John's Jottings for July 2007

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.

The Earth is Flat

I have mentioned before how Labour members of Medway Council tend to think one-dimensionally—not all of them, not all of the time, but largely, yes. It is rather like a belief in the world being flat: it faces up to only a convenient part of reality that suits one's own outlook.

Well, we've had the same effect on several occasions in recent months, here in Medway, most notably at a Scrutiny Committee meeting at which an item called-in to that committee by six Labour members (almost half of their number!) was discussed.

This revolved around the disposal of one—yes, one—family house that was no longer required by the council. This disposal had been effectively agreed by the full Council a few months ago, as part of a programme of disposals of properties that are now surplus to requirements, to use the jargon, in order to finance a programme of pavement repairs throughout Medway from the proceeds of their sale.

Under extant rules and laws we cannot buy the property back into council house usage from its previous use, yet the three Labour ward members for Twydall (where this house is)—who form the only Labour representation on this committee, interestingly—are so limited in their outlook that they pressed hard for retention of this 3-bedroomed house for social housing, which subject is the only topic of interest to at least one of their number.

Yes, the "Twydall Trio" would rather have one extra house toward their social housing utopia than let the already-agreed benefits to the rest of Medway go ahead. They simply cannot, or will not, see beyond this obsession (and it is an obsession, believe me: I've witnessed no end of this kind of practice during the past two Council terms!) which is far too narrow a perspective to ever be of real use to the Medway population as a whole.

Everyone else can go hang (as the expression goes) as far as they are concerned. All they want is unlimited social housing. They have continually pressed for something approaching half of all new housing in Medway to be of this kind—though they usually camouflage it in the euphemism of so-called "affordable housing". Of course, if the rest of our housing really wasn't affordable it would all be lying empty and unsold right now, wouldn't it? Funnily enough, that isn't so...

Luckily for Medway, the ruling Conservative group has a broader appreciation than the Labour "flat-Earthers" (who, by the way, were supported by the LibDems at the committee meeting) and is not so limited in outlook.

We therefore endorsed the disposal decision, but also agreed that the relevant Scrutiny Committee (or Committees) should look into this whole policy. The idea is that future proposals for similar property sell-offs might be able to be handled differently, if another way can perhaps be found that does not disadvantage the thousands of residents who were intended to benefit from the funding thus released.

Thus we shall be able to have the best of both worlds—and round worlds at that, not flat ones!

Next time: The Best Council Yet!