'Gillingham Ignored AGAIN!' - Say Medway Liberal Democrats
By Stuart Bourne - Medway Liberal Democrats
Medway Liberal Democrats are concerned that Gillingham town centre and its High Street is yet again, being ignored by the Conservative administration of Medway Council. During the recent budget, central government announced the first winners of its 'Levelling Up' fund, and Medway Council received over £14million for three projects within Chatham town centre. Though we welcome the funds and agree with the need to improve Chatham town centre, we are deeply concerned that all recent funding and attention is on Chatham, whilst other places like Gillingham are ignored.
We've seen Medway Council buy multiple buildings in Chatham High Street, including spending £2million on Mountbatten House, whilst many in Gillingham High Street stand empty. In January the council won nearly £9.5million to regenerate Chatham High Street from the government's 'Future High Streets Fund', and again where was the money for Gillingham? And finally when the draft local was published (though quickly withdrawn due to its unpopularity), all the plans for high street redevelopment were in Chatham and Strood, and Gillingham was barely mentioned at all.
We understand Chatham needs help, but let's not forget that Gillingham High Street is facing the same problems. With the recent announcement that WH Smith's is shutting its store, there is a real threat that the high street will loose its post office. A number of shops are empty, as rents and business rates are too high for many shop owners. And yet this high street is vital for a large portion of Medway's residents.
Stuart Bourne, Liberal Democrat spokesperson says, 'Cllr Jarrett clearly has a very small attention span. It's seems he can only focus on one or two things, and at the moment that's just Chatham High Street and the Hoo peninsula. And his bad leadership means that vast areas of Medway including Gillingham are ignored and continue to decline. Maybe he should try to remember he is the leader of Medway Council and not Chatham Council.'
Medway Liberal Democrats are therefore calling on Medway Council to formulate a specific plan for Gillingham High Street, which includes a long-term vision and details of potential funding sources for redevelopment. We call on them to ensure that when the next applications for the government's 'Levelling Up' funds come around, projects in Gillingham are given a priority. And finally we call on them to identify key buildings on Gillingham High street that can purchased to ensure businesses have access to premises without extortionate rents.