iFAQs: Public Questions

Revised 16 Oct: Included late response from Cllr Vince Maple, and explanation for lack of responses from Cllr Dan McDonald.

Medway Council are planning to curb the number and type of public questions that they need to answer at public meetings. We’ve covered the situation fairly extensively previously.

During the last meeting, the Cllr Mackness, who is the portfolio holder in charge of this matter, stated that public questions weren’t as important as there were various ways to contact a councillor, specifically highlighting email.

As a result of this claim, we decided to email every single councillor in Medway with some questions about, well, public questions. We emailed every councillor on September 6, informing them that they had until September 21, a little over two weeks to respond. We’ll be analysing the full outcome in a future post, but for now, their full answers are presented below:

  • At the October Full council meeting, the Cabinet Member for Corporate services will be making recommendations regarding questions to the council.
    How do you intend to vote on the recommendation which includes the following motions?
    b.      Removal of a facility for second and supplementary questions.
    c.       Limiting any person, organisation or Member to no more than one question at each Council meeting.
    d.      Discontinuation of the practice of allowing substitutes to ask questions if a questioner cannot be present with a written answer to be supplied after the meeting instead.

The first part of your question, I am not at liberty to answer and you may find that the same for most councillors.  This is due to attending a discussion on a subject not pre-disposed, which is against the democratic process (I am aware that political groups have decided how they will vote prior to the meeting through group whips).  The use of Whips is undemocratic in itself as they breach every level of code of conduct going as they are used to persuade there members how to vote, when apparently they represent there constituents..
As an independent, I have the luxury of listening to a debate (and taking part if I can assist) prior to making a vote
Cllr Mark Joy (Ind)

Yes, I do intend to support the Conservative group regarding questions. I understand both sides of the argument but believe this will provide an opportunity for more people to take part.  Frankly it is just one tiny part of the way we listen to residents as everyone who understands the council will know. Anyone can easily contact me directly by phone, email or by letter. I normally respond immediately and I will always meet if that is what they prefer. Personally I think surgery is a bit outdated these days and I prefer to arrange meetings at a time that suits the resident and then give them as much time as they need.
Similarly, if residents prefer than can contact any cabinet member directly or even the leader. Speaking in full council can be very intimidating for most people, and I suspect in some cases it is more likely to attract those who like a big audience and the chance of press coverage.
Cllr Stuart Tranter (Con)

b. Do not agree
c. Do not agree
d. Do not agree
Cllr Roy Freshwater (UKIP)

I am not sure how I will vote yet.
Cllr Anne-Claire Howard (Con)

Voting against all because Labour proposed the motion to stop this in the first place
Cllr Teresa Murray (Lab)

b. Voted against
c. Voted against
d. Voted against
Cllr Tristan Osborne (Lab)

I intend to oppose all the measures which are proposed to limit the rights of Members, and members of the public, to participate in council meetings.  I intend to vote against all these measures.
Cllr Clive Johnson (Lab)

As you know, occasionally the high volume of public questions received for full Council meetings means it is not always possible to deal with them all in the thirty minutes allowed for public questions. It therefore seems wholly reasonable to try and address this democratic shortcoming, despite the criticism it may bring from a vocal minority e.g. opposition councillors and your own organisation.
The public rightly ask questions of councillors at all times, at meetings, via correspondence and on the phone. The opportunity to do so at full council is part of this right but I am sure any right minded person would agree that it is reasonable to ensure such rights have some limitations i.e. questions should not be repeatedly hijacked by a minority, should not unduly impact on the efficient and sensible running of Council business nor cause unnecessary delay and inefficiency.

I have considered the proposed changes carefully. The fact that 30 minutes for public questioning (as is the case at present) will be maintained under the proposed changes and that anyone who has not received a response within the time limits will receive a full written reply after the full council meeting, means that I would support these proposals as things stand.
I am very keen to ensure public questions are opened to a greater number and wider variety of local residents and the changes proposed appear to be an effective way of achieving this.
Cllr Phil Hall (Con)

b. AGAINST
c. AGAINST
d. AGAINST
Cllr Nick Bowler (Lab)

As all Councillors should I will listen to the debate and vote as I think best.
Cllr David Wildey (Con)

I WOULD NEED TO SEE THE ACTUAL AGENDA WORDING FIRST HOWEVER ASSUMING THAT IT FOLLOWS WHAT IS WRITTEN HERE, I WOULD BE VOTING:
b. IN PRINCIPLE FOR
c. IN PRINCIPLE FOR (A QUESTION ABOUT INTERPRETATION OF AN “ORGANISATION” THOUGH?)
d. IN PRINCIPLE FOR
Cllr Trevor Clarke (Con)

For
Cllr Asha Saroy (Con)

We received responses to this question from 12 out of 55 councillors.
Apologies for not responding due to personal reasons were received from Cllr Dan McDonald (Lab).
We received no response within the time frame from Cllr John Avey (Con), Cllr Tashi Bhutia (Con), Cllr David Brake (Con), Cllr Catriona Brown-Reckless (UKIP), Cllr David Carr (Con), Cllr Diane Chambers (Con), Cllr Rodney Chambers (Con), Cllr Rehman Chishti (Con), Cllr Jane Chitty (Con), Cllr Pat Cooper (Lab), Cllr Sam Craven (Lab), Cllr Howard Doe (Con), Cllr Gary Etheridge (Con), Cllr Matt Fearn (Con), Cllr Phil Filmer (Con), Cllr Michael Franklin (Con), Cllr Dorte Gilry (Lab), Cllr Paul Godwin (Lab), Cllr Sylvia Griffin (Con), Cllr Glyn Griffiths (Lab), Cllr Adrian Gulvin (Con), Cllr Peter Hicks (Con), Cllr Steve Iles (Con), Cllr Alan Jarrett (Con), Cllr Barry Kemp (Con), Cllr Naushabah Khan (Lab), Cllr Andrew Mackness (Con), Cllr Vince Maple (Lab), Cllr Mike O’Brien (Con), Cllr Gloria Opera (Con), Cllr Mick Pendergast (UKIP), Cllr Martin Potter (Con), Cllr Adam Price (Lab), Cllr Wendy Purdy (Con), Cllr David Royale (Con), Cllr Julie Shaw (Lab), Cllr Andy Stamp (Lab), Cllr Habib Tejan (Con), Cllr Kelly Tolhurst (Con), Cllr Rupert Turpin (Con), Cllr Les Wicks (Con), Cllr John Williams (Con).

We received the following response from after the deadline had passed, but before this article was published:

My position on this is well documented – our full position will be clear on the evening of the 15th
Cllr Vince Maple (Lab)

  • It has been suggested that these changes will not affect the democratic process because Councillors are available for surgeries and via email.
    Can you confirm your surgery details, as taken from the council website, are accurate?
    [ individual details inserted ]
    Can you confirm, through reply, that your email address, as taken from the council website, is valid?
    [ individual details inserted ]

I can confirm that I do hold surgeries every Wednesday between 10am and 12 noon at St Francis of Assisi church as per council website.
Cllr John Avey (Con)

I have now set up ward surgeries at Strood Community Hub on the second Saturday of the month starting this Saturday 10.00am to 12.00pm.  My email address is correct.
Cllr Mark Joy (Ind)

Yes my contact details on the web site are correct, but I think the picture was taken when I was much older!
Cllr Stuart Tranter (Con)

yes
Cllr Roy Freshwater (UKIP)

Yes, these are the accurate surgery details and my email is correct.
Cllr Anne-Claire Howard (Con)

We no longer have the Maidstone Road surgery as it was unpopular,the Delce is correct we also do street by street surgeries where residents are notified in advance that we are coming and asked to display a “stop here” leaflet in their window on the day if they don’t want to just look out for us.
Cllr Teresa Murray (Lab)

These were accurate. I am currently liaising with Chatham Central colleagues on new dates due to the opening shortly of the All Saints Project. Once dates are confirmed here a new set of dates will be released for Luton Library.
Cllr Tristan Osborne (Lab)

Many Thanks for your email, especially in relation to the council website and my surgery details. I will get this updated asap. However, as you do point out my email address is on the web site and my details are also published in Medway Matters, so my constituents can contact me if they so wish.
Cllr Gary Etheridge (Con)

I will update the website and surgery details if needed ASAP.
I can confirm my email is correct.
Cllr John Williams (Con)

Gillingham councillors hold a street surgery in Gillingham High Street on the first Saturday of each month.
The email address you have is the correct one.
Cllr Clive Johnson (Lab)

With regard to your list of questions about my contact details, these are correctly listed on the Medway Council web site.
Cllr Phil Hall (Con)

NO LONGER  TAKES PLACE
Cllr Nick Bowler (Lab)

CORRECT
CORRECT
Cllr Trevor Clarke (Con)

Surgery details are in the process of being updated on the website. They should be up in the next few days.
Correct
Cllr Asha Saroy (Con)

We received responses to this question from 14 out of 55 councillors.
Apologies for not responding due to personal reasons were received from Cllr Dan McDonald (Lab).
We received no response within the time frame from Cllr Tashi Bhutia (Con), Cllr David Brake (Con), Cllr Catriona Brown-Reckless (UKIP), Cllr David Carr (Con), Cllr Diane Chambers (Con), Cllr Rodney Chambers (Con), Cllr Rehman Chishti (Con), Cllr Jane Chitty (Con), Cllr Pat Cooper (Lab), Cllr Sam Craven (Lab), Cllr Howard Doe (Con), Cllr Matt Fearn (Con), Cllr Phil Filmer (Con), Cllr Michael Franklin (Con), Cllr Dorte Gilry (Lab), Cllr Paul Godwin (Lab), Cllr Sylvia Griffin (Con), Cllr Glyn Griffiths (Lab), Cllr Adrian Gulvin (Con)Cllr Peter Hicks (Con), Cllr Steve Iles (Con), Cllr Alan Jarrett (Con), Cllr Barry Kemp (Con), Cllr Naushabah Khan (Lab), Cllr Andrew Mackness (Con), Cllr Vince Maple (Lab), Cllr Mike O’Brien (Con), Cllr Gloria Opera (Con), Cllr Mick Pendergast (UKIP), Cllr Martin Potter (Con), Cllr Adam Price (Lab), Cllr Wendy Purdy (Con), Cllr David Royale (Con), Cllr Julie Shaw (Lab), Cllr Andy Stamp (Lab), Cllr Habib Tejan (Con), Cllr Kelly Tolhurst (Con), Cllr Rupert Turpin (Con), Cllr Les Wicks (Con), Cllr David Wildey (Con).

We received the following response from after the deadline had passed, but before this article was published:

That is correct although it will be changing very shortly to move to a new venue of the Magpie Centre and will be held on a Saturday Morning.  Roving Surgeries will continue.
Correct
Cllr Vince Maple (Lab)

  • What is an acceptable turn around time for a resident to wait for a response to an email?

it is dependent on the question, some can be turned around in a few days, most by 10 days, some a little longer. You also have to take into account whether the councillor  works or not.
Cllr Mark Joy (Ind).

I respond immediately – sometimes within the hour but normally in a day or 2. I have no admin support, so if away it might take longer. I have email with me all the time. I dealt with this enquiry in less than 4 hours.
Cllr Stuart Tranter (Con)

7 days
Cllr Roy Freshwater (UKIP)

I try to respond to all resident emails within 5 to 7 days which I believe is reasonable
Cllr Anne-Claire Howard (Con)

I try to respond within 3 days to emails and will arrange face to face to meetings according to urgency, mainly when constituents need to show me documents or require more emotional support. These take place at Gun Wharf or the LP office depending on convenience for residents.
Cllr Teresa Murray (Lab)

One working day for holding email or response
Cllr Tristan Osborne (Lab)

Personally, I send an acknowledge on receipt of an email as soon as I see it, this evening both I and my fellow ward councillor had a face to face meeting within hours of being help being requested and I always copy in my ward colleagues so that they are fully aware of anything that I’m dealing with so that they can assist or take over in my absence.
Cllr Gary Etheridge (Con)

I personally acknowledge my emails soon as I see them, face to face meetings are arranged at a time convenient to both myself and the resident.
Cllr John Williams (Con)

I respond to all emails that require a response as soon as I have read them, this is not always on the same day as receipt owing to the fact I am currently unable to check my account every day but it is usually within two or three days at most. Since first being elected four months ago I have responded to dozens of emails and general correspondence, met with a number of constituents who have requested meetings face to face, undertaken site visits and have not yet had any occasion where I have been deemed “unavailable”.
Cllr Phil Hall (Con)

3 DAYS
Cllr Nick Bowler (Lab)

Your other questions all depends on the reasons residents get in touch.
Cllr David Wildey (Con)

SAME / FOLLOWING DAY FOR ACKNOWLEDGEMENT / HOLDING REPLY (UNLESS AWAY / COUNCILLOR ATTENDING EVENING MEETINGS ON A COUNCILLOR’S DAY JOB DAY), SUBSTANTIVE REPLY WILL DEPEND ON WHERE INFORMATION HAS TO BE GATHERED FROM AND RESPONSE TIME OF OFFICERS TO THOSE REQUESTS
Cllr Trevor Clarke (Con)

1-3 days
Cllr Asha Saroy (Con)

We received responses to this question from 13 out of 55 councillors.
Apologies for not responding due to personal reasons were received from Cllr Dan McDonald (Lab).
We received no response within the time frame from Cllr John Avey (Con)Cllr Tashi Bhutia (Con), Cllr David Brake (Con), Cllr Catriona Brown-Reckless (UKIP), Cllr David Carr (Con), Cllr Diane Chambers (Con), Cllr Rodney Chambers (Con), Cllr Rehman Chishti (Con), Cllr Jane Chitty (Con), Cllr Pat Cooper (Lab), Cllr Sam Craven (Lab), Cllr Howard Doe (Con), Cllr Matt Fearn (Con), Cllr Phil Filmer (Con), Cllr Michael Franklin (Con), Cllr Dorte Gilry (Lab), Cllr Paul Godwin (Lab), Cllr Sylvia Griffin (Con), Cllr Glyn Griffiths (Lab), Cllr Adrian Gulvin (Con), Cllr Peter Hicks (Con), Cllr Steve Iles (Con), Cllr Alan Jarrett (Con), Cllr Clive Johnson (Lab)Cllr Barry Kemp (Con), Cllr Naushabah Khan (Lab), Cllr Andrew Mackness (Con), Cllr Vince Maple (Lab)Cllr Mike O’Brien (Con), Cllr Gloria Opera (Con), Cllr Mick Pendergast (UKIP), Cllr Martin Potter (Con), Cllr Adam Price (Lab), Cllr Wendy Purdy (Con), Cllr David Royale (Con), Cllr Julie Shaw (Lab), Cllr Andy Stamp (Lab), Cllr Habib Tejan (Con), Cllr Kelly Tolhurst (Con), Cllr Rupert Turpin (Con), Cllr Les Wicks (Con).

We received the following response from after the deadline had passed, but before this article was published:

It varies issue to issue, some issues are very straight forward and can be answered immediately – others more complex and can take longer.
Cllr Vince Maple (Lab)

  • What is an acceptable response time to arrange a face to face meeting?

not sure on this still learning.  But been advised not to meet people one to one alone.
Cllr Mark Joy (Ind)

Again, the first date available to both parties. Normally less than a week. If urgent, quicker. I have been known to meet up within 30 minutes.
Cllr Stuart Tranter (Con)

7days unless urgent
Cllr Roy Freshwater (UKIP)

I try and arrange face to face meetings within 2 weeks of a request
Cllr Anne-Claire Howard (Con)

I try to respond within 3 days to emails and will arrange face to face to meetings according to urgency, mainly when constituents need to show me documents or require more emotional support. These take place at Gun Wharf or the LP office depending on convenience for residents
Cllr Teresa Murray (Lab)

Depending on availability of member no more than two working weeks.
Cllr Tristan Osborne (Lab)

Personally, I send an acknowledge on receipt of an email as soon as I see it, this evening both I and my fellow ward councillor had a face to face meeting within hours of being help being requested and I always copy in my ward colleagues so that they are fully aware of anything that I’m dealing with so that they can assist or take over in my absence.
Cllr Gary Etheridge (Con)

I personally acknowledge my emails soon as I see them, face to face meetings are arranged at a time convenient to both myself and the resident. I always copy in my ward  colleagues so they are aware of the work I am dealing with so they can help or take over if I am not available.
Cllr John Williams (Con)

Since first being elected four months ago I have responded to dozens of emails and general correspondence, met with a number of constituents who have requested meetings face to face, undertaken site visits and have not yet had any occasion where I have been deemed “unavailable”.
Cllr Phil Hall (Con)

As and when needed. I regualarly meet with  residents and will meet with them in their homes if convenient for the resident. We can also meet at Rochester and Strood CLP headquarters at 73 Maidstone Road, Rochester or in the Labour Group room at Gun Wharf
Cllr Nick Bowler (Lab)

Your other questions all depends on the reasons residents get in touch.

Cllr David Wildey (Con)

SAME / FOLLOWING DAY TO ACKNOWLEDGE / ARRANGE (UNLESS FALLS AS NOTED ABOVE) AND A FEW DAYS FOR ACTUAL MEETING TO HAPPEN AS DEPENDENT ON WHEN CONTACTED (IE IF ON A DAY WHEN COUNCILLOR IS AT THEIR DAY JOB)
Cllr Trevor Clarke (Con)

ASAP if convenient. If not, 5 days to a week of request.
Cllr Asha Saroy (Con)

We received responses to this question from 13 out of 55 councillors.
Apologies for not responding due to personal reasons were received from Cllr Dan McDonald (Lab).
We received no response within the time frame from Cllr John Avey (Con)Cllr Tashi Bhutia (Con), Cllr David Brake (Con), Cllr Catriona Brown-Reckless (UKIP), Cllr David Carr (Con), Cllr Diane Chambers (Con), Cllr Rodney Chambers (Con), Cllr Rehman Chishti (Con), Cllr Jane Chitty (Con), Cllr Pat Cooper (Lab), Cllr Sam Craven (Lab), Cllr Howard Doe (Con), Cllr Matt Fearn (Con), Cllr Phil Filmer (Con), Cllr Michael Franklin (Con), Cllr Dorte Gilry (Lab), Cllr Paul Godwin (Lab), Cllr Sylvia Griffin (Con), Cllr Glyn Griffiths (Lab), Cllr Adrian Gulvin (Con), Cllr Peter Hicks (Con), Cllr Steve Iles (Con), Cllr Alan Jarrett (Con), Cllr Clive Johnson (Lab)Cllr Barry Kemp (Con), Cllr Naushabah Khan (Lab), Cllr Andrew Mackness (Con), Cllr Vince Maple (Lab), Cllr Mike O’Brien (Con), Cllr Gloria Opera (Con), Cllr Mick Pendergast (UKIP), Cllr Martin Potter (Con), Cllr Adam Price (Lab), Cllr Wendy Purdy (Con), Cllr David Royale (Con), Cllr Julie Shaw (Lab), Cllr Andy Stamp (Lab), Cllr Habib Tejan (Con), Cllr Kelly Tolhurst (Con), Cllr Rupert Turpin (Con), Cllr Les Wicks (Con).

We received the following response from after the deadline had passed, but before this article was published:

Sometimes diaries can be very busy through no-one’s fault but I always try and see a resident if they ask for a face to face meeting no more than two weeks after contact, and most of the time a lot sooner.  As I live in the ward, sometimes people will just knock on my door to raise an issue or concern.
Cllr Vince Maple (Lab)

  • If you are unavailable who would you recommend a resident speaks to?

I will always try and direct a resident to the relevant council department or officer.
Cllr Mark Joy (Ind)

Kelly Tolhurst, who is also a councillor in Rochester West, or, if appropriate, a cabinet member. Of course, they can also contact council officers direct.  If anyone was having difficulty getting hold of their councillor try contacting Democratic Services.
Cllr Stuart Tranter (Con)

I would personally recommend person to speak to who can take matter forward
Cllr Roy Freshwater (UKIP)

If I am unavailable, I recommend residents address:
– other Ward Councillors
– Chairman or Vice Chair of the relevant Committee
Cllr Anne-Claire Howard (Con)
If I’m not available my ward colleague is the first port of call,for some topics I will ask the MP eg immigration.
Cllr Teresa Murray (Lab)
I would offer a meeting with my fellow ward Councillors’ Sam Craven and Mike Franklin should I not be available but this is extremely rare. If the issue is related to non-council related business; welfare assessment, immigration appeals, I would refer to MPs office.
Cllr Tristan Osborne (Lab)
Personally, I send an acknowledge on receipt of an email as soon as I see it, this evening both I and my fellow ward councillor had a face to face meeting within hours of being help being requested and I always copy in my ward colleagues so that they are fully aware of anything that I’m dealing with so that they can assist or take over in my absence.
Cllr Gary Etheridge (Con)

I always copy in my ward  colleagues so they are aware of the work I am dealing with so they can help or take over if I am not available.
Cllr John Williams (Con)

Since first being elected four months ago I have responded to dozens of emails and general correspondence, met with a number of constituents who have requested meetings face to face, undertaken site visits and have not yet had any occasion where I have been deemed “unavailable”.
Cllr Phil Hall (Con)

Cllr Teresa Murray, my ward colleague
Cllr Nick Bowler (Lab)

Your other questions all depends on the reasons residents get in touch.

Cllr David Wildey (Con)

FELLOW WARD COLLEAGUES, THEIR CONTACT INFORMATION INCLUDED IN MY EMAIL SIGNATURE BLOCK
Cllr Trevor Clarke (Con)

Wendy Purdy
Cllr Asha Saroy (Con)

We received responses to this question from 13 out of 55 councillors.
Apologies for not responding due to personal reasons were received from Cllr Dan McDonald (Lab).
We received no response within the time frame from Cllr John Avey (Con)Cllr Tashi Bhutia (Con), Cllr David Brake (Con), Cllr Catriona Brown-Reckless (UKIP), Cllr David Carr (Con), Cllr Diane Chambers (Con), Cllr Rodney Chambers (Con), Cllr Rehman Chishti (Con), Cllr Jane Chitty (Con), Cllr Pat Cooper (Lab), Cllr Sam Craven (Lab), Cllr Howard Doe (Con), Cllr Matt Fearn (Con), Cllr Phil Filmer (Con), Cllr Michael Franklin (Con), Cllr Dorte Gilry (Lab), Cllr Paul Godwin (Lab), Cllr Sylvia Griffin (Con), Cllr Glyn Griffiths (Lab), Cllr Adrian Gulvin (Con), Cllr Peter Hicks (Con), Cllr Steve Iles (Con), Cllr Alan Jarrett (Con), Cllr Clive Johnson (Lab)Cllr Barry Kemp (Con), Cllr Naushabah Khan (Lab), Cllr Andrew Mackness (Con), Cllr Vince Maple (Lab), Cllr Mike O’Brien (Con), Cllr Gloria Opera (Con), Cllr Mick Pendergast (UKIP), Cllr Martin Potter (Con), Cllr Adam Price (Lab), Cllr Wendy Purdy (Con), Cllr David Royale (Con), Cllr Julie Shaw (Lab), Cllr Andy Stamp (Lab), Cllr Habib Tejan (Con), Cllr Kelly Tolhurst (Con), Cllr Rupert Turpin (Con), Cllr Les Wicks (Con).

We received the following response from after the deadline had passed, but before this article was published:

If it is an issue in Chatham Central then my two colleagues Paul Godiwn or Julie Shaw, if someone is contacting me as Labour Leader then either Teresa in her role as Deputy Leader or the relevant Labour Spokesperson.
Cllr Vince Maple (Lab)

We received answers from, on average, less than a quarter of councillors to each questions, and even some that did reply barely answered the questions asked. We’ll be analysing the answers we did receive, along with those that we didn’t, in a second post tomorrow.

iFAQs: Immigration and Housing

Update, 8 September: This piece has updated to include a response from the Medway UKIP group.

During the full council meeting of Medway Council, Leader of the Council Councilor Jarrett said, in relation to a statement by Cllr Andy Stamp regarding housing targets.

 “… one of the root causes of that, of course, is Labour’s open door immigration policy flooding the country with people and we are still reaping the reward of that and still trying to grapple with the problem… that’s one of the key problems”*

An audio file can be found at http://democracy.medway.gov.uk/mgconvert2pdf.aspx?id=28081
Go to 1 hr 19 minutes

We asked various Medway political types the following:
a) What is your stance on the idea that immigration is one of the key problems regarding housing shortages in Medway?
b) How do you feel about Councillor Jarrett’s description that the country has been flooded with immigrants?

Cllr Jarrett responded with the following:

“Whilst, I appreciate that answers will be presented unedited online I must insist that the statement originally made be given in its entirety as well. For your convenience, I record it below from the Council transcripts.”

Cllr Jarrett: “Cllr Stamp talked about the drive for new homes and very high housing targets which we have and all object to. But one of the root causes for that is Labour’s open door immigration policy flooding the country with people and we are still reaping the reward of that, and still trying to grapple with the problem so I think that’s one of key problems.”

What is your stance on the idea that immigration is one of the key problems regarding housing shortages in Medway?

“I have repeatedly said that the main reason for the crisis in housing both here in Medway and across the UK is fundamentally the lack of house building over the past 30 to 35 years. In it’s time in government between 1997 – 2010 Labour focused on the decent homes standard, making sure social housing was at a quality which was acceptable – it was a job which needed doing but did mean that not enough new housing stock was put into the mix. I don’t accept that immigration is one of the key problems regarding housing shortages, in fact to join the housing waiting list now you need to have been a resident in Medway for a period of time.”
Cllr Vince Maple
Leader of Medway Labour

Immigration has not caused the housing shortage in Medway. Our view is that the housing shortage is caused by:-
– Selling off social housing under the right to buy

– Not building sufficient low cost affordable housing. The Greens would welcome a large scale building programme for social housing by Government. We would oppose building on Greenfield sites, but feel there are sufficient brownfield sites which could be used in Medway

– There is insufficient activity by the council to bring empty properties back into use

– Where housing is built by private developers this often focuses on luxuary developments which may be unaffordable to local people

– Overall there is a real lack of affordable housing both to buy or rent
Medway Green Party

“Immigration is not one of the key problems regarding the housing shortage in MedwayThe Government’s target of 200,000 homes per year by 2020 falls far short of the 250,000 that Shelter estimates is necessary to meet demand but this has nothing to do with immigration. The housing crisis is caused by the failure of the market that delivers low pay and sky high rents with around 60% of new builds in London and the South East being bought by investors rather than as affordable properties to actually live in. Councils in England are sitting on 23,000 hectares, enough brownfield land to build one million decent council homes and the ‘big four’ property developers have enough land to build further 1.4 million. There is plenty of capacity to build high quality and environmentally sustainable homes but only when we are able to control what is built and where. This will require the nationalisation of the banks and the large construction companies whose profits have soared by over 550% since 2010 while the number of affordable homes has shriveled.”
Chas Berry
Medway TUSC

Medway Council has a billowing housing crisis with no action plan since 6 million extra people have been welcomed but literally squashed into Britain’s little communities.

No explanation has been made to the people of Kent how or why this mass immigration from Europe and other countries is advantageous to Medway communities instead we are left to suffer the consequences. Substantial billions of additional tax is being collected but  not one extra house, flat, school or GP surgery has been built to accommodate these people mainly from the failed EU experiment but also foreign lands who come here desperate to improve their family lives.
Medway Council has no real policies and shown no interest in the lack of affordable properties available for renting in order to fairly accommodate the many thousands of people in need . For the many desperate families living in overcrowded, damp and dilapidated private tenanted properties they can no longer complain as they are silently fearful of eviction and their children no longer allowed to attend their local schools.
Medway Council knows how tightly packed families are in the region who are paying ever increasing unreasonable rents because landlords are exploting shortages but does nothing, sighting Governments policy. We need bold and brave Councillors to debate the housing crisis seriously,sensibly and honestly telling the Government how residents are being unfairly housed.  We need Medway to stop supporting the purchase of more and more buy to let properties where the mortgages for these wealthy landlords are being paid by the tax payer through housing benefits. We need Medway to plan and build thousands of new properties for renting not just 100. 
Cllr Roy Freshwater
Leader of Medway UKIP group

Housing building in the UK has not been at sustainable levels to demand since the 1970’s which has resulted in not enough houses being built.

We need to bring into the equation, the EU, due to freedom of movement.  Upto 2004, the EU had 15 countries, which were generally the richer countries of Europe, not fuelling mass migration to get a better life. Since then 12 Eastern European countries have joined (generally poorer countries of Europe).  This has caused mass migration across Europe.  Add to this migration from other countries and lack of infrastructure planning by Conservative and Labour Governments since the end of the 1970’s has led for the current quotas for house building.  However the targets are not achievable as not enough houses are being built by the private sector.  To ever meet the target the government needs to start building houses and providing the boom in house building that was achieved in the 1960’s.  This would not increase the deficit as houses generally sell for twice the cost of building them.

Cllr Mark Joy
Independent

How do you feel about Councillor Jarrett’s description that the country has been flooded with immigrants?

“I would expect the leader of a top tier local authority to be more mindful of the language that he uses, particularly at the time where the issue of refugees coming into Europe from areas of conflict is so high on the agenda. It is on the same level as David Cameron talking of Swarms or David Blunkett talking of being swamped both of whom I criticised when they made their comments.

I’m not sure which immigrants Cllr Jarrett is talking about when he mentions flooding, are they the immigrants who are working hard in our hospital as Doctors, Nurses, Technicians and Porters? Are they the entrepreneurs who are setting up small businesses? Are they the students studying at our Medway Universities? 

The immigration policy Alan Jarrett talks about, if he is talking about EU freedom of movement, is not a Labour policy but actually a fundamental element of membership of the European Union – one can only assume if he doesn’t agree with that he will be campaigning against Cameron but with Mark Reckless, Chris Irvine and Nigel Farage for a no vote in the forthcoming referendum. “
Cllr Vince Maple
Leader of Medway Labour

“We would challenge the view that the country has been “flooded” by immigrants on the basis that this is inaccurate and also that the language is inflamatory and unhelpful. – There are two issues here:-

(i) people who come to the UK to work or study and

(ii) those who seek asylum.

As Greens we acknowledge the huge contribution made by workers from overseas, in particular in areas such as the health service or social care. We also recognise the financial contribution made by overseas students which helps to fund our universities. Numerous studies have shown the benefits of immigration to Britain. We support the flexibility provided by our EU membership which allows people to move freely between the EU states. We would extend the same welcome to other EU workers, as we would expect for British people who may choose work or study in other EU nations. As Greens we would expect the government to comply with our obligations under international law and provide asylum to those in genuine danger or fleeing persecution. We would see the current situation with the migrants in Calais as a humanitarian crisis which should be responded to with compassion. We condemn the alarmist tone taken by much of the media to this issue. We would acknowledge that countries such as Greece, Turkey, Italy and Lebanon are currently shouldering the bulk of the burden and call for the government to take our fair share of refugees (including those at Calais).”
Medway Green Party

 “To describe the country as being ‘flooded with immigrants’ is offensive and revolting. By all accounts net migration to the UK has increased and in Kent this is fairly visible but migrants have brought net gains that would benefit the economy if it were being run in the interests of the majority rather than by exploitative bosses and landlords who have tended to use migrants as a cheap source of labour. When Councillor Jarrett uses emotive terms like “flood” he is trying to dodge responsibility for the poverty inflicted by his party in Government by directing the fears and insecurity felt by millions towards a scapegoat. This sort of language is disgraceful. “
Chas Berry
Medway TUSC

Sadly flooded is a dehumanising word for desporate families fleeing wars. It is true that British people and Medway residents are fearful of uncontrolled influx of foreign nationals, with many families desporate and deserving out help. But they will include terrorist gangs, drug smugglers, people smugglers, killers, thieves or political activists. The Government is sleepwalking into a slow destruction of our communities. No police checks are made on the majority of people bribing there way into Britain who have terrorist or criminal records and are quietly joining our communities.    Quite conceivably in such numbers soon that they could launch a war inside Britain on our once wonderful but now broken communities. At that stage apologies from Government will not be good enough when our streets are turned into yet another war zone.
Cllr Roy Freshwater
Leader of Medway UKIP group

In context the word flood is to do with a deluge (normally water) onto land. Due to excess demand on housing and also on infrastructure by current net migration levels, to make a comment of flooded may be justified. However it should be pointed out that the majority of immigration is due to freedom of movement throughout the EU and not through illegal immigration.

Cllr Mark Joy
Independent

“In answer to your questions

Whilst I absolutely stand by my assertion that immigration is one of the key problems regarding housing shortages, my answer was directed towards a national perspective and not a Medway one. 
This is pertinent because during the Labour Government’s time in office, they exercised an open door immigration policy. During that time we saw considerable numbers of immigrants come into the UK as a whole. Not only did many immigrants settle in Medway during that period, we are now seeing not only the immigrants coming through Calais but migrants who settled historically in London who are now it appears being encouraged to re-locate to Medway. 

This makes it increasingly difficult to track, plan and budget for housing requirements and also means that residents are quite rightly taking a strong interest into the future of Medway when it comes to building new housing.”
Cllr Alan Jarrett
Leader of Medway Council

 

Medway Liberal Democrats were invited to answer but we did not receive any response.

How did the Budget affect Medway?

A special in a series of posts, ‘inFrequently Answered Questions’ all Medway parties, MPs and candidates, have been invited to answer and we will update should further answers be presented.
The answers are presented here unedited.
If you have an iFAQ then leave it as a comment and we will attempt to get it answered for you.

“The first thing to say about the budget is that it is clear that having Lib Dems in government has made a difference over the past 5 years. It was OUR manifesto commitment to raise the threshold at which people start paying income tax, not the Conservatives. Thanks to us, over 25 million low and middle income earners have had income tax cuts of over £900. More than 50,000 of those people are in Rochester and Strood. 
Another thing that will help people locally is the Help to Buy ISA, which will give people who are saving to buy their first home up to £3000, which with property prices as they are must be useful.  And of interest locally, there is the reduction in the bingo tax, which will be welcome to all those who play at the bingo hall in Strood.
Less good are the Conservative and Labour plans for the future. Labour seems bent on going back to believing in the magic money tree, and the Conservatives are preparing their sharpest knives to cut public services to the bone. As for UKIP, who can say what they would do?  The Lib Dems in the next government would borrow £70 billion less than Labour and cut £50 billion less than the Conservatives, sticking to the sensible middle ground.  And that is what people should bear in mind when they think about who to vote for on May 7th.”
Prue Bray, Liberal Democrat PPC for Rochester and Strood

“As most people noticed there was no mention of the NHS in the budget. 
I can only assume that was because the tories know they can’t say anything as the have cut funding to the NHS and will continue to do so and they know the electorate won’t accept that.  
Medway hospital is surrounded by constituencies which have Conservative MPs.  Indeed the MP for Gillingham is an Ex Labour councillor now Conservative MP.  
During this current government Medway Hospital was put into special measures. This was all on the watch of the Medway tories. So when they start bleating on about supporting the NHS we all know it’s a complete lie.  They as much as their leader want to see the NHS under increasing private control.  
Labour are no better. It was under them that the infamous “Private Funding Initiative” was bought in and we all know that was privatisation through the back door.  
There is only one group who would fully fight against ALL privatisation in the NHS and across ALL of our public services and that is TUSC.  TUSC candidates are people who work in the NHS and other public services. We know the issues facing people of medway as we talk to them every day. Only TUSC candidates know what’s needed for our public services in Medway.” 
Dan Burns, TUSC PPC for Rochester and Strood

“On the positive side, the reduction in the duties levied on beer, cider and whiskey will be well received, as will the raising of the 40p tax threshold for the middle classes. 
The most significant thing for me was that the public outcry against public spending cuts has made Osbourne change his mind about creating a public surplus for 2020 from £23bn to £7bn.
This is a huge result, especially for Medway Council and our public services, eg Medway Hospital. Although he still plans severe cuts  for the next 2 years, another £12bn (from where? We are already down to bare bone!) it does seem that Cameron has finally listened to the public…..ever so slightly! 
Obviously this is all just tinkering for me, the establishment are still hell bent on robbing the poor to pay the rich, it’s just that they are a bit worried about triggering a revolution! 
The really interesting thing was listening to Ed Balls stating that he wouldn’t reverse any of the Budget measures.
Just another shade of blue rather than red!” 
Neil Williams, Green Party PPC for Gillingham and Rainham

“See my previous tweet for comment on budget. All in 140 characters. #brevity” 
Jacqui Berry, TUSC PPC for Gillingham and Rainham

How is Rehman Chishti an MP and a Councillor?

The second in a series of posts, ‘inFrequently Answered Questions’ all Medway; parties, MPs and candidates, have been invited to answer and we will update should further answers be presented.
The answers are presented here unedited.
If you have an iFAQ then leave it as a comment and we will attempt to get it answered for you.

 

“I don’t understand how he is either.”
Jacqui Berry, TUSC PPC for Gillingham and Rainham

“Because he was elected as both.”
Cllr Chris Irvine, leader of UKIP council group, UKIP councillor for Peninsula

“He was elected.”
Cllr Tristan Osborne, Labour PPC for Chatham and Aylesford

“He ran in a local & general election. Not a really good idea as it has left him very stretched & can’t be much help to his ward mates.” 
Chris Sams, Liberal Democrat council candidate for Gillingham South

“Both positions are attainable subject to winning a respective election. Rehman Chishti stood as both a Parliamentary candidate and a local candidate in the 2011 local elections, and Rehman achieved the highest poll in the Medway towns.
As he won both elections he holds both offices and manages his time to support his constituents utilising both roles as appropriate, as both roles involve representing the same constituents. Since becoming a Member of Parliament Rehman has not claimed any expenses from Medway Council and has saved the taxpayer £34,923”

Cllr Mike O’Brien, Conservative councillor for Rainham Central

Why was there a by-election in Rochester?

The first in a series of posts, ‘inFrequently Answered Questions’ all Medway; parties, MPs and candidates, have been invited to answer and we will update should further answers be presented.
The answers are presented here unedited.
If you have an iFAQ then leave it as a comment and we will attempt to get it answered for you.

“Our MP Mark Reckless became increasingly disillusioned with the failed promises which had been made by David Cameron and his Conservative Party to the point where felt he had no other choice but to change parties.
Mark could have simply changed parties and continued on, but he felt it was imperative to seek a fresh mandate from the Rochester and Strood electorate so triggered the by-election. 

The rest is history.”
Cllr Chris Irvine – Leader of the Medway UKIP Group

 

“A by-election was triggered by the resignation of Mark Reckless MP on his defection to UKIP from the Conservatives in September 2014.”
Cllr Tristan Osborne – Labour PPC for Chatham and Aylesford

“And Strood!
Because rats leave sinking ships.”
Jacqui Berry – TUSC PPC Gillingham and Rainham

“Mark Reckless wanted to guarantee he was the people’s choice and for ‘a referendum’ on Lodgehill”
Chris Sams – Liberal Democrat Candidate for Medway Council

“There was a by-election in Rochester because the sitting MP decided to resign the Conservative Party whip and join UKIP.
He didn’t need to force a by-election but he was right to do so given that he was elected as a Conservative and therefore sought a mandate in his new party. 

It was unfortunate however that as a consequence it cost the Medway taxpayer a significant amount of money which could have been put to better use.”
Tracey Crouch – Conservative MP for Chatham and Aylesford