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.
‘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!
This latter will once again mark and accentuate our proud military history and heritage. Emphasising the Conservative administration’s commitment to our Armed Forces. Not that Labour care much about our heritage as I shall reinforce later on.
The truth and a good memory are both alien to Labour. The most recent example being the Radio Kent interview I shared with Labour’s Cllr Naushabah Khan on 13th February, when we debated housing issues in Medway. I set out what we Conservatives have been doing and Cllr Khan recited what was in the Labour manifesto. I talked about action, she talked.. and talked! Even the interviewer got fed up and asked her what Labour were planning to do! Apparently it’s in the manifesto.
What she failed to explain in stressing Labour’s keenness to provide housing was why her and 13 of her colleagues in a recorded council vote on 26th April, 2018 tried to stop our Conservative administration allocating over £121,000,000 – yes millions! – for new housing in Chatham and Rainham! Now that needs a lot of explaining away, but perhaps that’s in the manifesto too!
In that same vote Labour tried to stop us creating 1,400 jobs at Rochester Airport. They also tried to stop us investing in our military heritage at Chatham Historic Dockyard. Hmm! See what I mean.
It seems that truth and memory may be strange bedfellows for Medway Labour. However they are best friends with hypocrisy – saying one thing and demonstrably doing another.
Touching again on our military heritage we recently brought forward the Motion at Council to grant the Freedom of Medway to the company of HMS Medway. The ship is due here in Medway for commissioning hopefully in September, and that will form another milestone marking Medway’s military traditions and heritage.
It was pretty unedifying to see Labour members crowding round to get their photograph taken with representatives of the crew. These were the same Labour members who boycotted the Battle of Medway commemorations in 2017; the same Labour members who slighted our
Navy and Marines; the same Labour members who insulted representatives of our British monarchy and the Dutch monarchy by their childish boycott.
These are the same Labour members many of whom refuse to sing our National Anthem to honour our Queen. The same Labour members who turn up at the Mayor’s dedication service in Rochester Cathedral and utter not a single word throughout the whole service – not a single word of the National Anthem; not a single word of any hymn or prayer; not a single ‘Amen’!
We in the Conservative administration in Medway try to ignore such
appalling behavior and get on with the job of delivering high quality
services in Medway. There is plenty of evidence that is happening.
As always there are choices to be made. In deciding what choices to be made we often look at what other councils up and down the country are doing. There are some extraordinary choices being made outside of Medway.
Firstly there is our outstanding waste collection and disposal service. Medway remains one of the few councils in the whole of the country to retain a weekly kerbside collection service – collecting household waste, all recycling, and green waste. Satisfaction levels in this service among residents is very high and rightly so.
Many councils – principally Labour-run councils – have reverted to fortnightly collections; some even three-weekly; some now considering monthly collections!
When Medway was formed in 1998 it had 17 libraries. Today we still have 16 libraries, but more than that these are progressively being converted into community hubs as a one-stop shop for all council services. I could name one Labour–run council that has closed 9 out of 12 of its libraries.
We have frozen pay and display parking changes again, and that from a base position of having some of the cheapest parking charges in the whole of Kent. Low parking charges are in place in order to help people with their shopping experience, and also to assist traders in our town centres in difficult financial times.
In terms of council tax it is also worth making comparisons with others. Despite being obliged to raise council tax in order to provide adequate funding for adult social care, Medway has by far the lowest council tax in Kent – by a factor of almost £100 per year. Indeed we retain one of the lowest rates of council tax in the whole of the country.
There are other choices we take as an administration, prime amongst those are investing in our young people. Medway’s education results are the best they have ever been in modern times, with over 80% of schools now good or outstanding. We have grammar schools which are amongst the very best in the country.
Higher and further educations is booming, with Mid Kent College and our four universities catering for well over 12,000 students every year. Back in 1998 we had no universities at all.
A measure of society is how we treat our young people. Medway Conservatives are putting the young first as we continue to build a better Medway.
Alan Jarrett is the leader of Medway Council, leader of the Medway Conservative group, and councillor for Lordswood and Capstone.