A new strategy to ‘connect communities’ in Bexley has been signed, despite opposition warnings that suggest residents are being asked to take on services the council once provided.

With 30,000 homes planned for Bexley by 2050 the council has developed a plan to make communities feel “connected”.

The strategy, according to papers, is to “enable Bexley’s citizens and businesses to be better connected and take a more active role in community life”.

The plan is to cut red tape and encourage residents to take up volunteering through movements such as “friends” of parks or community litter picks.

Officers explained: “ Whether it is the connections between neighbours, between communities and local services or between people from different backgrounds, these connections help us access the resources we need to support ourselves, our families and community life.”

One example given by councillors was of a resident with a patch of grass outside her home that she decided to mow to keep the street neat.

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However, with focus being on the council’s mantra of “do it for Bexley”, opposition councillors expressed concern that residents were actually being asked to volunteer to take on responsibility due to council cuts.

At a cabinet meeting on July 9, Labour councillor Mabel Ogundayo said: “The point remains that do it for Bexley really means do it for yourself. If you look at consultation results, 24 per cent of people said do it for Bexley means nothing to them.

“Due to the level of cuts we are having we are making residents do things that the council should be doing for them. Whilst we have the strategy we have which is great, we are making residents do more.”

The council says the strategy should be read along with the growth strategy which outlines ambitious plans for thousands of new homes.

Cabinet member for growth, Alex Sawyer, said that “connecting communities” through volunteering was a “great opportunity”.

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He said: “This notion that we are pushing out onto others what we should be doing is nonsense. We are empowering them to do it and giving them the power to do it. Why should we dictate to them?

“I honestly believe our residents have pride in this borough. If they want to do something let them do it. If they know their communities, their streets, their homes better than we do and we trust them to get on and encourage them to do it. Our residents love this borough, they want to do more for it.

“But this is not us pushing out onto people. Those who can’t do things should not expected to do things. This is people volunteering from our community groups to make this a better place to live and I say more power to their elbow.”