I have been repeatedly asked by some, for a long time now, whether I'd consider standing again for election to Medway Council. The answer remains 'no', mostly because I am no longer well enough to campaign and act to the level to which I am accustomed.
I am aware that there are others who have proceeded despite having their own, not dissimilar, limitations – but (as will come as no surprise to long-term readers here) I set myself very high expectations, probably higher than the majority of others who are or have been involved in this business. Therefore what others do (and often seem to get away with) does not change my personal stance.
Does that mean that I believe that those in such a position are incapable of being of value? No: far from it. It's more to do with the fact that there are far fewer human resources available on the ground to expect one's campaign to be implemented mainly by activists, so there really isn't the luxury of 'carrying' previous or potentially good elected representatives who aren't able to put in the effort on the doorstep, or whatever is required of them during the formal campaign.
If, though, there were one day a 'miracle cure' devised for my heart condition – and, ideally, for my sight problem as well – then the picture might very well change. If it did, where would I choose to stand? The easy option would be in my old ward or somewhere similar – but I prefer the idea of somewhere more challenging, and ideally somewhere that is better than it sometimes knows and just needs the right kind of person to enable a community to aim higher.
Now, to anyone who knows medway, this will probably seem strange indeed; but my favourite ward of the twenty-two we have here would be (wait for it!) – Strood South. This is, on paper, a most unpromising ward that includes roads with among the worst reputations in the whole Medway area, and probably beyond. Yet I have grown quite fond of Strood South in recent times, and have visited (and walked around) several parts of the 'patch' on various occasions.
Only yesterday I was walking down Bligh Way and Darnley Road (both of which form much of that 'dodgy' area I just mentioned) soaking up the ambiance, as I do, and encountering a few people on my travels. Like Wayfield, Strood South is one of those places that, overall, is seeking to better itself – and it is that element that I can feel dominates there, despite the opposing factors that are also present.
It has to be said that, under different personal circumstances, I'd be so very pleased to offer myself to aid in the lifting up of this area. I know that current councillors for the ward are doing good things there, but they are essentially routine without an overall vision. One cannot blame them for that; but perhaps the time has come when more is needed. That will need a markedly different approach in the future, and I can't see that happening, which is a real shame.
What the place needs is a genuine visionary, with the experience, intelligence, patience and strategic planning ability to do for Strood South what it really desires, once one gets under its population's skin sufficiently to be able to feel and understand its true will. Although I am probably no longer able to fulfill this need myself, no doubt there are real community leaders there who could.
The place now deserves a chance to go beyond mere station-keeping and routine patch-ups, and move forward as a truly developing and maturing community. Early signs are already in place, with the Leisure/Sports Centre, Rede Common (about which I shall be writing separately) and the impressive-looking new Academy school. The journey is just beginning...