Leader’s New Year message

Published: Wednesday, 5th January 2022

In his New Year’s message the Leader of Medway Council discusses the launch of a new children’s film and exciting projects for the year ahead.

Dear residents,

I hope this message finds you well and that you had a peaceful festive period. I know that many of us had our Christmas and New Year festivities affected by the latest wave of COVID-19 and I hope that you stayed safe.   

We enter 2022 with a blend of hope and determination. Hope that we will be able to stem the tide of COVID and bring it back under control, saving and protecting precious lives. And determination that we will get life back to normal as much as possible and drive ahead with the many exciting and ambitious projects we have for Medway. 

Medway’s Public Health Team is continuing to work closely with our colleagues in the health services to ensure the vaccination drive is made available to and taken up by as many people in Medway as possible as this is the best way we can protect ourselves from this terrible virus. Please continue to take care and test regularly to keep yourself and your loved ones safe so that we have a better year to look forward to.

And there is much to look forward to on the horizon. At Medway Council, we will continue with our partners in our drive for a Child Friendly Medway, putting young people at the heart of all we are doing, ensuring that they get the best start in life and can have a say in how we shape the future of Medway. Today we are launching a short film that shows just how much there is already on offer for children and young people in Medway and we are very proud of the achievements of them all already. See the film and find out more about our Child-Friendly Medway aspiration.

This year we will also celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and I am sure we all  join together in congratulating her on this most remarkable milestone this year. There will be year-long celebrations throughout the country, the Commonwealth and around the world and we will be hosting a number of events across Medway during the year with the main focus being on the anniversary weekend in early June.  More details will follow shortly.  

As you may know, as part of the celebrations, a city status competition has been held and last month we submitted our bid to officially be granted City Status. Our bid outlines Medway’s distinct identity, from the significant role Medway has played in the history of our nation and cultural life, to our many connections with royalty and the Royal Navy, as well as the pride our communities have in the places they live. If successful, the coveted title will bring significant benefits to residents and businesses across Medway putting the area firmly on the map and shining a spotlight on all we have to offer. We are expecting to hear whether our bid was successful later in the year.

We have another exciting year of festivals and events planned for you, the first of which will be held next month – Medway Light Nights. This free spectacular festival of light on Friday and Saturday, 11 and 12 February, will transform Rochester’s iconic buildings and spaces into works of art. I’d encourage you all to put the dates in your diary – you won’t want to miss it! We’re working with Emergency Exit Arts and have commissioned local, national and internationally-renowned artists, to work alongside our young people and communities, to deliver an incredible event. Find out more about Medway Light Nights. We will also bring you many of your much loved festivals as well as new ones including a Food Festival in the summer and the return of our new Gaming Festival that proved so successful last summer.

Work on Medway’s major regeneration developments and improvement projects will also continue this year and it is exciting to see the major transformation at Chatham Waterfront well underway.  We have an ambitious vision for Medway and we’re committed to providing you with much-needed new homes and facilities, as well as providing businesses with opportunities for growth.   This includes our £170million HIF project which will deliver much-needed new road and rail infrastructure on the Hoo Peninsula whilst protecting the environment. There is still time for residents to have their say on the plans, which have been changed following residents’ feedback during the first consultation. The changes are designed to provide an integrated programme of infrastructure investment. The consultation is due to close on Monday, 10 January. Please ensure you Have your say on the HIF plans.

After a very stressful 20 months, please do take the opportunity to look after yourself this coming year. Our mental health is so very important and should not be neglected and please do keep an eye out for how your loved ones are feeling too. Give yourself a bit of time and kindness and make space in your busy daily agendas for time for you – whether it’s to go for a walk in one of our lovely parks, take up a new hobby, join one of our gym and pools  or getting a health check to see how you are doing. There’s plenty of help and advice available on our website.

In the meantime, I wish you all a happy, and healthy, New Year.

Cllr Alan Jarrett

Leader of Medway Council

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