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Councillor on Medway Council
Speech delivered to full Council about the 2004–2005 Budget

John Ward

Speech prepared for the full Council meeting on 8th March 2004

(Note: the reference to "safety imps" in the following speech derives from an abbreviation for "safety improvements" in the agenda papers. It is not clear why this was done, as there was plenty of room in the table where this appeared to have entered it in full...)

Thank you, Mr Mayor.

First, the proposed capital programme looks good to me—well targeted and with sensible proposals.

Overall, I am delighted that in the current year we have a very real possibility of implementing the entirety of the planned capital spend, the first time this council has ever achieved this—something that has not gone unnoticed at scrutiny, I should mention.

Specific to my own ward, Mr Mayor, and looking about two-thirds of the way down page 25 of the report, which shows schemes that have already been completed, I am particularly pleased to see mention of the Shirley Avenue imps.

Roundabout Safety Imps I have seen these imps in action, Mr Mayor, and can confirm that they are working hard to improve road safety at this very busy and dangerous roundabout.

Turning now to Revenue:

Well, Mr Mayor, what a sorry state we in Medway have been put in. We are being forced to make several modest service cuts, going very much against the grain with my colleagues and me.

I recently acquired a razor from a Mr Occam, Mr Mayor. This cut away all the waffle and nonsense and proved that it is not individual local authorities that have been causing high increases in Council Tax during the Labour years—nationally the rise has been no less than 60% since Labour came to power. The average Band D, just 689 for 1997–98, is in this current year a whopping 1,102.

Unless every council in the country suddenly "went bad" all at once, and has stayed that way since, the only possible cause for this rise is Government underfunding of local authorities.

This truth could be hidden only so long, Mr Mayor, and now that it has come to wide public notice, it is clear that the days of this Labour Government are numbered, much to the relief of all in Britain who have suffered under their tax-and-spend regime.

If the people of Medway do not want this situation to repeat itself year after year, they must act like a doctor who notes the symptoms of an illness, yet tackles the real cause.

Mr Mayor, the only way for Medway people to successfully deal with this governmental cancer is to make it clear to our local Labour MPs, and to the Government in general, that they will be losing many, many votes at the next General Election over just this one issue, quite apart from other reasons they may have.

They will be doing themselves, and everyone else in Britain, a great service for all our futures.

Thank you Mr Mayor.

John M Ward (Councillor, Rochester South and Horsted)