12th April 2001
At last night's (Wednesday 11th April) meeting of the full Medway Council, after a marathon session lasting two-and-a-half hours (the meeting itself ended at a quarter to one in the morning!), the future of the airport was voted on and -- exactly as I expected -- the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Independent Liberal Democrats all voted for closure of Rochester Airport.
Only the Conservative group of whom I am a member voted in accordance with almost all residents' wishes; i.e. to keep the area undeveloped, and preferably keep the airport. In the consultants' (W. S. Atkins) report this is designated "Option A".
Apart from one of the two Independent Liberal Democrats (who abstained) the option they all chose was full development of the airport site: Option E in the W. S. Atkins report. All the votes taken on the matter of Rochester Airport at this meeting were recorded votes, so the official record will show who voted which way.
As I had already pointed out, earlier in the debate, this whole matter is being keenly watched by a large number of Medway residents across the towns. Our good people are clearly using this issue as a kind of barometer to gauge just how representative Medway Council really is of the electorate's wishes. No matter how hard any Medway Councillor tries to sell us a pup, we can all see through the falsehood that those individuals attempt to portray as "forward-looking prospects for the people of Medway", among other things.
Perhaps the greatest benefit that has come out of all of this aspect of the saga of Rochester Airport is that eyes have been opened (as a recent correspondent to this newspaper so eloquently put it) to the truth about how our Unitary Council treats its electorate when the Labour and Liberal Democrat groups (who nowadays are more-or-less the same thing) can gang up against those who do listen to residents and genuinely represent them regardless of political party dogma.
Today it's the local airport—our only one, by the way—that is
threatened, but tomorrow it could just as easily be something else that is
valued by anyone anywhere in the Medway Towns.
Now, whom will you trust in future?
John M Ward − One of the two Councillors for Horsted Ward, Chatham.