On National Refugee Day, Bromley Labour Group are launching our petition asking Bromley Council to reverse their decision to pull out of the agreement across London Councils to support lone refugee children.
In 2013, every local council in London pledged to take in some of the children who arrive in the UK with no family after fleeing war zones like Syria or Sudan. But Bromley Council have broken that promise by suddenly pulling out of the agreement.
The reasons Bromley Council have let down the rest of London and children who desperately need support are unclear. They only announced the decision in small print buried in lengthy council end of year accounts, which was spotted by outraged Labour Councillors.
Please sign and share the petition to call on Bromley Council to keep their promise.
Join us for an evening mixing a party, politics & protest.
Tuesday 18 June
The Star and Garter, Bromley High St
7.30pm til late
Organised by Bromley Labour and Bromley Young Labour to mark Pride Month, there will be speakers on current issues for LGBT+ people and how Bromley Labour and Labour councils nearby are tackling them.
June is LGBT Pride Month, chosen to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall riots 50 years ago with events taking place around London & the U.K. Unlike many councils, Bromley does not mark Pride month in any way.
This is not much of a surprise, from a council which in the past banned gay couples from holding partnership ceremonies in council premises and still largely ignores the needs of LGBT people in providing local services.
With the recent protests over LGBT+ education, Brunei enacting stoning to death as a punishment for gay sex and the rise in homophobia, transphobia and hate crime in the U.K, Pride this year is especially important.
LGBT+ Labour party members and non-members, Allies, partners, friends & family are all welcome to join us.
New figures reveal the cost of homelessness is spiralling due to Bromley Council’s failure to investRead Now
Labour has called on Bromley’s Tory Council to “get the trowels out” and build housing in the borough as the Council admit that the temporary accommodation bill is now seriously over budget.
The Tories refusal to take on board Labour’s sensible, costed proposals to build affordable housing has meant they have been forced to over-spend by £1.74 million on expensive out-of-borough accommodation (1). This is not only bad for the budget, but breaks up communities as homeless families are often placed miles away from their jobs, schools and support.
In an attempt to stem the spiralling bill, the Council have committed to build 128 new affordable homes. Many of these will be modular units as they rush to meet the increasing demand caused by the central Conservative government’s failure to address ever-rising private rents which it combines with devastating welfare cuts.
Bromley council’s approach is out-of-step with responsible local authorities across the capital who ensured on average 24% of new housing built last year was affordable, compared to just 5% in Bromley.
Speaking for the Labour Group, Cllr Angela Wilkins said:
“The Council finally providing new social housing is good news for our homeless families, but the Tories here are lagging well behind neighbouring boroughs in this regard.
It’s high time they got their trowels out and started laying bricks rather than complaining about the costs of homelessness.
Having transferred their council owned homes to housing associations years ago, they are only looking to build new homes now because the costs of temporary accommodation are so high. As ever, in Bromley, it’s about pound signs not about people.
Labour would have started building new homes years ago – which would have saved thousands of pounds and the huge misery of homelessness for our families.”
BY COUNCILLOR ANGELA WILKINS, LEADER OF THE LABOUR GROUP
Bromley Conservatives always vote purely on party lines. So I knew that the proposals in our Alternative Budget weren’t going to be voted through when the council tax increase and budget were decided at the council meeting last night (Monday 25 February). And this was despite our budget being fully-costed and many of our proposals representing a cost-saving.
So why did we bother? In truth, out of frustration – not only with the devastating cuts forced on councils by central government but rather, by Bromley’s Conservative-run council’s approach. For yet another year, myself and the other Labour Councillors are frustrated by Bromley Tories’ record of mismanagement and myopic policy making which sees our costs spiralling whilst our services decline.
We know another way is possible. Labour councils across London are delivering better services, safer communities and cleaner environments – all whilst still balancing the books. Our fully costed Alternative Budget shows how we could do this in Bromley.
We have developed a number of specific proposals: some are off-set by alternative savings, others would actually save money. Together, they add up to a different vision for our borough. Our budget takes a creative approach aiming to do more than simply balance the books (vital though that is). This is a set of policies that would deliver a return-on-investment that could be felt by our local people and communities, as well as the accountants.
But perhaps more importantly, Labour would bring an end to the short-sighted and costly commissioning errors our Conservative-run council has made repeatedly. They are so focused on driving costs ever lower that they have forgotten that cheaper does not usually mean better value.
This meant £1.4m was wasted in the mess they made outsourcing rubbish collection; £7.5 million was needed to return Bromley’s Children’s Services to an adequate standard after a cost-cutting ‘reorganisation’; and £10m of our local tax-payers money went on an HMRC fine due to the Conservatives’ ideological refusal to give contractors their proper employment status. By contrast, Lewisham’s Labour council is bringing staff back in-house, which gives them better terms and saves the council money by cutting out the middle man.
The direct human impact of the cuts-at-all-costs culture is too easy to forget. One of our Labour councillors recently supported a local disabled man who had had his care package unlawfully reduced by 60%. It was reinstated in full when challenged, but not before he had gone through considerable stress, worry and suffering without the support he needs and is entitled to.
My hope was that Bromley’s Tories would put people in Bromley first, and adopt our sensible, creative and fully costed proposals. This was the fourth year we have proposed our Alternative Budget and the fourth year that residents will have to pay more council tax and get less in return.
Bromley could, and should, be so much better and fairer for all”
PRESS RELEASE FROM BROMLEY LABOUR COUNCILLORS
Tuesday 13 November 2018
For immediate release.
Time to speak up for road safety
Following the publication in 2017 of the Mayor of London’s Transport Strategy, London Boroughs were required to develop plans for implementing this strategy within their areas via the development of Local Implementation Plans (LIPs).
Bromley Council published their draft LIP for consultation on 2nd November and are now inviting residents, businesses and community groups to comment on the proposals contained in the LIP. The consultation closes on 13 January 2019.
Cllr Ian Dunn, Labour’s Spokesperson for Environment and Community Services said:
“Labour Councillors are aware that an awful lot of people across our Borough are concerned about transport and road safety, and we have called on the Tories numerous times to review their very thin and sketchy policies.
This consultation provides the best opportunity for members of the public to get involved and have their say on issues such as reductions in the use of cars and the introduction of 20 MPH speed limits. Neighbouring boroughs have implemented 20 MPH limits across all their roads – Bromley Tories refuse to. It’s time the public had their say.
As Labour councillors we are meeting with local community groups and talking to residents about this issue; anyone who wishes to have their say can fill in the consultation online on Bromley Council’s or can email me directly with their views”
Notes to editors
Many thanks to Child Poverty Action Group for providing this briefing on child poverty across wards in Bromley.
Each briefing explores issues around housing and homelessness, low pay and the Living Wage and local welfare assistance schemes – and much more - in our area, and in comparison to the rest of London.
Often our Borough is perceived to be prosperous and wealthy – these figures reveal some very worrying truths of which we need to be aware in order to campaign for resources going where they are most needed.”
"THIS COUNCIL CALLS ON THE GOVERNMENT TO HOLD A FURTHER REFERENDUM BEFORE EXITING THE EUROPEAN UNION" - CLLR josh kingRead Now
I support a second referendum on leaving the European Union. Let me explain why.
When we were asked to vote on whether to remain or leave the European Union, we were told there were many possibilities for Brexit: remaining in the EEA, like Norway or like Switzerland, or in a different customs union, or with a trade deal similar to Canada – Canada plus plus.
The government would be able to negotiate trade deals; there would be many possibilities. Some even said it would be easy- the easiest of deals.
Now the government is seemingly negotiating for a hard Brexit out of the EEA, out of the single market and with no freedom of movement. And what will be the effect of any restrictive immigration policy on Bromley? Where jobs paying under £50K are not considered skilled. What will this mean for the NHS? Or the banking sector? Or IT? No one can be certain but it doesn’t seem positive. I think Bromley voters understood this when they voted for remain.
And what about the fairness of the referendum and the campaigns?
A few groups were not able to vote: unlike in the Scottish independence referendum.
In the Brexit referendum 16- and 17-year olds and European citizens in the UK could not vote - in many ways groups who will be most greatly affected by any Brexit.
Or what about two campaigns being fined by the Electoral Commission for breaking electoral law.
There were also serious allegations about manipulation and misrepresentations on social media by a foreign power and about payments to campaigns by foreign nationals.
And of course, I really ought to mention £350 million a week saving criticised by the UK Statistics Authority and many other analysts.
We’ve also seen that the government can’t agree what to do amongst itself let alone the rest of its party. 6 ministers and 4 PPSs have resigned over Brexit. We now face the prospect of crashing out of the EU with no deal - not a prospect anyone put forward as a likely or favourable outcome.
When the electorate voted 52: 48% this wasn’t the prospect they were sold.
Surely the public should be consulted again.
I support a second referendum – I know the Prime Minister has said there won’t be one but we’ve seen her change her mind before and she should again!
"This Council calls on the Government to hold a further referendum before exiting the European Union" - Cllr angela wilkinsRead Now
This is a cross-party issue, so I am going to open by quoting Harold Macmillan who, when asked what he most feared, replied: “events dear boy, events”.
This reply in response to being asked “What do you most fear?”
How appropriate that resonates.
I voted to remain, and despite not liking the result of the vote, I respected and accepted it for the first few months. It is the course of events since then that scares me most and that leads to this motion.
On 23 June 2016 the UK voted, albeit by a very small margin, to leave the EU. Our Borough, albeit by an even smaller margin, voted to remain. The country is bitterly divided.
But in June 2016, we’d heard from various politicians and media commentators, not one of whom had any real idea what Brexit would actually look like.
The referendum campaign was awful – full of people who voted in response to a campaign of contradictions, speculation and (putting it mildly) misinformation from both sides.
Setting aside resignations and arguments from the government.
This is putting it mildly – downright lies might be a more accurate description when you consider the famous bus promising £350m per week for the NHS. Events since then include :
This adds up to exerting influence beyond the limits of the law. Spending in elections in the UK is limited simply and solely to stop wealth exerting undue influence.
So, the referendum campaign was not frank & honest and did not comply with our own electoral law.
In the absence of accurate information, my view, I think most people voted with their hearts and not their heads – for ‘taking back control (great slogan – empty rhetoric), for an end to free movement and for an end to very large payments being made to Brussels.
No one who voted to Leave knew exactly what they were voting for – realistically they couldn’t because no country has ever left the EU, no country has ever negotiated an exit deal nor left the EU without one.
It was all a bit like asking someone who has lived all their life in leasehold or rented accommodation if they’d like to own their own freehold detached property:
Of course they’d say yes they’re interested – but, before buying the property they’d want to view it, to have legal searches done, check how much the bills come to, have a survey done to make sure it’s a sound building.
And to know exactly how much they have to pay now and in the future.
And many would pull back once they knew the answer to these questions – not necessarily staying in their old home, but perhaps looking for something different.
Once we know the details of leaving the EU we need a further referendum in just the same way as someone buying a house needs to know more before contracts are exchanged and the sale completed.
Turning to Bromley: Democracy depends on an educated electorate. 15 months on we may not know what Brexit would look like, but we do know a whole lot more about some of the ramifications.
Even setting aside what has happened since the referendum, It is far more appropriate now for this Council to consider its position than it was when we voted in this chamber in 2016.
In April 2016 we didn’t know how our residents would vote in June – we voted on personal opinions.
Events change things and the public momentum for a further vote is growing by the day
We know from the poll on Bromley High St just ten days ago that 81% of people want a further referendum.
We are elected representatives. Part of our job is to represent. Where our wards voted differently to us, we are in a similar position to many MPs.
We can vote for ourselves tonight or we can vote for our residents.
“Events, dear Madam Mayor, events…”
Much has changed since we voted on the UKIP motion; tonight this council should review the vote we took here in 2016.
Theresa May have amused her party conference, but she is not the Dancing Queen of the EU.
We need to know whether her version of Brexit – whether its Chequers, the Canada option, no deal (effectively “Take a chance on me” ) – is what those who voted Leave in June 2016 thought they were voting for.
There is no way to judge the “Will of the People” on the most important decision of their lives without asking whether they accept Brexit’s destination rather than just its departure point.
We need to call on the government to hold a further referendum before we exit the EU.
Councillor Angela Wilkins
"This Council calls on the Government to hold a further referendum before exiting the European Union" - Cllr Simon jealRead Now
I will be supporting the motion tonight. I want to use my time to focus not on the politics or the process of Brexit, but on people, some of those who are likely to suffer hardship if we continue towards the current Bad Deal or No Deal, unless a better deal or other solution such as a second public vote can be found. In particular I want to focus on three groups- people born in EEA countries currently living in Britain, people who identify as part of minority groups and young people who were denied a say back in 2016.
I campaigned for and voted Remain in the 2016 referendum, as did the vast majority of Penge residents and by a small majority of Bromley voters. One of my saddest memories of that campaign was speaking to those who supported remaining in the EU, those weren’t able to vote but whose lives would be greatly affected by the outcome- both British residents from EEA countries resident in Britain and 16- & 17-year olds (who were denied the opportunity to vote then but can do so now).
According to the most recent figures I could find, from 2016. Workers born in the EEA held 748,000 or 14 percent of jobs in London, compared to just 6 percent in the UK as a whole, those from the EEA were more likely to be ‘over-qualified’, meaning a higher percentage are graduates working in non-graduate jobs, than workers born in the UK or non-EEA countries.
These figures also show those from EEA countries are proportionally particularly employed in many positions, in hotels, catering and food services- making up almost a third of workers in these sectors, as well as forming a major part of the workforce in construction, finance and IT, education and public services such as health and social care- representing 61,000 health and care workers as one example. Workers from EEA countries are performing vital roles in both the private and public sectors and are an important part of our communities in Bromley.
It is therefore concerning that the government is currently indicating there will no preference given to EU citizens after Brexit and will focus on ‘skilled workers’ (ignoring that many of those doing such roles are skilled but underemployed , or that ‘unskilled’ jobs are nonetheless critically important to our local economy) despite clear evidence many businesses and entire sectors are reliant on those coming from the EU to work for them. Having had no say in the referendum it seems unfair those so many will lose out after years, in some cases decades, of living, working and contributing to Britain.
Alongside this, and something I hope concerns all of us in the chamber, is the unprecedented rise in hate crime since the referendum in 2016, not just in the UK but across Europe and the United States- the growing threat of extremism, of targeting and abuse directed towards people because of their skin colour, nationality, religion, sexuality or other characteristics is deeply worrying- as has been the tendency of ‘populist’ politicians, on all sides, creating further division through ‘them and us’ messaging and negative, ‘dog-whistle’ politics to try and harness support when throughout history, in times of economic and social upheaval, those who look different or are ‘outsiders’ often become scapegoats.
Taking just one example, the rise of antisemitism in recent years, not just on the far right but also on the far left and not just in the UK, I recently heard holocaust survivor Susan Pollack speak at our Labour party national conference and I took away her words of warning/ “I think we are only going in the wrong direction and it is incumbent on all of us in this room, whether you are Jewish or not, to stand up very loudly and say this is not OK and we need to do something very urgently about it.” It is vitally important we heed the warnings of those who have lived through such evil and know the rising danger of rising hate when they see it.
Those who voted leave were undoubtedly almost all not doing so for racist reasons and the current rise in hate crime is clearly not only caused by Brexit, but at least in part, the division that has occurred following the referendum has given rise to targeting of minorities and, while I can’t honestly say a second vote carries no risk of making things worse, neither is carrying on the way things are now going to make anything better- after all, at some point it will be clear that the promises made of a post-Brexit Britain can’t be delivered- taking history as a guide, communities who lose most from a bad deal or economic downturn will be looking for those to blame- I very much doubt it will end up being those who look or sound like George Galloway, Boris Johnson or Nigel Farage.
Finally, I’d like to focus on those under 18 at the time of the referendum whose futures will be forever changed by it- a YouGov poll published last month found those now aged 18 and 19, who can now vote but were too young in 2016, would vote to remain by a margin of seven to one or 87%.
I graduated and started job-hunting in 2009, just after the financial crisis and in the midst of the recession, I’m part of the so called ‘left behind’ millennials- but I was still incredibly fortunate- I got to study in the Netherlands as part of the EU’s Erasmus scheme, my university benefited from tens of millions in EU funding that provided better facilities while I was studying and I had rights (even if I didn’t need to use them) to go and find a job in any of 29 other countries if I couldn’t find one here.
But for young people now, some who have just started university or are on apprenticeships as mentioned earlier tonight, in a few months they are likely to lose the rights and chances I had, lose the funding and opportunities the EU provided just as the economic consequences of Brexit mean more and more graduate, apprenticeships and entry level jobs are likely to move out of London to places like Dublin and Frankfurt, while unaffordable unpaid internships remain the only way of accessing many career paths and public sector workers remain stuck in the overworked and underpaid conditions after eight yeas of cuts, under a government which may have said ‘Austerity is over’ but takes no action to improve public funding, pay or working conditions.
These young people will be deprived of the chances I and older generations had - all because of a decision they weren’t able to participate in. It seems perfectly reasonable to me that they would want an opportunity for a public vote on a decision that will so limit their futures, having been shut out from the previous one.
For these reasons, along with others my colleagues have set out in their contributions to the debate tonight, I support the option of a public vote before Brexit hurtles to a disastrous conclusion and will be voting in favour of the motion.
Councillor Simon Jeal
"This Council calls on the Government to hold a further referendum before exiting the European Union" - Cllr Ian dunnRead Now
This Council calls on the Government to hold a further referendum before exiting the European Union.
Thank you madam mayor,
Members will recall that four years ago, we had a referendum on Scottish Independence. It was very different from the Brexit Referendum. The Scottish Nationalists produced a detailed white paper describing their vision for independence. People knew exactly what they were being asked to vote for.
The Brexit referendum was very different. It was based on 350 million pounds a week for the NHS and the slogan of “Take Back Control”. Well the first has evaporated and I will come back to the second later.
There was a lot of detail of Brexit not spelled out and it wasn't made clear what the British People were really voting for; or against. We know that no one was voting to be worse off, but even today, more than two years later we can't be sure of that.
I would like to cover some of the things which weren't made clear.
Firstly Ireland. I can't remember Ireland being mentioned once in the campaign. But this is the point where vague concepts come up against the hard reality of a land border. I am sure everyone in this Council Chamber applauded the Good Friday agreement and all the hard work by governments of both parties in the 90's which led up to it. I am sure many people are as appalled as I am by the cavalier way many Brexiteers have put the Good Friday Agreement at risk. The current approach to Brexit is said to have brought a United Ireland closer than 30 years of The Irish Troubles. Did the British people really vote for that in June 16?
The other land border is the Channel Tunnel. We know how much inconvenience Operation Stack causes for road travel in south east Kent. It appears that this will be more common, with the M20 east of Ashford converted into a lorry park with rows of portaloos. Did the British people vote for that?
Moving on to what has happened, the European Medicines Agency is moving from London to Amsterdam. That means good jobs moving out of London. Some people from Bromley probably work there. And a blow to the British Pharmaceutical Industry. Did the British people vote for that?
On the subject of jobs we have the impact of Brexit on the car industry. This is still unclear, but both the Mini and Rolls Royce car plants have brought forward their summer maintenance to April next year, because it they are concerned about their supply chains. Other companies are holding back on investment. Did the British people really vote for a Brexit which will damage our car industry? One of our few recent manufacturing successes?
I said I would return to Take Back Control. For many people that means taking control of immigration. But the office of national statistics figures show that over the last 10 years non European immigration, which we have control over, has been consistently higher than European which we do not. How many people who voted to Take Back Control were aware of that?
From a Local Government perspective, Take Back Control, is an interesting slogan. But not from the European Union. Taking back control from Westminster is a much better idea.
Madam Mayor, when the British people voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, the full consequences were not made clear to them. They are still not clear. The few examples I have given show that many of these consequences are negative and not what the British people would have voted for.
The British people deserve a vote on their future based on the full facts; not vague assertions.
Once it is really clear what Brexit means in practice, the Government is under an obligation to give the British People that vote.
I have pleasure in seconding the motion.
Councillor Ian Dunn