In what seems to be a bit of a trend at the moment, another Medway councillor will be sitting as an independent as Cllr Sam Craven has resigned from Medway Labour,
In a lengthy resignation statement, Cllr Craven cites “broken promises” and a lack of action on complaints against another councillor and candidate as part of her reasons for standing down. Her full statement is below:
I have loved working with the residents of Luton and Wayfield since they elected me as one of their councillors in 2011. It is an honour to represent the ward and I will continue to work hard for the residents as an Independent councillor.
This is not a decision I have taken lightly and have tried for months to find a solution to the problems I have raised with the core leadership team. However, I can no longer remain a member of the Labour Group, or the Labour Party, after yet another broken promise has left my position untenable.
I made my concerns known to the core leadership team about the actions of a councillor and a candidate many months ago. I offered my resignation then, and on subsequent occasions since, as I felt I could not work with them. I was persuaded to stay while the leadership team pursued a resolution to the treatment I received which they acknowledged could be seen as ‘ganging up against a woman, bullying and victimisation’.
From this process meetings were held and a set of protocols were put in place. I followed instructions as promised. However, these agreements were never met, with no repercussions. Equally there had been communications which I was not fully involved in, or received, all leading to further undermine my position.
I had been working collaboratively on our ward newsletter (that I had been requesting since February 2017) as agreed to find out that an alternative newsletter had been designed and signed off to a deadline that I never knew existed. I never saw a copy until the leaflet had been printed and I did not feature in any form – though ward work I had
specifically done was included. I only found out about the newsletters existence at one of our branch meetings, when a candidate told the meeting it was available.
The core leadership team had reached a compromise to produce two separate leaflets without informing me until after the fact. However, the promise they gave me for the production of my own newsletter has now been broken as they have decided this will not happen, taking away my right to correspond with residents.
On Tuesday evening I received an email telling me the full Leadership team has considered ‘the negative impact of leaflets going out without all of the candidates on, and that the re-selection for the third Luton and Wayfield candidate is imminent, it has been determined that a single leaflet solely with your content will not proceed but that funds for
an additional leaflet which will contain all three candidates will be provided once the new candidate has been selected. This leaflet will be designed and signed off centrally instead of by Councillors or candidate’.
This suggests an admission that their own resolution had failed and appeared to be a poor idea to begin with. If they had actually managed their own protocols effectively in the first place this situation would never have spiralled so out of control and left me feeling my position within the group as untenable.
I thought I could have remained working within the group once my leaflet had gone out as agreed. But now they have broken that promise there is no way I can work with the core leadership team. I just can’t trust them anymore. Poor judgement, lack of leadership and a string of broken promises as led to this. I followed their instructions to the letter, put faith in their procedures and I have been let down at every step. They know I have strong opinions about how councillors and candidates should act and they have used this to drive me out instead of resolving matters.
They have succeeded.
When I got involved in politics, I was just a mum fighting to save her son’s school and I have always taken that approach since being elected. I am elected to help people so I have avoided the political game-playing that has turned so many people off politics.
My values have not changed but the party around me now seems to tolerate behaviour I find unacceptable and should not be shrugged off as political rough and tumble. There are serial offenders within the local party that no matter how many times they are spoken to, or investigated, keep on causing problems. I’m convinced it is only a matter of time before something really serious happens that cannot be swept under the carpet and I do not want to be associated with it.
In fact, it is relief to be away from nonsense like a councillor boasting about the deal they did with another member to ensure councillors were reselected without problems – all without the knowledge of the actual sitting councillors. It’s objectionable, makes a mockery of the selection process and is disrespectful to the membership as well as many of my ex-
colleagues who work tirelessly for the benefit of their wards.
Thankfully, I can now just concentrate on working hard for the residents of Luton & Wayfield with my head held high.
Cllr Craven has sat as a Labour councillor in Luton and Wayfield since 2011, has the worst attendance record within the Medway Labour group and never seemed to be part of any campaigning activity. We recently started asking questions about Cllr Craven’s position in the party after seeing very little to suggest she was taking an active role, and no one within the party seemed to be willing to confirm her position.
We asked what Cllr Craven’s plans are for 2019 and whether she intends to stand again as an independent candidate, but no decision has yet been taken. She has further clarified that her poor attendance attendance in the past year was due to studying for an MA in Special Needs Education.
Medway Labour have issued the following highly detailed statement in response:
We thank Cllr Craven for her service to the Labour Party.
This comes as part as a tumultuous preparation for the local elections in Luton and Wayfield, with Medway Labour already having lost one candidate in the ward. Things are no better on the Conservative side either, with their candidates in the ward including the delightful Michael Franklin and Robbie Lammas, who accidentally shared personal data of voters on Twitter.
Cllr Craven becomes the third councillor to start sitting as an independent within the last month. Will any more join them? Has Cllr Craven taken the right decision. Let us know in the comments.
The Political Medway is a non-profit website attempting to cover local politics. We have no funding for this project, and most of our work is done in local coffee shops. If you enjoy our content, please consider supporting us by buying us a hot drink via Ko-fi.