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.’
Oh my word! My last Political Medway contribution really hit a nerve with the Labour Group! This culminated in a bizarre and obsessive “Truth and Memory” speech from one of them at the Budget Council meeting in February. Apparently it’s all my fault that Labour engage in untruths and hypocrisy! I am reminded of the line from Hamlet – “The lady doth protest too much”!
Ever consistent, Labour produced its election manifesto full of half-truths. Apparently according to Cllr Mrs Murray – it is “deliverable and costed”. It appears Labour has learnt nothing since 2010 when it left that note to the incoming Conservative Chancellor “There’s no money – good luck!” Reading that manifesto left me wondering who really is the Leader of the Labour Group, for it is Cllr Mrs Murray who seems to be calling all the shots. However, more on Labour’s manifesto later.
Instead I want to turn to our Conservative manifesto. I would say this, wouldn’t I? But our numbers really do add up. Simply because Medway’s budget for 2019/20 is built around our manifesto. (Now didn’t Labour vote against every one of our budget proposals? Shamefully that included adding an additional 1% pay award to our hard working staff without whom there would be no services for Medway people! That’s the second year running Labour has pulled that stunt!).
Our manifesto was released without a big razzamatazz. No long-winded hypocritical speeches. No cheap promises. Importantly it builds on the achievements over the last 19 years of Conservative government in Medway. Our strapline of ‘IF YOU VALUE IT, VOTE FOR IT’ says it all.
The manifesto is in four parts: 1) Providing Value for Money; 2) Serving our community; 3) Celebrating of heritage; and 4) Championing education.
- Lowest council tax in Kent. Protect Rochester Airport from Labour plans to close it, creating over 1,000 jobs in the process. Continue to back business and jobs with already over 14,000 businesses calling Medway home.
- Freeze car parking charges until 2021 – car parking charges have only gone up once in the last 6 years. Improving our roads. Retain the best waste service in Kent. Support vulnerable people. Work with NHS to provide more GPs, with new Healthy Living Centres in Hoo, Chatham and Strood. Work with the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner to provide better policing in Medway. Continue to protect Medway’s green spaces.
- Secure the commissioning of HMS Medway – planning for September 2019. Respect our rich heritage and culture. Always support our military personnel and military heritage, as the only political party to consistently do so.
- Support grammar schools, and campaign for more. Continue to support our universities and college
That then represents a continuous chain of events, building on what we have done over the past 19 years and continues to serve the people of Medway. That is the difference between us Conservatives who have achieved real lasting positive change in Medway for the last 19 years, whilst all Labour has done is tried to block all progress – talking down Medway and denigrating Medway people in the process.
So, let’s return to the Labour manifesto and pick out some particular lowlights. It accuses us of raiding Medway roads repair budget to fund repairs to the Medway Tunnel. So Labour won’t do that then? No repairs to the Tunnel means it will have to close. Under Labour the Medway Tunnel would face closure!
Its other attack on highways funding is to take the service back into public ownership – Labour ideology bringing worse roads and poorer road repairs to Medway. Our Tunnel and roads are not safe with Labour.
In our budget Labour voted against reducing the cost of bulky waste collection. Its own proposal to make the service free was uncosted, and when challenged it offered to take money from elsewhere without saying which service it would cut to fund it.
On that subject it will scrap our new children’s centre provision, by spending over £4,000,000 we haven’t got – putting up council tax. It promises to give money to the NHS – putting up council tax. Or perhaps it will cut services instead, or perhaps it will go to Labour famed money tree which seemed to have died in 2010!
As well as road repairs Labour will insource our companies, bringing a pressure of almost £1,000,000 in lost income – another 1% increase in council tax. It promises to raid income from Rochester Riverside which is earmarked to repay debt of £7,000,000 in order to ‘protect the future of council services’.
That little lot adds up to £12,000,000 so far. So let’s hear Labour say whether it will cut £12,000,000 of council services or will it increase council tax by over 12%. It has to be one or the other!
A final word from 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”
Oh dear! That already sounds like an excuse. Code for “Vote for Labour and we’ll take 4 years to do anything!”
A bit like Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of Labour at national level saying Labour will honour the vote of the EU Referendum, but demanding a permanent Customs Union. Being in the Customs Union keeps us in the European Union!
What a pair those two Labour Leaders make: one promising to take 4 years to make any changes in Medway is he gets elected, and increase council tax by over 12%; the other promising to ignore the wishes of the 63% of Medway people who voted to leave the EU. Could you trust either of these two with Medway’s future?
Alan Jarrett is the leader of Medway Council, leader of the Medway Conservative group, and councillor for Lordswood and Capstone.