Report of BNEF-hosted open spaces campaign meeting

There was a good turnout of around 20 people to the first meeting of the Save Our Green Spaces Campaign last Thursday (March 19th) in Bexley Library, hosted by Bexley Natural Environment Forum (the umbrella group for ‘Friends’ of parks and open spaces in the Borough). Attendees included representatives from the Manor Way Playground and Old Farm Park groups and the local Green Party Parliamentary candidate for Old Bexley and Sidcup, Derek Moran.

We reviewed the outcome of the Council’s consultation on the disposal of 27 green spaces:  1,890 responses in total – 40% agreed with the proposal, 50% disagreed and 10% were undecided.  On the basis of this, the Council has decided it has a mandate to work up detailed plans and consult locally on each site (as for planning applications).

We understand the list is not fixed in stone and sites can be removed or added, so although some of the sites on the current list are fairly small, it is important to send out a clear signal now to the Council that we value all our green spaces and want to protect them.   Council plans to build even more thousands of new homes (well-documented elsewhere on this website) mean that all open land in the borough is at risk from development.

Campaigns to protect Manor Way Playground and Old Farm Park are well under way and the Manor Way Playground in particular is making great strides with a public event last Saturday attracting over 200 people and the local MP.

The Manor Way group has a petition on the Council’s website at:

http://democracy.bexley.gov.uk/mgepetitionlistdisplay.aspx?bcr=1

Old Farm Park has a petition at

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-old-farm-park

and the Green Party is knocking on doors to get signatures for a paper petition against the sale of all 27 green spaces (now also online at

https://www.change.org/p/london-borough-of-bexley-council-protect-bexley-s-council-owned-parks-and-green-spaces-from-sell-off 

All petitions are doing well, but we agreed that everyone running a petition should urge their supporters to sign the others so we can get the numbers up on all the petitions and pressure the Council to take notice.

BNEF urges everyone reading this article to sign all the petitions listed above so we can get the Council to debate this issue properly and also to ‘like’ the Facebook pages if they have a Facebook account.

You can help to keep the focus on this issue by writing to your local councillors, MPs, members of the London Assembly and the local press.  The Manor Way group has even written to the Prime Minister!  This is an election year so all the political parties will be keen to retain and win votes.

‘Pressure’ points could include:  loss of local amenity/exercise for local people – particularly children,  loss of wildlife habitat, pressure of extra housing on local environment, increase in air pollution, etc.

BNEF will monitor the Council website to make sure we find out when specific proposals are being developed and coming to the planning committee, but we agreed we shouldn’t wait for proposals to reach planning committee before acting.  It was important to start building opposition to the proposals now and to get local people, politicians and the press involved in the campaign.

We agreed that the Council’s argument about ‘decreased maintenance’ as opposed to selling sites seemed more of an excuse to sell than a rational reason. The Council’s current ‘maintenance’ regime seemed to consist of chopping down anything green!

Looking ahead, we urged people to set up ‘friends’ groups for each green site which could work with the Council to maintain sites and protect them from development.

The BNEF will aim to act as an information ‘hub’ for the campaign (probably on a dedicated Facebook page) so the different groups can swap information and support each other.  We hope to put up a map of all the sites soon.”

Mandy Stevens for BNEF.

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