Councillor on Medway Council
Speech delivered to full Council regarding the Council Leader's report

John Ward

Speech delivered at the full Council meeting on 14th June 2007

Thank you, Madam Mayor, fellow members.

As the Leader has said, Madam Mayor, the local elections here in Medway last month were, overall, a tremendous success story. Turnout went up markedly, the Lib/Lab balance now more closely reflects the electorate‘s wishes, and our seat count went up, as usual.

Despite the dirty campaigns by the opposition, Madam Mayor, most of the people of Medway were not taken in, and the Conservative Group now has fully three-fifths of the seats on this Council—a record for Medway Unitary Authority! Nationally, Conservatives control four times as many councils as Labour, and seven times as many as the Liberal Democrats.

There are all sorts of interesting facts and figures that have come out of Medway‘s election results, Madam Mayor, of which I shall mention just a few:

We now have more than two-and-a-half times as many seats as Labour, and more than four times the LibDems‘ seats, even though that Group has grown a bit. Our candidates were 60% successful in winning a seat: Labour‘s came in at under 24% and the LibDems were similar at nearly 23%.

The average vote for our candidates—total vote for the party divided by the number of that party‘s candidates, win or lose—was 1,244. Labour averaged 893, the LibDems 766, and the other four parties were much lower still at around 300, plus or minus ten or twenty. Notably, Madam Mayor, the only candidates to poll over 2,000 votes each were all Conservatives.

And another fact: residents in fifteen out of Medway‘s 22 wards can now call upon their own Conservative councillor—that‘s two-thirds of our population, Madam Mayor. Labour have members in just six wards (just over a quarter), and the LibDems in a mere three—the "Gillingham strip" which is the only place they are still electable. And the former so-called Independent Group is now just a single Member. We alone took seats off all the others!

Finally, Madam Mayor, turnout. Traditionally, the lowest turnout has tended to be in Labour wards, such as the appallingly low 17·4% in Luton, back in May 2000. Well, some things don‘t change much, and Luton and Wayfield had the second lowest turnout this time—just half a percent higher than the lowest, which was Chatham Central, another Labour ward. The two highest were, as one would expect, Conservative wards: Hempstead and Wigmore at 45·4%, and—highest of all—Rainham Central, with a whopping 47·7%!

The only possible conclusion from all of this, Madam Mayor, is that the people of Medway have—despite the very dirty campaign by the opposition (records of much of which I have obtained and kept on file!)—very convincingly given the Conservatives their overwhelming support. There is no other credible interpretation, Madam Mayor: the people "out there" want us, but don‘t think much of the opposition. I for one acknowledge the Medway electorate‘s wisdom, and during these next four years I know we shall show very clearly how right they were!

Thank you very much, Madam Mayor.

John M Ward (Councillor, Rochester South and Horsted)