Two questions to Councillor Peter Craske about the progress – or lack of it – on signing off the 2013 Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation Review, failed to beat the guillotine for verbal presentation at Wednesday night’s full Council meeting, but a written reply must now be given.
As followers of Bexley Wildlife will know, we have been pressing the Council on this important matter for months
Chris Rose, on behalf of Bexley Natural Environment Forum (though you have to lodge the question as an individual resident) had written to ask what the target date for agreeing the recommendations now was. Would Cllr. Craske commit to doing it this year? If not, then when? And were there any areas recommended for SINC status that were removed from the list and for some reason not published in the draft review the public were invited to comment on? This question was scheduled 6th of 7, with 5 from Save Old Farm Park campaigners beforehand. But in the 15 minutes allowed we had only got to number 3. Various jeering and catcalls then ensued, to the effect that the Lady Mayor who was chairing had called time 3 minutes early, needed a new watch and so forth, but she was not for turning.
Councillor June Slaughter had tabled a question as a backbencher, this time asking why the SINC review had taken so long. A meagre 15 minutes are allowed for these Councillor questions. Hers was at 39 of 39, so needless to say was not reached either. The order of the questions is decided by Council Leader Teresa O’Neill (OBE).
Written replies will be useful, but if you get a verbal one in, you then get a ‘freestyle’ supplementary after the respondent has said their piece, which of course opens the door to bowling a googly that might catch them out.
If Cllr. Craske’s officers do their homework (or read this website) they will, as of this week, be able to gleefully report that over in neighbouring Bromley their 2011 SINC review has only just been approved, so we should think ourselves lucky that here in super-efficient, mega-wildlife-friendly Bexley we have only had to wait 20 months (and counting).
Meanwhile two Bexley SINCs are under imminent threat of planning applications, one of which the review recommends should be promoted from Borough Grade 2 to Grade 1, and another area recommended for SINC status is still slated for sale despite almost every respondent telling Bexley’s ( motto ‘Listening to you ….’) consultation they don’t want it flogged off and built on. The obvious question in the circumstances is: ‘is the ongoing ‘delay’ in any way related to these ‘inconvenient’ facts?