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Minutes of a Penge Forum Open Meeting held on Thursday 3rd March 2016 in the Upper Hall, Christ Church, Anerley, commencing at 7.30pm.
Approximately 100 people were present. In the Chair: Mr John Getgood.
Apologies for absence were received from Ms Lorraine Baker and Mr Conway Castle-Knight.
16/1 Mr John Getgood said that the New Homes Bonus had provided money for general improvements in and around Penge High Street, with additional funding from Transport for London to improve traffic flow and road safety.
16/2 Mr Virgil Rappa from LBB Regeneration Department introduced plans to improve the two High Street squares to open access to the residential areas behind and provide space for cultural events and activities.
16/3 The large overhanging tree in Arpley Square made it too dark and would be replaced by smaller trees. The sale of the toilet block would affect how the rest of the square was used. The screen behind would be relocated to St John’s School.
16/4 The “sails” canopy in Empire Square was an obstruction and a source of pigeon problems. It would be replaced by evergreen trees and a stage for events. The war memorial would be relocated to the back of the square.
16/5 The two squares would be tied together by distinctive paving. There would be seats around the trees and space for market stalls.
16/6 Mr Muazzam Shahid from LBB Highways who was working with Transport for London on ways to relieve congestion and reduce accidents in the High Street, as well as speed up bus journeys.
16/7 At the High Street/Croydon Road/Green Lane junction there had been 9 accidents involving injuries in the past 3 years, 3 involving pedestrians.
16/8 It was proposed to introduce lane markings, giving two lanes in each direction; rearrange the islands, removing the triangular one; change the signal timings; move the Croydon Road bus stops further from the junction; and reposition the build-outs, bus stops, and loading bay in the middle of the High Street.
16/9 The pedestrian island at the Lawrie Park junction would be moved further from the main road.
Comments and Questions from the Floor
16/10 Pedestrians found the triangular island at the junction and opposing build-outs in the middle helpful when crossing.
16/11 It was considered necessary to have disabled parking bays on both sides of the road.
16/12 Buses required raised kerbs for their ramps.
16/13 There were fears that crime would result from people hanging around in squares, but Mr Shahid said that crime could be designed out.
16/14 A lot of money had been spent on the “sails” in a previous regeneration project. Trees might equally attract pigeons.
16/15 A significant visual detraction from the High Street was the many buildings in need of repair and repainting.
16/16 Some improvements to shops in Maple Road were being considered.
16/17 There were discussions between the private owners of the car park and the Blenheim Centre. Improved signage was needed.
16/18 Plans for the area outside the Crooked Billet had been shelved as Transport for London would not reroute the buses.
16/19 It was hoped to complete the work by March 2017, with shop front improvements earlier. 16/20 Penge should be able to take advantage of the Anerley Enterprise Centre.
16/21 There would be a public consultation on the detailed scheme.
16/22 The trustees proposed to close the Centre in the summer. Speaking for them, Cllr Peter Fookes said that the Council had made it impossible to continue. £22,000 p.a. rent had been imposed, the block grant removed, and from 1st April there would be a £15 charge for clients using its transport facilities.
16/23 There were 28,000 people over 75 in the Borough, many of them using day care facilities, and 40% of the centre’s clients had some form of dementia.
16/24 The Centre provided a breakfast club and hot lunches for people who might otherwise not eat properly. A lot of people were isolated and would become more so.
16/25 Cllr Bob Evans, LBB Portfolio Holder for Care Services, said that the work that had been done over many years was appreciated, but the time for change had come.
16/26 The Council wanted to encourage independence and choice for older people. Less than 1% of the 28,000 now chose to go to day centres – 400 people now compared to 1000 four years previously.
16/27 Funding had to be rethought in the light of 25% cuts in Council spending, and care services were not exempt. The block grant paid up to 2½ years ago had not been adjusted for changing numbers, and had now been replaced by a payment for each person referred by the Council, ranging from £33 per day for a person with severe dementia to £17 for a normal elderly person. This contrasted with just £1 charged by the centre to other attendees.
16/28 Other Day Centres faced similar difficulties, and all of them had to come up with innovative ideas to raise funds. Melvin Hall had been given 3 months rent holiday during which it had to produce a business plan, but the Trustees had decided that they could not do this.
16/29 The 40 people currently funded by the Council would be helped to find alternatives, such as a day centre in Bromley. Payment for transport would be means tested. Penge & Anerley Age Concern was trying to set up an activity at Sutherland Court.
Comments and Questions from the Floor
16/30 Not everyone could afford £15 for transport + £15 attendance fee.
16/31 A case of someone found in a coma by the transport driver was cited, and a 97-year-old said she was now unable to cook. A carer said she would not be able to go to work if her relative could not attend the centre. People had a right to a life other than sitting in front of the television at home.
16/32 Other services such as hearing aids and chiropody were available at other centres.
16/33 The centre required £50,000-£80,000 p.a. and had insufficient reserves to continue for another year. There was a small amount of fund-raising. The Council’s lease currently required permission to be obtained for outside lets, but Cllr Evans said this could be renegotiated.
16/34 If the centre closed, the future of the hall would be up to the Council’s Property Services Department.
16/35 Mr John Getgood asked whether the Trustees would accept help from a community group. On a show of hands, a large number of people expressed an interest and were asked to give their names to Cllr Kevin Brooks.
16/36 Ms Jane Morley asked for volunteers to help with the Community Road Watch scheme, working with the police to record speeding road users.
The meeting closed at 9.55pm.