Voice of the Leader: February

Once a month we will be offering the Leaders of both Medway Council and the official opposition the opportunity to talk unedited about.. well, Medway politics. Today we hear from Alan Jarrett, Leader of Medway Council and the Conservative Group.

Alan Jarrett

‘Going forward I promise that we will protect Medway from those who seek to close down facilities and services; against those who belittle Medway and its hard-working people; and against those who snub our military heritage and insult our monarchy.’

Recently I said “the first casualty of an election is the truth!” That followed the distribution of a scurrilous leaflet from Labour claiming that no investment had been made in Chatham. Utter nonsense!

In reality there has been massive investment in Chatham: the new bus station; Chatham Placemaking; investment in the railway station; scoping and planning preparation for new housing at Chatham Waterfront and Whiffens Avenue; Chatham Community Hub and library; improved green spaces along the river front including a new riverside walk; and the Command of the Heights project to open up the Great Barrier Ditch to connect the waterfront to Fort Amherst They really should have gone to Specsavers!

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Cllr Franklin and the normalisation of far-right rhetoric

In which August Scholl takes a look at the normalisation of Islamophobic views in political discourse in light of Cllr Franklin’s actions.

For anyone accepting public office, their words and actions matter. Whether an MP or a local councillor, elected officials have a duty to represent and be accountable to their constituents. When Conservative councillor for Luton and Wayfield, Michael Franklin, began sharing and endorsing intensely Islamophobic content on his Twitter account in 2016, he acted in a way unfitting for a local politician, as well as being in direct contravention of the Conservative Party code of conduct (‘To support equality of opportunity, diversity and inclusion, and the absence of any and all inappropriate behaviour, in all aspects of the Party’s activities.’).

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Labouring against costly concerts

In which Labour councillor for Rochester West Alex Paterson examines what might be going wrong with the Castle Concerts.

I’d like to think that I’m not a frustrated anything.

By that I mean that, unlike so many in the current Tory administration, I’m not a frustrated businessman looking for a bigger budget to play with. I’m not a frustrated teacher who thinks they can show local heads a thing or two about running a school. And I’m not a frustrated impresario trying to put on a show.

I’ve always been suspicious of those people. Which is, I think, always a good starting point.

Of course, life experience is a vital part of being a councillor, but only in so far as it informs the scrutiny you are able to put the officers (whose job it is to actually do these things) under. 

Whether it’s because of my background in newspapers or just a knack, one thing in life that I’ve found I’m particularly good at is asking questions. More importantly, I’ll listen to what I’m being told and, if it doesn’t address the question, I’ll ask another until I get an answer.

It sounds simple enough. But if it’s so simple, why do so few Tories on our Overview and Scrutiny committees ever do it?

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The Week in Medway Politics, 3 Feb

Our Stories

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Voice of the Leader: January

Once a month we will be offering the Leaders of both Medway Council and the official opposition the opportunity to talk unedited about.. well, Medway politics. Today we hear from Alan Jarrett, Leader of Medway Council and the Conservative Group.

Alan Jarrett

‘Going forward I promise that we will protect Medway from those who
seek to close down facilities and services; against those who belittle
Medway and its hard-working people; and against those who snub our
military heritage and insult our monarchy.’

This was the promise I made in my first article for The Political Medway, and it is relevant to reinforce it here as most of us celebrate the incredible success achieved by Gillingham Football Club in defeating Premier League club Cardiff City in the FA Cup.

Gillingham FC is Kent’s only Football League club, this year celebrating its 125th anniversary, and as such has a special place in the history of Medway. The FA Cup is the world’s oldest cup competition and for these two things to coincide is noteworthy in itself.

When we agreed the shirt sponsorship deal for this season with Gillingham FC it was on a nil cost basis to Medway tax payers. But still we had our Labour opposition firstly trying to stop the sponsorship, and secondly to criticise and denigrate it. We’ve been here before, and it is another shabby example of how Medway Labour disrespect our heritage.

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