John's Jottings for August 2003

John Ward

Please note: these Jottings are purely personal comment, and do not necessarily or directly represent the policy of either the Conservative Party or the Conservative Group on Medway Council.

City Status: Rochester and Medway

Over the last six months or so the issue of Rochester's loss of City Status has occasionally popped up in the news, most recently when the then-new Mayor of Medway, Councillor Nick Bowler, threw his weight behind the campaign to regain this status for Rochester.

Well done, Mr Mayor!

Admittedly, it was a deliberate act by the Council's administration at the time of Medway Council's creation that lost the City Status in the first place, and that was formed by the current Mayor's own political party (Labour). Nevertheless, this stance by the Mayor is most welcome, and his petition on the subject will do no harm either. For the record, I have signed this petition.

What happened was that the then administration deliberately failed to appoint Charter Trustees when forming the new Medway Council back in 1997/1998, and that (as they well knew) meant that Rochester would no longer be able to claim City Status—something it had held for several centuries.

Actually, it was Conservative Councillor Chris Buckwell who first tackled this issue once it had come to light in the local media. He used his extensive legal knowledge and long history of living in and representing Rochester in years gone by to enable him to find a way that City Status could be restored, and he did—a simple, cheap and effective solution. Credit where it's due...

Meanwhile, you might have noticed that Medway Council has tended to refer to Medway as "a city of..." something-or-other.

This is wrong!

Medway cannot be a city under the extant centuries-old rules governing what can and cannot be a city in this country. Specifically, Medway is not a recognised postal address (and there are other, more subtle and complicated issues) whereas Rochester, for example, is such a place.

Actually there are a number of benefits that should result from Medway's acquiring City Status if this were ever to become possible. There is no obvious move by the government to change the relevant laws on the subject, and no incentive for them to divert from their mainstream activities to look at it, so it seems extremely doubtful that the present situation will change any time soon, if ever.

The Mayor has a second petition running alongside the one for Rochester City Status, this one asking for Medway to be accorded City Status. For the record, because of the situation I have given above, I have not signed this second petition.

Next time: Rochester Airport: the promise fulfilled