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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iFAQs: Personal data and doorstep breaches

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?

Q2. Does your party have a clear procedure in place in the event of councillors, candidates, and activists breaching data protection rules? Continue reading “iFAQs: Personal data and doorstep breaches”

Rehman Chishti resigns from government to spend more time with his other jobs

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.

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Fear and Loathing: GDPR on the Campaign Trail

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.

Unless you care about data protection, anyway.

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Vote for me! I’ll attend full council 44% of the time

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”

Councillor declares independence from Conservative Party instead of Europe

A second Medway councillor has resigned from their party to sit as an independent for the remainder of their term. Councillor Anne-Claire Howard, who represents Twydall, has quit the Conservative party after failing to be reselected to stand for the party in upcoming local elections.

This move won’t be entirely surprising to followers of local politics. Cllr Howard has long been one of the more outspoken members of the Conservative group, regularly criticising the stance of the party on Brexit as well as the actions of other councillors in the chamber.

Councillor Howard has issued this fairly damning statement: Continue reading “Councillor declares independence from Conservative Party instead of Europe”

iFAQs: Min Attendance / Max Council

One of our popular features that we used to have on The Political Medway was inFrequently Answered Questions, where we’d send off questions to relevant political figures and hope that we might occasionally get a reply. As we get going on this project again, we’ve decided to start asking some questions of our esteemed councillors once again.

To get us going, we started with an easy one, and sent all 55 Medway councillors the following question:

What should be the minimum attendance percentage of full council meetings for a councillor to retain their position?

We told every councillor that they had a week to respond, and that we would publish their responses entirely unedited. All responses are published below, in the order that they were received by us.

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Pub landlord calls time on UKIP

Today, following weeks of rumours about his future, Peninsula Councillor Mick Pendergast formally resigned from the UKIP group on the council, choosing to sit as an independent for now.

Pendergast, who runs the Nags Head pub in Lower Stoke, was elected as part of a small UKIP wave in 2015, when the party managed to win four seats on the council. Since then, three of those councillors have resigned or defected, leaving leader Councillor Roy Freshwater as the only UKIP representation in the chamber. Continue reading “Pub landlord calls time on UKIP”

Is Rainham Central to Rehman Chishti?

How many jobs can a councillor do and still fully serve their local residents?

That’s one question Rainham Central councillor Rehman Chishti is pushing to it’s limits. Since adding being the MP for Gillingham and Rainham to his list of jobs in 2010, Rehman has continued to do more and more on a national and international level, and less and less on a local level.

Indeed, when it comes to local council meetings, Rehman has only managed to turn up to 40% of council meetings in the last 18 months, but has managed to find time for everything listed below. We’re by no means suggesting councillors can’t have other roles, but this all seems like rather a lot for one person. How much time can Rehman Chishti truly to be dedicating to the people of Rainham Central? Continue reading “Is Rainham Central to Rehman Chishti?”