We tried. We really tried.
Medway Borough Council (to give it its correct title) is, basically, defecating all over our heritage. We can expect to see our local councillors pissing on the graves of the people who actually built these towns any day now. A lot of people won’t know what is happening, and why on earth should they? After all, barely more than 1% of the populace has ever been actively consulted about the regeneration. There’s an organ called Medway Matters, but it’s being used to tell us what’s already been done to our towns after the fact, rather than enlightening anyone or pointing to any useful information or inviting any democratic input.
Medway Eyes was recently asked to participate in a thing called the Chatham Future Forum by the people at Medway Renaissance. That’s an arm of the council with a fluffy name and no teeth. We sent one of our members in to a couple of meetings at the New Arts Centre to suss things out. The first point of note was that Medway Eyes was the only creative collective in attendance. The NAC was, presumably, happy to take the booking fee but didn’t feel the need to participate in issues that affect Medway directly.
We were patronised to the point of submission. Government is, apparently, big, and far too difficult for the proletariat to understand. The council, NHS and police are our biggest employers, so we should shut the fuck up and question nothing. There may, however, be tiny hand outs that we might eventually tug our forelocks for. Just little things like the council buying up cheap property so it can’t be used for drug dealing and whoring. Oh, hang on, no.
When it was finally suggested that we might be able to pitch our ha’penny worth about the new bus station in Chatham that will a) be crap; b) be pointless because there’s one there already; c) go against all common sense and experience of other towns and cities (e.g. Liverpool) as regards the opening up of waterfronts, we were shot down in flames by Brian Weddell, the head of Medway Renaissance who told us…
“The CFF is not a lobby group or a decision making group. It seeks to set up a flow of information to a wider audience on the regeneration programme and to seek a wide range of opinion from the participants rather than a single view.
The group is still at an embryonic stage and the workshops to date have been to clarify the role of the group and how it can operate. We are not yet at the stage where we have had a full meeting with a chairman and so it is early days for the group to have a valid voice”.
Which is lovely. Thanks for that. We know that the group was set up to enable you to tick a few boxes after the total lack of consultation that we have highlighted. We know you were never going to take us seriously. The thing is, we’ve all seen through the Kafkaesque fog you’ve created for the average citizen, and we don’t like it.
We especially don’t like the complicit process that has deprived our towns of the Theatre Royal, the blatant bullshit surrounding the demolition of Aveling and Porter, and notion that Sun Pier is next.
Medway Eyes has dozens of contributors. Every contributor has hundreds of fans. We will preach from the street and from the grass roots: Do not re-elect these cultural vandals. Do not tolerate their self-interest.
Medway Eyes will no longer attend the Chatham Future Forum. The time for action is now, because our towns are being raped in the name of short term profiteering.
We will be out on the streets soon, recording and protesting. If we can’t save these beautiful buildings and constructs, we can at least capture images of this vanishing beauty in the hope that our children will one day thank us for it and, when it comes their time, be more cognisant of their heritage than the soulless career politicians that blight our lives and heritage today.