Bromley Council Budget 2017-18

Public meeting 24 November - topics discussed

The purpose of the meeting was to engage representatives of the local community across the borough in a public consultation process on priorities for the council’s budget for 2017/18 and beyond.

Following an introduction by Councillor Stephen Carr, Leader of the Council, about some of the issues and choices to be made around the Council’s budget for 2017/18 and beyond, questions and issues were raised by members of the public attending the meeting.  These were responded to by the Leader, members of the council’s Executive, and the Director of Finance.

Topics covered included:

Resources 

  • Lobby Central Government to allow Council Tax to be increased above 2% without the need for a referendum.
  • Lobby Central Government to allow the 2 percent social care precept to be charged for a further year.
  • Lobby Central Government to allow for an increase in Council Tax above the 4 percent already noted, so making a total of 6 percent.
  • What were the council’s savings and where were the savings allocated?
  • Increase income generation to move towards a more self-sufficient council.
  • The portfolio of property investments and the selling of disposable assets.
  • Why was the council holding on to its £600 million in investments? Why not spend resources?
  • How much reserves did the council have as cash?
  • Council’s aim to be financially self-sufficient.
  • Council Tax had been raised by an extra percent - what had the money been spent on?

Sustainability and environment

  • Maximise the profitability of parking enforcement.
  • Emptying of litter bins and cleaning away of fallen leaves, especially on bridges and where drains are blocked. The safety of crossing the bridge at Chislehurst station because of leaf fall was raised.
  • LBB should concentrate on cleaning leaves away from accident sensitive sites.
  • Highlight the Street Friends initiative.
  • Promote the use of ‘Fix my Street’.
  • Don’t waste time sending out lorries for street cleaning when there were parked cars in the way
  • The problem of traffic congestion at the traffic lights at the junction of Bromley High Street and Westmoreland Road. It was feared that this would worsen when the new building development was finished. It was noted that TfL controlled traffic light phasing.  
  • The issue of traffic congestion in Hayes Street and Hayes Lane was raised. It was noted that consultation plans were being developed to deal with this.   
  • More parking was required at the PRU, and current parking was expensive. 
  • How could LBB ensure that contractors were fulfilling their contractual obligations?

Social Care

  • Provide sufficient investment to Children’s Services to deliver a ‘good’ service.
  • Issues around the efficiency of transport services for disabled adults and children were raised. 
  • The number of bailiff visits had increased generally, especially to disabled people.
  • The number of homeless people in Bromley was continuing to escalate - more affordable housing was required. 
  • LBB outlined innovative ways to deal with the homeless problem in Bromley, this included Manorfields and a new Mears Scheme.  
  • There were a large number of Liberata errors concerning housing benefit.
  • The growing problem of mental health issues amongst young people was mentioned. How much money was being invested in this area? There was a need for early intervention. Would resources be sustainable?
  • There was a reduction of funding available to support independent living in the community. 
  • The problem of people living in social isolation.  
  • The Better Care Fund (BCF) was discussed.  

Planning

  • A question was raised around the London Plan and housing—how many houses were planned for social housing?
  • A balance had to be found between the building of new houses and the use of Green Belt Land. Bromley requires more housing - should LBB build on Green Belt land to meet housing targets?

Economic development and town centres

  • Support the development of new and established businesses in the borough.
  • Continue to build on business rates receipts.
  • Attract more businesses and investment into the borough.
  • Council and contractors should pay the Living Wage.
  • A member of the public requested a list of the contractors used by the council
  • The lack of social and affordable housing.
  • Bromley’s Community Toilet Scheme.

Education and young people

  • What was the ‘opportunity cost’ to LBB of dealing with difficult schools going into the process of academisation?
  • An Ofsted Action Plan had been developed and was being implemented
  • How can greater youth involvement in public consultations be achieved? 
  • Ask for young people to volunteer for projects like leaf cleaning.
  • The success of BYC and pro-active nature of Bromley youth in general was noted.

Community,leisure,culture and sport

  • Support the continued provision of community libraries
  • Do not close libraries.
  • Ensure The Priory continues to be protected. 
  • Was there any way LBB could assist people to get on to the property ladder? 
  • The significant benefit to the community of those aged 65 plus was noted.

General

  • There was a need for public consultation meetings in the evening to cater for people that worked in the day time.
  • It was asked how many Compliance Officers the council employed. 
  • Central government needed to get to grips with tax evasion and tax avoidance - this would then have the effect of releasing funds for local government.
  • LBB partnership working.
  • Cllr Lymer commented that as public protection issues had not been raised, this was positive as it seemed to be the case that residents felt safe in Bromley. 

The Leader of the Council thanked everyone for contributing to the consultation process and noted that any further comments could be provided to him at leader@bromley.gov.uk.

This meeting took place on Thursday 24 November 2016 at Bromley Civic Centre.