What lies ahead for Medway in 2022?
Strap in, it's going to be a ShrugEmoji.jpg ride for the real local authority.
Predicting things is an inherently silly idea, particularly in this late stage capitalism plague world we currently inhabit. I used to habitually buy The World In 20xx magazines that The Economist used to put out every year. They were a good read on the predictable things you can expect in a year - electoral cycles, leaps in technology, economic growth - but never really reflected the reality of the turbulent world we live in. The World in 2020 had no mention of a coronavirus. The World in 2021 had no mention of an insurrection in the US. Yet it’s these kinds of events that shape what our experience more than the day to day.
Which is a long winded way to say that I’m going to pontificate on Medway in 2022 and there’s a good chance a lot of it will be wrong.
Obviously it’s hard to talk about anything in the present or future tense without acknowledging the virus in the room so let’s get that out of the way first. 2020 and 2021 for Medway (along with the rest of the world) has been dominated by a virus most of us were blissfully unaware of two years ago. If you tried telling me back then that I’d be shoving a swab up my nose twice a week to check I wasn’t infected with a potentially deadly virus before packing a bottle hand sanitiser and putting a layer of fabric over my face to head to the shops, I’d have thought you were mad. And that’s without the lockdowns, multiple vaccine doses, the huge disruptions, and all of the associated horrors like the nearly 1,000 Medway residents that have died as a result. Even typing this it’s almost surreal to comprehend, but here we are.
Things feel a little better on that front heading into 2022, but it’s hard to be particularly optimistic. Cases in Medway are currently higher than they’ve ever been. But it does seem that omicron is putting less people in hospital, and our death rate has been fairly flat for a long time now. And the fact we’re even talking about a “flat” death rate as being a relatively good thing when that’s still 3 of our residents dying every week is kind of bizarre. But it’s pointless to pretend it couldn’t be so much worse, like it was through 2020 and the early part of last year. So unless we’re looking at another, stronger variant later in the year, we’ve likely got a rough few weeks ahead of us and then hopefully things will improve People are still going to get sick and sadly some of them are going to die, but not as many as were before, so that’s the good outcome. The collective trauma of this thing years from now is unimaginable.
Setting the virus aside, what else will Medway be facing this year? That’s where things get a little more interesting. Local politics will be turbulent, and there’s a chance the council leader won’t see out the year. Residents against development are getting more organised, but so too is our housing need. We’re undertaking grand regeneration plans at a time when none of us know what our high streets will look like a few years from now. The only certainty is that we won’t be City of Culture. But we could be a city.
Let’s take a look at where we are.
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