CHRISTMAS is a time for care and compassion, for looking out for one another whether that is your next door neighbour or someone whose house has been destroyed by conflict.
Medway is a community full of care and compassion – I’m so proud that so many of quarter of a million of us who call Medway home have stepped forward to show their compassion and care for others. A couple of examples come to mind over 2015 to highlight that compassion in Medway: We have seen record numbers making use of the Medway Foodbank, it is wonderful that so many people are generous to make donations to such a community focused organisation but it shows that the system is simply not working when thousands of people, many of them working, need to ask for charity to feed themselves or their children.
Equally, we are seeing a humanitarian crisis like no other with millions losing their homes, their safety and security with worldwide conflicts. Medway residents have come together to form the City of Sanctuary which sends the message loud and clear that refugees are welcome. Again, their council and government are dragging their heels in showing an equal amount of compassion.
The year ahead will bring a wide variety of challenges, with further cuts to local government funding and increasing service demand meaning that the council budget processes will undoubtedly have a negative impact on Medway.
Although we have no local council elections in 2016, we will be engaging in the election process for the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner – whoever is in that role after the election will have the poisoned chalice of dealing with cuts in policing over the next four years.
We may also have the European Union Referendum in 2016 – it is an opportunity to finally put this issue to bed, although it is not perfect and it does need reform I will be campaigning hard alongside other Labour colleagues for us to remain as part of the European Union.
Those are some of the challenges for the year ahead but at this time let us enjoy the festive period and, so, on behalf of the Medway Labour Group I wish you and your family a peaceful Christmas and Happy New Year.