and Medway Messenger
18th March 2007
At a recent scrutiny committee meeting, I and fourteen other councillors looked at what could be done to improve Gillingham High Street.
I have great affection for Gillingham, and often wander through its areas of interest, back streets, the park and other locations. I was therefore very pleased to be able to offer my own suggestions on how the future of Gillingham Town Centre might develop.
In particular, I acknowledged that Gillingham is "betwixt and between" at present, waiting to move from where it has traditionally stood to how it will be once the universities are fully established, especially Mid-Kent College.
I accepted that there must be changes and that some of these would no doubt be quite radical, but I also cautioned against making changes that would be too drastic, as that could destroy the area's character. I have felt both the daytime and evening atmospheres of the High Street and Canterbury Street on many occasions, and know them well.
My outlook is positive, knowing that the Gillingham of the future can and should be something very special.
Imagine then, if you will, my dismay at the only input to the debate from the Liberal Democrat member of the committee. In a pathetic voice reminiscent of Albert Steptoe, Councillor Tony Luckhurst of nearby Watling ward proclaimed that "Gillingham is dying".
Well, thank you, Cllr Luckhurst! Remind me to call you any time I feel a need to be depressed!
Goodness me! Is that all he can offer to the people of Gillingham, as a supposed representative of their wishes and aspirations? What a dead-end way to go about it!
I was disgusted with his attitude, and I should think that anyone wanting a true representative to sit on the local council on their behalf would feel the same way.
No doubt his attitude will be presented by some (especially by himself!) as being "realistic" or some other such excuse but all of us who want a strong future in this or any other area within Medway should expect, if not demand, a far better approach and attitude. If LibDems are going to give up and not bother, then they are of absolutely no use to their local community. Fortunately, in a democracy, we all have choices, and there's a local election coming up in just a few weeks from now...
John Ward Councillor for Rochester South and Horsted ward, Medway Council