any day today rss twitter

Bonkers Blog February 2019

Index: 200920102011201220132014201520162017201820192020

16 February - Art and Belvedere all in danger of being washed away

SeymourThe Valentine’s Day Places Scrutiny Committee meeting had three interesting things to deal with. The investment plans for Hall Place, the borough’s problems with water and what can be done to update the recycling arrangements to 2019 standards. Successful the recycling may have been for ten years but lessons have been learned and now is the time for change; one must hope for the better.

Those of us watching the webcast and easily amused will have noticed the Chairman Councillor Seymour say that London may run out of drinking water by 2020 while the Committee tables were festooned with water bottles that will all add to the plastic waste.

The meeting may have been unique in recent years by allowing a question from a member of the public. While it was established some eight years ago that Council procedures allowed for such a thing, never before to my knowledge has such a request not been rejected out of hand. That did not however inhibit the Chairman from saying “Too few people ask questions in this borough”.

The question was about the reduction in size of the Hall Place Art ‘Stables’ Gallery as a consequence of the planned expansion of the Gift Shop. Money rules!

Mrs. Sheila Ottley who has previously taken her campaign to the Bexley Times, said “in correspondence the Council has implied that it is investing in the Stables Art Gallery. We don’t believe that it is a positive investment for the gallery when a significant proportion of the exhibition space will be lost. Our voluntary organisation will struggle to survive”.

Councillor Peter Craske merely said “I don’t agree with that”. The Chairman did his best to soften the blow but just under six minutes after the question was posed the Arts supporters began to file out. Last time they were there they muttered “that was a waste of time”. I doubt things were any different this time around.

WilhelminaAfter Councillor Craske had thrown a bucket of cold water over the Arts Group’s aspirations Wilhelmina Drayton the Flood Risk and Development Manager gave the Committee an overview of Bexley’s flood problems. Ms. Drayton is what you might call an old friend of Bonkers.

In 2011 she was an Engineering Degree Student and asked me if I had any photos of the flooding in my part of town and a useful exchange of eleven emails ensured. It is good to see that she still retains her job after breaking the Council’s ban on corresponding with me. Perhaps the correspondence slightly predated it.

Bexley is lucky in that it has separate systems for surface and foul water drainage “virtually everywhere” but its capacity is being strained by a rising population. The infilling of previously green land is stopping natural drainage too. “Things become incredibly difficult and we have flooding and surcharging of manholes.” In the lowest lying parts of Belvedere when there is heavy rain and the Thames is at high tide the water has nowhere to go apart from bursting out of the manholes.

Bexley has taken a leading role along with 15 other authorities and a selection of consultants to produce a Sustainable Drainage Design and Evaluation Guide to encourage developers to follow good practice.

The law dictates that driveways and other paved areas, rear garden patios for example, must be made of permeable materials and this appears to be not a very well known requirement. Non-permeable materials require planning permission. “You can see companies go out and do a whole street at a time with impermeable surfacing. If metal gullies are installed planning permission is not required but they don’t always go anywhere” (Dare I mention Fendyke Road in Belvedere.)

“If I am honest I don’t think that as a Council we have necessarily been as great at enforcement as we perhaps could have been.”

The Chairman queried the viability of the Growth Strategy in Belvedere. "You {Ms. Drayton] are a statutory consultee and we may have to turn down some of the [planning] applications that come from the North of the borough where the bulk of the new building is going to be. It is an inherent problem going forward and ultimately if Mother Nature is going to give you a good hiding she will give you a good hiding. I worry about it and I don't think planners have taken it on board. We are putting so much into our Growth Strategy and you are the lady who is going to have to say No. From what I can see of it developers are not taking account of it at all.”

Ms. Drayton said that some developers are taking account of the problem.

Recycling report coming later.


Return to the top of this page