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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
This week for inFrequently Asked Questions, we decided to mix up the format yet again. Instead of contacting every councillor with a question, we decided to ask each party two questions on data protection. Political parties can obtain copies of the electoral register from local authorities to use for political purposes. Each party is responsible for complying with the rules on data protection, and so in light of the recent accident by Medway Conservative Robbie Lammas, it seemed like an appropriate topic.
We sent the following questions to Medway Conservatives, Medway Labour, Medway UKIP, Medway Lib Dems, and Medway Greens. We told each party that we would publish their responses entirely unedited. All responses are published below, in the order that they were received by us.
Q1. What training and resources does your party provide to councillors, candidates, and activists regarding GDPR and the personal data of voters when canvassing?
It’s a busy day in Westminster with ministers resigning from government all over the place, a potential leadership challenge, and a fair chance that the government won’t make it until the end of the week.
None of which would be particularly exciting on a local level, until Rehman Chishti, MP for Gillingham and Rainham, announced he was resigning his position as Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party and as the Trade Envoy to Pakistan.
His full letter is below, where he makes it clear that he cannot support the current EU Withdrawal Agreement currently on offer. Chishti is the seventh government minister to resign over this today.
It was inevitable that someone in Medway politics would screw up in this brave new GDPR world.
Politicians sharing reports and images from the campaign trail is standard practice at this point. Barely a weekend can go by without local activists telling us about the ‘fantastic response on the doorstep’ that they achieved. So it would have been easy to glance at the below image shared by Medway Conservative candidate for Luton and Wayfield Robbie Lammas and not think much of it.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen increasing questions raised about Councillor Rehman Chishti’s ability to juggle several jobs, and how much time he has left to be an active councillor for Rainham Central. As we pointed out previously, in recent years, he has turned up at less than half of full council meetings. Following this, we decided to analyse the attendance rates of all 55 Medway councillors.
First of all, some caveats to this data: We have used the attendance data made available from Medway Council, so if any councillor believes our data is wrong, we’d suggest they take it up with the council. Secondly, we are only analysing attendance of full council and not other committee meetings. While we may look at those in the future, full council is the only meeting where all councillors are expected to attend, so it creates a level playing field. Finally, we have used percentage attendance rather than number of meetings, so we can create a fair comparison between the 52 councillors that have served a full term so far, and the 3 elected in by-elections. Continue reading “Vote for me! I’ll attend full council 44% of the time”