The Fortnight in Medway Politics: Planning, police, powerhouses

Medway MPs in Parliament

Lower Thames Crossing
The consultation on the Lower Thames Crossing closed at the end of March, so we thought we’d take a look at where our local MPs stand on an issue that has great relevance to the people of Medway. Somewhat surprisingly, most of them don’t really stand anywhere. Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti and Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch have made little public comment beyond sharing the consultation. Unusually, the only one to take a stand is Rochester and Strood MP Kelly Tolhurst, who came out against it, presumably because she doesn’t have to sit in the queues at Dartford every day.

Elsewhere in Parliament
It won’t be all that surprising to discover that both Rehman Chishti and Kelly Tolhurst both voted for George Osborne’s recent (and not entirely well received) budget. Additionally, in a slightly bizarre intervention following the Brussels attacks, Rehman Chishti demanded more “theological language” to fight terrorists.

Medway Council

Planning palaver
A baffling interlude courtesy of Medway Council’s planning policy this week. On Wednesday, councillors will vote on a range of planning applications, the most interesting being a proposed trampoline centre at Rainham Mark. Despite the proposed building having sat empty for a long time, the centre creating 45 jobs, consultation responses being 3 to 1 in favour, the recommendation is for the committee to refuse the application. The reason? It’s not in the right part of town, whereas the the KFC drive-thru right next door is perfectly fine. In the same week, the Cabinet looks set to wave through a plan to build a giant marina right outside of Gun Wharf.

The Kentish Powerhouse
Some curious comments from Leader of Medway Council Alan Jarrett, who told the KM that Medway is talking with other councils in Kent about powers and funding models that may be offered from central government. While there has been talk previously of other Kent County Council controlled boroughs forming larger groups, this is the first time Medway has been confirmed as taking part in such discussions.

Political Parties

Medway Conservatives
Kent Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner candidate Matthew Scott campaigned in Rainham this weekend, but otherwise, the party seems to be keeping it’s head down.

Medway Labour
Incredibly, the Medway Labour website is still hacked, despite the party being aware of the issue weeks ago.
The party are also concerned by the seeming hypocrisy between the Leader of Medway Council Alan Jarrett opposing government plans to make all schools academies, while trying to make all Medway schools convert mere weeks earlier.
Labour also hit the streets of Strood South, ostensibly to campaign to remain in the European Union, and nothing to do with a likely by-election in the ward. Interestingly, there was no sign of Strood South Conservative UKIP Independent Labour councillor Mark Joy on the campaign trail.

Medway UKIP
Not to be outdone by Matthew Scott, Kent UKIP Police and Crime Commissioner candidate Henry Bolton campaigned in both Gillingham and Chatham this weekend.

Medway Liberal Democrats
They reported some dumped bin bags to the council. Jolly good.

Medway Green Party
Unsurprisingly, they’re still unhappy about the Lower Thames Crossing, and not really sure how to deal with Kelly Tolhurst ultimately being on the same side as them.
They’re unhappy that Medway Council have begun charging for all bulky waste collections too.
They’re also unhappy about a new retail development on Medway City Estate being built without road improvements. Though if the council proposed more roads, they’d probably be unhappy about that too.

Other News

Minor Police and Crime Commissioner candidate roundup
Previously announced Independent Police and Crime Commissioner candidate Tim Garbutt may be out of the race as he seemingly didn’t check how much it costs to stand before now.
No such problems for another Independent candidate, Gurvinder Sandher, who has been hitting the campaign trail all over Kent, including a stop in Rochester this week.
We’ve covered the baffling campaign of Fergus Wilson several times before, so we won’t again in detail here, but blogger Jon Patience has been staying on top of latest events.
..and in one of the most jaw dropping twists of the campaign, English Democrat candidate Steve Uncles successfully convinced a judge to delay his trial for election fraud so he could fight this election.

The Week in Medway Politics: Super brief edition

A briefer roundup than usual this week as Jennings is currently across the Irish sea..

Medway MPs in Parliament

Data privacy
This week, MPs debated and voted on the new Investigatory Powers Bill, that will give the authorities the ability to store and investigate every citizen’s communications records and data, including every website they have ever visited. The Bill passed with both Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti and Rochester and Strood MP Kelly Tolhurst voting for it, the latter going full ‘won’t somebody please think of the children’ in her speech on the issue.

Elsewhere in Parliament
A busy week for Rehman Chishti, as he brought up the crucial issue of a constituent who hasn’t had their tumble dryer repaired fast enough. More importantly, he wrote an article for ConservativeHome, detailing his plan to get laser pens banned from public sale. On top of that, he wrote for PoliticsHome on his plan to increase penalties on dodgy tobacco.

Medway Council

For possibly the first time, absolutely nothing of note seems to have happened involving Medway Council this week.

Political Parties

Medway Conservatives
Still missing, presumably trying to make excuses for Cllr Franklin’s tweets. This week he suggested fox hunting is no worse than killing ants.

Medway Labour
Despite claims last week that it would be fixed, and some bizarre spin about it raising awareness of cyber security, the Medway Labour website is still hacked.
The party also responded to the budget, which you’ll be shocked to discover, they weren’t really a fan of.

Medway UKIP
Missing, because there’s not much going on they’d be interested in.

Medway Liberal Democrats
They’re worried about cuts to pharmacies, apparently.

Medway Green Party
Perhaps prudently, the Greens are gearing up for a potential by-election in Strood South.
They’re also concerned about the amount of affordable housing in Medway in the coming years.
Oh yeah, they’re not happy about the Lower Thames Crossing either.

We’ll be off for an Easter break next weekend (when Jennings will be in Wales), but normal service will resume in two weeks time..

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.

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 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.

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.

The Week in Medway Politics: Housing, tobacco, rebellions

Medway MPs in Parliament

Free thinkers
As it’s been yet another quiet week in parliament for our Medway MPs, we thought we’d check out how rebellious each of them has been in the nine months since the general election. The answer? Not very. According to data from Public Whip, Tracey Crouch was the most rebellious, voting against the government in 0.7% in votes, while both Rehman Chishti and Kelly Tolhurst haven’t rebelled once.

Rehman takes on tobacco
The Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti got to ask a question at Prime Minister’s Question this week, raising the case of illegal tobacco being sold in Gillingham that had “destroyed the local economy”. As is always the case on these things, the Prime Minister promised to have a look into the matter.

Elsewhere in Parliament
Rehman Chishti managed to ask another question about Pakistan, a place he seems to raise more in parliament than Gillingham or Rainham.

Medway Council

Rochester developments
This week’s Planning Committee meeting will likely see the council agree to a proposal to demolish 32 homes on Corporation St in Rochester, to be replaced by 89 new units. This in itself is no bad thing, as Medway urgently needs housing, and the properties currently on the site are rather run down. However, the project will see the demolishing of 16 social homes, with 0 of the 89 new units being offered as social homes, or even ‘affordable housing’. The council’s own policy dictates that such developments should have a minimum of 25% affordable housing, and are still disputing with the developer on this one, but seem happy to let the project go ahead regardless.

Political Parties

Medway Conservatives
Still missing, presumably because trying to keep Cllr Franklin off Twitter is taking up too much of their time.

Medway Labour
Missing, presumably because there’s no elections to fight for a while now.

Medway UKIP
A rare appearance for Medway UKIP in this section as, inexplicably, constituency chairman Chris Spalding popped up on Radio 4’s Today programme to weigh in on the upcoming EU referendum.

Medway Liberal Democrats
Missing, because the last few weeks of activity now means they’re all tuckered out.

Medway Green Party
The Medway Greens are so grumpy about the Lower Thames Crossing that they’ve put out their first proper press release since September on it. Easy now, guys.

Medway TUSC
Missing, because they need to seem to be a shell of their former selves.

Other News

Rehman About Town
A poor showing for Rehman this week as he only managed to have his photo taken with a World Cancer Day plaque, two residents while entering a limbo contest, on the television, and in an Arabic newspaper. Maybe he’ll up his selfie game next week.

The Week in Medway Politics: Trains, tunnels, lasers

The big stories

Cllr Tristan Osborne to be Labour Kent Police and Crime Commissioner candiate
This week, we exclusively revealed that Luton and Wayfield councillor Tristan Osborne will be the Labour candidate for Kent Police and Crime Commissioner in May.

The troubling tweets of Conservative councillor Michael Franklin
We also uncovered the worrying Twitter history of the Conservative councillor for Luton and Wayfield.

Medway MPs in Parliament

Quiet week in Parliament
Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch now away on maternity leave, and Rochester and Strood MP Kelly Tolhurst didn’t speak in any debates this week. That left Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti as the only Medway MP to speak this week, where he only asked questions – six of them no less – on laser pointers.

Political Parties

Medway Conservatives
Still missing, presumably because trying to keep Cllr Franklin off Twitter is taking up too much of their time.

Medway Labour
This week, Medway Labour have mostly spent the week moaning about the trains. Because you can’t go wrong moaning about the trains.

Medway UKIP
Still missing, because it’s Medway UKIP.

Medway Liberal Democrats
Not much happening within the Medway Lib Dems this week, but they’re holding a Ladies Social next week, because apparently it’s 1956.

Medway Green Party
Unsurprisingly, the Greens have an opinion on the proposed Lower Thames Crossing that will link from the M2 west of Medway across to Essex.

Medway TUSC
Missing, as they’ve probably all signed up to Labour by this point.

Other News

Lower Thames Crossing kerfuffle
After months of indecisiveness, it was formally announced that the preferred option for a new crossing of the Thames would be the one that had most impact upon Medway. The planned route, involving a tunnel and new high speed road connection between the west of Strood and Essex, will now undergo a full consultation. Various councils are now forming their positions on the plan – Kent and Dartford are in favour, while Gravesham is opposed. The Medway Council cabinet don’t seem to want to commit to a position, with Regeneration lead Cllr Chitty saying she’d need to see proper detail of the infrastructure and junctions before commenting. She apparently missed that these details, and much more, were published in full on the Lower Thames Crossing website.

Rehman About Town
This week, Rehman saw selfie opportunities while he was signing the Holocaust Book of Commitment, while laying on a radiotherapy machine, while meeting a parliamentary delegation from Pakistan, and while talking to a solitary resident.

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