22nd October 2001
There has been some recent correspondence in the local newspapers about the new style of political management of Medway Council, and why it has happened. There has also been very understandable concern about the cost of this change.
Well, the new system of local government was forced onto this council, along with other local authorities up and down the country, by central government. The costs are something we (i.e. Council Tax payers) have no choice but to bear, though my belief is that we can still keep Medway's Council Tax rates as low as they have been so far (the lowest in Kent) in future years.
The real concern about the new style of political management of local councils is the intended way that they should emulate Parliament: a few people making the decisions and all the other elected members effectively sidelined into nothing more than "scrutiny and overview". Central government's Cabinet meets behind closed doors, and it is obvious that it was intended that we should do the same, further eroding local democracy.
As it happens, we're not going to work that way.
All Cabinet, Council and Overview and Scrutiny Committee meetings will be open to the press and public to attend, with the usual proviso about items that must be discussed in closed session, just as they are now.
To help this along, I have created an extensive resource on my website that lists all forthcoming meetings for months ahead along with their dates, times and venues, and agendas when they appear. There are also direct links to the make-up and "portfolio" of the committee or other body, links to details of the members of that body, and as much other useful information as I can provide.
A few matters currently await responses from within the Council before I can complete those areas, but hopefully I'll shortly get the "all clear" on one topic and some information I presently lack on the various wards. Where is all this information? Start at:
and follow the links. For those not "connected", don't forget that we have several Cyber Cafés around the Towns and our main libraries also offer access and tuition.
John M Ward — One of the two Councillors for Horsted Ward, Chatham.