Please note this post is from my previous blog. To read my posts during the 2017 General Election campaign click here.
I’ve just noticed that it has been 2 months since I last blogged – this year really is galloping past. My absence has been in large part down to two local campaigns I’ve been involved that have culminated at the same time. Fortunately, in success!
We’re getting there on Mend The Mound
I’ve blogged before about our campaign to Mend The Mound – launched last October to force Greenwich council to end its neglect of the shops on the Coldharbour estate. Myself and my colleagues Cllr John Hills and Cllr Mandy Brinkhurst have been working non-stop on this – and after handing in our petition in December we have been continuing to drum up even more support for our 3-point plan.
Last month we had the terrific news that the council has agreed to one of our demands, which was to improve lighting around the shops. This is a crucial step towards rebuilding confidence in The Mound – especially amongst older residents, so many of whom have told me when I’ve been out meeting people that they barely use the shops in winter. The lack of adequate lighting has been bad for them – and it’s also been bad for local traders who are missing out on custom that they need, especially at the moment.
Thanks to the petition and the huge public support it received (including coverage in the News Shopper at the start of the year), a lighting improvement scheme is now being designed. We have just had confirmation that the main improvements will be put in place in the week commencing 12th May, with the smaller changes to the lights at the back of The Mound likely to be put in much sooner.
It’s one down, two to go, however – as the Labour administration has refused (so far!) to adopt our plans for real action on empty premises and to install CCTV that can be monitored locally from the police base on William Barefoot Drive.
The petition is still going strong in support of these other 2 aims – and it has already reached 750 signatures (sign here). We’re extremely grateful to everyone for their support (including on Facebook, where we now have a Mend The Mound page) – the campaign has really taken off, and we’re not going to give up until the council finally recognises the level of attention The Mound needs.
LiDL’s plan for The Porcupine rejected
The other big campaign I have been involved with over the last year is supporting Mottingham residents’ efforts to Save The Porcupine from demolition to make way for a LiDL supermarket. John, Mandy and I have been working on this for more than a year, supporting our Conservative colleagues in the ‘Bromley side’ of the village – including Bob Neill MP – as the pub lies a few meters over the local authority border.
Nevertheless, this is an issue that affects thousands of local people in the parts of Mottingham that fall into the ward that I’m seeking to represent as a councillor after May. Disappointingly, it emerged in official papers in January that the Royal Borough of Greenwich intended to ‘raise no objection’ to the plans – something which is quite frankly, stunning, when you consider how strongly most people feel about the loss of such an historic site and the problems that the planned LiDL’s store would bring to the village. The formal objection that I wrote to Bromley council explains more about these concerns.
Pressure from John and Mandy as local ward councillors led to a last-minute turn from Greenwich, fortunately – and the council put in an objection right at the last minute. Pleasingly, Bromley’s planning committee voted unanimously to reject LiDL’s plans at their meeting at the end of February. Cue a lot of celebration!
There is still, of course, a big question mark over the Porcupine’s future. LiDL still owns the site, and it can still appeal to the Planning Inspector in London. Even if that’s rejected, there is a lot of work to do to secure the future of the site – but we’ll be working hard with Mottingham Residents Association, Bob Neill, the Bromley councillors and others in the community to try and find a sustainable solution. Hopefully, a family-friendly community pub that can remain at the heart of the village.
Despite all the work that still lies ahead, it’s been a terrific campaign to have been involved in – and extremely gratifying to have got the result we wanted.
All of this has meant a huge amount of work, and that, and along with the campaigning I’m doing as a candidate in the local elections, is occupying quite a lot of my time. It’s time well spent though – in fact, in 10 years in politics I’ve not enjoyed any other campaign as much as I’m enjoying this one! Especially now Spring is on its way.
And to reassure my regular readers (hello Mum), it shan’t be another two months until my next blog…