Voice of the Opposition: October

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.


One of the things you find when it comes to politics is that, on certain issues, it can be difficult to not fall into a bunch of clichés. When it comes to young people; they really do only get one chance in life, they absolutely do deserve the very best support available and they really are the future.

There are three examples of young people in Medway that I want to focus on this month. I can’t start in any other place than the recent Ofsted into Children’s Social Services which rated Medway Council as inadequate, the worst possible rating. In my more than a decade as a councillor it is truly one of the worst Ofsted reports I’ve seen. It is important to note that those in the front line of the service are given positive recognition in the report. Despite some social workers having caseloads of up to 55 – dramatically larger than you would anticipate considering the government figures show the average number of cases held by a children’s social worker is 17.4.

Continue reading “Voice of the Opposition: October”

Voice of the Opposition: August

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.


So the man who wanted to build an airport in our community has now got the keys to number ten.  There are many alarming things about Boris Johnson’s election to the role of Prime Minister. His obsession with the estuary airport, a vanity project of the highest order – considering the wide variety of evidence from environmental to economic all pointed to it being a flawed concept – but it’s not just us here in North Kent he managed to dismay.  

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Voice of the Opposition: July

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.

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Voice of the Opposition: June

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.


Following the local elections around 110,000 of Medway’s residents are now directly represented by Labour. I’m proud that we increased from 15 to 20 councillors and I welcome Siju, Harinder, Simon, Jo, Hazel, John, Mark, and Chrissy, along with welcoming back Stephen to the Labour & Co-operative Group.

We didn’t get the extra few councillors we would have needed to form an administration and that is disappointing. We will continue to be a constructive opposition group; offering criticism where the administration are getting it wrong and working collectively when there is cross-party consensus, as we have seen in the battle to defend stroke services in Medway.

I wanted to take a look back at some key decisions taken at the full council meeting the week before the election, starting with the declaration of the Climate Emergency. I was proud to move this motion which received cross party support because if we don’t tackle this then realistically everything else becomes irrelevant if we have no planet left. I pay tribute to the young people who lobbied for this to be discussed, their arguments were powerful. I am genuinely hopeful that the cross party advisory group which will be set up will give an opportunity to go into some detail and listen to key community partners to make sure Medway plays it part in tackling the Climate Emergency.

Labour’s licensing spokesperson Dan McDonald, seconded by our Deputy Leader Teresa Murray, also secured cross party support to tackle the fact that Uber are not currently licensed by Medway Council and are operating here under the claim that Medway is part of London. Our local Taxi association, the MLTDA, has obtained powerful legal opinion and the passing of this motion will mean the council will obtain their own independent legal opinion on the matter. I’m clear that the issue here is that Uber are simply not playing by the same rules as our hard working taxi drivers and are likely in breach of Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, Section 46 (1).

Unfortunately other motions did not secure the same cross party support – Alex Paterson and Adam Price proposed a key motion on the issue of food justice, recognising that in Medway close to 6,000 packages of support were given by Medway Foodbank alongside help and assistance from other charities and community organisations. We are one of the richest economies in the world so to see these sorts of statistics are sickening. Sadly the Conservatives failed to grasp the nettle and have not recognised the urgency of this matter.

Moving forward, there are a number of challenges on the horizon including the ongoing state of local government finances.  Worrying for local residents is that our council had one of the highest levels of reduction in our council finance reserves, being 11th on the list (out of 426 local authorities) for emergency reserve depletion since 2015. That list shows Conservative controlled Northamptonshire County Council top of the list – this is the council which has effectively gone bankrupt, exercising very poor financial management including ignoring numerous warnings. Dwindling reserves is one of the first warning signs of financial mismanagement and it’s extremely worrying that Medway is at risk of running out of reserves in the next four years. I look forward to the Conservative administration providing some further detail and putting Medway residents at ease about Medway’s ongoing financial situation.

We have also got the very practical issues around the regeneration of Strood which has repeatedly led to absolute gridlock, causing misery for residents and businesses. Of course communities want to see positive regeneration taking place, but not when it has been so poorly handled as we have seen here including a much loved local pub, the Riverside Tavern, at risk of closure due to the negative impacts regeneration are having in that part of Strood. Stephen Hubbard will be bringing forward a members item to try and make sure things are improved and quickly.

At the next full council meeting we will be debating the issue of how the mayoralty is selected. In the grand scheme of everything that Medway Council does this is not the most important thing but it is absolutely a point of principle. At the recent elections the Conservative Party got just 34% of a 31% turnout – that doesn’t mean they have the support of 100% of residents and absolutely doesn’t give the right for the first citizen of Medway to be the gift of one political party. Some Conservative members have privately said to me and other Labour colleagues they would be supportive of returning to the points based selection model so I hope they will vote to return to it at the July full council meeting.

This sits alongside other democratic issues such as the Chairs of Overview and Scrutiny committees.  My Labour colleague, Roger Truelove, recently became the Leader of Swale Borough Council. In his maiden speech as Leader he made it clear he would be offering the Chair of Scrutiny to the Conservative Group which they accepted.  In Westminster we see people from all parties chairing Select Committees.  However here in Medway, throughout my time as a councillor, all we have ever seen is Conservative Chairs of all Overview and Scrutiny committees – this is another change which would lead to a greater level of scrutiny and something which over the next four years should be strongly considered.

I can’t finish this month’s column without recognising that by the time the next column is published we will be close to having a new Prime Minister.  Frankly after nine years of Tory austerity and the hugely negative impact that has had on our communities the way I would like to be selecting a new prime minister is with a General Election and the person going through the front door at number ten being Jeremy Corbyn, but regrettably I recognise that it will only be Conservative Party members who will be selecting at this stage.

It is not for me to interfere in the “personal grief” of a selection process for another political party but I would respectfully remind all readers of The Political Medway that one candidate spent years attempting to singlehandedly create an Estuary Airport which would have been bad for Medway, bad for the environment and bad for UK PLC.  He had utter disrespect for Medway, repeatedly ignoring the cross party and community campaign and attempting to press on with his completely ludicrous idea. On KMTV’s Paul on Politics show I was asked who would be the next Tory Leader – my answer was simple A.B.B – Anyone But Boris.

Vince Maple is the leader of Medway Labour, the official opposition party on Medway Council, and a councillor for Chatham Central.

Virtual Doorstep: Five days to go!

It is said that elections are won on the doorstep, and that may well be true. Being armchair activists, it’s difficult to check up on that.
Twitter and blogs however are part of our social media present and future, and if the election was decided there, how would each of the wards be looking?

https://twitter.com/RobbieLammas/status/1120086681582034944
https://twitter.com/RobbieLammas/status/1120088390974738432
Continue reading “Virtual Doorstep: Five days to go!”

Virtual Doorstep: 2 weeks to go!

It is said that elections are won on the doorstep, and that may well be true. Being armchair activists, it’s difficult to check up on that.
Twitter and blogs however are part of our social media present and future, and if the election was decided there, how would each of the wards be looking?

Continue reading “Virtual Doorstep: 2 weeks to go!”

Recap: #MedwayDebates19

Last night, The Political Medway held our first live event, a debate between the future leaders of Medway Council as we approach the local elections. We were delighted to have Cllr Jarrett of Medway Conservatives and Cllr Maple from Medway Labour both came and set out their vision for Medway in front of an audience of approximately 200 people at Midkent College.

If you couldn’t make it along, you can catch up on all of the action from the evening below through medium of tweets:

Continue reading “Recap: #MedwayDebates19”

Tonight! The Medway Leaders’ Debate

Tonight is the night!

The Political Medway is hosting a debate between the potential future leaders of Medway Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett of Medway Conservatives and Cllr Vince Maple of Medway Labour.

We are immensely grateful that so many have taken an interest in this event and look forwarding to welcoming you to the Midkent College theatre tonight.

If you’re interested in attending and haven’t yet booked a ticket, you can do so here via Eventbrite.

Some final, practical information ahead of the event:

– You don’t need to print your tickets. You can if you like, but showing us your ticket on your phone is fine, as is just bringing ID so we can tick you off the list.

– The doors will open at 7pm for a prompt 7.30pm start. We are aiming to be done by 9pm.

– The Midkent College car park will be available. Upon passing the car park barriers (they will be open), proceed straight up the road to the main car park. Those with disabled blue badges can take the first left after the barriers, where disabled bays nearer the doors are located.

– From the disabled car parking spaces, the college is fully accessible, with step free access right into the theatre. If you have any specific accessibility requirements, please send us a message and will seek to accommodate them.

– Unfortunately we do not have a way of providing refreshments at this event, and we believe the Costa within the college will be closed. The restaurant may be open ahead of the event, and there are vending machines outside of the theatre.

– We have selected a broad range of questions from those submitted as you booked tickets. We received so many good questions that unfortunately we aren’t able to use them all, but we will get through as many as we can.

– There are a small number of tickets still left, so if you haven’t booked or know someone who might be interested, please get booked in! They will remain available until roughly 4pm today. You can book them here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/59291249724/

Phew! Think that’s it. We look forward to seeing you tonight!

Virtual Doorstep: Three weeks to go!

It is said that elections are won on the doorstep, and that may well be true. Being armchair activists, it’s difficult to check up on that.
Twitter and blogs however are part of our social media present and future, and if the election was decided there, how would each of the wards be looking?

https://twitter.com/conservatives43/status/1114544960781606912
https://twitter.com/alancollinspdb/status/1114869712603811841
Continue reading “Virtual Doorstep: Three weeks to go!”

Virtual Doorstep: Four weeks to go?!

It is said that elections are won on the doorstep, and that may well be true. Being armchair activists, it’s difficult to check up on that.
Twitter and blogs however are part of our social media present and future, and if the election was decided there, how would each of the wards be looking?

Continue reading “Virtual Doorstep: Four weeks to go?!”