(Sent by email)
17th September 2001
In this respect let me congratulate all those who participated in the
campaign to save our Linked Service Centres. If it had not been for you,
and the many others fighting similar campaigns up and down the country, the
new legislation coming from the Blair government would have forced this and
other Councils to make frankly unacceptable changes.
Fortunately it was a General Election year, and the very strong
representations made by the campaigning groups and by this and other
Councils to central government had a very real result. The room size and en
suite requirements that were in the draft version of the Act of Parliament
were taken out of the final version that is now on the statute book.
Don't be taken in by the "spin" that certain political groups (well, at
least one!) have consistently tried to put on all this: the truth is in the
various official papers including the two versions (draft and final) of the
National Care Standards Act as I mentioned above.
Personally, I have been prepared for the possibility that this change to the
Act was not made, and prepared a speech for the Social Services Committee of
Medway Council that proposed to fight this legislation and to keep the
Centres as the residents, their families and the staff wished.
I am pleased that, in the event, this course of action was not necessary,
but it was among other things a blistering attack on this government's
increasing interference in local matters. Anyone would think it was they
and not us who had been elected to look after purely local matters on our
I and many others have noticed that this country appears to be turning into
a kind of Soviet Republic of Britain, with the State controlling just about
everything and local authorities becoming nothing more than replacements for
their own Civil Servants in executing their wishes -- not our people's.
Friends, local democracy in this country is under severe threat, and we need
to watch out for even more signs of this trend and oppose them in the same
spirit as the Care Homes campaign. We'll do our part from within Medway
Council, but there's nothing like large-scale campaigning, just as I was
involved in during the Rochester Airport campaign.
As Loyd Grossman would no doubt say, "People, it's over to you!"
John M Ward — one of the two Councillors for Horsted ward, Chatham