Bromley: Demographic shifts and the new London Plan are impacting this outer London borough

Current situation

Bromley London Borough Council has been controlled by the Conservatives since 2001. Historically the Conservative Group has done well in local elections since the Council was formed in 1964. The Conservative group has always held a majority on the council, apart from a short period of No overall control between 1998-2001.

At present the Conservatives have 51 out of 60 Councillors, Labour has seven and UKIP has two. At a Westminster Constituency level, the borough is divided into Beckenham, Bromley and Chislehurst and Orpington, represented by three Conservative MP’s, Bob Stewart, Bob Neil and Jo Johnson.

Geographically, Bromley neighbours Sevenoaks in Kent to the south, Croydon to the west and Lewisham, Greenwich and Bexley to the north.

Politically, the Conservative Group is likely to hold Bromley, although they may suffer some losses to Labour. Whilst Labour is achieving consistently high polling results in London, the ‘youthquake’ which resulted in gains at the general election, might be difficult to replicate at a local level.

Key issues

Cllr Stephen Carr (Conservative, Bromley Common and Keston), the Council’s leader of 14 years resigned in September 2017 in order to give the new leader “enough time to establish a mandate ahead of the elections in May”. Cllr Colin Smith (Conservative, Bickley ward) was appointed Leader in September 2017. However, the Leader of Bromley’s opposition group, Cllr Angela Wilkins (Labour, Crystal Palace ward) said she was “baffled” by the decision.

Outer London boroughs recently hit out at the Mayor’s new London Plan saying it would is “simply undeliverable and unachievable” and that it would result in “cramming buildings into small and unsuitable sites”.

Bromley’s Conservative Leader, Cllr Colin Smith said that the new London Plan is “extremely bad news for Bromley” because “statutory housing targets should be more than doubled and that ‘garden grabbing’ should now be legalised – and indeed even activity encouraged to facilitate it – it raises the very real threat of uncontrollable and inappropriate development of a type and nature which will scar and degrade the look and very soul of neighbourhoods across our borough forever”.

In September, Bromley’s children’s services were rated “inadequate” by inspectors because they left too many children in neglectful and abusive situations for too long. Since the report, Bromley has made progress, but the issue may flare up again ahead of the local elections in May.

Bromley has seen a steady stream of younger home owners move to the borough from central London. However, development has faced criticism from councillors in terms of height, parking and amenity provision. The Local Development Control Committee has proven itself to be outspoken, and even willing to overturn the views of relevant cabinet members when it comes to planning and development.

Wards to watch

Whilst much of the borough is represented by Conservatives, Labour hold a small enclave in the north west of the borough at Crystal Palace (two seats) and Penge and Cator (three seats) and Clock House which is a three seat ward, split between two Labour and one Conservative councillor. Labour will seek to defend their existing seats and make gains in Clock House ward and neighbouring wards.

Cray Valley West is represented by two UKIP councillors and one Conservative councillor. The Conservatives will be looking to make gains here whilst defending their already strong majority on the council.

Prediction

The Conservatives have a strong majority and reliable electorate. Despite recent polls in London and demographic shifts, the Conservative Group will likely hold the council. Labour will make some gains whilst UKIP’s vote is apparently in freefall across the country.