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Bromley Borough Roads Action Group

Bromley Background

This page is designed to tell you something about Bromley. The Borough of Bromley is located in south-east London in England - in fact we are only 12 miles from Trafalgar Square. It is one of the Boroughs that make up the Greater London Authority (which covers the main built-up conurbation of London), and as can be seen from the map below, is one of the larger boroughs in area at about 35 square miles. 

Bromley is one of the least densely populated boroughs, and also has the largest green open space. The latter includes such large areas as the Chislehurst and St Pauls Cray Commons and associated National Trust lands in the south east part of the borough. In addition parts of the "green belt" that surround London lie within Bromley. At the last census in 2001, Bromley had a population of just less than 300,000 which is relatively static. Many residents of Bromley commute into central London by public transport to work, particularly by train. Otherwise they tend to work in local services, financial services or smaller businesses (there are few manufacturing establishments and no heavy industries).

Bromley tends to have wealthier but more elderly residents than other London boroughs, possibly because retired people prefer to remain or even move into the borough, rather than move out as in central London boroughs. According to the last census, 90 per cent of the population of the borough was born in the UK, and the number of immigrants or minority ethnic groups is therefore less than in the rest of London. The residents of Bromley tend to be more highly educated with 24% having a degree. Although most of Bromley is prosperous, there are some poorer areas such as St. Mary Cray.

The number of car owners is higher than other London boroughs (and in the rest of the UK)  with only 23% of households not owning at least one vehicle. In fact 6.4% of households own three or more vehicles. Other than for journeys to work, cars are the preferred transport mode by a long way, although there is a reasonably extensive local bus network. The train lines tend mainly to run arterially in and out of London, and are therefore often inconvenient for local trips. Traffic congestion in Bromley during rush hours is quite severe because the road network is little changed from the Victorian era, although there was some development in the 1930s when much of the housing stock was built. The building of the M25 motorway some years ago, which runs around the south-east edge of the borough, did relieve traffic congestion temporarily and has removed much heavy through traffic, but that is also now severely congested at times.

According to the last census returns, 72% of Bromley are Christian by religion, but church going is not very active. Some 72% of the population own their own homes, but it is difficult for younger people to buy a house in Bromley due to the high cost. This results in people living further out into Kent and commuting by car or public transport to work in Bromley. There is a high level of divorce, and with many elderly people living alone also, that means there are many "non-traditional" households.

Bromley town centre is a regional shopping centre, with subsidiary centres in other locations such as Penge, Beckenham, Petts Wood, Orpington, Chislehurst and West Wickham. A view of some of the roads in Bromley can been seen by going to this page: Road Tour.  There are few tourist attractions in Bromley, but there are some historic sites such as the Crystal Palace and Charles Darwin's house. Go to the Links page (see tab above) for other Bromley web sites than can provide more information on places of interest.

Politically the borough is mixed although the Conservatives are the more traditional incumbents in many parts of the borough. For example there are three national Members of Parliament elected from this area at the time of writing, and all three are Conservative. The borough political structure is a council of 60 local councillors and again the Conservatives are currently in the majority, but a Liberal Democrat/Labour alliance was previously in power. The local council looks after minor transport matters, education, housing, some environmental matters, etc, and is run by executive portfolio holders and a council leader, selected from the councillors. Note that most councillors are unpaid part-timers.  Other transport matters, for example the primary road network, is controlled by Transport for London which is part of the Greater London Authority (GLA). This is an organisation headed up by an elected Mayor of London as the chief executive with other elected GLA Members as a consultative body. This body also looks after police and fire services and develops strategic policies for the whole London area that local councils must follow.

Funding of the local borough is done from a local "community tax" based on property values (at least to some extent), but much of it is also provided by central Government, or from the Greater London Authority (who also receive a cut from the community tax). Central government also dictates a lot of the local service provision by various laws and regulations. The local borough is therefore heavily dependent on "patronage" and funding from the other institutions, and is constrained in it's decision making by central Government and GLA policies.

This complexity in the political system means that it is often difficult to determine who is responsible for what, and one of the results of this is a lack of interest by the population in local elections, with atrociously bad turn-outs for elections to the local council, the GLA and for the Mayor of London.


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