The following is a statement issued by Cllr Pat Cooper (Gillingham North) announcing her intention to stand down at the next election:
I am going to find this a difficult message to write, because I have decided not to stand again as a Labour and Co operative Councillor for Medway Local Elections in May 2023.
My reason for deciding this is primarily because I will be three weeks short of being 76 years of age in May 2023, and I feel that my time has now come to let other candidates have the experiences that I have had in my Council life.
I have served the residents of Gillingham North Ward and its predecessor Medway Ward from 1994 -2003, first as a Gillingham Borough Councillor, and then as a Medway Councillor from 2011-2013 as an Independent Councillor, and then from 2013 to what will be 2023 as a Labour and Co-Operative Councillor.
I thought that my Council life had finished in 2003, but no, I was persuaded to stand again in 2011, some 8 years later, by Cllr Andy Stamp and Dan Macdonald, and Andy and I were elected as Independents.
We did this for just under two years, but Andy and I were voting with the Labour Group, so we asked if we could join them. This obviously had to be thoroughly discussed and agreed by the Labour Group and other relevant members.
We joined the Labour Group in June 2013, and it has been such a privilege to have been part of this Group on Medway Council.
I have to praise my Ward Colleagues, Adam Price and Andy Stamp. We have worked so hard and so well together through thick and thin, and it is going to be so hard for me personally not to have that comradeship.
I have a wealth of memories as a Local Councillor from 1994, and even though I had the 8 year gap, I can honestly say that joining the Labour Group in 2013 was a very good decision as we have fought many many brilliant campaigns together , and have really done our job of holding the Administration to account .
I am going to miss being a member of the Children and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee , and Corporate Parenting the most. Fighting for our Young People in Medway, and beyond, has been tough, and emotional at times, especially after our OFSTED reports, which touched all of us to do everything we could to make things so much better . I have to praise my eminent spokesperson Clive Johnson for Children and Young People, his fortitude and forensic dissections of what was needed .
I have also to say a huge thank you to my comrade in arms on Corporarte Parenting
Jo Howcroft-Scott . We have been so together in all that we do for our Children in Care and as Care leavers Champions , and I know she will continue being the Champion Voice for them.
Lastly I want to say one huge thank you to all the Labour Group, and to Vince Maple our Leader and Teresa Murray our Deputy Leader, they are the epitome of what Leadership is all about. Thank you for having me and for caring when things have gone mightily wrong in my personal life. Especially when my husband Tony died. Thanks to Julie Porter also, who has been a sounding board for me on many occasions, with my sometimes more than political discussions.