Including the AGM, we will have held four varied and well attended Open Meetings with audiences of between 70 and 100.
For our final meeting of the year , we welcome Revd. Nick Read to talk about the Living Well project at Holy Trinity Church which provides a Food & Clothes Bank, a support network and a caring community for our most vulnerable residents.
Our most recent previous meeting was in September at Anerley Town Hall, fulfilling our pledge to involve the wider area of Penge. It was particularly appropriate for a discussion on the future of Crystal Palace Park. It was somewhat depressing that after all these years there is still no sustainable plan for bringing this major local landmark back up to standard. But at least we were part of the conversation, and that’s one that is set to run and run.
The summer meeting covered one of the busiest areas of local authority activity when Rob Vale from Bromley Trading Standards talked and took questions on the topic of Scams, Fraudsters and Rogue Traders.
In March, we invited and questioned the new police team for Penge & Cator, Clock House and Crystal Palace. They were led by our new Sergeant, Sgt JP Carmier. Lots of interesting discussion and feedback, though we clearly weren’t going to make any headway against the plane to close our local police base.
We have been involved in local consultations and discussions. We don’t always form a view but have objected to plans that might diminish the viability of the High Street, we supported the plans for a new bridge for Dinosaur island in Crystal Palace Park and submitted comments on the reorganisation of ward boundaries affecting Bromley Council.
We have recently been approached by Capel College in Crystal Palace Park over their expansion plans and currently by residents concerned at Bromley’s plans to move Beckenham library into the centre of Beckenham. There’s always scope for greater involvement, but we contribute where we can. And we have been successful this year in adding Penge East Community Centre to the list of local buildings protected as Assets of Community Value.
We are also asked to provide community representatives to various local consultation panels. At present we have members on the Penge & Cator Police consultation Panel, the Road Safety Panel and the Business Improvement District. We also maintain contacts with our local councillors and thank them for their support.
Finances: As you know, we do have a £5 membership fee which covers any expenses, though our meetings are open to all. This year we had a record membership of 100, so thank you to all those who supported the organisation in this way. Renewals are of course, due now. The annual accounts are available and show a healthy balance so hopefully we can continue, so long a you give your support.
Finally, my thanks to the Executive Committee who have all given their support freely and generously to the organisation and its operation. Stephen Brushett for the accounts, Chris Doran for the minutes. Wendie Roach for supporting in so many ways and looking after membership and communications, Fiona Notman has taken charge of refreshments and John Gazeley, maintains our link with the Crystal Palace Community Development Trust at Anerley Town Hall. Newer members are Rachel New and Mark Phillippo who have all contributed new ideas and support and we look forward to them continuing to take the Forum forward.
We do lose a couple of long-standing members this year. Charlotte Fletcher and Linda Huggins who have both given support over the years are not continuing. Chris O’Shaughnessy, standing down to concentrate on his other interests has been a great support, particularly with his heritage work. And Jane Morley who has been our Road safety Rep for several years now, sadly, has to retire and will be difficult to replace.
I have enjoyed Chairing the Forum for the last five years and am hoping to stay on for one more year as Chair, while new committee members settle in. I’m pleased to say that Lorraine Baker has offered to join as our Representative for Police consultative panel and Brian McGee has also expressed an interest in joining to share his communication skills.
So that’s it for another year. All of us involved in Penge Forum believe that live, open meetings still have a place in our increasingly digital and individual society. We do also have a presence on Facebook and a web site which can keep us all in touch. Thank you for your support and we will be back with another series of meetings to bring the Penge community together in the New Year. May I be amongst the first to wish you all Season’s Greetings and a Happy New Year.
John Getgood, Chair, Penge Forum