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.

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