Just posted on the Save Old Manor Way Playground Facebook page.
Some of you may have already seen this, but I will post it just to make sure word is spread to everyone! This is a message sent from Barnehurst Ward Councillors regarding our playground. They say that a consultation meeting will take place in early April at the Civic Offices but have not yet confirmed the exact time and date.
We still need your ongoing support so that when we do attend the consultation we can show the councillors the combined effort of the community to save the playground. Keep signing petitions, online and on paper and continue to write complaints and spread the word.
What the Councillors say
The Council provides 106 parks and open spaces throughout the London Borough of Bexley which in total cover an area of 670ha (1,655 acres) including Old Manor Road Playground which is only one of 27 open spaces and small green highway land that have been identified for possible disposal after consultations with residents have been concluded.
The parks and open spaces are all very different in landscape character and range from playing fields, meadowland, woodlands, open grassland, playgrounds, hedges, tennis courts, wildflower meadows, parkland, heathland, rough grassland, scrubland, waterways, and so on. The different landscapes provide different homes and feeding areas for wildlife. They also provide different habitats for plant life.
The Council has been consulting with residents on an in principle choice between stopping maintenance, which would essentially mean these different landscapes ultimately changing back into woodlands, or selling a small number of open space sites and a small number of green highway sites. The money generated from the disposal of these sites would be used to create an endowment fund which the Council would use to continue the maintenance of a diverse landscapes with different habitats in the remaining sites.
It is important to set the scale of this proposal. The area of the 10 possible open space sites under consultation for disposal represents just 0.37% of the Councils parkland and the 17 small green highway sites represents 1.44% of the green highway land.
It is also useful to understand how this sits in context with the wider financial challenges that all Local Authorities are facing as the coalition Government seek to achieve a balanced national budget. With Central Government reducing Council funding, Bexley has already had to reduce annual spending by £50m over the last four years. Over the next four years Bexley is challenged with achieving savings of around a further £57m
Achieving a reduction in the budget during the current austerity programme, which will remain beyond the life of the current Parliament, has involved a fundamental examination of the level of provision of all statutory and non-statutory services. In common with other local authorities, a number of very difficult decisions have or need to be taken as a consequence of reduced funding.
Where possible, savings have been made through efficiency measures and other methods, but unfortunately Bexley Council also has had to reduce or end some non-statutory services in order to set a legal budget. These are difficult choices, but without looking at alternative options for generating income to sustain the sites in the long term, the Council would not have the money to maintain the remaining parks and open spaces and the facilities within them.
As stated this proposal is at an early stage and no final decision on the disposal of any sites has yet been taken but the Barnehurst Ward Councillors Hurt, Marriner and Pallen have lobbied the Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Leisure extensively since the draft list of sites was published and a public meeting is being organised so that both the Cabinet Member and Ward Councillors can hear at first hand the concerns that local residents have.
Even though the principle of disposal for the 27 sites was agreed by full Council on 4 March 2015, the sites will be subject to detailed technical evaluation and further public consultation before any decision is taken.
It is anticipated that the Public Meeting will be held at the Civic Offices, 2 Watling Street, Bexleyheath on a date in early April 2015 to be announced shortly to ensure that residents have adequate time to prepare to attend that meeting.“
Many people are concerned about how much notice Bexley Council takes of its ‘consultations’. Not sure we’ve ever heard of the Council changing its mind after a ‘consultation’.
Sounds to me that the Conservative Councillors are following the party line here rather than supporting local residents.
Their contact details: