Once a month we are 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.
‘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.’
The place to start this month is surely Brexit (scream!). Between them our national politicians have brought shame on an ancient profession, by their collective refusal to honour the will of the people – in Medway 63% voted to leave.
That wasn’t to nearly leave; or sort of leave; or be asked to vote again on what was supposed to be a once in a generation vote. THAT WAS TO LEAVE!
I admit that my own party has not covered itself in glory, and the negotiations to leave have been very poorly handled. But when it comes to it the political game-playing by the Labour Party in parliament is the reason we are in yet another extension, and the reason we look almost certain to have to endure the charade of European elections!
Labour in parliament do not want us to leave the EU. Labour are ignoring Medway people who voted emphatically to leave.
The next subject for my ire (or perhaps pity would be a better word!) is the attempt by some of the independents to set up an alternative political party. This has turned out to be a catalogue of ineptitude, and woe betide the good people of Medway if they ever get remotely near the levers of power.
First they tried to hijack Medway’s official crest, perhaps trying to use that brand to give themselves legitimacy, and had to be slapped down by Medway Council. They then said they would put up candidates in every ward.
But hang on, they then found out it costs money to fight an election, resorting to begging on social media for money. They then found out they were struggling to get candidates so again resorted to social media with more begging. So no money to fight the election, and not enough candidates either.
Then the final humiliation: they applied to the Electoral Commission too late to get their name registered, which means it is a political ‘party’ without a name.
So: no brand; no money; not enough candidates; and no name. They really do not have much to offer the electorate, and seem more serial blunderers than anything else
We are on the verge of the hustings featuring myself and the opposition Leader (no, not Cllr Murray but Cllr Maple!), organised by The Political Medway. Thanks to The Political Medway this will give us the opportunity to set out our stall, and is something I look forward to.
Not only will it be an opportunity for me to reinforce the hugely positive Conservative message that we have been promoting these last 19 years, but it will provide an opportunity to ask Labour what it has done in the same period. That latter will take care of the next 15 seconds of the debate, allowing us to move on to how Labour are going to pay for its promises.
The infamous 2010 message from Labour “There’s no money – good luck!” would if Labour had its way replicate itself in Medway as far from being “fully costed” the Labour manifesto is built around unachievable and unaffordable half-baked ideas.
The cost of these ideas would fall on Medway’s council tax payers, and I set some of those out in my last article. Then, I wrote that Labour ideas would cost at least 12% increase to the council tax, although further study shows it to be far worse.
Its idea for a not-for profit bus operator will cost anything up to £40 million, whilst free bus travel will be another £4 million. So if that’s “fully costed” and “deliverable” how? Reinstating the reconfigured Sure Start centres to the previous level of £6.7 million will cost over £3 million.
Its almost throw-away comment to “pool public money” is in fact giving council money to the NHS. This is the NHS system in Kent which is in deficit to the tune of over £100 million. So Labour’s big idea seems to be to give away social care budgets to prop up that huge deficit.
That will inevitably mean less money for social care: less money for vulnerable children; less money for the disabled needing our help; less money for the aged; and less money for children with special educational needs. The alternative means cuts to central council budgets – closing libraries, leisure centres and swimming pools.
There is a simple truth in life: everything costs money, and if you spend more on one thing then there is less to spend on something else. But then perhaps Labour has found a new money tree?
Apparently that money tree is growing at Rochester Riverside, as Labour plans to take £5 million from land receipts to fund ‘invest to save’ without it seems having any idea about the consequences of doing that, or what that might be spent on.
There is no available money from Rochester Riverside until halfway through 2021, unless Labour’s plan is to take money highlighted for repaying debt. That will mean more borrowing costs well into 2023, more pressures on the budget and even more certainty that Labour will be making real cuts to services.
Cllr Maple, the alleged Leader of the Labour Group, from his budget speech on 21st February this year: “We also recognise that a future Labour administration would have 4 years to develop its progressive, forward-thinking, community-focused programme”. Code for “Vote for Labour and we’ll take 4 years to do anything!”
I have a better idea: vote Conservative to ensure low council tax, the best waste collection service in Kent; better roads than the rest of Kent; 16 libraries; an outstanding leisure offer; our vulnerable children and adults being cared for, and above all a Medway that is prospering as it offers more jobs, prosperity and opportunity for all.
Alan Jarrett is the leader of Medway Council, leader of the Medway Conservative group, and councillor for Lordswood and Capstone.
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