RE Request to reject the City Status bid by the Medway Towns.
17th January 2012
Dear Deputy Prime Minister,
We write to you in your capacity as final arbiter regarding the City-status bids to plead the case for not granting Medway City Status. The reasons for this are three-fold:
Firstly, the cost: Medway Council has played down the cost saying it will only cost 8 pence per resident. We do not believe this is a fair reflection of the cost when considering changes to signage alone, in all its forms and applications, which would be numerous. This comes at a time when the Council is trying to save £15m by 2015, having already overspent by £2m on the unpopular new Bus station’s original budget and wasted a further £2.3m as a result of other examples of poor planning.
Additionally, with the Council’s proposed selling off and closure of day care centres for the elderly, along with residential care homes; making redundancies; cutting other services, we believe that the City-Status bid is another unnecessary burden for the Medway Town’s council-tax-payer.
Secondly, there is no evidence to suggest that City Status would be of any benefit to the towns. We understand that Brighton and Hove believe the only thing that city status brought them was a great deal of debt. We are concerned that city status would only add to the financial squeeze in Medway with no benefits. The Medway towns already has great potential with plenty of space for new business; a large work force; good transport connections to London, the rest of the country and Europe. City Status will not change that.
Thirdly, this is not something the people of the Medway Towns want or even care about, not that Medway Council would know, as the consultation process has been woeful. Our activists reported that on the doorstep, very few people expressed support; many more expressed their rejection, but most were apathetic towards the whole concept.
The Leader of the Council, Rodney Chambers OBE, admitted after the second failed attempt, a third bid would not be in the best interests of the Conservative group or the people of the Medway Towns, yet here they are doing it all again.
Each one of the Medway Towns has a rich heritage of its’ own and historically, they have achieved much by themselves. Labelling the towns as one, i.e. the City of Medway, will see each town slowly lose its' individuality. They each have their own cultures, their own communities and a City of Medway would be an artificial construct. Most residents are proud that they live in Gillingham, Rainham, Chatham, Rochester or Strood…. we all live in the unitary authority of Medway Council, but none would say they live in Medway.
The whole bid for City status for the Medway towns is undemocratic, unwanted and unaffordable. Please consider our petition accordingly.
Chris Sams (Secretary)
Tony Jeacock (Chairman)
(On behalf of the Medway LibDems Executive Committee)