Just Because We Can’t Vote Does Not Mean We Can’t Change Things

In which Thomas Baldock shares his experience of being involved with the Medway Youth Council.

Being under the voting age was frustrating for me, I felt that young people’s voices were mute, that we didn’t have the opportunity to make changes because our elected representatives didn’t need to listen to us just yet. That was until I joined the Medway Youth Council. This organisation is a-political in that there is no party political or ideological viewpoint that we follow; this in many ways can give us the freedom to act in a pragmatic way to best serve the interests of young people in Medway.

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Franklin v Joyce

In which local historian Chris Sams digs into the past to find a parallel with the present..

In recent weeks the Medway political scene has been rocked by the discovery of Councillor Franklin’s suspension from his post and even the Conservative party for the Retweeting of Islamophobic posts but he is not the first person to be thrown out of somewhere for overtly or subtly racist propaganda during a social and racially divisive period.

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Regreening Strood

In which we ask Steve Dyke to give us the green view from Strood..

This is a personal vision for the place I have lived in for fifty plus years.  ‘Strood’ is used here as shorthand for the urban area west/north of the River Medway, bounded by the M2, the A289 bypass and the river itself.  It therefore includes Frindsbury, Wainscott and other former hamlets.

If you do not know the area you may associate it with the A2 or the Medway Tunnel, perhaps with Medway City Estate or one of our three McDonalds drive-thrus.  Now a dormitory town with some light industry and retail, its physical separation from the other Medway Towns gives it a distinctive character as far as I am concerned.  Please don’t tell me I live in Rochester.

If asked to choose a colour to represent Strood you may well pick grey, which is often the predominant colour in the town.

However a satellite map of the area shows splashes of green, such as the open spaces of Rede Common, Broomhill Park and Church Green, as well as recreation grounds, school fields, cemeteries and churchyards.  Walk the area and you find nature in unexpected or unplanned places: down half-forgotten alleyways or within derelict sites, on railway embankments and the margins of housing estates.

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Voice of the Leader: February

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 Alan Jarrett, Leader of Medway Council and the Conservative Group.

Alan Jarrett

‘Going forward I promise that we will protect Medway from those who seek to close down facilities and services; against those who belittle Medway and its hard-working people; and against those who snub our military heritage and insult our monarchy.’

Recently I said “the first casualty of an election is the truth!” That followed the distribution of a scurrilous leaflet from Labour claiming that no investment had been made in Chatham. Utter nonsense!

In reality there has been massive investment in Chatham: the new bus station; Chatham Placemaking; investment in the railway station; scoping and planning preparation for new housing at Chatham Waterfront and Whiffens Avenue; Chatham Community Hub and library; improved green spaces along the river front including a new riverside walk; and the Command of the Heights project to open up the Great Barrier Ditch to connect the waterfront to Fort Amherst They really should have gone to Specsavers!

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Social Justice Worker

As Wednesday is the UN World Day of Social Justice, we decided to ask Chas Berry to give us a Medway perspective..

Politicians across the globe will no doubt mark the UN Day of Social Justice with much hand-wringing and plenty of weasel words about the yawning gap between the world’s rich and poor. Few, if any, will identify the real reasons for this disparity and even fewer will say what is necessary to change it.

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Stupid Cupid

In which Vicki Sigston looks at the effects tiny acts of kindness can have in Medway and beyond..

It’s February, and that means grey skies full of wind and rain, an impatient wait for Spring and of course Valentine’s day.

As someone who has been in a relationship with the same person for the past 20 years I am perhaps jaded to the whole Valentine’s celebrations. Long ago we gave up trying to book a meal out, fed up of sitting squashed amongst other couples in busy restaurants. We are easily annoyed by the hike in prices of flowers, chocolates and bottles of fizz and thoroughly downtrodden by the quest for a not too cheesy, not too funny Valentine’s card.

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Letters from Westminster: What’s it like inside Westminster?

In which we ask Parliamentary Researcher Robbie Lammas to give us the view from Westminster.

The workings of Parliament can often be seen as a mystery; indeed, they remain so for many MPs and Researchers who work inside it. The recent events of late have seen rare historic conventions and procedures such as the Humble Address for a Return, a Censure Motion, a Vote of No Confidence, attempts to unpick Standing Orders & to override the Government’s prerogative over debate tabling, all return. Each has its own archaic formalities but make no mistake, each has extraordinary power to shape our nation.

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Cllr Franklin and the normalisation of far-right rhetoric

In which August Scholl takes a look at the normalisation of Islamophobic views in political discourse in light of Cllr Franklin’s actions.

For anyone accepting public office, their words and actions matter. Whether an MP or a local councillor, elected officials have a duty to represent and be accountable to their constituents. When Conservative councillor for Luton and Wayfield, Michael Franklin, began sharing and endorsing intensely Islamophobic content on his Twitter account in 2016, he acted in a way unfitting for a local politician, as well as being in direct contravention of the Conservative Party code of conduct (‘To support equality of opportunity, diversity and inclusion, and the absence of any and all inappropriate behaviour, in all aspects of the Party’s activities.’).

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Political Figures: Ballot Roulette

Once a month we are going to hand over to our friends at Medway Elects, who are going to dig into the Medway data and, using wizardry, work out where are right now.

Voting is a complicated matter. You walk into the polling station, pick up your ballot paper (after providing absolutely zero evidence you are who you say you are), enter the polling booth, mark a cross next to the candidate or party you want to win, drop your ballot paper into the ballot box and then leave. Job done.

But sometimes, the instructions on a ballot paper can be too complicated to follow. The part where it says “vote for only one candidate” is generally assumed. But it’s not always there, and not everyone seems to notice.

With one exception (in Cuxton and Halling), voters in Medway this coming May will be voting for more than one councillor, so will have more than one vote. In the nine wards which elect two councillors, voters will be able to vote for two candidates, and in the twelve wards which elect three councillors, voters will be able to vote for three candidates.

As a veteran of three full council election counts, I can say with confidence that a significant proportion of voters either deliberately ignore this instruction, or simply do not read it, assuming they only have one vote. Others will vote for three candidates, but not necessarily all from the same party (sometimes parties will not field a full slate of candidates in a ward, or there may be independent candidates standing on their own). Voters are, of course, free to vote as they wish, but this can have a strange effect on the final result.

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Voice of the Opposition: February

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.

Despite the excellent efforts of the Political Medway website and our own Medway Labour Facebook Live feeds, it is difficult for those who are interested to see everything that is going on at Medway Council. I want to highlight a few issues which Medway Labour councillors have been raising over the past few weeks:

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