iFAQ: Medway Commercial Group

Following on from the ongoing arguments surrounding problems within Medway Commercial Group, we sent the following question to all councillors:

Do you feel Medway Commercial Group continues to provide good value for money for Medway taxpayers?

As usual, we told everyone that their answers would be published entirely unedited. They are presented below in the order they were received.

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Cllr Franklin expelled by Medway Tories for Islamophobia three years after being shown he was Islamophobic

So, farewell then Michael Franklin, councillor for Luton and Wayfield, who has finally been expelled by Medway Conservative three years after his grossly offensive tweeting was highlighted by this website.

In January 2016, we published an article highlighting the Islamophobic and otherwise offensive tweets of Cllr Franklin. In February 2016, these tweets were raised at full council. And then.. nothing.

No action was taken against Cllr Franklin, and last year, Medway Conservatives reselected him to fight for the Luton and Wayfield ward again. Change occurred last month when Baroness Warsi highlighted Cllr Franklin’s tweets, which led to the national party stepping in and a suspension finally being imposed.

Now, over 1,000 days after the issue was first raised, he has been formally expelled from the party.

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Medway Tories suspend councillor three years late

In January 2016, we published an article on Luton and Wayfield Conservative councillor Michael Franklin’s offensive tweeting. Throughout 2015, Cllr Franklin published and shared a number of Islamophobic, transphobic, and racist tweets on his personal Twitter account. Following our article, the issue was raised at a full council meeting, and gained some wider media attention, and a new social media policy for councillors was introduced.

Crucially though, no action was taken against Cllr Franklin for his actions.

Until he found himself suspended from the Conservative party, three years later.

So what changed to make the party take action now when they didn’t in the previous three years?

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Everybody Loves Rehman

Every now and again we get accused of being unfair on Gillingham and Rainham MP and Rainham Central councillor Rehman Chishti. Because we like to shine a light on what he’s up to among his many roles, apparently we are treating him unreasonably. Obviously that’s utter nonsense, but we thought in the spirit of Christmas it would be good to check in with what other local residents think of the esteemed MP. Surely that way we’d be able to build a balanced picture of how he is viewed in the community.

To start, we decided to look close to home, and see what comments had been left about Chishti on our own comments section.

Okay, maybe not the best start there. Surely they won’t all be this negative though.

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Whose Portfolio is ‘Watching the Watchmen?’

Who in their lifetime has got a new job, not read the job description, and only found out what one  significant part of it was several years later? And then had absolutely no consequences as a result.

Nobody, right?

Well, you’d be wrong. Step forward hapless Councillor Adrian Gulvin, who has taken years of being ‘portfolio holder for resources’ to discover that overseeing Medway’s CCTV cameras is part of his remit.

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Sale of the Conservancy

It’s no secret that Rochester is a town utterly obsessed with Dickens. Despite the author not really liking the place very much, half the shops along the high street are made up of dodgy Dickens puns. We have several festivals each year based on his work. The high street is littered with a level of beggars that wouldn’t seem out of place in his novels. He creepily overlooks the high street, in the most literal of senses. Even with all this though, the one thing Rochester no longer has is a Dickens related museum.

Because Medway Council sold the building that housed it. Or they didn’t, if you believe their words.

The saga of the Rochester Guildhall Museum began back in the summer when Medway Council proposed selling the Conservancy Building, which acted as a second half of the Museum. While the main Guildhall Museum houses, well, a guildhall, a giant interactive boat, and a few other things, most of the actual artefacts and educational content came from this second building. Despite this, Medway Council insisted that the sale was necessary so that the money raised could be used to refurbish the Corn Exchange after the council failed to find a private tenant willing to take on that building in it’s run down state.

This is not an article about the rights or wrongs of that sale. It’s an article about procedure, perception, and potential conflicts of interests, all of which surround the sale.

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Guardians of the golliwogs

They say Christmas comes round earlier and earlier each year, but if there’s one thing that arrives at the same time every year, it’s the dubious stalls at the Rochester Christmas Market. Whether you’re in the market for magnetic health bracelets, cures for cancer, copyright infringement Indiana Jones, or a Costco membership, the Rochester Christmas Market has you covered.

Then, of course, there’s the golliwogs dolls.

Yes, golliwog dolls.

In 2018.

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iFAQs: Costly concerts

Castle Concerts

This week for inFrequently Answered Questions, we decided to take a look at the Castle Concerts held in Rochester each year. This year, the events ended up causing a loss to the taxpayer of over £300,000, so we decided to ask some questions. Instead of asking every councillor about it, we asked relevant portfolio holders, the councillors for the part of Rochester where the concerts are held, as well as other, non-council voices.

As usual, we told each that we would publish all responses entirely unedited. That is what you will find below, in the order their responses were received by us.

Q1. With reports that the Castle Concerts made a loss of over £300k, what is an acceptable financial loss for the Castle Concerts?

Q2. Are the Castle Concerts an effective way for Medway Council to improve the local cultural offer or the resources be better invested elsewhere?

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