Government to take over Southeastern Rail Services from 17th October

Andrew, Alexa and Thomas at Hayes Station

The Government have announced that as of the 17th October 2021 the Department of Transport’s “Operator of Last Resort” (OLR) will take over the management of the London Southeastern Franchise. Both Southeastern and the Government have said that tickets and services will be unaffected by this change.

Southeastern currently operate services on both the Hayes line and some services, such as the service into London Victoria from Bromley South. The decision to remove the operator followed a Department for Transport (DfT) investigation which identified £25 million of taxpayers’ money had not been reported or repaid since 2014.  While the money has now been recovered, the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, has taken firm action in stripping London Southeastern of the franchise.  The OLR will take over and prioritise the punctual running of services, also preparing for the Government’s wide-ranging reforms to railway operations in Great Britain. 

Commuter and 2022 Conservative candidate for Hayes & Coney Hall, Thomas Turrell, commented:

Many commuters like myself have long felt let down by London Southeastern railways. To be frank the service has just not been good enough so a new operator with a renewed focus on improving the service is good news for local rail users. Along with my fellow local Conservatives we will be continuing to push for the restoration of pre-pandemic services as soon as possible and hope the new operator will achieve this quicker than Southeastern were prepared”.

Conservative run Bromley Council Wins National Award for Care and Health

The Executive Portfolio Holder for Adult Care and Health, Councillor Diane Smith, has paid tribute to staff working at Bromley Council after winning a National award for Care Services and Health in Bromley at the highly regarded  MJ Achievements Awards on Friday 17th September 2021.

The London Borough of Bromley won the ‘Health and Care Integration Award’ for two initiatives developed in the Borough: the first being the improved way residents are discharged from hospital with the appropriate care in place to support their recovery, whilst the second related to the extended support given to care homes across the Borough during the Covid 19 pandemic.

The local initiatives were introduced by the ‘OneBromley’ partnership which comprises of Bromley Council, Local NHS providers, Commissioners, and the Voluntary Sector, and which seeks to bring these groups together to collaborate and deliver more effective and joined up services for local people.

As part of this partnership, the first initiative established a single point of access’ (SPA) , hosted by Bromley Healthcare. The SPA   brings together services to help to ensure arrangements for timely hospital discharge and the provision of appropriate support and care packages to help residents to recover and regain their independence. 

Bromley has one of the highest populations of older residents in London, so the second project – the ‘Integrated Care Home Support Programme’ – aimed to get the best support to the Boroughs 53 care homes during the pandemic. This saw a multi-agency professional network established to provide proactive support to the Boroughs Care Homes to prevent the spread and impact of Covid-19 through Care Homes locally.

Councillor Diane Smith, Portfolio Holder for Adult Care and Health said:

“I am absolutely delighted and so incredibly proud of everyone across the Borough who has been involved with these two projects.

These have been very challenging and unprecedented times. The incredible staff here at Bromley Council who have alongside our local Health and Care partners worked so hard on the front line to make sure we had an effective response to ensuring   timely hospital discharge, support to our care homes and effective joined up services which could react quickly to the emerging pandemic, quite rightly need to be applauded. 

I am therefore thrilled that the work and commitment that was made by staff across the partnership to ensure the best for Bromley residents has been fully recognised with this National award. 

Looking ahead we will continue to bring together and work more closely with health and care service providers and the voluntary sector to deliver better and more effective care for our residents.”

The New Conservative Team for Hayes, Coney Hall and Keston Village

The Conservatives in Hayes & Coney Hall have selected a new team to work for the ward after next May’s local elections.

Andrew Lee, Alexa Michael and Tom Turrell

After a combined 56 years’ service to the ward, Cllrs. Graham Arthur, Peter Fortune and Neil Reddin have announced that they will be standing down from the Council and so local Conservatives have selected Andrew Lee, Alexa Michael and Thomas Turrell to be the Party’s candidates at next May’s elections.

Following changes to the ward boundaries, Keston village will become part of Hayes & Coney Hall ward, while Hayesford Park to the north of the current ward is joining Bromley Town.

The new team will be working closely with Graham, Peter & Neil over the next few months to be brought up to speed on the many local issues and concerns of residents. Cllr. Alexa Michael will already be familiar to Keston village residents as she has represented them on the council for 27 years. All three are looking forward to introducing themselves to as many people as possible over the next eight months and beyond.

Hayes Line Gets Back on Track

Following discussions with our MP Bob Stewart, Southeastern Railway are set to unveil plans to increase service levels on the Hayes Line.

As demand gradually moves back towards pre-pandemic levels the new timetable in September will see longer trains and a restoration of off-peak services to Charing Cross from Hayes.

In an response to Bob Stewart MP, Southeastern Railway have confirmed that “We will be shortly announcing a timetable change in September, which will see targeted increases in capacity and frequency on routes where passenger numbers are expected to increase beyond our current service level. In London this will include longer trains on the Hayes and Bexleyheath lines at certain times of day … and the reintroduction of off-peak services to Charing Cross on the Hayes line. The next timetable change is planned for December, when we are expecting to make further targeted increases to capacity and frequency, but these plans have not yet been finalised.”

Pickhurst Lane Phone Mast Refused

A mobile phone mast proposed near the bottom of Station Approach has been refused planning approval by the Council.

The twenty metre structure was to be sited in the forecourt of the petrol station close to the entrance from Pickhurst Lane. The application was refused on the grounds that the mast would have ‘a significant detrimental impact on the visual amenities of the surrounding area and this would outweigh the public benefit that it would provide’.

Hayes Common Works – Update

We are well aware of the controversy over the filling in of the bike tracks and jumps on Hayes Common and removal of the dens that local children had made. We can well understand the disappointment of both parents and children at the move, especially in recent times when the common provided such respite from domestic lockdown.

It seems the works were carried out in response to reports of excessive damage to the Common – particularly trees – as well as being an enforcement of existing by-laws. While the Council has generally taken a pragmatic approach to enforcement of these by-laws it appears that some additional recent damage to the trees and surroundings had meant action had to be taken.

The full official explanation for the works is as follows:

On 17th March 2021 idverde received written concerns regarding the existence and extent of the area used for bike jumps. The concern was based primarily around the safety risk posed to both the users of the jumps and other site users. Upon further inspection we found jumps of significant size which we deemed to be dangerous. In addition to this, trees in the immediate vicinity had been vandalised and one had its root base excavated which resulted in that particular tree unfortunately having to be felled due to the risk it presented.

Hayes Common is a Local Nature Reserve and part of a Site of Scientific Interest, as well as Common Land. The presence of such a feature as well as the activity itself contravenes a number of the bye laws for common land.

As a Local Nature Reserve the significant level of ground disturbance from digging and the repeated use by bicycles has resulted in a large area of bare ground where flora is unable to grow. Combined with the damage to trees in the vicinity this represents a real ecological concern. A similar issue exists with the construction of dens which result in large volumes of timber dangerously stacked against trees, often for long periods of time. These structures are unstable and dangerous and could arguably represent an increased fire risk during periods of dry weather. The removal of dead wood from the woodland floor negatively impacts the wider woodland ecology by reducing the surface are of deadwood in contact with the soil which again in a Local Nature Reserve is an important consideration.

It is standard working practice for us to take such action when informal structures are built within our parks as it is considered anti-social behaviour/vandalism and also create serious health and safety issues for other users. We sincerely appreciate the impact of Covid and the strain it has on many young people. We’ve seen a significant increase in numbers of visitors to our parks and open spaces over the last year, and this is forcing us to observe our duty of care more sensibly. While a minority of users may enjoy using such a feature we have a duty of care to all site users, particularly when the act contravenes the bye laws in place. This was the second bike track which we had been made aware of in Hayes Common, the first in February which was also filled in.

As your local councillors, we were disappointed at the breakdown in communication between the contractors, Council, councillors and other interested groups which led to the current position; this is currently being looked into to ensure a repeat situation does not occur.

Clearly it would be preferable to see solutions that respect the wishes of all users of our Common and open spaces, including generations both present and future. Each of us councillors have been users of the common either in our own youth, with our children or, in one case, now grandchild.

Furthermore the continued attractiveness of the Common is due in no small part to the tireless efforts of the Friends of Hayes Common and we greatly appreciate all that they do.

Concerns Remain Over Bourne Way Flats

Developers of a proposed block of flats off Bourne Way have made some changes to the plans.

The proposals for a five storey block on the site of the current Bromley & Blackheath Harriers’ clubhouse have already caused considerable controversy. The main alterations are to reduce the size by four units (from 36 to 32), with the top storey being ‘stepped back’ somewhat from both the south-eastern (Prickley Wood) and eastern blocks. However, the visual impact of the flats largely remains from Prickley Wood, Bourne Way and even Hurstdene Avenue.

Some more detailed information has also been filed, including the operation of the ‘traffic light’ system controlling movement on the narrow access road, which now also includes a 1.2m pedestrian walkway. There is still a mention of a holding area for vehicles entering from Bourne Way which appears to rely on the cooperation of the landowners of Woodgrange Court.

We do support the plans for the Harriers’ at Norman Park and the community benefits that will bring, and recognise the importance of the Bourne Way development in supporting that vision. We have not met anyone opposed to the principle of residential development at the Bourne Way site, but we do agree with residents that any proposals must still be right for the area and minimise the impact on the surrounding community and we are highly sceptical that the current proposals achieve this. We remain concerned about a number of aspects of the development not least the height, access arrangements and general visual impact on the immediate area.

The plans are expected to go to a committee for a decision not earlier than 20th May. While the ‘official’ deadline for comments on the latest changes is 15th April, the council generally accepts submissions submitted a little later; nevertheless we recommend that any comments be made as soon as possible to ensure they are considered.

The plans can be seen, and comments made on the Council’s planning site here.

New Care Home Gets Green Light

A new care home off West Common Road has been approved by the planning inspector after a successful appeal by the operators.

The plans are for a 60 bed facility on the old Hayes Common Bowls Club site behind Burton Pynsent House. The proposals were originally refused by the council who were concerned about the loss of Urban Open Space and highways issues among other factors. However the inspector last week overruled the decision.

The plans also include a new base for CASPA, a local charity working with autistic children, young people and their families.

It is not clear what impact the decision may have on separate plans, by another operator, for a care home on the old ‘Stevensons Heating’ site also in West Common Road. though in their submissions the operators of the appealed scheme cited a significant shortfall in care home beds over the next ten years.

Phone Mast Plans For Pickhurst Lane

An application to erect a phone mast in Pickhurst Lane has been made to the council.

The 56-day consultation by Telefonica has been submitted for plans to place a single pole mast with a number of external antennae in the forecourt of the petrol station at the bottom of Station Approach, by the entrance/exit on Pickhurst Lane. At 20 metres in height the mast will be roughly twice the height of the surrounding buildings.

As your ward councillors we have been content to see masts erected in the ward in the right places – after all, most of us use mobile ‘phones – but we have also opposed these where we’ve felt the siting of either the mast and/or ground infrastructure is inappropriate.

However, the height and number of antennae both proposed and planned in future is significant in this case and, despite our recent requests of the applicants, we have not yet seen any information about which alternative sites had been considered in this case.

The application can be seen here.

New Plans for Former Stevenson Heating Site

A care home operator has come forward with plans to develop the former Stevenson’s Heating site in West Common Road.

Previous proposals in 2018 for retirement housing on the plot had eventually been granted planning permission last Spring for a 28 apartment sheltered housing scheme (reduced to 25 units a few months later). Unfortunately in the wake of the pandemic the plans could not progress.

The new scheme, which is very similar in design to its 2018 predecessor, now envisages a 50 bed care home. Residents can comment on the plans here.

Serving Hayes, Coney Hall, West Wickham Common and Hayesford Park