Last night was the latest full Medway Council meeting, the first featuring the new lineup of councillors elected back in May. If you didn’t fancy giving up four hours of your life on a Thursday to pop along, we’ve got all of the highlights below:
In which Chris Sams manages to tenuously link Independence Day to Medway politics..
The 4th of July is one of those dates we remember much like 1066, 1940 and 1348, I mean who can forget the date that Will Smith and that doctor from Jurassic Park saved the world from alien invasion?
The 4th July is, of course, the American Independence day. A date when the American nation celebrates breaking the union of the thirteen colonies with the English Empire in a move that is seen as driven by taking control of their own affairs, greater freedoms and democracy but in reality was all about dodging paying tea tax. Seems fair? Well, the mists of time and a popular history has hidden a few of the salient facts..
Once a month we will be offering the Leaders of both Medway Council and the official opposition the opportunity to talk unedited about.. well, Medway politics.
Today we hear from Vince Maple, leader of Medway Labour, the official opposition on Medway Council.
I’m writing this month’s Voice of the Opposition at the Local Government Association (LGA) Conference taking place this year in Bournemouth. This is an annual event which sees councillors from all political parties as well as senior council officers coming together to look at the state of the nation.
This year we will hear from people like the Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney and the Unison General Secretary Dave Prentis. Alongside this hearing from senior Labour politicians including Keir Starmer who addressed the Labour Group. During the session I raised with him the issue of devolution and the need for quality jobs and skills agenda in post Brexit Medway.
In which we welcome Caitlin Webb, the UK’s first Local Democracy Reporter, to The Political Medway to look at how welcoming Medway has been to refugees..
You may not know but 17-23 June was Refugee Week.
Before we delve into this subject- let’s get the facts straight. Refugees are displaced people who have been forced to leave their home country to escape war, persecution or natural disasters. This is different from migrants, who have moved to the UK for hope of a better life but could potentially return home.
Refugee Week may have gone under the radar because of the political sensitivity around the issue or simply because every week seems to be a celebration of something. Yet the Armed Forces Week has been promoted everywhere in the Towns.
In which we welcome Revd Dr Joel Love as he ponders the summer solstice, World Humanist Day, and our place in the world..
Clung to a ball That was hung in the sky Hurled into orbit There You are – Rich Mullins, ‘Verge of a Miracle’
This week sees the solstice and World Humanist Day, which both fall on 21 June. In the Northern hemisphere this is known as midsummer or the ‘summer’ solstice (whatever the weather). The summer solstice is when when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky and is the day with the shortest period of darkness and longest period of daylight.
Prehistoric sites such as Stonehenge stand as monuments to the annual cycle of the sun, which appears to rise higher in the sky during the summer before falling again towards the Southern horizon in the winter months. Here in the Medway area, Kits Coty is all that is left of an ancient burial mound that was also oriented towards the rising sun. Many Christian Churches are also built on an East-West axis, sometimes literally on top of earlier places of worship. Humanists International, meanwhile, chose the 21st of June because it symbolises light triumphing over darkness, where one represents ‘knowledge’ and the other ‘ignorance’.
Once a month we offer a platform to the leaders of both Medway Council and the official opposition. Today, we have the latest column from Cllr Alan Jarrett, Leader of Medway Council.
Hmm! Tough choice to make this month: spend most of my 1,000 words whining about Medway Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committees, and who is Medway’s Mayor, or get on with discussing the things that really do have a major impact on the lives of Medway people.
May 23rd saw the Euro elections we were never supposed to have. Those elections were the electoral equivalent of having sand kicked in our faces. Like all of us the electorate does not like having sand kicked in its face, and decided to kick back.
For our iFAQ this week, we decided to ask councillors, smaller parties, and other relevant stakeholders for their views on what National Citizen Service does for Medway. Partly because we’re two middle aged guys who know very little about the NCS, and partly because it’s been in the news a bit recently.
As usual, we told all of them that we would publish their responses unedited. You can find them below in the order they were received.
Once a month we hand over to Alan Collins from Medway Elects who digs into the Medway electoral data to try to tell us what it all means. This month we sent him the fun task of looking at the murky world of Medway’s Mayoral system…
A cursory glance at the Medway Conservative Group website this past weekend would have you believe that this blog’s favourite (or is it the other way around?) councillor Steve Iles is the “elected mayor” of Medway.
The fact is that neither Cllr Iles nor Cllr Tejan are the elected mayor of Medway for the very simple reason that Medway does not have an elected mayor, or at least not an elected mayor as provided for in section 9H of the Local Government Act 2000, which states that an “elected mayor” is:
“an individual elected as mayor of the authority by the local government electors for the authority’s area in accordance with the provisions made by or under this Part.”
An elected mayor is the executive leader of the local authority, elected by the people under the supplementary voteelectoral system. In (very) simplified form, in Medway it would be the equivalent position to that currently occupied by Cllr Alan Jarrett, but elected by a larger support base than being given the position on the nod by councillors who were elected by just 34% of the 31% of voters who turned out. Instead of a leader chosen from among the councillors and a cabinet, it would be a mayor who could not simultaneously be a councillor and a cabinet. Similar functions as a leader, but with more power balanced by direct democratic accountability for their policies and decisions.
According to that great font of knowledge Wikipedia, 15 local authorities in England and Wales currently have an elected mayor, while a further 9 mayors represent a multi-authority region (such as Greater London). Three local authorities (Hartlepool, Stoke-on-Trent and Torbay) used to have an elected mayor, but decided it wasn’t for them and reverted to a leader and cabinet system after local referenda. Of those 24 mayors, none represent Medway, which perhaps makes the discussion in this article so far purely academic. So why bring it up?