Medway Council is set for it’s first by-election in several years, following the resignation of Cllr Catriona Brown-Reckless.
Cllr Brown-Reckless was elected to represent Strood South as a UKIP councillor last year, and was deputy leader of the UKIP group on the council.
As such, a by-election will now need to be held to fill the vacancy in the ward, on a date to be decided in the near future.
It also means that the UKIP group on Medway Council has now been reduced from 4 to 2 since their election last year, with Cllr Brown-Reckless’ resignation following Cllr Joy’s decision to sit as an independent.
Strood South has been a split ward for some time now, with Conservative, Labour, and UKIP councillors all representing the ward in recent years, so a fierce by-election battle looks likely for the vacant seat.
Yeah yeah, it’s been a while. We’re also trying a new format as the old one was a pain in the arse.
Shopmobility services provide a vital way of disabled people getting around town centres. However, that hasn’t stopped Medway Council spectacularly changing theirs with next to no consultation. On Thursday 25th August, it announced that the existing provision in Chatham would be closing, replaced by a new service on 1st September. The new service is located at the opposite end of Pentagon Shopping Centre to the disabled car park, and charges have been introduced, making it far more difficult for disabled people to make use of the service. Disability campaigners, Medway Labour, and Conservative Chatham & Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch are unhappy about the changes, but we don’t expect much to be done to make this right.
Rochester Riverside plans The regeneration scheme for Rochester Riverside has been dragging on for roughly 238 years now, but things might finally be getting moving. After appointing Countryside and Hyde to proceed with the project last year, Medway Council will be showing off the plans in a generous three hour window this Tuesday. The project is set to include 1,300 homes, school, hotel, bar, restaurant, offices, retail units, and a new riverside walk. What isn’t mentioned is transport infrastructure, which given the existing congestion on Corporation Street, is conspicuous by it’s absence. If you’re interested in taking a look at the plans for yourself, they will be on display at the Corn Exchange in Rochester on Tuesday 6th September, between 5pm and 8pm
Medway Council’s ruling cabinet will meet on Tuesday to discuss business rates, and, er, not much else. Being the good little citizen journalists we are, we’d like to be there, but alas they hold these supposedly ‘public’ meetings in the middle of the working day. We’ve looked and struggled to find other councils that make their democratic processes this inaccessible (most hold such meetings around 7pm), and we’ll be doing so in more depth going forwards.
NIMBYism in action
Once again, the Medway NIMBY brigade are out in force, this time objecting to a planning application for a new bar and restaurant on New Road in Chatham. For our money, the application seems to be put together pretty well, with continuous staffing of inside and outside areas, CCTV coverage, and a fairly strict licence request. That hasn’t stopped the locals being outraged at the idea though, claiming it’ll lead to anti-social behaviour and, weirdly, diners being beaten up. The giant boarded up shop that’s currently in it’s place is, of course, absolutely fine.
Back in February, the Medway Labour website was hacked, with someone sticking some malicious content into it’s code. Remarkably, the website still remains in this state, with Medway Labour having done nothing to fix the issue, take the site down, or even warn users that visiting the site puts them at risk. This whole sorry ordeal has been going for over six months now, meaning the Medway Labour website has been hacked for a longer time than Tim Peake spent on the International Space Station.
“The only thing that cunt wants is a bullet between the eyes”
Interesting times at the British Association of Shooting and Conservation, which has been locked in huge infighting between it’s members. Police have been called to meetings that threatened to get out of hand, and a new report details some remarkable tales of bullying and intimidation (such as the quote above) that took place within the organisation. What does this have to do with Medway, we hear you ask? The former chair of the BASC, who resigned in June, is none other than Alan Jarrett, the leader of Medway Council.
Car-aoke challenge As part of the September campaign for local charity Danny’s Angels, the Medway Labour group have taken part in a car-aoke challenge. We’ll be curious to see whether the other political groups in Medway take up the challenge, and The Political Medway has offered a generous donation if representatives of all five local political parties – Conservative, Labour, UKIP, Lib Dem, Green – all take part in a joint singalong. Will they accept the challenge?
We haven’t written an actual post about the referendum, because what can you say, really? We try and remain impartial with this site, yet this was a decision we cared greatly about, and impacts our futures in a big way.
In the next couple of days, we’ll get something up on the exact results from Medway and what it might mean, but for now, let’s do what we always do: snark mercilessly about what each of the parties have been up to in the past couple of weeks.
Medway MPs in Parliament
Neverendum When it all came down it, our three Medway MPs managed to provide three different stances for where they stood on the referendum. Rochester and Strood MP Kelly Tolhurst decided to focus on her career by endorsing remain, which will have seemed like a horrible mistake by Friday. Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti went for leave, which probably sets himself up nicely for this post-Brexit world. Finally, Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch decided to vote, but not tell us how. Which is absolutely her right, but we wonder how that might go down with her constituents down the line.
Medway Labour Utterly incredibly, it’s now been 17 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. And yes, we are going to mention this every single time until they do something about it.
It’s hard to keep track of all of the animosity between Labour councillors and activists on Twitter at this point, but it’s worth noting that three councillors – Tristan Osborne, Naushabah Khan, and Andy Stamp – all called for Corbyn to step down this week. Which went down with certain activists like a cup of warm sick.
Medway UKIP Still missing, because.. wait, why the hell would they be missing at this point?
Medway Liberal Democrats Unsurprisingly, they aren’t thrilled about the referendum result, and dealt with it the best way they know how: a 60,000 word essay about it on their website.
Rehman probed.. It’s from the Daily Mail, so probably best you treat it with a supersize pinch of salt, but Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti is facing a formal complaint in relation to his work for a Saudi think tank. Tom Brake, a Liberal Democrat MP, has written to parliamentary authorities asking them to investigate the matter, suggesting Rehman’s often pro-Saudi comments in the Commons may be influenced by his £2,000 per month paydays from the Kingdom.
Unsurprisingly, the Investigatory Powers Bill swept through the Commons this week, after Labour decided to support the Conservatives on the mass collection of everyone’s communications data. Equally unsurprisingly, both Rehman Chishti and Rochester and Strood MP Kelly Tolhurst voted in favour of the plans. It’s rather tempting to cc our MPs on every email that we send, given they’re so interested in reading the content.
Get your surplus council resources here! part II As expected, the Cabinet met this week to decide whether or not to sell seven sites around Medway for development. These range from the only disabled car park in Rochester to a building used by a charity in Gillingham to the library and community centre in Hook Meadow. Unsurprisingly, they began the process of disposal of these sites, in a move that looks to be hugely unpopular with many residents.
Medway Labour Utterly incredibly, it’s now been 15 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 Still missing, because there’s nothing coming up that UKIP might be interested in, is there?
Medway Liberal Democrats A busy week ahead for the Medway Lib Dems as this week they’re be out both leafletting and with a street stall in Gillingham on Saturday! We can’t remember the last time they were so active.
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.
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.
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.
“This government is doing enough” A remarkable speech from Rochester and Strood MP Kelly Tolhurst in parliament during a debate on immigration this week. Sticking solidly by her commitment to refuse to help unaccompanied child refugees, and that anyone arguing for the opposite is using “simplistic arguments”. After that, she managed to go off on a UKIP type rant about how we aren’t doing enough to help our own children before foreign ones, before concluding that the government is doing enough to help refugees. Her constituents can make up their mind on that. The following day, she demanded assurances that Medway wouldn’t have to take any more refugees, even if the government agreed to accept more into the country.
Following the revelations that Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti broke parliamentary rules by not declaring hospitality from Gillingham Football Club, he has now been cleared by parliamentary authorities. The authorities accepted that a genuine error was made, and no further action will be taken.
What the Dickens? A huge tourism push from Medway Council this week for their highly original programme of Dickens based events this summer, as part of the imaginatively named Summer of Dickens. Because this is Dickens Country damnit, and Medway Council won’t stop until everything in these towns is connected to the bloody guy in some way.
Housebuilding horrors In a fantastic example of getting their excuses in early, Medway Council are already preemptively blaming developers for the council’s housing needs being met. This is after the council has refused thousands of new build housing starts within Medway under pressure from local NIMBYs.
Medway Conservatives 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 eleven 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.
After being quiet on the issue for a while, the party are now once again moaning about bulky waste collection, because it’s an issue that really resonates with voters.
Medway UKIP Missing, because there’s nothing coming up that UKIP might be interested in, is there?
Following weeks of campaigning, voters went to the polls yesterday to select a new Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent. We were guaranteed someone new as previous Commissioner Ann Barnes decided not to stand again, having had enough of her policing onion.
Police and Crime Commissioners are elected under the supplementary vote system, meaning each voter has both first and second preferences, and those second preferences come into play if no candidate manages to get 50% of the vote in the first round.
Kent had six candidates on it’s ballot paper, so it was unlikely to be resolved in one round, but the first round quickly established the way things would be going:
Kent is a somewhat unusual county where the Conservatives tend to be the main party, while UKIP are the official opposition on the county council, and third party in Medway. As such, both parties were always likely to do well in this contest, particularly as UKIP did put forward a strong candidate who went out of his way to not associate himself with the more ‘interesting’ fringes of his party. Medway councillor Tristan Osborne ran a solid, if uninspiring campaign to cement Labour’s third place position, while the sole independent candidate, Gurvinder Sandher, put in a strong performance in a short campaigning period with very few resources. The Lib Dems managed to not completely humiliate themselves, bolstered by a strong showings in Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells. Finally, Steve Uncles still managed to find 8000 people willing to vote for him despite basing his entire campaign around Twitter bigotry.
Under the supplementary vote system, the top two candidates proceed to a second round where second preference votes are taken into consideration. This didn’t change a great deal, giving Matthew Scott a solid, if not overwhelming, margin to become Kent’s new Police and Crime Commissioner.
For all of the doom and gloom predictions about turnout in Police and Crime Commissioner elections, in Kent (and almost all other areas) turnout was considerably up. That does come with a couple of huge caveats though: across some parts of the county, local elections were also taking place, which boosted turnout. Indeed, both Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells saw turnout top 32%. Additionally, elections this year were in May and not on a grim November day in 2012, which likely helped matters. That said, a turnout of 21.5% is still pretty appalling in any democratic election.
Curiously, the number of spoilt ballot papers was up by a large amount this time around. It’s hard to identify a reason for this, as the system and papers were the same as in the 2012 election, but it does perhaps suggest that voters don’t fully understand the supplementary vote system, particularly when it’s used alongside other types of voting systems for other elections.
It’s hard to directly compare the performance of each party in this election to the previous one, as without Ann Barnes in the mix (who dominated the election last time round), almost every party was able to gain ground. UKIP were the big winners in this regard, leaping from 4th place to a strong 2nd, with Conservatives and Labour both picked up the same additional vote share. Both the Lib Dems and independent Gurvinder Sandher grew a vote share from standing starts, while Steve Uncles, the only candidate fighting again from 2012, managed to be the only candidate to both lose his vote share, and also lose his £5,000 deposit.
Finally, it’s worth digging into how each of the parties did when only taking Medway into account. Medway was one of the areas where UKIP won outright, though only by a small number of votes. Coming third will be disappointing for Luton and Wayfield councillor Tristan Osborne, who as the only local candidate on the ballot paper will have been hoping for a better result, though his vote share in Medway was up on 2012. The #libdemfightback hasn’t quite made it to Medway, as their candidate David Naghi barely managed to beat Steve Uncles for 5th place.
So that’s it for another set of elections that the electorate apparently couldn’t care less about. Aside from the coming EU referendum and any by-elections that may be coming up (residents of Strood South may be getting lucky soon!), Medway faces no further elections now until 2019. Whatever will we talk about between now and then?
Want even more analysis of the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner election? Blogger Jon Patience has gone over the results in great detail, putting together charts and graphs to compare this election with the previous one in 2012. Take a look!
Medway Council held it’s April full council meeting last night, with issues on the agenda ranging from all schools being academies to the EU referendum to how many things a Chatham shop can put on the pavement. As usual, we live tweeted the excitement, and if you missed it at the time, we’ve collected all of the highlights here:
Told off Chishti Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti got himself into trouble with Speaker John Bercow after running afoul of parliamentary procedure. It seems you can’t mention the Public Gallery in the House of Commons without a telling off, but no one says anything about your somewhat dodgy connections to Saudi Arabia.
In, out, shake it all about On the issue of the EU referendum, all three Medway MPs seem to be taking the latter option. While Chatham and Aylesford MP has the somewhat valid excuse of maternity leave, Rehman Chishti and Rochester and Strood MP Kelly Tolhurst have no such excuses. Neither MP wants to state where they stand, with Chishti “listening” to residents on an almost daily basis, while Tolhurst keeps her head down all together. It’s unfair on their constituents that so close to the referendum, none of our MPs are willing to tell them exactly where they stand on such an important issue.
Set some of Medway on fire! (part 2) Following on from last week’s social media fail by Medway Council, their competition to allow a resident to light a beacon to celebrate the Queen’s birthday didn’t go any better. Blogger Alan Collins have covered the whole sorry saga.
Medway Conservatives Conservative Kent Police and Crime Commissioner candidate Matthew Scott was in Chatham. So there’s that.
Rochester South and Horsted councillor Rupert Turpin was outraged that Barack Obama dared to use the word “queue”, even though he’s used in on several occasions previously.
Medway Labour The Medway Labour website was hacked eight weeks ago, 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 Still 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 Missing, because they’ve got some campaigning coming up next month and don’t want to wear themselves out too soon.
We’ll be looking at each of the candidates in more detail between now and the election.
In the meantime, it’s time to say goodbye to the following declared candidates that didn’t make it onto the ballot paper:
Fergus Wilson (Independent) seemingly didn’t submit his nomination papers properly, so wasn’t allowed to stand. It was unlikely he’d be able to take up the position regardless following his assault conviction.
Tim Garbutt (Independent Green) discovered last week that the £5000 deposit required to stand was quite a lot of money.
The Green Party declared that they would be standing a candidate, but one never made it onto the ballot paper.
With current commissioner Ann Barnes not standing again, we now know that one of the six names above will be Kent’s next Police and Crime Commissioner.