The other day I found the Gillingham South Independent News thrust through my letter box. As an open minded liberal I read it to see what they were standing for in the Council election and see if they had any valid points that may make me change my vote.
I was moved to write a short blog about some of these issues...
One of the issues was Gillingham Station's refit, an issue I mentioned here;(http://gingerliberal.blogspot.com/2011/02/gillingham-station-to-get-remodel.html_)
The News had this to say:
Southeastern trains charge some of the highest fares in the country, yet have a shocking record for running late trains.
So although the refurbishment of the station will make travelling by train a better experience and improve the appearance of the area, your local Independents have to wonder whether this is money well spent.
Commuters tell us they would rather pay lower fares and get to work on time than see their taxes and fares spent on a "Makeover" of the station. After all, it could soon get vandalised and covered in graffiti upon completion.
Meanwhile, Lib Dem and Conservative promises to cut rail fares have been broken and fares have continued to rise. On 5th May, residents can send the "Con-dems" a message that enough is enough!
I agree that the big issue for commuters is the fare rise and yes I know a new front to the station won't improve that but it will help the traffic problems and congestion that has been problematic for years.
I also agree with the Independents on their stance on train fare, and regular readers will know I have written and received a response from Rehman Chisthi MP for Gillingham and Rainham on the matter. BUT is it the job of the local council to get involved in this?
After all two of the three Medway MP's have signed up to the KM campaign, and are activly lobbying parliament but with little success. My letter to Mr Chisthi MP was passed to the minister for transport and she has said nothing can be done. (I will publish her letter shortly.) As all of these people are Conservatives I cannot see how the Lib Dems are implicated.
As for Vandalism... IOt is a valid point BUT did the people of London think; "Lets not rebuild after the Blitz- after all we may have Nuclear war soon."? If we constantly fear vandalism then there will never be improvements.
It is my opinion that they are jumping on a bandwagon, this is an important issue but not one for the local council but one that will definitely attract them votes for nothing.
Also a brief aside... On Vandalism and graffiti within Medway. This is a big problem and endemic of urban areas. In fact just last week I noted that a year or so after the refurbishment of the ROchester rail bridge it already had graffiti.
I am deeply saddened by the actions of "Youths" in Woodland's cemetery but I fear there is little the Police can do especially with their numbers cut and the public's need for them to deal with "Real" crime such as muggings, burglaries etc... There is also a real need for Policing of "Antisocial" behaviour on a Saturday and Friday nights in the town centres, dealing with the drunk and disorderly.
Yes I think that law and order should be enforced but the Police need to prioritise as best they can, with the best will in the world they cannot be everywhere. What needs to be done is more education in schools, activities for youth to do so as to cut down boredom, community service to clean up the mess that they make.
I don't want to be pessimistic but locking and "securing" sites such as the graveyard are not enough. Wall's can be climbed, fences cut... It just becomes more of a challenge and thus more interesting.
Finally on Potholes and rubbish. Yes there are potholes and a lot of the streets are in need of resurfacing, the local LibDems in Gillingham South ward have already worked to do this. Although interetingly the one they point out at the end of "Franklin Road." and have photographed has already been filled. They have also moved to deal with graffiti but obviously if its on private property it is difficult to get removed. Also the dramatic picture of Dan Hilder stood by an overflowing bin by Aldi. Yes it is often overflowing but what you can't see is that just behind the photographer is another bin so the council have actioned that concern. Where I live there are plenty of bins, even in Rookery fields but yet every day there is rubbish across the floor. Who is to blame? The people, not the council so it all boils down to education again.
So to wrap up. The Independents leaflet is compelling but it doesn't say anything that the Lib Dems haven't and the Lib Dems have a proven record of solving these problems so why should I bring in another group of councillors to do the job that is already being done?
Also they seem to play to obvious concerns of the people and point out a lot of problems that need addressing but don't give any solutions which is what is needed.