At the recent Budget Council meeting, the main Labour opposition group put forward a number of positive amendments which were rejected by the Conservative administration.
The proposals included support for Medway Foodbank and The Red Box Project which helps tackle period poverty. This is alongside an increase in ward improvement funds across all 22 wards in Medway. These proposals would be funded by the cutting of the Medway Matters magazine which is seen by many as a vanity project.
There were also proposals to remove the Bulky Waste Collection fee, re-introduce the annual visitor parking permits with increased enforcement to crack down on the small number of residents who abuse the system.
It was also proposed to create a £5 million fund to invest to save in council services, funded by the future receipts from the Rochester Riverside scheme.
The Labour Group also proposed removing the potentially discriminatory performance related pay scheme, Medpay, and move that funding to general cost of living increase to hard working council staff.
Cllr Vince Maple, Medway Labour Group Leader said “We put forward real alternative budget proposals which would have helped tackle some of the big problems impacting on communities across Medway. It would have also led to additional resources for every ward across Medway. Unfortunately Medway Conservatives thought it was more important to keep their vanity magazine Medway Matters rather than help tackle period poverty, support our local foodbank and get more resources to every part of Medway. They have completely the wrong priorities and it shows why we need a Labour Council elected on May 2nd.”
'Medway Conservatives... have completely the wrong priorities and it shows why we need a Labour Council elected on May 2nd' Cllr Vince Maple, Medway Labour Group Leader
Cllr Andy Stamp, Medway Labour Regeneration & Communities Spokesperson added ‘Having spoken to many local residents across Medway we know those front line services of Flytipping and Parking have a big impact on people’s lives. Our budget proposals would have led to positive change and is a direct result of feedback from residents. It shows it’s only Labour who are truly on the side of the many across Medway.’
'Our budget proposals would have led to positive change and is a direct result of feedback from residents. It shows it's only Labour who are truly on the side of the many across Medway.' Cllr Andy Stamp, Medway Labour Regeneration & Communities Spokesperson
Cllr Teresa Murray, Medway Labour Deputy Leader said ‘We know councillors do not have a monopoly on ideas to help make council services better. Our £5 million fund would have given a chance for residents to take back control of their council – a genuine opportunity to make proposals on how to deliver council services more effectively and efficiently. Many times residents who are using council services will have great insight as to how to improve things. It’s disappointing that the Conservatives didn’t want local residents to have their say on making Medway an even better place.
‘The conservatives do not want to face the consequences of supporting their government’s austerity regime. In trying to defend their rejection of our amendments, the best they could come up with was what can only be described as “an early bird deal” at the crematorium – in reality this adds insult to injury, forcing families into rush hour traffic, making their already emotional experiences worse.’
'Many times residents who are using council services will have great insight as to how to improve things. It's disappointing that the Conservatives didn't want local residents to have their say on making Medway an even better place.' Cllr Teresa Murray, Medway Labour Deputy Leader
Cllr Naushabah Khan, Medway Labour Employment Spokesperson said, ‘In response to reports that the gender pay gap at Medway Council increased over the last year, at a time when gender pay gaps are narrowing nationally, the Conservative Group on Medway Council decided to scrap the review of the performance related pay scheme they had to agreed the previous month.
‘This decision is ludicrous and damaging for council employees, it’s clear that the Conservatives are afraid of what a pay review might uncover.
Our proposal would have ensured a fairer deal on pay for hard working council officers whilst not costing any more than currently allocated.’
'Our proposal would have ensured a fairer deal on pay for hard working council officers whilst not costing any more than currently allocated.' Cllr Naushabah Khan, Medway Labour Employment Spokesperson