John's Jottings for May 2004

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.

Focus Pocus

I always enjoy reading the Liberal Democrats' leaftlets—what they lack in quality and accuracy they try to make up in quantity. The low technical quality and sloppy design of their Focus (known here as "Focus Pocus", with good reason!) are hardly compensated for in any way by the inaccuracy and inadequacy of their content—but at least they're good for a laugh.

Take the latest (undated) issue distributed in Rochester South and Horsted—not to me of course, as I am deliberately missed out, but my many "eyes and ears" furnished several copies for my amusement.

In their item entitled Down Your Street they claim to be doing something about Post Office closures, which amounts to making political noise and leaving it at that. After all, their party's policy—passed with amendment at their Party Conference last year—tends toward privatisation of our Post Offices, modelled along the lines of the Dutch system; so they aren't really interested in keeping our branches open at all...

We really have tried to stop the closure of Post Offices in our ward—most notably the Pattens Lane/City Way branch that closed a few months ago. We even had high-profile local media coverage, including a residents' protest at which local ward councillors Nick Brice and I were pictured and interviewed. However, more importantly, we ensured that local residents would not be left deprived of their access to a Post Office, and every week since the City Way branch closed we have ferried elderly folk to and from another Post Office branch. Far more useful in practice!

In the same item the LibDems state that many people would like a bus shelter reinstated in Pattens Lane, something we have been dealing with for some time and have ensured that a suitable location was identified. The shelter is now in place and a new, additional 'bus stop will be provided shortly. The shelter has been there since mid-March, and local people knew it was coming for several months beforehand, while its exact location was being negotiated.

Finally in this item is a mention of Shirley Avenue, in which we have already provided flowers in large planters (which seems to have escaped the LibDems' notice, even some two years since they arrived!) and the Focus Pocus also mentions the cutting-down of bushes on the roundabouts "because they block drivers' vision".

Wow! No-one could ever have guessed that, despite all the comments received over a long period, making this very point. It was obvious anyway, and also caused problems for pedestrians at the roundabouts as they couldn't see approaching vehicles.

Your Conservative ward councillors went even further, though, being aware that the bush in the middle of the "inner" roundabout was a haven for drug users, and pushed hard for its removal—even paying for the work (and the new trees) from our small ward improvement fund. We are firmly committed to discouraging drug-taking in our ward's public places, especially as we know this problem is a major factor in regard to anti-social behaviour such as vandalism.

There are plenty of other examples, such as the future of Horstead (sic) Farm. Apparently a change of personnel throws the council's policy out completely—at least this is obviously how LibDems think.

So, we continue working hard in the real world, occasionally taking time out to read the Focus Pocus, just for a bit of light entertainment.

Next time: Regeneration: Is It Worth It?