Last week saw the Medway Conservative Group vote against greater scrutiny on the Innovation Park Medway (IPM) project, unanimously agreed as one of the most important ventures for our community. This refusal for greater transparency comes as, despite calls from the Labour group and Medway again showing the highest rates of infection for Covid at over 700 cases per 100,000, no mention was made to the crisis on the agendas of either the Cabinet or Full Council meeting.

It has since transpired that in the week of Cabinet and Council meetings (11th – 17th December), Medway had 1,037 cases per 100,000 – almost five times the national average in England of 211.

The amendment, posed by Cllr Vince Maple, was intended to secure regular updates on the progress of IPM, particularly given the delegated powers laid out in the report. Whilst the Labour Group continue to support the project which will deliver valuable jobs to our community, this support comes with a number of reservations including the lack of mention of Brexit, Covid or a likely recession in the risk framework document.

Medway Labour and Co-operative Group Deputy Leader and Spokesperson for Health, Cllr Teresa Murray said that, ‘I was really disappointed to see the Conservative Group reject this amendment which came with our support for the project. As an opposition group, we must do all we can to scrutinise the Council and with a project as important as Innovation Park Medway, it is important that our support also comes with qualified reservations.

‘Unfortunately, the Conservative refusal for greater scrutiny on this matter simply reflects the attitude taken by the administration throughout the course of the pandemic.

‘Council Leader Jarrett’s refusal to accept that the authority has lost control of the virus, despite Medway consistently reflecting the most infectious rates in the country, is simply not good enough.

‘Medway residents deserve answers, and as an opposition we intend to hold the Council Leadership to account wherever possible – despite the Conservative Group’s continued efforts to curtail debate.’

Medway Labour and Co-operative Group Leader Cllr Vince Maple added, ‘As an opposition group, we will continue to hold the Conservative Council to account on vital projects like IPM as well as the handling of this pandemic.

‘We have always been and will continue to be supportive on projects like IPM that will benefit our community and engage constructively in debate to deliver the best possible results.

‘The Conservative Leadership’s rejection of this amendment reflects a wider resistance to transparency and scrutiny – something we will continue to push for.’

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