Tuesday, May 24 2011
To the Houses of Parliament yesterday for the delivery of Medway's bid to claim city status as part of the Queen's diamond jubilee celebrations. First, the impressive and highly professional document was handed in to 10 Downing Street and then a reception held in the Commons, which was on a heightened state of alert due to the arrival this week of President Obama. But while there was great anticipation of the visit, another significant event was taken place in Dining Room A where a sizeable gathering of Medway's supporters gathered to lend their backing to the city bid. I was interviewed by a member of the bid team, asking me why Medway deserved to be 'crowned' a city (a very appropriate way of putting it in the circumstances). It's not hard to think why. Its cathedral, two castles, its rich heritage, an impressive waterway, the diverse and lively cultural scene, its architecture (old and new) and no less than four universities (it's unlikely than any of its rivals will be able to beat that). But a city is nothing without its people. The dominant theme that comes across week in and week out on the Medway Messenger is just how passionate people are about the area and the amount they care about the Towns. Ok, it has its detractors and cynics and it is by no means perfect (where is?). But as a place to live and work, it cannot be bettered. Medway would embrace being a city like nowhere else. It isn't simply a badge of honour to mark bygone times, but a massive vote of confidence in a place which is forward-looking and ready for challenges ahead. We hope that architect and friend of Medway Sir Terry Farrell will be proved right next week when Five Towns really do make a City.
I returned from London on the first day of the new hi-speed services from St Pancras now calling in at Maidstone West after much lobbying from the people of the County Town. However, what suits some people inevitably is an inconvenience to others, especially when it comes to transport. Some of the Medway commuters were a bit disconcerted to find their 1814 services no longer goes through to Rochester but diverts down the Medway Valley Line via Strood.