Hard Conversations

In which Vicki Sigston looks at the support that exists for new parents during one of the most difficult times..

As an antenatal practitioner I meet hundreds of families every year who are waiting to meet their babies. Some will come to me as parents who have been affected by the previous loss of a pregnancy or who have experienced stillbirth and while often they might prefer to keep this information to themselves, they might also be keen to talk through their past experiences as they prepare to meet their new baby, and of course this is important.

Stillbirth and neonatal death will always be a hard subject for people to talk about, but June is SANDS awareness month here in the UK and I felt it was a great opportunity to open up the dialogue a little.

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Voice of the Leader: September

Once a month we offer a platform to the leaders of both Medway Council and the official opposition. Today, we have the latest column from Cllr Alan Jarrett, Conservative Leader of Medway Council.

Alan Jarrett

After a missing month, there is a lot to write about, both here in Medway and nationally.

The biggest national furor of course continues to relate to Brexit, this time the decision to prorogue Parliament with an awful lot of hysteria surrounding that. However, by standing back and sniffing the coffee we can see the prorogation relates to four days with Parliament traditionally closing down for the party conference season anyway.

As I write this there is a row within my party over voting. It is no coincidence that most of the usual suspects promising to undermine the will of the British people in the 2016 referendum have been recently fired from the government. “Hell hath no fury…….!”

There are varied views about what should done with those people who vote with the Opposition against their own party, and the threat of deselection has been mooted. Good!

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Voice of the Opposition: August

Once a month we will be offering the Leaders of both Medway Council and the official opposition the opportunity to talk unedited about.. well, Medway politics.

Today we hear from Vince Maple, leader of Medway Labour, the official opposition on Medway Council.


So the man who wanted to build an airport in our community has now got the keys to number ten.  There are many alarming things about Boris Johnson’s election to the role of Prime Minister. His obsession with the estuary airport, a vanity project of the highest order – considering the wide variety of evidence from environmental to economic all pointed to it being a flawed concept – but it’s not just us here in North Kent he managed to dismay.  

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Climate change: What can we do?

In which Esme Hehir of Medway Youth Council ponders what individuals and organisations to combat climate change.

Climate change is an issue that needs to be dealt with urgently. We cannot sit back as passive observers of the destruction of our planet. There is so much we should be doing to ensure a sustainable future for generations to come. 

This crisis has become so serious that there are now daily discussions in the mainstream media, taking the debate from a niche audience to the forefront of our global concerns. Despite there being an increased interest in the subject, not enough is being done to prevent climate change.

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Voice of the Leader: July

Once a month we offer a platform to the leaders of both Medway Council and the official opposition. Today, we have the latest column from Cllr Alan Jarrett, Conservative Leader of Medway Council.

Alan Jarrett

So, by the time you read this we will have a new Prime Minister, and I shall be 5,000 miles away with not a thought for politics at home!

Not entirely true of course! For I shall be fervently hoping that my vote for Boris Johnson was one of many, and he now occupies 10 Downing Street.

Not that I have always been a Boris fan, and am still not in some ways. In fact in those days when as Mayor of London he sought to have a massive airport built in Medway I was anything but a fan!

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Boring History: Independence Day

In which Chris Sams manages to tenuously link Independence Day to Medway politics..

The 4th of July is one of those dates we remember much like 1066, 1940 and 1348, I mean who can forget the date that Will Smith and that doctor from Jurassic Park saved the world from alien invasion?

The 4th July is, of course, the American Independence day. A date when the American nation celebrates breaking the union of the thirteen colonies with the English Empire in a move that is seen as driven by taking control of their own affairs, greater freedoms and democracy but in reality was all about dodging paying tea tax. Seems fair? Well, the mists of time and a popular history has hidden a few of the salient facts..

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Voice of the Opposition: July

Once a month we will be offering the Leaders of both Medway Council and the official opposition the opportunity to talk unedited about.. well, Medway politics.

Today we hear from Vince Maple, leader of Medway Labour, the official opposition on Medway Council.


I’m writing this month’s Voice of the Opposition at the Local Government Association (LGA) Conference taking place this year in Bournemouth. This is an annual event which sees councillors from all political parties as well as senior council officers coming together to look at the state of the nation.

This year we will hear from people like the Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney and the Unison General Secretary Dave Prentis. Alongside this hearing from senior Labour politicians including Keir Starmer who addressed the Labour Group. During the session I raised with him the issue of devolution and the need for quality jobs and skills agenda in post Brexit Medway.

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Voice of the Leader: June

Once a month we offer a platform to the leaders of both Medway Council and the official opposition. Today, we have the latest column from Cllr Alan Jarrett, Leader of Medway Council.

Alan Jarrett

Hmm! Tough choice to make this month: spend most of my 1,000 words whining about Medway Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committees, and who is Medway’s Mayor, or get on with discussing the things that really do have a major impact on the lives of Medway people.

May 23rd saw the Euro elections we were never supposed to have. Those elections were the electoral equivalent of having sand kicked in our faces. Like all of us the electorate does not like having sand kicked in its face, and decided to kick back.

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iFAQ: National Citizen Service

For our iFAQ this week, we decided to ask councillors, smaller parties, and other relevant stakeholders for their views on what National Citizen Service does for Medway. Partly because we’re two middle aged guys who know very little about the NCS, and partly because it’s been in the news a bit recently.

As usual, we told all of them that we would publish their responses unedited. You can find them below in the order they were received.

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The (Non-)Elected Mayor of Medway

Once a month we hand over to Alan Collins from Medway Elects who digs into the Medway electoral data to try to tell us what it all means. This month we sent him the fun task of looking at the murky world of Medway’s Mayoral system…

A cursory glance at the Medway Conservative Group website this past weekend would have you believe that this blog’s favourite (or is it the other way around?) councillor Steve Iles is the “elected mayor” of Medway.


Except, he’s not. And not just because he handed over the reigns (chains?) to his former deputy Habib Tejan at last month’s annual council meeting.

The fact is that neither Cllr Iles nor Cllr Tejan are the elected mayor of Medway for the very simple reason that Medway does not have an elected mayor, or at least not an elected mayor as provided for in section 9H of the Local Government Act 2000, which states that an “elected mayor” is:

“an individual elected as mayor of the authority by the local government electors for the authority’s area in accordance with the provisions made by or under this Part.”

An elected mayor is the executive leader of the local authority, elected by the people under the supplementary voteelectoral system. In (very) simplified form, in Medway it would be the equivalent position to that currently occupied by Cllr Alan Jarrett, but elected by a larger support base than being given the position on the nod by councillors who were elected by just 34% of the 31% of voters who turned out. Instead of a leader chosen from among the councillors and a cabinet, it would be a mayor who could not simultaneously be a councillor and a cabinet. Similar functions as a leader, but with more power balanced by direct democratic accountability for their policies and decisions.

According to that great font of knowledge Wikipedia, 15 local authorities in England and Wales currently have an elected mayor, while a further 9 mayors represent a multi-authority region (such as Greater London). Three local authorities (Hartlepool, Stoke-on-Trent and Torbay) used to have an elected mayor, but decided it wasn’t for them and reverted to a leader and cabinet system after local referenda. Of those 24 mayors, none represent Medway, which perhaps makes the discussion in this article so far purely academic. So why bring it up?

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