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

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

Two more Medway councillors defect to UKIP

As Medway UKIP have been promising for a while now, two more former Conservative councillors have defected to the party. One of these – Tom Mason – is not surprising in the slightest. The other – Vaughan Hewett – is rather more out of the blue.

Tom Mason is currently a Conservative councillor for Strood Rural, and had recently been unceremoniously deselected from the Conservative party for the upcoming election. After being a local councillor for 45 years, he didn’t take this too well, and made no secret of his outrage over the matter. After a few months of flirting with UKIP but not going public, he’s today revealed he’ll be standing for the party in the coming elections.

The case of Vaughan Hewett is rather more strange. Until last year, he was a Conservative councillor for Rainham North, and actually one of the more reasonable ones. He resigned from the party following a falling out with his fellow ward councillor David Carr. This was because Cllr Carr had made unpleasant comments about travellers that Cllr Hewett described as “something akin to the BNP”. After a year of sitting as an Independent Conservative, Cllr Hewett has now joined UKIP, and will also fight his seat in the coming elections.

Is this the last of the UKIP defections in Medway, or do the party have one or two more surprises up their sleeves?