Virtual Doorstep: 19 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: 19 Weeks to go..”

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: Costly concerts

Castle Concerts

This week for inFrequently Answered Questions, we decided to take a look at the Castle Concerts held in Rochester each year. This year, the events ended up causing a loss to the taxpayer of over £300,000, so we decided to ask some questions. Instead of asking every councillor about it, we asked relevant portfolio holders, the councillors for the part of Rochester where the concerts are held, as well as other, non-council voices.

As usual, we told each that we would publish all responses entirely unedited. That is what you will find below, in the order their responses were received by us.

Q1. With reports that the Castle Concerts made a loss of over £300k, what is an acceptable financial loss for the Castle Concerts?

Q2. Are the Castle Concerts an effective way for Medway Council to improve the local cultural offer or the resources be better invested elsewhere?

Continue reading “iFAQs: Costly concerts”

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”

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”

Dickensian Medway, Hard Times: Homelessness

In which Keevil publishes the first in a series of indubitably jolly pieces looking at hardship within Medway.

Click this link if you are at risk of homelessness

(Leave the comment ‘Hard Times’ on any Ko-fi donation in relation to this article and a hot drink will be given to a homeless person.)

In 2017, Shelter estimated that Medway had 1,059 total homeless people and 14 long term rough sleepers.
Medway Council’s Rough Sleeper Estimate, in October 2017, verified by Homeless Link, had a figure of 44 rough sleepers in Medway. Continue reading “Dickensian Medway, Hard Times: Homelessness”

The Week in Medway Politics: New mayor, not so new Cabinet

Medway MPs in Parliament

Quiet week in Parliament
Just the Queens Speech in Parliament this week, so our MPs haven’t been up to much. In the lengthy debate that began following the speech, Gilingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti managed to ask the Prime Minister about where the line on free speech and extremism should be drawn. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the answer was worrying vague.

Medway Council

Meet new cabinet, same as the old cabinet
This week, the Conservative administration of Medway Council announced who will be in the cabinet for the coming year. It should come as little surprise that the cabinet remains unchanged from last year, meaning Medway will continue to be represented by a cabinet that’s 100% white and 90% male. Just like Medway itself, obviously.

Meet the new mayor, different to the old mayor
This week, Medway’s new mayor and deputy mayor officially took up their positions, with Rochester West councillor Stuart Tranter and Princes Park councillor Gloria Opara taking on the respective roles. Tranter replaces previous mayor Barry Kemp in the role, who is stepping back after two years in the role, as detailed in this glowing profile from the Medway Messenger.

Political Parties

Medway Conservatives
Still missing, because after winning the Police and Crime Commissioner election, there’s not much for them to do until 2019.

Medway Labour
Utterly incredibly, it’s now been twelve 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
Missing, because there’s nothing coming up that UKIP might be interested in, is there?

Medway Liberal Democrats
Usually, political parties out campaigning give you some nonsense about everything was so brilliant for them. So it’s refreshing to see such honesty from the Medway Lib Dems, who cheerily announced that they had “some” positive responses to their campaigning in Chatham.
If you’ve missed the previous dates on their tour, you’ve got one more chance to catch them as they descend on Rochester High Street at 10am this Saturday.

Medway Green Party
They haven’t done so for several weeks, so happily the Medway Greens are once again sharing stories of opposition to the proposed option for the Lower Thames Crossing.

Other News

Rehman about town
This week, Rehman Chishti managed to have his photo taken with the new mayor, the new deputy mayor, Kelly Tolhurst, a balcony of his block of flats, some children, the Gillingham stadium, the Strand, a blurry Attorney General, runners at the Race for Life, some confused cricketers, and a soggy Hempstead Fair.

The Fortnight in Medway Politics: Beacons, think tanks, tax returns

The big story

Final list of candidates for Kent Police and Crime Commissioner – full story
After months of build up, we finally received confirmation of who is, and more importantly isn’t, standing for Kent Police and Crime Commissioner. With current commissioner Ann Barnes standing down, one of six new names will be taking on the role next month.

Medway MPs in Parliament

Two jobs Chishti
There were some interesting revelations in the latest issue of Private Eye about Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti. After taking up a £24,000 a year job for a Saudi Arabian think-tank, he led a delegation of MPs to the country. Unlike his recent football freebies, Chishti did at least register this trip correctly in the register of MPs’ interests. Curiously, he claimed to have met with “human rights groups” during the trip, which the Eye finds questionable given that the country doesn’t apparently have any such groups. Upon being asked to name the groups he had met with, Chishti refused to respond.

Elsewhere in Parliament
Rochester and Strood MP Kelly Tolhurst was very, very concerned that some Africans managed to sneak into north Kent. Following recent stories about the tax arrangements of MPs, Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch declared there was ‘nothing of interest’ in her tax return. But then she would say that, wouldn’t she?

Medway Council

Set some of Medway on fire!
Medway Council launched a curious competition this week, inviting residents of Medway to light a giant beacon on the Great Lines to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. As a staunch republican, Jennings immediately took the opportunity to enter, and after several days, is still one of only two entries. So if you’d like your chance to set fire to a little bit of Medway in the name of an antiquated class based system, head on over to Twitter and tell Medway Council why you should be allowed to light the beacon using #MedwayBeacons.

Unappy days
After five years, Medway Council has done away with it’s Love Medway app, which allowed residents and council staff to report issues such as fly tipping, broken street lights, or graffiti. Launched at a cost of £7,000, the council claimed it saved money overall, yet has decided to do away with it now. Despite some perfectly good free alternatives being available, such as FixMyStreet, the council has suggested residents go back to phoning the council to get things fixed, as if it was 1989.

Political Parties

Medway Conservatives
Once again, the two main factions of the local Conservative group engaged in their annual scrap to decide which councillor should receive the role of mayor for the following year. Despite the role being entirely meaningless, both sides will go all out to take control of it, with Rochester West councillor Stuart Tranter being the lucky recipient this year. Princes Park councillor Gloria Opara is likely to be his deputy.

Medway Labour
Remarkably, several months on, the Medway Labour website is still hacked, so it’s clear they’ve pretty much given up trying to fix it at this stage, even if leaving the old site up presents a security risk to visitors.
Following the above revelations about Rehman Chishti’s second job in Saudi Arabia, Medway Labour are concerned that he hasn’t registered this new role with the council.
If you fancy meeting a Shadow Cabinet Minister (and why wouldn’t you?), you can join Medway Labour’s ‘Curry & Chat’ evening in Rochester, which will only set you back a mere £25.

Medway UKIP
Missing, because with an EU referendum, and a Police and Crime Commissioner election where they’re likely to be in the top two, they’ve got nothing to do.

Medway Liberal Democrats
Happily, the Medway Lib Dems notify everyone of when they’ll be campaigning, so no one has to miss out on the excitement. Over the coming weeks, they’ll be out no less than five – count ’em – five times! Next Saturday you’ll find them in Rainham, and the week after that in Gillingham. After that, they’ll take a week off, before popping up on May 14 in Strood, then May 21 in Chatham, before wrapping up their campaigning for the year on May 28 in Rochester.

Medway Green Party
Unusually, they haven’t posted about the Lower Thames Crossing for a while, but they are unhappy about plans to demolish the Royal Oak pub in Frinsbury.
Rather charmingly Green, they’d also like to see pod homes built above car parks in Medway that could be sold to first time buyers for £50,000.