Southwark Council run out of excuses –
Neighbourhood plan finally on the starting blocks
Wednesday 18 February Globe House 6.30pm
Last wednesday evening’s Council-hosted meeting was as unfocused and inconclusive as we expected. For all the Council’s lecturing on the necessity for broad community engagement in the Community Planning process they demonstrated a dismal failure to engage with local people themselves: Aside from BVAG supporters, they managed to attract scarcely a handful of representatives from the area that they defiantly designated. Council community planning PR woman and double-agent, Juliet Seymour, failed to see the irony in preaching to the meagre meeting the necessity of broad community awareness and participation.
We have been forced to attend countless meetings knowing that, pointless or not, the Council would exploit any failure to show up. Needless to say, one more was water off a duck’s back. On the positive side, the Council really have now run out of excuses for refusing to process our application for Neighbourhood Forum status. With new Localism Act amenments forcing reluctant councils to comply with time limits to determine neighbourhood forum applications and a letter from our lawyers threatening Judicial Review the delay game is almost over.
In a final gesture of defiance Southwark have stalled us further by claiming that our application is defective as to the terms of our Constitution, a requirement for a new name to reflect their imposed neighbourhood area and some other minor technicalities. Since they could have raised such issues two-and-a-half years ago but in fact accepted our application as valid, nobody is under any illusion about their true purpose. Nonetheless, as with acceptance of their dictated area, our simplest course is just to give them what they want by way of technicalities. For this purpose we are holding a meeting next Wednesday 18 February to finalise the new or varied information that has been demanded (see letter from Mark Williams 26 Jan here).
Also for discussion is a BVAG response to any matters in the new Southwark Plan, presently in its ‘consultation’ phase. In particular we will want to express a position on high-rise buildings, conservation and housing policies. Whilst we know Southwark’s long-established attitude to consultation and the opinions of local people, if we are looking for a real change through localism we need to at least set out our stall for the record in this ‘consultation’.