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Monday 4 April 2011 6.21pm
I've just been reading that bermondsey neighbourhood forum is to be given 'front runner' status with regard to the government's localism agenda..and more specifically being able to influence local planning decisions. "by giving local people a greater say with new incentives to share in the benefits of growth, our reforms will help to create the conditions where communities begin to welcome development rather than resist it at all costs" (planning minister, greg clark)
I want to know what local people we are talking about?.. the bermondsey neighbourhood forum is to represent an area roughly from borough high st to tower bridge road.
Extraordinary that this appears to exclude vast areas of Bermondsey.. including the heart of old bermondsey, the old town hall at Bermondsey spa.. not to mention areas further to the east and those bordering on the old kent road. I have lived in Bermondsey for over 10 years but am apparently not one of the 'local people'
Monday 4 April 2011 7.26pm
LB69 I see what you mean. Sounds like they only want to talk to the (relatively) gentrified bit. Could it be something to do with the huge & noisy objections run by the Shiva folks to the massive development planned at the end of bermondsey street?
Monday 4 April 2011 8.00pm
The whole point is that people can get together and define their own neighbourhoods, so there's nothing to stop you setting up a forum for the area where you live and getting together with others to work up a community plan.

Arguably the northern/western end of Bermondsey is going to be under more development pressure in the next few years, with the knock on effects of the Shard and other London Bridge schemes, whereas the Bermondsey Spa regeneration (for example) is largely a done deal with little opportunity to influence major change in the next few years at least.

Also, much of the area dealt with by the Bermondsey Community Forum is part of the wider London Bridge, Borough and Bankside opportunity area, designated by planning policy at both London and Southwark level as a key focus for development.

I haven't paid much attention to the Localism Bill or the specifics in Southwark, but anything that encourages a wider and earlier positive involvement in drawing up development policy is worth a try, even if it doesn't ultimately prove wildly successful.

Editor of the London SE1 website.
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Tuesday 5 April 2011 8.18am

I for one do not think it sensible to make key strategic planning decisions on the basis of whether geographical communities( that have not only significant historical and cultural references but also very real and current needs) choose to 'self define' their communities. I'm one of those who has been involved with their community for over 10 years..and who know that the opportunities to 'self-define' are heavily geared to the availability of finance and inward investment, something no doubt those in the bermondsey street area are particularly aware of. But at least your response has given me a clearer picture of what the 'big society' is really supposed to be. Either do it yourself or get left behind... and don't expect politicians both local and national to understand what genuine meaningful consultation is .. if they believe that you can arbitrarily segment and divide communities in this way. It was suggested by some national politicians that this government would be judged by the electorate on the basis of whether they had implemented their policies with 'fairness' .. Well, this doesn't seem fair to me!
Tuesday 5 April 2011 8.37am
However you choose to draw boundaries, particularly in an urban area, it will always be difficult to get it entirely right, and there will always be border areas that feel hard done by.

I'm not an apologist for the Government's localism and Big Society rhetoric but surely the point is that 'they' don't draw the boundaries - 'we' do.

Any new initiative has to start somewhere and (West) Bermondsey seems as good a place as anywhere to try out this approach to planning.

Editor of the London SE1 website.
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Tuesday 5 April 2011 10.04am

Very interesting, I have never heard the term 'west bermondsey' used before, that sounds to me like an artificial boundary if ever there was one. Re: drawing boundaries.. of course 'we' is a question of who you include in the 'we' and who you exclude.
Incidentally, I'm sure you didnt mean to suggest that the area inside Bermondsey but outside the 'front runner' zone could accurately be described as a 'border area that feels hard done by' or did you?
Tuesday 5 April 2011 10.29am
LB69 I think you are worrying too much over a name...the use of the name Bermondsey referes to the area which it will look to offer guidance and therefore has no relevance to the area you are talking would be up to people in Bermondsey (East of Tower Bridge Road or South of Long Lane/Abbey Street) to set up a group to effect planning decisions in those areas and could be called whatever you want to call it. It's not an insult or a leaving behind of anyone...its just a a name and refers to an area but in reality it could be called anything. Boundaries will always need to be drawn and this one is drawn where it doesn't mean anything except for administrative purposes.
Tuesday 5 April 2011 10.50am

I think you're missing the point about the status/ consultation privileges being conferred on the bermondsey group and the bankside group.
Of course if it doesnt mean anything and is purely administrative then you'll have no objection to the Bermondsey Community Forum being renamed the 'whole of Bermondsey Community Forum', redrawing the boundary to include everyone who lives in Bermondsey , including all the wards of grange, riverside and south bermondsey. It will be a minor administrative alteration you understand but peculiarly give residents equal democratic rights to influence local decision making ( and wasn't that what this government was supposed to be about??)
Tuesday 5 April 2011 10.56am
Yes this area (along with some others) is being trialled and that happens with many does not mean other areas cannot set themselves up and ask for the same priveledges...if you think the group given this status should be extended why stop it at the areas you have mentioned...why not extend it further...maybe to include all of south London...without trying to give any offence I think you are confusing a name for an administrative area with some sort of exclusion of people who will get the same rights (once the trail proves successful) and will be able to set up groups to represent themselves too.
Tuesday 5 April 2011 11.42am
Well I agree with you on one thing, and that is that it is certainly a trial. It is also, in my opinion, politically inept. Yes, of course status can be extended bermondsey, south london, london, uk , universe ad infinitum but the point is that bermondsey residents, ie. the 'whole' of bermondsey.. should have these legitimate democratic rights to influence local decisions from the inception of any new system.... these should be 'privileges' for all, fundamental to any localist agenda . I recognise that government frequently 'trials'/ experiments with ideas up and down the country but if it wants to have real legitimacy and support in the community then it needs to be genuinely inclusive and in Bermondsey, that for me, means not excluding a large section of the population in favour of an arbitary border along tower bridge road.
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