So, farewell then to no less than 17 Medway councillors.
Between councillors losing their seats, retirements, and deselections, a little under a third of councillors who were in office last week ago no longer are. I thought it’d be nice to take a look at those who will no longer be gracing the council chamber. Consider this like the ‘in memoriam’ section at the Oscars, just without the glitz, glamour, and likeable personalities.
The Stand Downs
This is the group that didn’t even try to fight their seat. Some quietly slipped into retirement, either through their own volition, or their party deciding for them. Others went on to better things.
John Avey (Strood South, Con) – The first of a few councillors on this list I had to look up to remember exactly who they were. The only fact I have about John Avey is that he served three terms. Good for him.
Rehman Chishti (Rainham Central, Con) – Standing down after 16 years on the council, it’s been quite a ride for Rehman Chishti. Starting as a Labour councillor in Gillingham, he quickly defected to the Tories, and so his rise began. He’s been the MP for Gillingham and Rainham since 2010, and after nearly decade of that and several other jobs, he seems to have finally realised that he might not have the time to be a local councillor as well. His periodic attendance in the chamber will be missed.
Dorte Gilry (Twydall, Lab) – Cllr Gilry represented Twydall for nearly two decades. A solid local councillor who wasn’t fussed about playing the political games in the chamber.
Paul Godwin (Chatham Central, Lab) – One of the few remaining councillors who had been sitting since the creation of Medway in 1997. Cllr Godwin was the leader of the Medway Labour group up until a.. checks notes.. Vince Maple took over.
Glyn Griffiths (Twydall, Lab) – Another councillor who had been there since 1997, Griffiths had a strong analytic mind, and an all too rare skill in the chamber of only interjecting in debate when he actually had something to say.
Phil Hall (Strood North, Con) – Cllr Hall had a pretty awful attendance record, and it was an open secret that he had moved out of Medway at some point since his election. His lack of contributions and his browsing of his iPad during council meetings will not be missed.
Peter Hicks (Strood Rural, Con) – Cllr Hicks seems to have sat on pretty much every committee, but it’s still hard to point to much he actually did during his tenure on the council.
Anne-Claire Howard (Twydall, Ind) – Cllr Howard achieved what no previous Conservative had done before: she won in Twydall. How did her party thank her? By deselecting her, citing poor attendance, and definitely not because of her outspoken views about Brexit. Definitely not that.
Andrew Mackness (River, Con) – Cllr Mackness seemed to relish playing the role of the villain in the council chamber, tackling challengers head on, and making comments that almost seemed designed to rile up members of the public in the room. A man with many fingers in many pies, he’s stepped down from the council to focus on his other ventures. His time on the council has been colourful to say the least.
David Royale (Rainham South, Con) – Just the 16 years on the council for Cllr Royale, who chaired a number of committees, but rarely stayed to the end of full council.
Asha Saroy (Watling, Con) – Cllr Saroy had only been on the council for a single term, and decided that she needed to walk away. What that says about the nature of the system raises questions in itself. Her party decided to replace her with a rather more divisive candidate, and ended up losing the seat. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.
Julie Shaw (Chatham Central, Lab) – Another of the original class of 1997 on Medway Council, Cllr Shaw served as whip for the Labour group, so it’s understandable that she’d want to escape now.
Slightly harsh perhaps, but these are the councillors that tried to hold a seat, but couldn’t manage it. Not really any great surprises here.
Sam Craven (Luton and Wayfield, Ind, lost by 449 votes) – The first of two sitting Luton and Wayfield councillors to try to win again as independents but ultimately fail. Cllr Craven very publicly quit the Labour group last year, and decided to run again this year, despite not doing very much on the council since. That she received over 550 votes is a pretty solid result, all things considered.
Mike Franklin (Luton and Wayfield, Ind, lost by 590 votes) – Within a year of being elected, we highlighted the offensive tweets of Cllr Franklin, and three years later, the Conservatives finally suspended and then expelled him. Despite doing very little when he was in the party and even less once he was out, he decided to run again regardless, picking up a slightly worrying 400 votes in the process.
Roy Freshwater (Peninsula, UKIP, lost by 123 votes) – Oh, how he tried. The one remaining UKIP voice on Medway Council put up a valiant effort to hold his Peninsula seat. Scoring over 1000 votes, on another day that could have been enough to return him, but not this time. His contributions to council meetings, such as they were, will be missed in a way.
Mark Joy (Strood South, tried to fight Twydall, Con) – For reasons that no one truly understands, Cllr Joy was sent over to Twydall from his native Strood South, where he’d manage to represent the Conservatives, UKIP, and sit as an independent in his four year term. Despite the Tories winning one seat in Twydall in 2015, it wasn’t to be for Cllr Joy this time around.
Les Wicks (Rainham South, tried to fight Gillingham South, Con) – After representing Rochester, Strood, and Rainham at various points in his political career, Cllr Wicks was sent to a safe ward in Gillingham in this election. There’s less dignified ways to be shuffled off of the council, I suppose.
All of these councillors gone means a lot of new councillors in their place. What will they bring us? We’ll be finding out soon enough..