Councillor on Medway Council
Speech delivered to full Council about two Scrutiny matters

John Ward

Speech delivered to the full Council meeting on 3rd November 2005

Thank you Mr Mayor.

I am so pleased to see further instances of Portfolio Holders coming before Scrutiny Committees during this period. I believe it is an important aspect of scrutiny that this happens regularly.

I have been studying Parliament for some time now, Mr Mayor, and am well aware of the value of the work done by Parliamentary Select Committees, including sessions where Ministers are called to give evidence and to account for their activities. I have now witnessed several sessions of our Portfolio Holders accounting for their work before our Scrutiny Committees, and they have always been very helpful, open, complete and appreciated by members of all parts of this council.

It is a testament to all of us, Mr Mayor, including the Portfolio Holders themselves, Scrutiny chairmen and committee members, that these events are always held in a genuinely useful, professional and polite fashion.

Next, Mr Mayor, the Thomas Aveling school playing fields sell-off issue, raised at Education Scrutiny as the result of a petition—2.2 of the report. This school is in my ward, and I agree that it should never have been placed in a position where it was compelled to raise its own funding for the new community facilities it is bound to provide. It is therefore fitting that the final decision on whether the playing field can be sold off has to be made by those who put the school in this position in the first place—central government—and that is where the lobbying should have been going.

Was that even attempted by the objectors in Rochester East, I wonder, Mr Mayor? I have seen no evidence that it was, so either it wasn‘t even bothered with at all, or there was no publicity for it. Which is it? Perhaps one of the Rochester East ward members can answer this...

Thank you very much, Mr Mayor.

John M Ward (Councillor, Rochester South and Horsted)