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Medway Labour Party attacks cost of Battle of Medway celebrations

A council has been accused of "splurging" money after it emerged the Battle of Medway celebrations cost taxpayers more than £389,000.

The 10-day event took place in June to mark the 350th anniversary of a surprise attack by Dutch ships on the English naval fleet moored in Chatham dockyard.

Thousands of people flocked to a range of events, including a finale that included a spectacular fireworks display.

The firework display at Chatham Maritime
The firework display at Chatham Maritime

But the Medway Labour Party says despite the festival being subsidised by the council to the tune of £389,471, only £48,000 of income came in from the sponsorship of the events.

It says the outlay included £100,563 for the civic event, which was boycotted by the party’s councillors, £244,086 for the Medway in Flames display and £60,054 for “land-based activities”.

Cllr Andy Stamp, Medway Labour spokesman for regeneration, said: “People were rightly angry earlier this year when it emerged £60,000 had been taken from the children’s budget and £100,000 from crematorium fees to fund a fireworks display.

“On the one hand our Tory Cabinet pleads poverty when justifying cuts to vital services for our most vulnerable citizens.

“But on the other it is happy to nod through a £400,000 splurge on a vanity project with no proper outcome-based targets for tourism or inward investment.”

The Medway Conservative Group declined to comment, saying it had already outlined its position on the issue.

Cllr Alan Jarrett, leader of Medway Council, earlier said Labour should be "ashamed" of its stance on the festival and accused the party using it to hijack a public consultation on the future of children's centres in pursuit of its political aims.

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