SINC questions fail to make the Council cut – written responses awaited

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?

Crayford Marshes bird walk attendees look out across the Thames toward Rainham marshes

Crayford Marshes bird walk attendees look out across the Thames toward Rainham marshes. SINCs are essential local homes for wildlife but also provide enjoyment and health benefits for people. Bexley Council gives every impression of seeing them as unimportant – except when it comes to looking for yet more ‘development opportunities’.



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4 Responses to SINC questions fail to make the Council cut – written responses awaited

  1. Mike Robinson says:

    Apropos the Item included within the Bexley Wildlife facebook Pages viz. ‘A big increase in houses to be built in Bexley in complete disregard to the agreed plan after the Council’s last consultation.
    Will they just do anything Boris says?’

    It is all very well saying, ‘Will they just do anything Boris says?’ But the Bexley Times quotes the local (Labour) MP as saying, inter alia, ‘…new development is to be welcomed …’

    So land will be needed for what is beginning to look inevitable?

    And as for houses it must be assumed that the majority of new ‘homes’ will be big boxes filled with little boxes! And filled with lots of people who will want access to Power Supplies, Water, Schools, Doctors, Hospitals &c. &c.

    • says:

      The point being made was not one about the number of houses to be built, but the complete absence of a democratic process in radically altering a local development plan. The thousands of extra houses have been agreed by the Conservative Council outside of the normal consultancy process. Having agreed a certain number of new houses after local consultation and representations (to which BNEF contributed), Bexley’s Conservative Council has accepted a quadrupling of house building without even discussing with local people. How is that democratic? is it even legal?

  2. Chris Rose says:

    With due deference to my colleague Mr. Rooks, we are also concerned about the number of houses, because we don’t believe that they and the associated infrastructure can be accommodated without unacceptable damage to the local environment, and the wider ‘footprint’ impacts Bexley Council is all too happy to ignore, pretend do not exist or hopes that – in Mickawberish fashion – ‘something will turn up’ to cope with the inevitable strains. We are talking about a 20% increase over the current population of the Borough. Amongst other things the GLA, in a document signed off by Boris, says that London will be going into water deficit from 2016. Two Council officers have accepted that the ‘Core Strategy’ will have to be re-written and put out to consultation again because of the scale of the proposed increase in housing numbers which, by the way, will soak up more staff time resources and money when the Council says it has to slash spending. Very few people are likely to participate. The time to have ‘consulted’ and sought a ‘mandate’ on this was at the 2012 GLA and 2014 Borough elections. I can find no policy in Conservative election literature or their websites for those elections that spelt out that this is what they intended to do if they won. The so-called opposition at Bexley Council is all in favour as long as even more ‘infrastructure’ (ancillary buildings, road ‘improvement’s etc.) comes with this. (Chris Rose)

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