MEDWAY Council has bestowed the title of ‘Honorary Alderman of the Borough’ on Medway Labour stalwart Paul Harriott.
At a special meeting of the council last Thursday Paul was confirmed as ‘Honorary Alderman’ as recognition for his 52 years of continuous service as a Medway local government representative.
First elected to Gillingham Borough Council in 1962, Paul represented the Twydall Community continuously between 1973 and May 2015.
Housing issues have always been at the heart of Paul’s interests, and during his 52 years in Medway’s local government, he served as Chairman of the Gillingham housing committee where he oversaw the building of hundreds of homes, the construction of sheltered homes and the refurbishment of properties to decent standards.
Medway Labour group leader, Cllr Vince Maple, put into perspective Paul’s longevity: ‘As was reported just before his retirement, if someone was elected in May this year they would have to serve till 2067 to match Paul’s length of service. One of the key things he did during his time on Gillingham Borough Council was remove the role of Alderman – due to the fact that they were unelected but still had voting rights!…
I’m pleased to second this proposal tonight so that both Paul and Ted [Baker] rightly get the civic recognition for their unique, individual contributions to Medway.’
Cllr Glyn Griffiths, a long-term ward colleague of Paul’s praised his dedication: ‘In this time of distrust of politicians, when some now regard a seat on Council as nothing more than a stepping stone in a well-planned political career, it is worth remembering that for most of the time Paul did not receive allowances for being a councillor and indeed, like others at that time, jeopardised progression in his professional career in order to continue to represent local residents on the Council.’
Paul Harriott is, without doubt, a truly remarkable servant to the people of Twydall, the people of Gillingham and the people of Medway. But what is more, Paul is a truly remarkable man. He has dedicated his new title to the people he served for 52 years: ‘Throughout my time as a councillor I have fought for fairness – it’s been at the centre of everything I’ve done. Fairness for the young, for the sick, for the unemployed. So many people are subjected to terrible barriers in life and are held back by bureaucracy.
I am honoured to have been made an Honorary Alderman of the Borough but this is a tribute to all of the people I served and all of the people I sought to help.’