Okay, hands up who attended the debacle of a consultation at The Change Foundation last Thursday? Were you as disappointed as me in its organisation? Councillors had warned the organisers, I assume Kier, to expect at least 400 residents from the High View Estate let alone parents, children, teachers and other interested parties so they put it in a small hall which became so crowded you couldn’t get near the display boards, so noisy you couldn’t hear yourself think and each table staffed by a youngster who had no knowledge of anything and couldn’t answer any questions. This was certainly not my idea of a public consultation, was it yours?
A proper public consultation in my view is where you visit a, let us say, large hall, with the displays round the walls and audience seating in the middle. At a certain time the audience takes a seat and faces a panel of “experts” who can answer all the questions put to them.
Forgive me if I am cynical but I have asked for copies of all the questionnaires as I don’t trust the “independent” body responsible for collating it and publishing the data. Whether as your democratically elected Councillor I get to see them is anybody’s guess but I will press them again.
I am sure someone said that a leaflet would be coming round with a link to a website where those who did not attend could leave their comments. Well I’ll go the foot of our stairs, we got one today (Sunday) but it seems it was not put round all the houses on the High View Estate. Tim Foster who lives off Croydon Road got one. I will definitely be contacting Keir and Department for Education tomorrow. I might even send them a copy of this blog!!
I was approached on Thursday by some parents who are angry that I am not supporting the project. Phrases such as “you think it will lower the tone of your neighbourhood”, “why can’t families play in their back gardens”, “you only want it to walk your dog” and “it’s near Mellows” were levelled at me.
Let me make this very clear, I absolutely support the need for a new school but I think the children deserve better than being bussed into an estate with narrow streets and receiving their education next to a railway line, industrial units and residential housing is the wrong thing to do. Some parents do not wish their children to have to attend the proposed new school because of increased journey times and as one of the pupils said “Mum it looks like a prison”.
The children, staff and parents deserve a much better open site with easy access via roads and public transport.
Since July 2017 when I first got involved in this, I have vehemently opposed any form of development on the playing fields. The developer who built the estate in the 1920s and 30s left the space for the residents of Highview Estate and their children and the only building allowed was a sports pavilion.
Sheen Way Playing Field is a flood plain, it takes water away from the houses that back on to it and the railway line and to build on it is madness. The Council did not look specifically for another site because Councillor Jayne McCoy, Lead Liberal Democrat on Planning, decided through her task and finish group that it would go on Sheen Way.
Before I was elected, as a simple local resident, I went to the meeting where they agreed the lease, subject to planning. Cllr. McCoy’s attitude to the residents was, as seems to be the Liberal Democrat mantra these days vis a vis the Controlled Parking Zone Strategy, one of utter contempt and we were told we will just have to get on with it. Do they realise that they lost their two Lib Dem Councillors in Beddington North because of this attitude?
My concerns from Thursday are many including have the Council, DfE or Kier built into their budget compensation claims from those affected by noise, air pollution vibration and flood damage? Have the Council considered reduction in Council tax for those seriously affected by this proposal i.e. the residents of The Chase, Capel Avenue, part of Godalming Avenue and Headley Avenue? We all know the Council wishes to get rid of polluting cars because they are concerned about air quality so I suppose part of this plan will be the single and yellow lines all over the estate but where are residents going to park?
Have they considered that the children may be stuck in their vehicles for ages if the Purley Way is blocked and we are told they will not be able to come down Plough Lane and along The Chase. Of course drivers will ignore this instruction if they have very upset pupils to deal with and they will then get tied up with the traffic from Highview Primary.
The thing that has upset me the most was seeing our elderly residents on Thursday evening crying because the stress and worry is destroying not only their quality of life but that of the whole estate. The Liberal Democrats keep spouting they are a green Council but just pay lip service to their residents. I promise you all this, seeing my neighbours in tears because of this ill conceived and ill thought out plan I and my fellow Councillors will fight this with every means at our disposal.