iFAQs: Protesting on the peninsula

For inFrequently Answered Questions this week, we decided to take the pulse of the Hoo peninsula. With increased development, local discontent tends to be building, with a protest – led by political upstarts Medway People’s Voice – even being held to demand better infrastructure.

With Peninsula being the ward with the largest number of announced candidates, we decided to contact them all to get their views of the situation in the area, as well as their thoughts on the protest.

As usual, all responses are posted below entirely unedited. In a break with convention, Cllr Pendergast decided to post his responses on his Facebook page last week, so apologies to both readers who may have already read them there.

Continue reading “iFAQs: Protesting on the peninsula”

Much ado about UKIP

This week we are interrupting our regular schedule to bring you an examination of how each local political party appears to be preparing for the May 2019 elections. 
Today we are looking at Medway UKIP.

The four years since the 2015 local elections have not been kind to Medway UKIP. Riding high on Rochester and Strood MP Mark Reckless’ defection to the party and subsequent by-election victory, the omens looked fairly good heading into the last set of elections. Yet, despite the results not being as strong as some faces within the party were expecting, they won a solid four seats on the council, immediately placing themselves as the third party in local politics.

This success lasted a matter of weeks, given two tactical errors that undercut them from day one. The leader of the group, Chris Irvine, a sitting councillor in Peninsula, decided to fight for a seat in Rochester East instead and lost. More devastating was the loss of Mark Reckless as an MP. These two issues immediately destroyed any momentum Medway UKIP had, and others in the party quickly began to fall away. One of their councillors, Mark Joy, declared independence from the party in no time at all, before eventually joining the Tories. A second, Catriona Brown-Reckless, resigned and moved to Wales. Most recently, Cllr Mick Pendergast resigned to sit as an independent, and has since formed his own group to fight the 2019 elections.

Ostensibly, this leaves only Cllr Roy Freshwater as both the leader and the entire membership of the Medway UKIP group.

Where can the party realistically go from here in Medway?

Continue reading “Much ado about UKIP”

iFAQ: Something positive for 2019

For the final iFAQ of the year, we decided to ask all 55 councillors three simple questions. In the festive spirit, we kept these questions fairly straightforward and on a positive note as we move into a new year.

Readers, a grand total of three councillors replied. As such, we now present those answers in full. They probably aren’t the three you expect either.

Continue reading “iFAQ: Something positive for 2019”

iFAQs: Brexit omnishambles

One of our popular features on The Political Medway is inFrequently Answered Questions, where we’d send off questions to relevant political figures and hope that we might occasionally get a reply. This week, we kept things nice and simple by sending the following two questions to every Medway councillor:

Q1. What is your preferred option for Brexit? May’s deal, no deal, or no Brexit?
Q2. What do you think of Medway Council’s Cabinet decision not to prepare for Brexit?

 

 

We told every councillor that they had a week to respond, and that we would publish their responses entirely unedited. All responses are published below, in the order that they were received by us.

Continue reading “iFAQs: Brexit omnishambles”

iFAQs: Personal data and doorstep breaches

This week for inFrequently Asked Questions, we decided to mix up the format yet again. Instead of contacting every councillor with a question, we decided to ask each party two questions on data protection. Political parties can obtain copies of the electoral register from local authorities to use for political purposes. Each party is responsible for complying with the rules on data protection, and so in light of the recent accident by Medway Conservative Robbie Lammas, it seemed like an appropriate topic.

We sent the following questions to Medway Conservatives, Medway Labour, Medway UKIP, Medway Lib Dems, and Medway Greens. We told each party that we would publish their responses entirely unedited. All responses are published below, in the order that they were received by us.

Q1. What training and resources does your party provide to councillors, candidates, and activists regarding GDPR and the personal data of voters when canvassing?

Q2. Does your party have a clear procedure in place in the event of councillors, candidates, and activists breaching data protection rules? Continue reading “iFAQs: Personal data and doorstep breaches”

inFrequently Answered Surveys: I’m Still Standing

One of our popular features on The Political Medway is inFrequently Answered Questions, where we send questions to relevant political figures and hope that we might occasionally get a reply.

It’s time to do our first (Keevil) / last (Jennings) survey!

Following developments last week with Cllr Pendergast leaving Medway UKIP, Cllr Howard leaving Medway Tories and further afield in Dover, Cllr Eddy, the former leader of the Labour Opposition leaving the Labour Group to join the Greens, we (just Keevil) decided to ask the other 53 councillors to select one statement that best represented them for #LocalElection2019:
– I will be standing in the same ward with the same party.
– I will be standing in the same ward with a different party.
– I will be standing in a different ward with the same party.
– I will be standing in a different ward with a different party.
– I will be standing as an Independent.
– I will be standing as a member of The ‘Medway’s Voice Party’.
– I have decided to stand down.
– I have been deselected.
– I do not know if I will be standing or be deselected.
– I did not know there was a Local Election in 2019.
Continue reading “inFrequently Answered Surveys: I’m Still Standing”

iFAQs: Min Attendance / Max Council

One of our popular features that we used to have on The Political Medway was inFrequently Answered Questions, where we’d send off questions to relevant political figures and hope that we might occasionally get a reply. As we get going on this project again, we’ve decided to start asking some questions of our esteemed councillors once again.

To get us going, we started with an easy one, and sent all 55 Medway councillors the following question:

What should be the minimum attendance percentage of full council meetings for a councillor to retain their position?

We told every councillor that they had a week to respond, and that we would publish their responses entirely unedited. All responses are published below, in the order that they were received by us.

Continue reading “iFAQs: Min Attendance / Max Council”

Pub landlord calls time on UKIP

Today, following weeks of rumours about his future, Peninsula Councillor Mick Pendergast formally resigned from the UKIP group on the council, choosing to sit as an independent for now.

Pendergast, who runs the Nags Head pub in Lower Stoke, was elected as part of a small UKIP wave in 2015, when the party managed to win four seats on the council. Since then, three of those councillors have resigned or defected, leaving leader Councillor Roy Freshwater as the only UKIP representation in the chamber. Continue reading “Pub landlord calls time on UKIP”

The Fortnight in Medway Politics: Children, Chairmen, Conduct

The big stories

Matthew Scott is Kent’s new Police and Crime Commissioner – full story
Last week, after an uninspiring campaign period, voters of Kent went to the polls to select a new Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent after sitting Commissioner Ann Barnes decided to stand down. Matthew Scott for the Conservatives was victorious, beating second placed Henry Bolton of UKIP. We had full analysis of the results, including an awful lot of graphs.

The Medway Council April ding dong – full story
Medway Council held it’s April meeting, which featured such exciting events as a new mayor being selected, and some revelations on the EU referendum. As usual, we were there to livetweet the proceedings, and you can catch up with all of the highlights above.

Medway MPs in Parliament

Save Sod the children
In one of the most remarkable votes of this parliament so far, both Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti and Rochester and Strood MP Kelly Tolhurst voted against allowing unaccompanied child refugees into the UK. Kelly Tolhurst even spoke at length in the parliamentary debate on why taking needy children in would be such a terrible thing to do. Of course, it’s all slightly moot now as it seems the government will u-turn and allow the children in after all, but it’s worth remembering that the first instinct of Medway MPs was to refuse to help children in need.

In, out, shake it all about
Six weeks out from the EU referendum, and our three Medway MPs are still declining to reveal where they stand on this incredibly important issue. It almost seems like they are all attempting to run out the clock and not tell their constituents where they stand, to avoid any awkward confrontations with their local party members.

Elsewhere in Parliament
Kelly Tolhurst spoke at length on energy generation on the Isle of Grain, while also acknowledging that some will be sad to see the chimney at Kingsnorth power station demolished.

Medway Council

All change
A sudden departure from Medway Council this week for it’s head of children and adult services, Barbara Peacock. Her time at the council can be described as rocky at best.

Curious conduct
A rare outing for Medway Council’s Councillor Conduct Committee this Wednesday. An interesting agenda that focuses on introducing social media guidelines for councillors, while also dealing with a complaint against a councillor. Whatever could it all be about?

Political Parties

Medway Conservatives
Missing, because after winning the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner election, they don’t really need to bother doing anything.

Medway Labour
Utterly incredibly, it’s now been ten weeks since the Medway Labour website was hacked, proving a security risk to user’s visiting, and they still haven’t managed to fix it. Yet they’d like the voters to hand them the keys to Gun Wharf.

Medway UKIP
Curious events within Rochester and Strood UKIP as chairman Chris Spalding stepped down from the role. No reason was given for this, but rumours of disharmony within the local party over the actions of Medway UKIP leader on Medway Council Roy Freshwater may well have played a part.
In a rare bout of local campaigning, the very same Cllr Freshwater was out and about in Chatham, encouraging people to leave the EU. Obviously.

Medway Liberal Democrats
Want to meet some local Lib Dems, if only to prove they exist? They’ll be in Strood High Street from 10am on Saturday!

Medway Green Party
As you might expect, the local Greens are a little concerned about Medway’s new local plan allowing housing development on green spaces, particularly after leader of the council Alan Jarrett stated that this would be necessary.

Other news

Reckless move
After being unceremoniously losing his Westminster seat in last year’s general election, Mark Reckless made his return to mainstream politics after being elected to – of all places – the Welsh Assembly. While we wish Mark well in his new venture, we are left wondering what will happen with his wife’s council seat in Strood South. Will she be resigning this to head to Wales, or will Mark be taking in one hell of a commute? Either way, it’s a question that Cllr Andrew Mackness is eager to get the bottom of.

Medway Council Budget Smackdown ’16

Last night, Medway Council held it’s annual budget meeting, which aims to set out the council’s spending for the coming year. Not usually the most exciting affair, this year’s meeting managed to feature a lot of anger about bulky waste, an official investigation possibly being triggered by one of our blog posts, and an interesting revelation about the Leader of Medway Council and Sandra Bullock.
If you missed the full excitement of the meeting, you can catch up via this handy Storify collection: