Please note: these Jottings are purely personal comment, and do not necessarily or directly represent the policy of either the Conservative Party or the Conservative Group on Medway Council.
I—and others, I am sure—have been watching the way the new post-election Medway Council is performing, and I have to say that it is now the best it has ever been since its creation nine years ago (okay, ten years, if you want to include the so-called shadow year from 1997 to 1998).
Not only are the numbers of councillors for each party now in broad accord with the electorate's wishes, the new intake is particularly impressive. There are no fewer than eleven new Conservative Councillors, three new Labour members (though one of these is a returning member, after having been voted off the Council in 2003, and the other two merely replace retiring Labour members) and six new Liberal Democrats—though as only two of their original number were re-elected, they are still in single figures with just eight councillors. One of the newcomers is also someone who had been on the Council until 2003, but did not re-stand last time.
Although the new LibDems are a bit mixed, I have a feeling they will prove to be a better group overall than that they have succeeded. This will be good for the Council in general, and more importantly for Medway. At least one of the new Labour members is also turning out to be quite impressive, and I am very pleased about that too.
Our new intake is very good! I am so impressed with the way they have performed already, both within meetings and outside of them. They are strong, sensible, dedicated people, many with considerable track records within their particular communities and, in some cases, beyond.
In the crucial period immediately ahead, when much of Medway's regeneration takes real shape and the next General Election could well see a change in national government, we who live, work, visit or pass through this fascinating place will all need a truly competent, professional and capable elected Council—and this applies to both sides of the Council Chamber.
We set a high standard back in May 2000 when we took over the administration of the council, and have raised the bar several times since—especially after a local election. There is no question of this, as anyone watching from the inside will know (as I do, of course), despite what the rather negative pre-election opposition groups tried to suggest.
Clearly, from the results in May, the Medway voters weren't interested in such negativity, and voted several opposition members off the Council—again! Much the same happened in 2003.
Perhaps, with the quality of the opposition's new intake looking at least promising, this might mean that they have learnt something at least of what Medway and its people really need, and that is more helpful and positive, and less party-political and negative, elected body.
It is just possible that they (and all of us) now have the nearest to this ideal that Medway Unitary Authority has yet had...