Medway Council

Election results for 2019

    Elected in 2019
    Total
    +/-
    33
    33
    -3
    Elected in 2019
    Total
    +/-
    20
    20
    +5
    Elected in 2019
    Total
    +/-
    2
    2
    +2
    Elected in 2019
    Total
    +/-
    0
    0
    -4

Most Recent

Government blamed for Local Plan delay

Dean Kilpatrick

Local Democracy Reporter

Medway Council is to delay the publication of its draft Local Plan again, but cabinet members have been quick to point the finger of blame at central government.

The authority has reaffirmed its view that the document – which sets out planning policy and proposals for the Towns – is dependent on the outcome of a bid for £170m from Whitehall to improve local infrastructure.

Having already pushed the timetable back in December 2018, portfolio holders say another hold-up is “yet again” unavoidable because a decision – initially expected to be made in May – has yet to be reached.

Conservative Jane Chitty said: “It’s vitally important we send a very clear message that without (a successful) Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) bid, any large development is put at serious jeopardy.

“Any delay in the Local Plan has never been a delay we have sought or in any way recommended – it’s always been the government’s changes which have held up this process."

The unitary authority currently has no Local Plan in place, meaning “all-but-unsustainable” applications have to be approved – encouraging “speculative” developers from building on unpopular sites in the process.

Medway Council has spent more than £1m on its Housing Infrastructure Fund business case, and the most-recent hold-up means the new Local Plan would run until 2037 rather than 2035.

School merger plan unveiled by councillors

Dean Kilpatrick

Local Democracy Reporter

Plans to merge two Gillingham schools have been unveiled by Medway Council.

Cabinet members agreed on Tuesday to launch an informal consultation into the proposed amalgamation of Park Wood infant and junior schools.

The changes, including the change of name to Park Wood Junior School, would take effect in September 2020 if agreed.

Conservative councillor Martin Potter, portfolio holder for education and schools, said: “The council’s school place planning strategy states infant and junior schools should amalgamate where possible to reduce the number of transition points for pupils within primary education.

“These proposals provide that outcome – the schools and their governing body are fully supportive of this action.”

The two schools are already members of the same federation, meaning they share the same head teacher, governing body, staffing structure, and policies, but still have different budgets and Ofsted inspections.

Park Wood junior and infant schools in Gillingham
Other
Councillors said the schools are "fully supportive"

Rochester Castle Concerts 'made a loss of £300,000'

Dean Kilpatrick

Local Democracy Reporter

Rochester Castle
Paul Gillett/Geograph

The Rochester Castle Concerts programme is likely to have suffered near-£300,000 losses for the second year in a row, according to newly-published cabinet papers.

Medway Council’s first revenue budget monitoring report for 2019/20 shows the authority’s event team is currently unlikely to stay within budget – “primarily” because of last month’s gigs.

Council leader Alan Jarrett has already launched an “urgent in-depth review” into the annual event, having described the current format as “unsustainable” amid poor turnouts and the £305,000 loss suffered last year.

The report reads: “Festivals, arts, theatres and events are forecasting a pressure of £384,000 – primarily driven by the projected shortfall in income compared to budget in respect of the Castle Concerts.

“However, the concerts had not yet taken place when this report was prepared so the final position will be reported in the next monitoring report.

“The income target associated with an undelivered festival programme initiative and the under-funding of the Rochester Art Gallery contributes to the overall pressure.”

Later on in the same document, “additional marketing to boost the sale of Castle Concerts tickets” is attributed to a further £40,000 overspend in the council’s communications budget.

Homes and shops plans approved

Ciaran Duggan

Local Democracy Reporter

Plans in Rochester
Quinn Estates

Plans for more than 300 new homes in Rochester have been given the green light by councillors.

It is hoped the five buildings, located around Bardell Terrace, will revitalise the end of the High Street negatively impacted by the railway station relocation of 2015.

Applicants Quinn Estates and Classicus Ltd had previously been told to go back to the drawing board by officers after proposals – including a 15-storey block – were deemed “inappropriate” considering the nearby conservation area.

But the revised vision of 331 residential units, 266 car parking spaces, and 1,894 sqm of commercial space was unanimously supported by Medway Council’s planning committee on Wednesday.

Free theatre tickets offered to military personnel

Dean Kilpatrick

Local Democracy Reporter

Brook Theatre, Chatham
Google

Military personnel have been offered free tickets for productions such as The Jungle Book and Tinder: The Comedy by Medway Council.

Earlier this year, the authority agreed to work with armed forces charity Tickets for Troops and provide some complimentary seats at its theatres and venues when possible.

Councillor Rupert Turpin, portfolio holder for business management, said: “Most of the performance stages at the Central and Brook theatres are run with a third-party on a high-split arrangement which precludes us from giving away free tickets to any group as we are contractually obliged to sell them at an agreed price.

“We have, however, engaged with Tickets for Troops on a number of occasions through our theatres.

“For this year’s Castle Concerts, we offered our local regiment a substantial discount on the Rudimental concerts, and we also donated 15 pairs of tickets for the soul night."

Infant school to change to 'all-through' primary

Greenvale Infant and Nursery School
Google

Parents and staff have raised no objections to an infant school in Kent transforming into an "all-through" primary school from September 2020.

A consultation was held about plans for Greenvale Infant and Nursery School in Chatham, which will see it cater for 210 children between the ages of four and 11.

A decision notice reads: “Primary education in Chatham [will become] more streamlined and sustainable, improving choices for parents and removing transition for children between the key stages."

It said no objections were received so the proposals were approved.

It added: "It is Medway’s preference - where possible - to have primary schools in operation rather than separate infant and junior schools."

Football club ends council sponsorship deal

Dean Kilpatrick

Local Democracy Reporter

Gillingham FC will now pay rent for using council-owned facilities after ending their one-year sponsorship deal with Medway Council.

The council, which had a one-year shirt sponsorship deal with the club during the 2018-19 season, had waived charges as part of the arrangement.

But the authority has confirmed the club are now paying a “commercial” rate to use Beechings Cross as a training facility.

Despite council leader Alan Jarrett’s suggestion in March that he was open to extending the deal, the club instead partnered up with generator hire company MEMS.

Mr Jarrett spoke of looking “back on a fantastic year” and described the partnership as “mutually beneficial” and helping to put the Towns “on the map”.

Schools' racial equality policies come under the microscope

Dean Kilpatrick

Local Democracy Reporter

Medway's schools are to get a “health check” on whether they effectively adhere to their racial equality policies.

Only 15% of institutions in the Towns responded to a “support pack” from the Medway Youth Conference in 2017, which gave examples of workshops and lessons to help tackle racism in schools.

Medway Council’s children and young people overview and scrutiny committee expressed concerns about the statistic on 6 June, but was told it did not mean the subject was not being addressed elsewhere.

Councillors were told later on in the meeting that each school has its own racial equality policy, and officers will test how effective they are within the next 12 months.