The Week in Medway Politics: Sunday trading, tents, football

The big stories

Internal strife within Medway Labour as ex-UKIP councillor Mark Joy tries to join party – full story
In which the Medway Labour leadership cause an almighty row by trying to bring a former UKIP councillor into the fold.

Rehman Chishti in breach of parliamentary rules – full story
In which the Gillingham and Rainham MP doesn’t declare his football freebies, and gets a new job.

Medway MPs in Parliament

Sunday Trading
This week, MPs voted on whether or not to extend Sunday trading hours, as it still seems strange that someone can’t do their shopping at 5pm on a Sunday in 2016. In a rare outbreak of good sense, all three Medway MPs – Rehman Chishti, Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch, and Rochester and Strood MP Kelly Tolhurst – all voted for the changes, but alas, the vote was lost overall. So no shopping at 9am on a Sunday for you.

Elsewhere in Parliament
In one of the stranger speeches of the week, Kelly Tolhurst spoke at length in parliament about being unable to get a phone line installed in her office. After weeks of buildup, Rehman Chishti’s complaints about laser pens finally came to a head, as he introduced a bill to get them banned. Finally, after Channel 4 News pushing on the Rochester and Strood by-election spending issue for a while, the Daily Mail have stepped, all guns blazing, into the fray.

Medway Council

Rochester Riverside
Not for the first time, a new developer has been chosen to deliver the 1300 home Rochester Riverside project. Countryside Properties and Hyde Housing will now begin work on the project, with work due to complete in 2028, a mere 21 years after the process began. At least it’ll help solve Medway’s next decade housing crisis.

Cabinet decisions
This week, Medway Council’s ruling cabinet met. Amongst their decisions were to formally endorse the Southern Western variation of the Lower Thames Crossing proposals, and to rescind current arrangements for Business Rates Relief for next year. Both decisions will likely not be particularly popular. You can read the full minutes from the meeting here.

Political Parties

Medway Conservatives
Still missing, presumably trying to make excuses for Cllr Franklin’s tweets.

Medway Labour
As you’d expect, Medway Labour are crowing about the laws on Sunday trading not being relaxed, because they’d rather it was impossible to get hold of things after 5pm on a Sunday.

Medway UKIP
A remarkable stance from Medway UKIP this week, who requested the council prepare tents for migrants to live in on the Great Lines. The full story also features a superb bit of Photoshop work too.
Elsewhere, former UKIP Rochester and Strood MP Mark Reckless has been selected to stand for the Welsh Assembly in coming elections. If he takes up a seat in the Assembly, will his wife – Cllr Catriona Brown-Reckless – give up her seat on Medway Council, or begin an almighty commute?

Medway Liberal Democrats
The Medway Lib Dems went on the attack this week, with a scathing statement from new chairman John Castle attacking the Tories, calling out the opposition parties on the council, and demanding a change to the scrutiny system. The fact they have no councillors to really do anything was sadly missed out.

Medway Green Party
Well, you probably won’t believe it, but they’re angry about the Lower Thames Crossing.

Other News

Ann Barnes out
After months of speculation, current Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Ann Barnes ruled herself out of the running for the upcoming elections, meaning Kent is assured a new Commissioner in May. Which makes the coming election slightly more interesting than the circus side show it had largely been up until now.

Rehman About Town
A strong photo week for Rehman, seeing him have his photo taken with some children, a giant tourism sign, Stewart from the Heritage Lottery Fund, a treadmill, an award, meeting his obligatory single resident, and despite the story above, we shit you not, a Gillingham player, and himself at the match. He also found time to highlight himself reading the local paper after they mentioned his tweets in a tiny column. We cover his whereabouts every single week and what do we get? Sheesh.

Rehman Chishti in breach of parliamentary rules

Rehman

Conservative MP for Gillingham and Rainham Rehman Chishti has breached parliamentary rules, the Sun reports.

The paper reports that Chishti received multiple hospitality tickets – worth £900 – to see Gillingham Football Club, but despite being obliged to report such gifts within 28 days, didn’t do so for over a year:

The Member of Parliament for Gillingham and Rainham got a £100 VIP ticket to the Priestfield Stadium to watch League One “Gills” in February 2015.

And another in May and August that year, and further three hospitality tickets in September that year — all as a guest of club boss Paul Scally.

However — in a breach of the rules — the freebies were not logged in the Commons registers until this month.

Mr Chishti refused to comment or explain the delay.

It’s unclear to what action Chishti may face for this error, but that he’s declining to comment or even explain why he didn’t declare the tickets is troubling.

Perhaps more interestingly though is the news within the article that Chishti has secured a new job, earning £24,000 working for a think tank in Saudi Arabia:

The rule breach came as Mr Chishti announced he has secured a plum £24,000 advisory role with the King Faisal Center for Research — a think tank in Saudi Arabia.

The appointment came after Mr Chishti enjoyed on a £2,888 all expenses paid trip as a guest of the controversial Middle Eastern kingdom last month.

It’s unclear exactly how spare time Chishti has for his new role, as he is both the MP for Gillingham Rainham and a local councillor for Rainham Central. He might need to cut back on some of those football matches.

Internal strife within Medway Labour as ex-UKIP councillor Mark Joy tries to join party

Did you hear the one about the Conservative activist turned UKIP councillor, who went independent, tried to rejoin the Tories, failed to do, tried to join Labour instead, and was turned down but still kind of managed to join anyway?

Allow us to introduce you to Strood South councillor, Mark Joy.

Mark Joy rose to prominence in Medway politics when he was part of Medway’s own gang of four, defecting to UKIP from the Conservatives in 2014 along with Mark Reckless, Chris Irvine, and Paul Monck. Medway UKIP was riding high at the time, winning by-elections for both parliament and the local council, but the good times came to a crashing halt on May 7 2015. Mark Reckless lost the Rochester & Strood constituency, while Chris Irvine lost his council seat, and Paul Monck failed to gain his. In the middle of this though, Mark Joy just about won a council seat in Strood South.

All of which left Joy in a slightly strange position. His ties always seemed closer to Reckless and Irvine personally rather than to the UKIP party, and now he sat with the three other untested UKIP councillors in the chamber. Within a month, Joy resigned from the UKIP group, choosing to sit as an independent in the chamber.

In the time since, he’s proved to be an interesting voice in the chamber. He often inserts himself into debates, sometimes to raise small issues, sometimes to ask questions. His voting record, untethered from party whips, sees him voting both with and against the ruling Conservative administration in roughly equal measure.

In the time since becoming an independent, Joy approached the Conservative group about the potential of rejoining their ranks, and was told in no uncertain terms that it would not be happening. Which meant the only options to Joy were to remain as an independent, or attempt to join the Labour group. Given Joy won his seat from a sitting Labour councillor, this would surely be impossible. At least it seemed so until this week, when Labour councillor Tristan Osborne tweeted the following:

Tristan Osborne tweet

The accompanying picture (as seen at the top of this article) shows Joy out campaigning for London Mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan with both Osborne and Medway Labour Deputy Leader Teresa Murray. Given how critical Medway Labour Leader Vince Maple was of Joy following his resignation from UKIP, the sudden about turn is all the more curious.

Requesting comment from Joy, he told us that he “decided to help with London Mayor elections, as I think that Sadiq Khan is the best candidate”, but declined to offer any further comment.

Our own investigation discovered that Joy approached Maple to join the party, but was turned down on the basis that no one can join who has stood against the party within the last 12 months. That period is up in June, which means there will be nothing to stop him joining the party then. Sources within the party told us of ferocious opposition to this, with more than one councillor threatening to quit the group if that happens.

By way of a compromise, Joy has since been told that he can campaign with Labour, and attend local meetings, but will not be able to become to officially join the party for now. As one angry activist put it to us though, “he’s joined without a card”.

Other activists have raised serious concerns about Joy within the party, arguing that there is “massive opposition to any move for him to join”. Some have cited his past views, his closeness to Mark Reckless et al, and how it would make the group “a laughing stock”. Others have raised questions over his opportunistic jumping between parties, and his conduct in parish council meetings. Despite this, Maple and Murray seem to be actively encouraging him to join the party, against the will of their own group.

The Political Medway asked Medway Labour group leader Vince Maple, but made it clear he had no comment to make on the issue.

The Week in Medway Politics: Trains, hacks, planning

The big story

The Subliminal Adverts of Fergus Wilson – full story
A bit of fun this week as Keevil decided to analyse the increasingly bizarre campaign adverts of Kent Police and Crime Commissioner candidate Fergus Wilson to see if anything was lurking between the lines.

Medway MPs in Parliament

Southeastern shambles reaches Parliament
This week, MPs debated the reliability of Southeastern rail services, a topic close to the hearts of many Medway residents. These kind of debates achieve little, but it was interesting to see where Medway MPs focussed their concerns: Rochester and Strood MP Kelly Tolhurst asked how Southeastern will cope with Medway’s population growth, while Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti demanded automatic compensation for delays, issues with capacity, and even alluded to their franchise being taken away.

Benefit cuts
This weeks, MPs continued their battle with the House of Lords over cuts to disability benefit. The Lords have requested that the government carry out an impact assessment before making any changes, which you’d think would be normal anyway. MPs voted to ignore this suggestion, and push on with the cuts anyway. Both Rehman Chishti and Kelly Tolhurst voted in favour of the cuts.

Elsewhere in Parliament
Rehman Chishti continued his war against laser pens, asking how many times they were used in “attacks” against both trains (answer: more than you’d think) and motor vehicles (answer: less than you’d think). Additionally, Kelly Tolhurst managed to write several paragraphs on how she still doesn’t know how to vote in the EU referendum.

Medway Council

Upcoming meetings
On Tuesday, the Cabinet will meet, where the main attraction will be deciding where the council stands on the Lower Thames Crossing, with the west variant of the proposed plan likely to be endorsed.
On Wednesday, the Planning Committee will meet to decide various applications, including turning The Railway pub in Rainham into a Wetherspoons, and the redevelopment of Canal Road in Strood.
Both meetings are held at Gun Wharf, and are open to members of the public.

Political Parties

Medway Conservatives
Missing, presumably trying to make excuses for Cllr Franklin’s tweets.

Medway Labour
The Medway Labour website was hacked over a week ago. We helpfully pointed this out to them when we spotted it. They didn’t acknowledge that and have done nothing about it, potentially opening up visitors to their website to malicious activity.
In a curious turn of events, Conservative UKIP Independent councillor Mark Joy was out campaigning with Labour this weekend. There’s likely lots more to come on this development.
In actual policy news, they’ve finally come out kinda-sorta in favour of the Lower Thames Crossing.

Medway UKIP
Missing, presumably because speaking at last week’s budget meeting tired them all out.

Medway Liberal Democrats
Major, breaking news from the Medway Lib Dems this week: their usual venue for meetings is unavailable next month!

Medway Green Party
Taking a break from fighting the Lower Thames Crossing, local Greens have instead suggested some horrible nanny state ideas to combat littering.
They’ve also (maybe jokingly) suggested sticking some wind turbines up on the Great Lines.

Other News

Rehman About Town
Finally getting his photographing groove back, this week Rehman had his photo taken with the Duke of York, some residents, some students, some insurance brokers, more residents, at the opening of an arts centre, with another resident, and buying some flowers.

The Subliminal Adverts of Fergus Wilson

Fergus Wilson is running for Kent Police and Crime Commissioner. He is legally not allowed to stand, but Fergus isn’t going to let something like the law stand in the way of him becoming Police and Crime Commissioner.

Mr Wilson, to his friends, has been campaigning weekly in the Medway Messenger, and if you read not even between, but actually the red lines in his more recent ads, you get a picture that is at times insightful, contradictory, poetic and sinister:

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January 22

FORTRESS KENT
To build a lorry park at Stanford for 3,600 lorries is to create a terrorist target. The Dartford Crossing is a Terrorist Target. Proactive not Reactive. Suspected Suicide Bombers will be dealt with in the most severe fashion. Innocent people will die! Vote for Fergus Wilson 

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 13.54.54February 5

KENT FIRST
BLACK ECONOMY OF KENT
SECURITY NEEDS TO BE BEEFED UP
REWARD
£1,000
£10,000
£20,000
There are two ways of dealing with Operation Stack. Fergus Wilson’s way and the wrong way!

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February 12

COMMON SENSE
What I intend to do is return illegal immigrants to France within 24 hours. Sexually assaulted and raped. The answer is blame the German Government. The German Government can take those aimed at Kent. It is certain the Exit Britain campaign will succeed in 2017.
I want your help to track down and return illegal immigrants to France within 24 hours in chains if need be. We are at war with illegal immigrants in Kent. If you can’t stand the heat stay out of the kitchen!
If any man beats up a woman there will be no hiding place for him in Kent. There will be an audit trail published so you can see what my salary is spent on! VOTE TACTICALLY

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February 19

JOHNNY FOREIGNER
So what is it you want Mr & Mrs Voter? Do you want me to keep them out? Or do you wish to welcome them with open arms? The choice is YOURS!
You will definetly get people trying to report illegals for the reward. Either you want illegal immigration in Kent stopped or you do not! Which is it? YOUR CHOICE!
What do we do with operation stack in the meantime? I believe I am the only man who can deliver these common sense answers. I ask you to vote for me on 5
th May 2016. This gives me four years to sort out Kent Police! VOTE TACTICALLY

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February 26

CLOSE THE DOOR
You cannot give him jam tarts when he wants cream doughnuts. If you any resident of Kent wats an open door policy he is in the extreme minority as I judge the fashion at this time.
The function of the police is to enforce the law not make the law.
If I am elected there will be two types of police officer in Kent. Those that agree with me and ex police officers. Kent is too top heavy with senior officers from inspector upwards. We need more troops on the ground!
British manufacturers? VOTE TACTICALLY

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March 4

THAT PUNCH
That must have been some punch as very few professional boxers earn that sort of money at a boxing bout. I wish they would do so. Indeed Jeremy Clarkson was neither charged nor cautioned for the £100,000 Punch! That did not prevent him from becoming an MP.
Civil war has broken out within the Conservative party. I suggest to the electorate that it is time for tactical thinking and tactical voting. Voting for one of the minority parties your vote will be wasted. Apply some brain power and vote tactically.
The Kent policing budget is £300 million and insufficient. Track record of handling money! VOTE TACTICALLY

The Week in Medway Politics: Campaigns, pensions, G4S

The big story

Medway Council budget smackdown ’16 – full story
On Thursday, Medway Council set it’s budget for the coming year with all of the associated political ding dongs. The meeting was a colourful event, lots of arguments about things like bulky waste collections rather than the bigger issues. It also included a formal investigation about the conduct of Cllr Michael Franklin being requested as a result of this blog.

Medway MPs in Parliament

Transitional pension arrangements
The ongoing battle to sort out state pensions for women hit Parliament this week following an epetition that triggered a debate on whether or not the government should help women of a certain age who are losing out. As if the way of these things, the government took a line not to change the arrangements, with Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti and Rochester and Strood MP Kelly Tolhurst both voting to keep things as they are.

In/out/shake it all about
Despite nearly every Conservative MP declaring where they stand on the EU referendum, not one of our three Medway MPs have made their position clear. While Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch may have good reasons for this, Rehman Chishti and Kelly Tolhurst are still continuing the sham of pretending they don’t know where they stand, as if it’s something they’ve never considered before.

Elsewhere in Parliament
Kelly Tolhurst actually asked a question to the Prime Minister, though it was about an individual child protection case rather than anything bigger, like letting us know where she stands on the EU. Elsewhere, Rehman Chishti demanded that only accurate information about the EU is spread, after a letter was supposedly signed by a member of his constituency association whom he hasn’t heard of.

Medway Council

Duress, G4S
A potentially explosive new revelation in the scandal over abuse carried out by G4S staff at the Rochester Secure Training Centre this week. While Medway Council has largely been able to keep itself away from the issue up until now, a story this week suggests the council could have been notified about the concerns at the facility in a letter as early as 2003. Medway Council, for their part, are claiming they are unfamiliar with the letter.

Political Parties

Medway Conservatives
Matt Scott, the Conservative candidate for Kent Police and Crime Commissioner did some campaigning in Chatham. So there’s that.

Medway Labour
The party decamped to Chatham High Street on Saturday to launch their campaign to stay in the EU. So there’s that.

Medway UKIP
At this week’s budget meeting, Medway UKIP council group leader Roy Freshwater challenged the Tories on their by-election spending. As the main victims of the supposed overspending, it’s surprising that this has been the only way Medway UKIP have found to capitalise on it.

Medway Liberal Democrats
In a Christmas miracle, the Lib Dems have finally announced their candidate to be Kent Police and Crime Commissioner. Step forward, Dave Naghi! Dave has been the Lib Dem candidate in the constituency of Faversham and Mid Kent for many years, most recently coming 4th with 6.6% of the vote in 2015.
Additionally, in some actual local campaigning, they want a speed camera reinstalled in Strood. Easy now, guys.

Medway Green Party
The Medway Greens are the only party to take a position on Wetherspoons moving into Chatham – and they’re for it!
They’re also interested in what will happen to the old St. Bartholomew’s Hospital building, when it closes later this year.
Oh, and it turns out they’re still unhappy about the Lower Thames Crossing too!

Other News

Rehman About Town
This week, Rehman managed to have his photo taken with the Irish ambassador, the Greek ambassador, meeting this week’s solitary resident, with the blurry principal of Midkent College, and while looking far too relaxed on Sky News.

Medway Council Budget Smackdown ’16

Last night, Medway Council held it’s annual budget meeting, which aims to set out the council’s spending for the coming year. Not usually the most exciting affair, this year’s meeting managed to feature a lot of anger about bulky waste, an official investigation possibly being triggered by one of our blog posts, and an interesting revelation about the Leader of Medway Council and Sandra Bullock.
If you missed the full excitement of the meeting, you can catch up via this handy Storify collection:

The Week in Medway Politics: Referendum, meetings, pints

Medway MPs in Parliament: Recess edition

Spending allegations
Following serious allegations about the Conservatives possibly overspending in 2014’s Rochester and Strood by-election, Kent Police have said they will not be taking any action. The suggestion seems to be that this is due to a 12 month statutory limit in prosecutions in such cases, meaning it’s now too late to launch any action.

In/out/shake it all about
With the EU referendum being officially announced for June, we’re delighted that despite all three Medway MPs being Conservatives, we have a full set of differing opinions on the subject. According to this handy spreadsheet of MP positions from Guido Fawkes, Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti will be voting to remain in, Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch will be voting out, while Rochester and Strood MP Kelly Tolhurst used to be out, but is now in. Which, frankly, we are shocked by.

Medway Council

Full council on Thursday
This Thursday sees a full council meeting, with the only thing on the agenda being the setting of the budget for the coming year. With a council tax rise of nearly 4% on the agenda, this is likely to be a contentious one. You can come along and watch the fireworks yourself at the St. George’s Centre, Chatham Maritime, this Thursday from 7pm. Medway Momentum are planning to protest the event under the guise of protecting Sure Start Centres from cuts, even though there are no plans to cut them in the budget itself.

Local Plan
Medway Council is continuing to develop it’s Local Plan, where it needs to find room for tens of thousands of new houses over the next two decades. All of the documents for this and the ability to respond to the consultation are available via this webpage. Alternatively, you can go along to a local event to see more detail and discuss it with council officers. We went last week and found a lonely council officer, a solitary information board, and some leaflets. This week’s events are:
Medway Innovation Centre, Rochester – Tuesday (10am – noon)
Strood Sports Centre – Wednesday (2pm – 4pm)
Halling Community Centre – Thursday (2pm – 4pm)
Pilkington Building, Universities at Medway, Chatham – Friday (11.30am – 2pm)

Political Parties

Medway Conservatives
In a fairly unusual public move, Leader of Medway Council Alan Jarrett has, alongside 40 MPs and 150 other councillors, signed a letter to the Prime Minister calling for the liberalisation of archaic Sunday trading laws.

Medway Labour
The Rochester & Strood branch will be meeting this week to decide whether or not to endorse Tristan Osborne as Labour’s Kent Police & Crime Commissioner candidate. Given it’s his home constituency, this should just be a formality, but it would seem some vocal Corbyn supporters are encouraging members to turn up and vote against him, which was obviously be horribly embarrassing. Oh, to be a fly on the wall in that meeting.

Medway UKIP
Missing, because there’s not much going on at the moment that would be relevant to them.

Medway Liberal Democrats
Fancy a fun night out? Medway Lib Dems are inviting all members and non-members alike to a ‘Lib Dem Pint’ this Saturday. In the Rochester Wetherspoons. So many lovely, independent pubs in Rochester, so they arrange a meetup for somewhere that resembles the seventh circle of hell on a Saturday night.

Medway Green Party
Constantly finding new angles to tackle the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, they have dug up an old plan for Shorne which will be somewhat decimated by a giant new road and a tunnel ploughing through the area. We await to see next week’s angle on the subject.

Other News

Rehman About Town
This week, Rehman managed to have his photo taken running a marathon, meeting the King of Saudi Arabia (no word if he raised any pesky human rights issues), in his second home at Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre, with some cricket pals, meeting a solitary resident in Rainham, and letting a Gillingham resident decide his position on the EU.

The Week in Medway Politics: Spending allegations, cuts, litter

The big story

Serious allegations raised about Kelly Tolhurst’s campaign spending
Channel 4 News crunched the numbers of the Rochester & Strood by-election in November 2014, noting that the Conservatives may have exceeded the spending limit by over £50,000. Notts Police have begun an investigation following similar claims over the Newark by-election, but so far, Kent Police have said nothing on the matter. Kelly Tolhurst has, for her part, managed to keep her head down and not make any comment on the issue.

Medway MPs in Parliament

Police cuts
This week, MPs voted to reduce the Police Grant for 2016-17 by 2.7%. Amongst those voting for the cut in funding were Gillingham & Rainham MP Rehman Chishti, and Rochester & Strood MP, Kelly Tolhurst.

Council cuts
Also this week, MPs voted to reduce the Revenue Support Grant, the main grant for funding local councils, by 24.6%. Unsurprisingly, both Rehman Chishti and Kelly Tolhurst voted for the cut. Given both are also councillors on Medway Council, this may put them at odds with certain council colleagues who are unhappy with the reductions.

Elsewhere in Parliament
Kelly Tolhurst received a remarkable telling off for incorrect use of parliamentary language in the House of Commons, with the speaker at the time describing the situation as “we are back to year 3 again”. Rehman Chishti raised the issues at Medway Hospital, and asked what more the government can do to improve it’s situation.

Medway Council

Tough on litter, tough on the causes of litter
Medway Council made a big deal this week – as in it was the only news on their website – about catching a woman who dropped a cigarette butt. You’d think this might be a fairly regular event for a council with a civil enforcement team, but no, catching one woman dropping a cigarette butt is headline news.

Local Plan
Medway Council is continuing to develop it’s Local Plan, where it needs to find room for tens of thousands of new houses over the next two decades. All of the documents for this and the ability to respond to the consultation are available via this webpage. Alternatively, you can go along to a local event to see more detail and discuss it with council officers. This week’s events are:
Medway Park, Gillingham – Tuesday (10am – noon)
Riverside Country Park – Thursday (11am – 2pm)
Capstone Country Park – Friday (11am – 2pm)
Rochester Farmers Market – Sunday (10am – noon)

Other council news
Councillor Mackness is rather angry about a reduction in the rent costs for those in social housing, while a public enquiry about the Lodge Hill development has been delayed, yet again.

Political Parties

Medway Conservatives
Missing, presumably keeping their heads down until this little spending kerfuffle blows over.

Medway Labour
Unsurprisingly, the party aren’t too happy about the Conservative spending claims, with their candidate in that by-election, Cllr Naushabah Khan, formally requesting that Kent Police investigate the allegations.

Medway UKIP
It’s not much, but Rochester & Strood UKIP started a new Twitter account, seemingly after losing the keys to their old one.

Medway Liberal Democrats
The party aren’t pulling any punches about the Conservative spending allegations, using the term “election fraud” on several occasions.

Medway Green Party
Unsurprisingly, the impending Lower Thames Crossing is still the focus of the Medway Greens, with the party highlighting exactly the impact it would have on Strood and it’s surrounding area.

Other News

Rehman About Town
This week, Rehman managed to have his photo taken with the High Commissioner to Pakistan, staff at the NSPCC centre in Gillingham, off the TV with some odd contrast issues, before a half marathon, and after a half marathon.

Serious allegations raised about Kelly Tolhurst’s campaign spending

Channel 4 news have raised serious allegations about the spending of the Conservatives on Kelly Tolhurst’s losing by-election campaign against UKIP’s Mark Reckless in November 2014.

The Rochester and Strood MP declared a total spend for the campaign of £96,793, which is just shy of the £100,000 limit. Channel 4 News have now identified additional undeclared spending amounting to £56,867, meaning her campaign would have spent more than £50,000 over the legal limit.

The largest apparently undeclared receipt obtained by Channel 4 News was in Rochester & Strood, at the four-star Bridgewood Manor hotel in Chatham, Kent.

The receipt includes 19 pages of accommodation costs along with food, drinks, tips, and conference room and equipment hire, totaling £50,228.15.

Five other receipts for the hotel add up to £963.01 – making a total £51,191.16 bill.

Of this, 446 nights’ stay and £38,112.83 fell within the regulated period of 24 October 2014 to 20 November 2014, and should have been declared.

On top of this, Channel 4 News also noted that despite operating two campaign offices during the election – one on Rochester High Street and one in the Dockside Outlet Centre – no receipts were declared for either location.

Channel 4 News has also found that two Conservative campaign centres in Rochester were not declared, including one in an expensive retail mall.

The centre, Unit 67/68 of the Dockside Outlet Centre, consisted of 3,100 square feet of space in the busy shopping mall on St Mary’s Island next to the River Medway.

A quote obtained by Channel 4 News shows the cost including rent, rates, service charge and marketing cost would have been approximately £67,052 per year.

For the 28 days of the regulated period, this would work out as £5,143.71, not including any additional expenses such as utilities and telephone costs.

There is no receipt for the unit in Ms Tolhurst’s spending return.

The campaign also used an office on the High Street, Rochester where rent, rates, and phone receipts for the campaigning period would amount to £1,387.91.

Again, no receipt was declared.

The Conservative Party maintain that all spending has been correctly recorded, while the Electoral Commission that they are aware of the allegations, but it is for the police to investigate such complaints.