In the second part of our new Talk of the Town column, Bromley Town councillor Nicky Dykes discusses the thorny subject of school places.

Last year Bromley achieved its highest ever level of first-preference offers for primary school places.

More than 98 per cent of local children applying for a primary school place received an offer in one of their chosen schools, ahead of the London average. Of these, 96 per cent gained a place at one of their top three choices.

We are seeing similar success for secondary school applications.

I hope this offers reassurance to the many parents currently going through the admissions process.

With first-preference offers increasing, why has the issue of school places become so divisive?

There are more families than ever moving into Bromley due to excellent schools (90 per cent good or outstanding) and we are building more homes. More school places are a natural conclusion. So why has it become so hotly debated in our community?

Simply, it’s the same problem as housing - where. Where do we build?

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The council recently adopted its Local Plan identifying the where, but not the how.

This predicament is crystallised by the recent applications for Bullers Wood for Boys in Bickley and the SHaW Academy in Bromley. Two schools that meet future demand but with understandable local opposition and planning obstacles.

This is our reality. There are limited sites available – councillors, schools and communities need to work together not against each other.

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This September, the vast majority of Bromley children starting school will be heading off to one of their preferred choices. The education of our children ignites our passions and I hope we can harness this as we look ahead.

I would like to bring more transparency to school place planning policy and invite parents to join the process. There is nothing to be gained from confrontation but everything from cooperation.