One of my photos

Broadfield Forum – Jan 2006

January 10th, 2006 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · No Comments · Politics

Tonight was the first Broadfield Neighbourhood Forum of the New Year. From a distance it looked like a good crowd, but look more closely and you would have seen that there were 3 Crawley Borough councillors, 1 West Sussex county councillor, 3 Crawley Borough officers, 1 police inspector, 1 manager from London & Quadrant housing association, 1 manager from the community centre and 1 representative from FTD Johns (the people who run the Barton). Alongside those 11 were 6 ordinary residents.

I was the only one from Tollgate Hill, although one other resident was from just inside Broadfield South. Of the three borough councillors, both Broadfield North councillors were there but only one of the Broadfield South councillors – the one who lives in Broadfield North – and he raised nothing about issues outside the shopping parade.

Just seeing the agenda made me a bit depressed. Maybe its the awful inevitability of seeing yet another agenda which starts with “Apologies”, “Minutes of last meeting” and “Matters Arising” and ends with “AOB” and “Date of Next Meeting”. I guess its a tried and tested formula, and unavoidable, but the whole formality of the format makes it all feel like a stuffy council meeting.

As the previous meeting was dominated by Broadfield North all the matters arising were Northern. Or about the Barton, which is sort of common ground but there was nothing about the South.

The matters were about the CCTV camera at the Barton car park now being in operation, mention of development at Rathlin Road, the county council’s local committee meeting, and work at the pond, which should be getting dredged sometime this financial year.

As our county councillor, Jim McGough, had to get away – I think he is on night shifts at the moment – the part of the agenda relating to roads and cycle ways was discussed first.

Actually roads and cycle ways were not discussed much, but other county matters were. Jim talked a bit about the CLC meeting and said that the next one is on Feb 14th at the Sure Start centre and would probably be in the afternoon. Not convenient for me personally, but surely handy for the parents using the centre, which is fortunate as the focus of the meeting will be youth provision.

There was also mention of Friday’s Fastway meeting at the Town Hall and some discussion generally about Fastway and its manifold benefits and problems, including the narrowness of Holyrood Place. I did ask Jim to enquire about the possibility of having Fastway’s route 20 take a diversion up Tollgate Hill and back. From previous experience I realise that Metrobus is unlikely to find it attractive to add 5 minutes to the route just to give easier access to a thousand people, but you have to ask don’t you?

Finally Jim told us about the county’s plans for fire stations, which are still being finalised. The plan seems to be to move the Gatwick fire station to Broadbridge Heath and move the Crawley one to Broadfield. Apparently its better to have Gatwick served by a fire station miles away as there is less chance of the station itself having a 747 land on it, or something like that. The existing highways depot at Broadbridge Heath would move to Crawley, specifically to a site next to Buchan Country Park, which will not go down well I suspect.

After Jim had finished it was the turn of John Dale from community services who talked about his work tackling antisocial behaviour in Bewbush and how he intends to do the same thing in Broadfield. There was an extremely long discussion about the situation in Baldock Close. Not becasue it is worse than anywhere else but because a third of the public there were from Baldock Close.

John then talked about the other aspect of his job, which is dealing with travellers and mentioned the three approaches of site provision, security of sites and enforcement. Inspector Piper had something to add to this as well. At this point Brian Quinn told us that one of the sites being considered for a travellers’ site is being removed from tomorrow’s council meeting agenda, as the landowners (English Partnerships) are blocking it. That will make the meeting fun: the Pound Hill North Residents Association will be bussing people in to protest against the proposals, but the site near them is being withdrawn, meaning a wasted journey for most of them.

The next item was entitled “Future development of the Forum”. This was really just Matthew from the borough announcing an intention for the council to take more of a back seat and for residents to run things more themselves. Really he was just asking us to think about this and bring ideas and thoughts to the next meeting. It sounds like a good idea and a little familiar – the same thing was done with Link Groups several years ago.

From a purely selfish point of view as a Tollgate Hill resident, the danger is that the forum could run the risk of being even more dominated by the Northern part of the neighbourhood. If it happens with a neutral chair because (nearly) all the public who turn up are from the North, how much worse could it be with a chair from one of the Northerly parts? Obviously the answer is for some of my neighbours to go along in the future.

AOB concerned the development at Rathlin Road (due to be decided at the Jan 23rd development control meeting) and the Post Office saga. It looks as if there has been no real progress on that except that the war of attrition by various factions among the shopkeepers has been continuing. I managed to squeeze in a request for the officers to check with the planning department about the development at Woodman’s Hill – really to get reassurance that the traffic calming on Woodman’s Hill which was a condition of the original planning permission is actually going to happen before the new places are occupied since they are getting near to completion but there is no sign of roadworks yet.

The date of the next meeting was fixed for April 11th.

Surprisingly there was very little, if any, party politics at the meeting and everything was kept to a practical level, which is what you need at this sort of meeting.

I know it sounds like I am playing a stuck record by harping on about the lack of any attention to Broadfield South and Tollgate Hill, but it needs to be said. I can’t fault the other residents: obviously they are concerned about where they live and are representing their interests as they should. Being in a minority of one I am conscious that nobody else there really cares about what happens up here, and the only improvement will be if I can drag some fellow Southerners along next time.

Wider attendance would also make the meeting fresher in my opinion. All the residents there are known to the council officers and vice versa, all their problems are already known both from previous meetings and from contact inbetween meetings so it sometimes feels like the meeting is unnecessary. Perhaps this is one thing which is prompting the proposed change to the format?

Anyway, thats it until April. See you there?

Tags: ·····

No Comments so far ↓

Like the collective mind of the Daily Mail, comments are closed.