What if Medway Council had Proportional Representation?

The following piece makes the assumption that voting intention for Medway’s local elections in 2015 would have been the same under PR as FPTP. Whilst I’m open to the idea that this wouldn’t be the case (it almost certainly wouldn’t be -Jennings), this is the data I have to work with.

The essential principle is:
1 seat ward – Nearest to 100% wins a seat
2 seat ward – Nearest to 50% wins a seat
3 seat ward – Nearest to 33% wins a seat

Later, we will also look at a list system based on average votes across medway

Disclaimer:
If you are unable to make the leap this requires, stop reading, as you are unlikely to engage with the result. If however, you read on, then I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Results data taken from www.medwayelects.co.uk, with thanks to Alan Collins.

Current Council : Conservatives 36, Labour 15, UKIP 3, Independent 1

For a possible, unlikely, interpretation of a PR Result, read on…

Chatham Central
Labour 34.9% = 1 Seat
UKIP 24.8% = 1 Seat
Conservatives 20.8% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 1Labour 1UKIP 1

Cuxton and Halling
Conservatives 53.8% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 2Labour 1UKIP 1

Gillingham North
Labour 33% = 1 Seat
UKIP 27.2% = 1 Seat
Conservatives 20.8% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 3Labour 2UKIP 2

Gillingham South
Labour 29.6% = 1 Seat
UKIP 23.9% = 1 Seat
Conservatives 21.9% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 4Labour 3UKIP 3

Hempstead and Wigmore
Conservatives 77.7% = 1 Seats
(Con 27.7% Remainder) = 1 Seat
Labour 17% = 0 Seats

Running Total: Conservatives 6Labour 3UKIP 3

Lordswood and Capstone
Conservative 66.3% = 1 Seat
(Con 16.3% Remainder) = 0 Seats
Labour 27.5% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 7Labour 4UKIP 3

Luton and Wayfield
Labour 36% = 1 Seat
Conservatives 32.2% = 1 Seat
UKIP 26.2% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 8Labour 5UKIP 4

Peninsula
UKIP 36.8% = 1 Seat
Conservatives 36.1% = 1 Seat
Labour 15.2% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 9Labour 6UKIP 5

Princes Park
Conservatives 46.1% = 1 Seat
UKIP 27.5% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 10Labour 6UKIP 6

Rainham Central
Conservatives 48.4% = 1 Seat
UKIP 24.5% = 1 Seat
(Conservative Remainder 15.4%) = 1 Seat
Labour 14.9% = 0 Seats

Running Total: Conservatives 12Labour 6UKIP 7

Rainham North
Conservatives 47.7% = 1 Seat
UKIP 24% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 13Labour 6UKIP 8

Rainham South
Conservatives 46.5% = 1 Seat
UKIP 26.2% = 1 Seat
Labour 20.5% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 14Labour 7UKIP 9

River
Conservatives 41.1% = 1 Seat
Labour 27.4% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 15Labour 8UKIP 9

Rochester East
Labour 37.1% = 1 Seat
Conservatives 25.9% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 16Labour 9UKIP 9

Rochester South and Horsted
Conservatives 38.4% = 1 Seat
UKIP 24.2% = 1 Seat
Labour 20.7% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 17Labour 10UKIP 10

Rochester West
Conservatives 42.3% = 1 Seat
Labour 21.8% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 18Labour 11UKIP 10

Strood North
Conservatives 36.4% = 1 Seat
Labour 25.8% = 1 Seat
UKIP 25% 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 19Labour 12UKIP 11

Strood Rural
Conservatives 41% = 1 Seat
UKIP 35.1% = 1 Seat
(Conservative remainder 8%) = 0 Seat
Labour 16% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 20Labour 13UKIP 12

Strood South
UKIP 37.4% = 1 Seat
Conservatives 34.5% = 1 Seat
Labour 25.8% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 21Labour 14UKIP 13

Twydall
Labour 40.8% = 1 Seat
(Labour Remainder 7.8%) = 0 Seat
Conservatives 36.8% = 1 Seat
Greens 11% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 22Greens 1Labour 15UKIP 13  

Walderslade
Conservatives 46.1% = 1 Seat
UKIP 24.6% = 1 Seat

Running Total: Conservatives 23, Greens 1Labour 15UKIP 14

Watling
Conservatives 41.1% = 1 Seat
Liberal Democrats 22.9% = 1 Seat

Total: Conservatives 24, Greens 1Labour 15, Liberal Democrats 1UKIP 14

Whilst this dramatically reduces the Conservative majority, in favour of UKIP, they would have a councillor in every ward. The majority of wards would have a mixed party of councillors representing them. The council would also benefit from having Green and Liberal Democrat voices represented.

I don’t want to cast aspersions with regard to the benefits of certain individuals who would not currently be councillors. I would like to say there was some potentially good individuals who are not currently councillors, who in this mix, would have been.

PART TWO: The List

Based on available data of voter averages from May 2015
Conservatives 32.8%
UKIP 24.2%
Labour 21.3%
Greens 8.1%
Liberal Democrats 7.1%
Independents 4.2%
TUSC 2.3%

Total Seats: Conservatives 18, Greens 5Labour 12, Liberal Democrats 4, TUSC 1UKIP 13, Independent 2

With a result that would reduce the main parties this much and increase the UKIP, Liberal Democrats and Greens result, you can understand why there is such an establishment reaction against PR.

But we can say it’s because of the maths.

Also any result that could lead to TUSC winning a seat, despite having a Zero Vote Ward in Rainham North, is clearly flawed and the system should stay the representative FPTP..

PUCK
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.

The French Radicals

I have started writing this piece several times, and played it over in my head several times. It’s about how I feel about the Labour party. My feelings have been confuzzled of late, not helped by the election result and the resulting leadership election.

It is about feelings of disappointment.

I don’t expect Medway Labour to care that I feel disappointment, or even if you care, but it’s how I feel, and I wanted to write it down before the result tomorrow, and my disappointment grows.

Disappointment = Expectation/Reality
Jeremy Corbyn will win the first round of the Labour leadership but I don’t expect him to win the leadership.

As we discussed with the Political Compass, the conversation has moved so far right, that post New Labour the argument is over a relatively small piece of political real estate. Corbyn, who is largely left of centre, is seen as extreme left, purely because how far right the conversation has gone.

There have been a ridiculous number of hours spent analysisng why Labour lost the election. It would seem to be without question that it was the #EdStone. It wasn’t allowing Conservatives to control the economic narrative, which made a global economic crisis there fault; it wasn’t allowing UKIP to take socialist agenda with regards the NHS, ground they had abandoned; it wasn’t losing Scotland (presumably because Ed was too left); it wasn’t failing to stop the narrative being about letting SNP run England if Ed was PM.

It feels now that there are elements that are angry that anyone gives a negative view of Labour – or anything remotely ‘left’ – but instead that we should just being grateful that Labour are there for us. And we shouldn’t question that.

Standing for winning and against the others winning.

There are, or seem to be, elements with Medway Labour that seem obsessed with public opinion when actually what they mean is media opinion.

“It’s worth remembering that in the press, public opinion is often used interchangeably with media opinion, as if the public was somehow much the same as a group of radically rightwing billionaire sociopaths.” – Frankie Boyle

There is an obsession with polling numbers, despite the last general election showing that the polls were very, very wrong.

As this West wing clip shows, numbers lie, and some members of Medway Labour are like the French radicals:

The Opposite of Power

Disclaimer: As a naive lefty who is clearly wrong about most things, Keevil has accepted a political life on the outside. Where it is easy to be dismissed, especially by those who are dismissive. Being in opposition to the administration isn’t about being anti-Tory or being contrary, it is about the need for a strong opposition in a strong democracy.

Rather than just accept that an election was won by a small percentage, or not by the majority of voters (the FPTP losers equivalent to the current government/administrations’s ‘Austerity is needed because of the last Labour government’ mantra), we need to ask;

What does it mean to be in opposition?
Is there any real power in opposition?

According to the freedictionary.com
A person or group of people opposing, criticising or protesting something, someone or another group.

Residents expect elected councillors to contribute to the development of policies and strategies, and for the councils policy’s to be signed off by full council, on which everybody sits. They expect concerns to be investigated and decisions to be communicated. They expect to be represented.
They expect those in opposition to question and hold those in power to account.

I’m going to try (I’ll fail) and sound non-partisan, when I say there are issues regarding the role of opposition in the Medway Towns.

Following the 2015 local election result, there was a new status quo, which heavily affected opposition and oppositional power in the Medway Unitary Authority.
Firstly; whilst I don’t think Medway Labour were expecting to lead the council, there was an expectation of increased group side, maybe even no overall control, a view held by this site at least. What resulted was in fact a strengthened and emboldened Conservative administration.
Secondly; whilst nobody expected the Medway Liberal Democrats to do well, their complete removal from council resulting in the loss of a Liberal/ liberal voice, should not be considered a good thing.
Thirdly; Chris Irvine’s foolishly noble decision to stand for election within the ward he lives. This meant the councillor for Penisula Ward and leader of UKIP Rochester/Medway UKIP group (delete as appropriate) left the council and the group lost it’s leader. UKIP have appeared rudderless in full council so far. They have already lost one member who become an independent and have made no meaningful contribution.
It’s the belief of this writer at least that Irvine’s absence is a bigger loss to ofpposition within council then that of Geoff Juby.
Fourthly; The Medway Green Party’s inabilty to build on its by-election profile and mount a credible challenge for a ward seat. Whilst they achieved a larger vote then Medway TUSC, TUSC have – angered by the Rainham North result – been more vocal in their opposition, at full council meetings at least.

The current administration seems angered by the audacity of an member of the council or the public who dares to question them and hold them accountable, going so far as to seek to change the process.

Forgetting that members of council not part of the administration were also elected to do exactly that, and that the administration works for the public, and should answer to them. Frankly more then six times a year at full council and once every four years at the ballot box.

The administration should respect the role of opposition. Whomever holds it. They should not seek to diminish it. Or undermine the politial process, through an ineffective oversight and scrutiny committee, chairing all other committees, and placing all decision making power within a ten person cabinet that meets for ten minutes.

Critical feedback is not a negative experience and any opposition should have an opportunity to contribute to the creation of policy and legislation.
They should oppose proposals they legitimately disagree with, be given an opportunity to voice that disagreement and not have that voice dismissed as sour grapes.

Democracy thrives when there is a peaceful rivalry and a balance between a majority, winner of the election, who is in a position to govern, but not monopolising all the power.

Whilst we can be relieved that there is no likelihood of the police being called to remove minority parties from council (though we should wait for the results of Cllr Mackness’ constitutional review, to be fully sure), there is a concern held by this site about the monopolisation of power with cabinet and the charing of committees.

The oppositions role is to oppose and to do that they must be able to participate in the political process. They then must do this effectively and responsibly. It is this area looking forward that needs to be monitored over the course of the administration. 

If there is to be any true power in opposition the Medway electorate and elected needs to accept that:
1) Medway Unitary Authority is not a two party system.
2) They should not be dismissive of any smaller group seaking to gain a ward seat at the table.
3) A Liberal/liberal voice is needed.
4) As is a Green one.
Saying that, the two party system providing 3 & 4 only works if they actually do.

As the largest group in opposition, Medway Labour needs to also be held accountable for the positions they take on issues. Not opposing for opposing sake and ensuring they offer credible alternatives.

UKIP Rochester/Medway UKIP (delete as appropriate) has a spokesperson woman and they need to find their voice with council and represent the people that voted for them and continue to oppose anti-xenophobia.

Mark Joy’s first council meeting, as a councillor and an Independent councillor, gave an interesting dynamic as he opposed one Labour motion and supported another. Ignoring for this piece the purpose of either motion, this is a positive of opposition, voting on a case by case basis, with or against the opposition. Not along party lines. This is easer when you dont have a party line to follow, obviously.

I understand there is a position of group whip to stop people voting against the party line, but until member and public opposition amounts to more, then any opposition is purely for the record – decisions will continue to be made behind closed doors and outside of democracy.

quote-love-is-the-opposite-of-power-that-s-why-we-fear-it-so-much-gregory-david-roberts-46-62-43

 

Democracy and Rainham North

A much needed review of the local election result in Rainham North.

As reported by the local newspaper:

Medway TUSC had valid concerns about the result:

And as our own Ed Jennings said, this wasn’t about a result for Medway TUSC:

Dave Nellist is national Chair of TUSC:

The Medway TUSC group took legal advice and discussed the situation with the National Agent Clive Heenskirk, who researched electoral law and advised that the legal position was a matter of private law and not going to change the result, even if it raises concerns about the whole count.

Paul and four other residents were all willing to sign a legal affidavit and this would have to go through the High Court, which would require the hiring of a QC, which would have significant costs.

Medway TUSC insist that they did question the result on the night, but no recount was called. Medway Labour’s Vince Maple recognises that this is an issue caused by a long count and Rainham North being the 21st of 22 results, and that electoral law does little to support if nothing is done on the night.

ITV Covered the story here.

Whilst the Medway Greens Gillingham Candidate told us;

“As a newcomer to politics and the election process, the 7th May 2015 was an eye-opener for me. Especially the archaic vote-counting process at Medway Park. I expected a long night but to be there until 8.30 the next morning was a bit of a shock.
Therefore it is no real surprise to me to learn that something could go wrong in the process. However, for the unfortunate TUSC local election candidate for Rainham North, Paul Dennis, not to register a single vote did seem unfathomable to me. Had he forgotten to vote for himself or spoilt his ballot paper? What about his friends, family, supporters….?
It is very important to investigate every issue that is raised to keep that image whiter than white and for Medway Council to be fully supportive and transparent when questions are raised.”
Neil Williams Medway Green Party

Medway TUSC started a campaign on the issue:

IMG_2008

We covered the protest creating the following short video

38 Degrees provided support with a petition that has now attracted over 750 signatures:

Ultimately though, things aren’t looking good:

However, questions do still remain:

Medway Council’s response has not changed:

 “I can confirm that having double-checked our records, the paperwork confirms a zero return for TUSC in Rainham North. Whilst I accept this is unusual, now that the result has been declared, I am afraid there is nothing else we can do to investigate the matter further as we are bound by the rules of election law.”
Neil Davies, Acting Returning Officer

Medway TUSC are now relying on a public support, to lead to a public enquiry rather than a recount.

“The legitimacy of the result has been called into question, the system is a shambles, there were people under enormous pressure with small resources.”
Chas Berry,  Medway TUSC

And then things became more complex in Rainham North:

IMG_2070 (1)

Medway TUSC made this revelation at the Council AGM, approaching ourselves and Medway Labour Group leader Vince Maple.

Medway TUSC Gillingham Candidate had this to say:

https://twitter.com/jacqui_berry/status/603589294805098496

“Regarding the nominations process in Rainham North, there was no agent query and questions to be asked. I have spoken with senior officers and am awaiting a response.”
Vince Maple, Leader Medway Labour

Medway Council have made the following statement, as if the previous concern’s regarding the Rainham North vote hadn’t occured.

“Rainham North is a two-member ward which was contested in our elections on 7 May 2015.
“It has been brought to our attention by TUSC that one particular individual has signed more than the maximum number of nomination papers for the ward.
“Having looked into this, the individual concerned has signed nomination papers for three candidates in the election, which should have meant the last nomination paper submitted would have been invalid.
“If it had been invalidated, there was time for the affected candidate to have completed and submitted a new nomination paper. The affected candidate was not either of the two successful candidates in the election for the ward.
“Whilst this is clearly a matter of concern, the outcome of the election in the ward is not in doubt.
“We are conducting an in-depth review of our systems and procedures to ensure that this will not occur again.
“This clearly should not have happened, and we are very sorry it did. We have advised the Electoral Commission of the situation.”
Neil Davies. Returning Officer

Keevil

Dude Where’s My Democracy

Democracy pt 2

As we discussed as part of #iFAQS the Medway Towns and the Hoo Penisula are now a Unitary Authority and not part of Kent County Council. The Council is made up of 22 Wards creating 55 seats. At the time of writing the council is made up of 4 parties, and will likely still be 4 parties after the election, and these 4 parties have an equal say..
I mean unequal say in the running of the Medway Towns.

There are also parish councils but nobody knows what goes on there.

The Council is currently under Conservative Control and has been since 2003, though Keevil and Jennings are both predicting No Overall Control in the 2015 Local Elections.
The council elected Leader of the Council is Cllr Rodney Chambers OBE
The (publically unelected) Mayor is Cllr Barry Kemp
The Leader then appointed a Deputy leader and then upto 9 further members to make up the cabinet.
The Cabinet is responsible for implementing the council’s budget and policies as well as forming partnerships with other key organisations.

The Leader and Cabinet are held to account by Overview and Scrutiny Committees which are made up of Councillors from all the political groups represented on the council.

STATS ALERT

Current Council Councillors

Conservatives 31 = 56%
Labour 17 = 31%
UKIP 4 = 7%
Liberal Democrats 3 = 6%

So the will of the Medway electorate, and the will of the councillors defecting, means that the Conservatives have over 50% of the council, which mean they, with their party whip, can be confident of winning a vote.

Current Council Cabinet

Conservatives 10 = 100%
Labour 0 = 0%
UKIP 0 = 0%
Liberal Democrats 0 = 0%

The cabinet, where significant decisions are made, mirrors this council make up with..
oh wait, no it doesn’t.
The Council is overviewed by 5 scrutiny committees and these largely follow along Council lines.

Business Support Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Conservatives 8 = 62%
Labour 4 = 31%
UKIP 0 = 0%
Liberal Democrats 1 = 8%

Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Conservatives 8 = 47%
Labour 4 = 24%
UKIP 1 = 6%
Liberal Democrats 1 = 6%
Non-elected, voting 3 = 18%
Non-elected, non-voting 9 = 0% of vote
Vacancy 2 = 0% of vote

Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Conservatives 7 = 54%
Labour 4  = 31%
UKIP 1 = 8%
Liberal Democrats 1 = 8%
Non-elected, non-voting 3 = 0% of the vote

Regeneration, Community and Culture Committee

Conservatives 6 = 55%
Labour 4=33%
UKIP 1 = 8%
Liberal Democrats 1 = 8%

Joint NHS Scrutiny Committee with Kent County Council

Conservatives 3 = 75%
Labour 1 = 25%
UKIP 0 = 0%
Liberal Democrats 0 = 0%

Each committee has a chair and a vice chair. Which also don’t follow along council lines.

Charing and vice chairing of Scrutiny Committees

Conservative 8 = 100%
Labour 0 = 0%
UKIP 0 = 0%
Liberal Democrats 0 = 0%

This isn’t about being anti-Conservative. This is about being anti-democratic.

This is about a one-party having the ability to dictate policy via a cabinet they fully control, where all oversight is carried out by committees they chair.

Maybe No Overall Control won’t be a bad thing for a while.

Keevil

Once Upon a Time in a Medway Constituency

Democracy pt 1

As part of the Vote for Policies test, Jennings held to type the Liberal Democrat, whilst Keevil showed support for Labour’s policies on democracy.

So what Democracy do the residents of the Medway Towns have?

 

Parliamentary Constituencies

As you should be aware, there are 3 Members of Parliament representing Chatham & Aylesford, Gillingham & Rainham, and Rochester & Strood. But it wasn’t always this way!
We have mostly stuck with 1997 as the line in the sand date for this blog, but not anymore..

Chatham & Aylesford
An electorate in 2010 of over 68,000. Half of the constituency is based in Medway and the other half in Kent.
Stay with me..
The Chatham & Aylesford constituency was created in 1997 from parts of the Mid-Kent and Tonbridge & Malling seats. The first incumbent of the newly formed seat was Labour’s Jonathan Shaw who was returned to the seat in the subsequent 2001 and 2005 elections, before the aforementioned boundary changes and Conservative’s Tracey Crouch win in 2010.
Tonbridge & Malling, like Aylesford, is outside of Medway, and therefore outside of our understanding.
The Mid-Kent seat was created in 1983 from parts of the Rochester & Chatham and Maidstone seats. The only winner of the seat was the Conservative’s Andrew Rowe from 1983 to 1992. Rowe won the newly formed Mid-Kent and Faversham seat in 1997, showing that Conservative’s could win seats in 1997. However the seat doesn’t represent Medway, and so like Maidstone, we don’t care. Rochester & Chatham was a parliamentary seat created in the 1950’s from the Chatham Constituency.
The 1950’s and 60’s saw several elections, except for 1959, return the Labour candidate, before 1970 when the constituency was won for the Conservatives by Peggy Fenner, the first polititian, outside of the Prime Minister, that Keevil remembers, which is impressive considering he wasn’t born until 1979. Anyways..
Fenner held the seat, with the exception of the snap election in Oct 84, winning it back in 1979, until the seat was abolished in 1983. Fenner won the newly formed Medway seat in 1983, and we’ll come back to that. Because as the name suggests, it represented Medway.
The Chatham Constituency was created in for the 1832 general election. I think we’ve gone back far enough there! But a clear record of Chatham going back and forth between Labour and the Conservatives doesn’t look like changing, though there’s a good chance that the constituency will.

Tangent Alert

The Government’s plans for boundary review in 2013, which would have reduced the number of seats failed to pass through Parliament. The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act would have cut the number of MPs from 650 to 600, but was opposed as gerrymandering, which we will come back to at a later date.


Rehman Chishti voted very strongly for an equal number of electors per parliamentary constituency.
Tracey Crouch voted very strongly for an equal number of electors per parliamentary constituency.
Mark Reckless voted strongly for an equal number of electors per parliamentary constituency.
So should boundary changes come back up, theres a good chance, should they get re-elected, they would be in favour.

Where were we?

Gillingham & Rainham
Formed in 2010 with an electorate of over 71,000.
The Gillingham & Rainham constituency was formed in 2010 from the Gillingham constituency.
As far as I can tell there were little actual boundary changes. It’s just nice that Rainham got added to the title. It has only had one MP, the Labour Conservative councillor Rehman Chishti, who beat the Labour incumbent Paul Clark.
The Gillingham constituency goes back to the turn of the 20th century. It was mainly Conservative held until, with the exception of the 1945 election, Paul Clark won and held the seat in 1997. Well, that was simple.

Dagenham & Rainham is a constituency that is somewhere else and so shouldn’t be confused.

Rochester & Strood
Created in 2010, with an electorate of over 75,000.
The Rochester & Strood constituency was created from the Medway Constituency in 2010. The seat has been won by Mark Reckless twice, first for the Conservatives in 2010 and again for UKIP in 2014. As if you didn’t know that..
As Naushabah Khan rightly said on the Sunday Politics South East, there have been boundary changes from when Labour held the Medway seat, with Bob Marshall Andrews since 1997. Andrews won the seat from incumbent and previously mentioned, but now Dame, Peggy Fenner, see how this all comes full circle! Here at least there was at least a reason for the name change as it was found to be confusing with the recently formed Medway Unitary Authority, when the constituency covered only part of the authority.
For History bores, the Medway seat previously existed 1885-1918 when it was held by the Conservatives and Rochester has been sending a member to parliament since the 14th Century and the Medway Lib Dems should take heart they held the seat in 1910 so they are due a comeback.

Which seems a slightly mean joke to finish on, but there you go.

Crime and nothingness

As part of the Vote for Policies test, Keevil and Jennings held to type with Keevil supporting the Green Party and Jennings the Liberal Democrat policies on crime.

What does crime mean in Medway and how do those looking to be our elected representatives seek to deal with it?

Medway Council Website

“Medway Council knows that fear of crime prevents many people from doing some of the things which they might do.
This is despite the fact that crime in Medway is actually lower than the England and Wales average
it is clear that for the people of Medway to feel safer crimes such as violence, criminal damage and anti-social behaviour must be dealt with.”

The Councils community safety plan 2013-2016 lists its priorities as
– Tackle drug and alcohol abuse
– Tackle anti-social behaviour and envirocrime
– Reduce reoffending
– Tackle domestic abuse
– Reduce the number of people killed of seriously injured in road traffic collisions.

According the the Kent PPC website, crime in Medway has increased between 2014-2015, as part of an overall increase in Kent.
Anti-Social behaviour has decreased in the same time period, just as there has been an overall reduction in Kent.

According to a study in the Daily Mirror in 2013
Over a six month average of all crimes
the UK average was 6.57 per 100 residents
The Medway average was 5.12  per 100 residents

Supporting the Medway Council statement.

However when violence was considered
the UK average was 1.06 per 100 residents
the Medway average was 1.58 per 100 residents

So whilst overall crime might be lower in Medway, violence, a crime which would would, or the fear of which, would stop people ‘from doing the things which they might do’, a higher then average violent crime rate is part of that.

Violent Crime according to the police is defined as:

Includes offences against the person such as common assaults, Grievous Bodily Harm and sexual offences

According to the Kent Police:
1802 crimes were reported in Medway in Feb 2015
389 were violent
21.58%
River Ward had the highest crime rate with 271 crimes
Gillingham South had the highest violent crime rate with 45 violent crimes
Luton and Wayfield had the highest percentage of violent crimes as percentage of overall crime at 29%

Also, when you looked at crime over a year
River ward had 52.22% of crimes, 1395 in total, where no further action was taken
Gillingham South had 75.57% of crimes, 1367 on total, where no further action was taken
Luton and Wayfield had 75.50% of crimes, 1014 in total, where no further action was taken

No further action includes:

Unable to prosecute suspect
A suspect has been identified but could not be prosecuted for one of a number of reasons, such as: insufficient evidence; the prosecution time limit having expired; the named suspect being below the age of criminal responsibility; the victim or witness is dead or too ill to give evidence; the victim declining or being unable to support the police investigation further; or the person involved has died.

 Medway Averages

No Further Action = 75.58% 
Local Resolution = 1.44%
Caution = 2.81%
Dealt with in Court = 7.54%

Why does such a large proportion of crime result in no action being taken against offenders? Can it be improved and, if so, how?

“The police and the Crown Prosecution Service have to make an assessment of the evidence available, whether it is witness, forensic or even hearsay. In circumstances where there is insufficient evidence, the decision may be taken to focus resources on those offences which are capable of being charged and prosecuted. There might be a number of reasons why no further action was possible. Some cases are just undetectable. However, cases can be reopened if more evidence becomes available.”

So what do our elected or electable representatives have to say on crime or the causes of  crime?

Medway Conservatives – link
There is no mention of crime.

Medway Labour link
There is no mention of crime.

Medway Liberal Democrats link
There is no mention of policies at all.

Medway UKIP
Doesn’t have a website.

Medway Greens – link
No mention of policies

Medway TUSC – link
No mention of crime

Chatham and Aylesford

Tracey Crouch – link
No mention of crime. Which seems churlish considering the wide variety of campaigns mentioned. But still.

Tristan Osborne – link
No mention of crime

Thomas Quinton, John Gobson, Luke Balnave, Ivor Riddle, Ian Wallace 
No dedicated websites

 Gillingham and Rainham

Rehman Chishti – link
There are campaigns relating to driving related offences

Paul Clark – link
Includes a link to Labour national policy on policing

Jacqui Berry – link
No mention of crime

Neil Williams, Roger Peacock, Mike Walters, Paul Chaplin, Mark Hanson
No dedicated websites.

  Rochester and Strood

Mark Reckless – link
No mention of crime
“A cursory search shows five pages of blog posts related to crime on Mark Reckless’s website:
http://markreckless.com/?s=crime

Kelly Tolhurst – link
There is at least a section. Even if it is restricted to alcohol related anti-social behaviour and a lack of police presence.
Because I’m never satisfied.

Naushabah Khan – link
No mention of crime

Clive Cregory – link
No mention of crime

Prue Bray, Dan Burn
No dedicated site

Crime may be lower in Medway then the national average, but it isn’t low. And other then that fact, I got nothing.

Keevil

Medway Council responds to “Grain’s ‘China Syndrome'”

Dear Keevil

Jack Hope has not been ignored by the Council, which has responded to multiple letters and emails, raised directly by Jack Hope or numerous other people, seeking answers on his behalf.  The Council, to enable all residents in Grain village to raise concerns on off-site planning and the safety of the Grain LNG site, held a public meeting where residents posed questions to the site operator, senior officers from the Council, Health & Safety Executive, Kent Police and Kent Fire & Rescue Services.  Mr Hope has also approached these organisations in a similar way to the Council.

The Council’s off-site Emergency Plan for the National Grid, Grain LNG Importation Terminal contains specific information on site operations, including the emergency responses of the operator and the emergency services.

The Grain LNG operator distributes information to residents and businesses in an area determined by the Health & Safety Executive on the hazards on the LNG site and the actions that the public should take in the event of an off-site emergency.  Based on the hazards associated with the Grain LNG site the advice is. Go In, Stay In, Tune In.

St James’ Church of England Primary Academy and St James’ Children’s Centre is outside of this determined area.

Using the term “Fallout” is unhelpful as it refers to radioactive particles and the Grain LNG site is not a nuclear facility.

The emergency services are satisfied with the location of the barriers

There is no evacuation plan for Grain village as the main hazard from the LNG site is either a dispersing gas cloud or heat from fire if the vapour ignited. The advice is ‘Go In, Stay In, Tune In’.

None of the LNG safety leaflets have stated casualty figures.

In addition to the Grain village siren, which is tested annually, the Council provide, free of charge, an emergency notification service which will, if residents subscribe, send an email, text or phone call to landline or mobile alerting them to an off-site incident at the Grain LNG site.  This is tested annually.

To register for the emergency notification service:

http://www.medway.gov.uk/crimenuisanceandsafety/emergencyplanning/comah.aspx

Regards,

Robin Cooper

Director of Regeneration, Community and Culture

(Delayed) Reaction ‘Return to Rochester & Strood’

Sunday Politics South East: 1st March

In the studio is Mark Reckless (former Conservative councillor and then MP, then UKIP MP, now UKIP PPC), Craig Mackinley (former UKIP Leader, then Conservative councillor, now Conservative PPC) and Naushabah Khan (former Labour PPC, now Labour PPC). The presence of Mackinley is fine – he is after all a councillor in Rochester’s River ward, but he is a PPC for South Thanet, not Rochester like the other two PPCs, which is what the main segment is about. It does raise the unasked question of where is Kelly Tolhurst (Conservative councillor and former Conservative PPC, now Conservative councillor and PPC).

Another unasked question is if Farage – rhymes with garage – loses South Thanet and thus the UKIP leadership, are Reckless and Mackinley potential future UKIP leaders? (No. No, they aren’t. – Jennings)

Following the discussion of the UKIP conference piece, I would make a joke about Khan feeling the need to make a point about being from an immigrant background, and feeling uncomfortable about watching a UKIP documentary, despite continuing to watch it, but as the show points out she is an amateur boxer, I just want to say: well said Naushabah, well said.

Head to 11 mins and 43 secs for the ‘Return to Rochester and Strood’ and for what it’s worth, I hate that opening and the rubbish random horror gag.

Is a majority of over 2,500 really an only just victory? How many thousand would tip it into comfortable win? Is there a scale?

We are taken into a long drawn out could it be UKIP or Tory, only to get a ‘we just don’t know’. I really dislike the music and voice over.

There follows a series of mini interviews:

Kelly Tolhurst: At the time there was the Conservative website leak that the constituency was a non-target. It was promptly visited by Mr and Mrs Cameron, on separate occasions. So is it a target? Or is it a target in the Labour sense of everywhere is a target?
Strong words from Tolhurst ‘I know the people, I know the place.’ Tolhurst disappoints however: She has yet to be seen, despite her words, with her sleeves rolled up.

Clive Gregory: Strong opening, ‘I’m not here because I want to become an MP..’ that’ll get you a vote for MP every time. There is a valid idea that the best way to actually put pressure on the government is to become an MP.

Goeff Juby: SPSE starts off by spelling it Geoff which is awkward, though not nearly as awkward as interviewing him after the disastrous by-election result, or that he is no longer the candidate.
And then it gets awkward(er) when he sets the Lib Dems the target of returning to over 7,000 votes, but I suppose that’s fine when its up to somebody else to do.
They cut to a wide shot, but cut back before Juby has a chance to point out some potholes.

Rochester & Strood is described as part of the new battleground. I can see that in the by-election, but the general election?

Back in the studio, where we discover that Tolhurst was invited but is too busy, and thus why Mackinley is stepping in.

Khan is asked ‘Ed is your biggest handicap’ that actually isn’t a question, but I think that’s my poor note taking. This was all before ‘hell yes, I’m tough enough’.
Khan’s then asked what she is going to do differently, and the answer she gives is to do everything the same. Which presumably includes coming third.
Khan does however hold her own, talking of pounding doors, amidst disbelief of any effect.

Mackinley is asked if he would have won the by-election.
‘Who knows’ comes the response, which isn’t a ringing endorsement of himself or Tolhurst. It could be argued he was being honest, but in the run up to an election you perhaps want a ‘Kelly did the best all considered and will do better in May’.
Not ‘I wasn’t in the pool’.

Reckless then takes everybody by surprise by ignoring this is an election and trying to talk positively about issues. Khan is particularly aghast when he says Labour were right on the NHS.
Which as he pointed out was in his blood.
When reproached on his voting record by Mackinley, he states he believed Ministers, but they were wrong and he is free of that now.
So did Chisthi and Crouch also vote based on wrong information from ministers?

Reckless is then cut off from speaking further, which is surely a sign of the media’s obligatory anti-UKIP bias.

 Keevil