Thank you Gerald. Your point about the bleach not becoming alkaline prompts the following thought:

In one of the threads I have read in researching this, PE suggested that after 1st development (as well as after bleaching), a Sodium sulfite clearing bath should be used (this was however in the context of using a dichromate bleach).

If I am to avoid any alkali carryover into the bleach, would it be better for me to follow the 1st developer with a mild acid stop and then wash before bleaching, and omit a clearing bath at this stage ?

Or to use a metabisulfite as a combined stop&clear, and then wash before bleaching (as I will have a metabisulfite clearing bath prepared anyway for after the permanganate bleach)?