This is a good time for both reflection and forward planning as the year draws to a close and a new year begins.
2014 saw the 30th anniversary of the closure of Chatham Dockyard – a political decision by Margaret Thatcher’s government in the early 80’s that continues to have impacts today. I know there are some Medway residents who feel things have never truly moved on since then. Some 20 years on, one positive we can all benefit from was the introduction of universities here in Medway, with the University of Kent celebrating it’s 10th anniversary here in 2015.
We heard the news in the summer that the Davies Commission had ruled out the Thames Estuary Airport. I pay tribute to all those who signed a petition, put up a poster, attended a public meeting or put a car sticker in the back of their car. Medway Labour was strong & clear in it’s opposition and if the Conservative Mayor of London continues his pointless crusade we will always campaign shoulder to shoulder with campaigners, residents and politicians from any political party to send the loudest possible message that an estuary airport is bad for the environment, bad for UK PLC and bad for Medway.
Also in the summer we launched our Medway Survey which saw hundreds of residents sharing their views with the Medway Labour team about how we can make our community an even better place to live, work and learn. What was very clear from the survey is that many residents feel that over the last ten years they have seen Medway go backwards on some key issues like the quality of our high streets and condition of our road system.
Sadly one of the most poignant moments of the year were my visits and volunteering to support our Medway Foodbank, with one of the most hard hitting statistics being the number of children who are being fed as a result of charity, particularly those from families where parents or carers work. As I saw when volunteering at a local supermarket to help get donations, the generosity of Medway residents to help those in need is inspirational.
It is regrettable we continue to see Medway’s primary schools at the bottom of another OFSTED league table – this outcome is simply not good enough for our young people who deserve much better. We also see our local hospital in special measures – many local residents have shared their very positive personal experiences at the Maritime but clearly there is a need for greater consistency and in the longer term more investment into the building.
It would be remiss to not mention the by-election that put Rochester and Strood into the international spotlight. Although clearly we didn’t get the result we would have wanted, the positive feedback about our fantastic parliamentary candidate Naushabah Khan puts us in a strong position moving forward.
Looking towards 2015, May 7th will give Medway residents the opportunity to shape their community by electing real positive local change with the Labour team in Medway. Until polling day and beyond the team will be listening carefully to the issues at the heart of the community so we can change Medway together.
On behalf of the Medway Labour team, can I wish all readers a peaceful and positive 2015.