Medway’s three MPs are united in disappointment at the Labour Council’s decision to cancel the Christmas lights this year. Throughout difficult financial challenges the previous administration always recognised the importance of the lights to local residents and businesses and found ways to bring joy to the Towns’ communities. Asked by various media outlets the MPs have said -
Rochester & Strood MP Kelly Tolhurst: “This is a very disappointing decision by the Council to cancel the Christmas lights across Medway, restrict the locally run Rochester’s Artisan Market during Christmas events, and put barriers in place to what high street traders and charities can do this year, causing lots of anguish to all. Their decision doesn’t make sense when they are ploughing ahead with Red Routes at a cost of over £850k to the local taxpayer. The lights are a relatively small amount (£75k) compared to what the Council spends; they should rethink this very poor decision and focus on not wasting money on scheme no one wants”.
Gillingham & Rainham MP Rehman Chishti: “Christmas is a key part of our society life, and that includes celebrating Christmas festivities. I am very disappointed to see Medway council take this decision, as these events bring community together. I would urge them to reconsider this and find the resources”.
Chatham & Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch: “It is very early in the year for the Council to don their Grinch outfits leaving residents disappointed, especially given the Council is intent on spending a significant amount of money on a traffic management system no-one wants. They need to urgently reconsider and realise that the Christmas lights do more than bring sparkle to the Towns - they also boost the economy and community relationships".
It is important to note that local authorities receive a wide range of grants from multiple government departments to reflect their broad responsibilities.
Core funding for local authorities is available through the local government finance settlement. We measure core funding through a measure called ‘Core Spending Power (CSP)’ which consists of grant funding, redistributed business rates and council tax.
Between 2015/16 (when the measure was introduced) and 2023/24, CSP for Medway has increased by 30.5% - an increase of £57.1m to a total of up to £243.9m.
It is also our understanding that the Rochester Business Forum offered to pay for their lights and it was turned down.