Labour slams £400,000 spending on Battle of Medway ‘vanity project’

PUBLISHED: 13:12 01 September 2017

Medway in Flames. Photo: Stuart Thomas

Medway in Flames. Photo: Stuart Thomas

Conservative leader Alan Jarrett responded by saying the opposition “treat our military heritage with contempt”

The Conservative-controlled Medway Council has been slammed for spending almost £400,000 of taxpayers’ money on “a vanity project”.

Opposition Labour members revealed this week the total bill for the local authority’s commemorations of the 350th anniversary of the Battle of Medway - a famous naval defeat by the Dutch - was subsidised from council coffers to the tune of £389,471.

The spending included £100,563 for the civic event itself, some £244,086 for the Medway in Flames display and a further £60,054 for “land-based activities”.

Sponsorship of the events generated around £48,000 of income, but the Labour group, which boycotted the events back in June, slammed the spending against a backdrop of controversial cuts, including reducing the number of children’s centres in the district from 19 to 13, which was given final approval by a scrutiny committee earlier this week.

Andy Stamp, Medway Labour spokesman for regeneration, said: “People were rightly angry earlier this year when it emerged £60,000 had been taken from the children’s budget and £100,000 from crematorium fees to fund a fireworks display.

“It turns out that they literally didn’t know the half of it.

“On the one hand our Tory cabinet pleads poverty when justifying cuts to vital services for our most vulnerable citizens.

“But on the other it is happy to nod through a £400,000 splurge on a vanity project with no proper outcome-based targets for tourism or inward investment.

“No doubt Tory councillors had fun at taxpayers’ expense at their £100,000 civic junket. With that sort of budget it must have been an absolute blast.

“However I don’t think taxpayers will see the funny side.”

Conservative leader Alan Jarrett said in response to the comments: “We are investing in regeneration and tourism and this is just a cheap shot from Labour.

“The problem is they made a big deal of boycotting it when they don’t attend any heritage events, and some of them don’t even sing the national anthem.

“They treat our military heritage with contempt but the people of Medway cherish it and that’s why the Labour group are disrespectful.”

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