Councillor on Medway Council
Speech delivered to full Council about Rochester Airport

John Ward

Speech delivered to the full Council meeting on 5th March 2003

Thank you Mr Mayor.

I am very pleased to see that once again the Cabinet has taken seriously its responsibilities to the people of Medway, by recommending the removal of all references to built development on the Rochester Airfield site.

It‘s funny, you know, Mr Mayor, but whenever I watch the machinations of this Council (which I do frequently) I am always struck by the contrast between the no-nonsense businesslike operation of the Cabinet and the ever more devious, politically-manipulated Overview and Scrutiny Committees. It is refreshing to find one body of elected members within this Authority that does take note of public opinion and is not taken in by pie-in-the-sky aspirational concepts such as the oft-stated Science Park, which seems to very conveniently change its "minimum requirements" to slot into whatever is currently on offer, contradictory though this has been shown to be on at least one occasion.

Indeed, Mr Mayor, the entire Conservative Group continues to support the very sensible wishes of local residents; we are completely against losing this, the only asset of its kind in Medway, either directly or by stealth; and once again we demonstrate that we are the only political group to consistently perform our true function which is to be representative of the people of Medway and to protect their shared assets.

We all know, Mr Mayor, that the pressure to concrete-over parts of the Medway Towns that are in Conservative-held wards, whether at Rochester Airport or on the Hoo Peninsula, is primarily if not entirely politically motivated. This area map shows where the airport is—right in the middle of Conservative-held wards.

As for the peninsula airport—well, all of this area is Conservative-held too. Actually, when you look at it. most of the Medway footprint has Conservative representation.

The Rochester Airport issue is being watched by many around the Medway Towns as a kind of barometer by which to judge how their elected members and political groups represent the public, whether or not they have disclosed this fact to the other groups. They‘ve certainly made it clear to me, right out to Rainham in one direction and Strood in the other.

Now, Mr Mayor, the Labour members will have been whipped on this issue so presumably have been given no choice as to which way they can vote. However the LibDems claim not to be whipped, so for them this is very much the last chance before the local election in May to support local residents by voting with the Conservative group on this amendment.

Yes, Mr Mayor, it‘s crunch time. The public is watching and noting what happens here tonight, and they will remember on 1st May.

Thank you, Mr Mayor.

John M Ward (Councillor, Horsted)