance space and the deletion of the all-weather pitch and playground adjacent to the Girl’s School. The cost of the rebuild of the school will be nearly £36 Million which comes from the Building Schools for the Future fund which is funded by the government. Bromley has allocated an additional £2 Million for the building of an enhanced performance space. Any further delay to the project which is due for completion in the Summer of 2011 could add major costs, the council is currently considering a contingency sum of nearly £3 Million which would have to come out of budgets that potentially could have been used on other schools.
BIGGIN HILL AIRPORT HOTEL GIVEN PLANNING CONSENT
At the August Development Control meeting, planning consent was granted for the development of a 76 bed hotel with a restaurant, viewing terrace, meeting/training rooms, administration area, gym/sauna, function room, pilots lounge and associated facilities together with car parking and service are and a new access road at Biggin Hill Airport. The application site is located within the south western corner of the Airport within the designated “South Camp” area, although it lies entirely outside the Green Belt. The site was previously occupied by a café and a car and van hire facility. Previous schemes for a 100 bed hotel at the Airport were rejected.
LABOUR MOVE MOTION CONGRATULATING STAFF
At a special meeting of the Full Council in July, the Labour group moved a motion which was accepted by the Tories congratulating staff in the Children and Young People Department following a recent government inspection into the arrangements for safeguarding children. Extra monies have recently been provided for this service but some Tories were sceptical as to the effect that this would have. Fortunately, we have a very good record in this borough but obviously there is no room for complacency. The 2 day unannounced inspection found no areas identified as being of serious concern for "priority action."
PROPOSAL TO EXPAND RIVERSIDE SCHOOL
Consultation has recently taken place on the proposal to expand the Riverside School which caters for children with physical and learning disabilities and is based at St Paul’s Cray. An extra 45 places are to be created at the former Woodbrook School site in Hayne Rd in Beckenham. The autism-specific centre will be created at Woodbrook and is scheduled to open in January 2010. Currently many children with autism are being educated out borough and there will actually be cost savings as well as youngsters being nearer family and friends.
NEW GOVERNMENT GRANTS FOR EDUCATION
The Labour government have recently announced more money for education in Bromley. The borough is to receive nearly £400,000 for a family intervention programme and parenting project scheme, £220,000 to target mental health issues in schools and nearly £230,000 for a pilot scheme for funding for 2 year olds.
Bromley has also received £145,000 for each of the next two years for the Every Child a Talker (ECAT) programme which aims to improve speaking and listening skills of 3-4 year olds identified as lagging behind expectations for this age. The funding is being devolved to early years settings and is intended to help improve the skills and expertise of early years practitioners so that they are better able to support the development of young children’s speaking and listening skills. ECAT will also be supported and monitored by the National Strategies. Another example of Labour delivering where it matters most! The Family Intervention Programme and Parenting Project will provide support for families where children are at risk of being involved in criminal activity and parenting programmes for the parents of children at risk of serious behaviour problems. Lets hope that these initiatives are not to be another measure that Cameron and Co fail to fund should they ever get their hands on the levers of power. One thing is for sure and that is that Bromley Tories would ignore such issues and just hope that they would disappear.
CONTACTING BROMLEY LABOUR GROUP
We are always happy to take up issues that you raise with us and to keep the Tories in Bromley in check. One of the best ways of doing that is on e mail or through the council website – www.Bromley.gov.uk You can contact councillors by using the same format eg, Peter.Fookes@Bromley.gov.uk This is the same for members and officers of the authority as well. We also have our own website which can be accessed at www.pengeandcatorcouncillors.co.uk and is regularly updated almost daily by John Getgood. You can also write to us: c/o Bromley Civic Centre, Stockwell Close, Bromley BR1 3UH or leave a message on our answer phone 0208-460-0626.