Voice of the Opposition: March

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 write this Saturday evening after one of the most challenging weeks in modern history. 

Our community of Medway, our country and our planet are dealing with a pandemic which is having huge and lasting impacts.

Yesterday, Friday 19th March, saw the tragic announcement of the first death in Medway related to Coronavirus or CoVid19 – my thoughts are with his friends and family at this most difficult time for them.

The regrettable reality is that it is unlikely to be the only loss we see here in Medway and every single individual lost to this virus will be felt by the whole community – the community which has shown such tremendous examples of compassion for others in these early stages of this public health challenge.

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Voice of the Opposition: February

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.


As is often said a week is a long time in politics and since the last column there has been a lot going on in Medway politics.

It’s worth recognising that there continues to be a vacancy for the Medway Local Democracy Reporter so the job of holding all politicians to account done by Ed and Steve is more important than ever.

Of course, one political event since my last column was the general election. I want to thank every single person who voted Labour across the three Medway constituencies. I was proud to stand alongside Teresa and Andy as Labour’s parliamentary team in Medway. As I said at the count political parties in the UK are fundamentally volunteer organisations so the fact that so many people gave their time in the run up to Christmas to play their part in the election campaign shows real dedication.

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iFAQ: The first positive of Brexit

With the UK set to depart the EU this Friday, and in the spirit of not coming across as remoaner snowflakes, we decided to ask each Medway political party about the sunlit uplands on the Brexit horizon.

As usual, we told all of them that we would publish their responses unedited. You can find them below in the order they were received.

With the UK now scheduled to leave the EU on January 31, what will be first major positive to come out of our departure?

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iFAQ: Housing infrastructure fun

Medway was recently awarded a £170m grant from the Housing Infrastructure Fund to unlock future housing developments on the Hoo peninsula. While homes are desperately needed in Medway, these developments are very unpopular around the peninsula due to a perception of over-development. As such we decided to ask if this was the best use of the funding, or could it have been better spent in other parts of Medway.

It was recently announced that Medway has been awarded £170m from the Housing Infrastructure Fund to unlock future developments on the Hoo peninsula. Do you feel that this is the best use of this money, or do you feel that other parts of Medway could have benefited from access to these funds? If so, how?

As usual, we told all of them that we would publish their responses unedited. You can find them below in the order they were received.

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iFAQ: What benefits does a City of Culture bring anyway?

Don’t let it ever be said that Medway doesn’t like to try and punch above it’s weight. Despite not being a city and having hardly any culture, councillors of all colours have thrown their weight behind a campaign for Medway to become the UK City of Culture in 2025. There seems to be a lot of mixed messages about what this actually means, so we decided to ask every councillor the following question:

If Medway wins it’s 2025 City of Culture bid, what benefits would this bring to residents of your ward and the wider area?

As usual, we told all of them that we would publish their responses unedited. You can find them below in the order they were received.

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iFAQ: Peninsula national park?

Following recent debates over the amount of development on the peninsula area of Medway, Cllr Ron Sands has proposed that the area should be designated a National Park. An interesting idea, we decided to email a range of political voices – other councillors, former councillors for the area, and other parties – to gauge their support for the idea.

Cllr Sands has recently proposed the designation of the Peninsula as a National Park. Do you believe this would be a positive development for the area?

As usual, we told all of them that we would publish their responses unedited. You can find them below in the order they were received.

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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.

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iFAQ: Language in the chamber

For our iFAQ this week, we decided to ask councillors about the use of language at Medway Council chambers, following discussions about what is appropriate in our national politics. As such, we sent the following question to every Medway councillor:

Given recent debates in Parliament about the use of language in politics, do you feel that language at Medway Council meetings is always appropriate, or would an element of moderation improve our political discourse?

As usual, we told all of them that we would publish their responses unedited. You can find them below in the order they were received.

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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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