Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Lost on the new two-way

What a journey! Planned to pop down the town for a quick bit of shopping and got stuck in the new two-way.

Sorry it's been awhile. But we're back.

Going to do a little catch up over the next couple of days and then let's see what these Tories have got in store for us in the lead up to the local elections.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Let's See What The Tories Do Now

Considering the lack of regard shown to the residents of Rochester East by our dear Tory council it will be interesting to see how they react to a petition delivered to them from the residents surrounding the Cornwall Road allotments.

This petition supports the notion of seeing the land developed into a green open space and was delivered by Reh Chishti, in who's Gillingham North ward the allotments are located.

Credit where credit's due. Well done Reh for actually listening to your constituents and wanting to help. I hope your powers of persuasion can overide your Tory chum Cllr Jarrett's money-grabbing default setting. There's a conversation I would really like to be a fly on a wall for.

But Reh has long been critical of the council and its treatment of people in Gillingham. However, that was when he was a Labour councillor. Sincing crossing the floor, he's pretty much rolled-over like a good boy.

I hope he sticks to his guns on this one - for the people who voted him in to represent them.

With Conservative councillors suggesting Teresa Murray and Nick Bowler's opposition to the selling of Copperfield as "political pointing scoring" - let's see how they handle this.

Not wishing to appear cynical - with the elections just round the corner maybe the Tory council will listen to their colleague more favourably, or put off a decision until after May 2007. We will be watching closely.

Until then, I wish the residents around the Cornwall Road allotments every success in their campaign.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Sheer Bloody Cheek Part II: Charade of Democracy

After publishing The Sheer Bloody Cheek on October 24th someone left an anonymous comment that said:

"Of course Cllr. Jarrett would never have thought of selling the land at Compass Close if he had not got the idea from Labour secret list of land sales drawn up before the 2000 election.Dare you to publish that you bunch of hyprocrites"

I briefly replied to this and promised to expand on my answer in a future post because the comments section only has limited space. Here we go:

I'm not a Labour councillor but I am aware that Labour councillors did earmark some land with the potential to sell. According to my dictonary potential means possible but not yet realised.

Selling a peice of open land for housing would have an affect on the residents in the surrounding area. So as you would expect from your elected representatives, Teresa Murray and Nick Bowler consulted with the residents, listening to their concerns and then acted accordingly.

That is why, for many years, Labour councillors opposed the selling of Copperfield.

Consulting with residents and actually taking into account what they think is a foreign concept to our Tory council as demonstrated on numerous occasions such as Wes Holland wanting to move Lordswood library last year.

But on the issue on Copperfields, I'd like to quote from a letter printed in The Medway Messenger on Oct 6th:

"So Medway Council got a good report from the Audit Commission. It retained its three stars. Great. But one part of the report was puzzling for us residents who live around the (now) ill-fated wildlife area at Copperfield, Rochester, behind Compass Close.

"The Commission's report described Medway as being "good" for consultation with residents. What evidence for this did the inspectors use? They were certainly not invited to study in detail how the sale of this site was managed.

"There was never any meaningful consultation. From the beginning, at the October 14 2003, Cabinet meeting, the ruling party was set on selling. The minutes show this clearly. They had/have a voting majority and knew they could push the sale through. They explicitly voted out the proposal to consult residents in a subsequent meeting.

"To justify their case, the Conservative councillors consistently presented our opposition as a Labour-generated ploy to score points. It was no such thing. We are a non-political grouping. It was a deeply-held conviction of the value of the site to both widlife and community.

"That counted for nothing.

"Quite the reverse. Two Cabinet members in meetings (with us present) branded us as "hangers on of Teresa Murray" our hard-working Labour councillor. They accused her of "stirring up ill feeling". There was ill-feeling - but stirred up by the complacency of Cabinet.

"Perhaps, worse than all that was Cabinet's total disregard for the grammar school's inspired plan (backed by Rochester Math School) to turn part of the site into a biodiversity centre open to all schools.

"This matter has been a charade of democracy: going through the motions to fulfil the letter of the law for mere financial gain. The final planning meeting was a forgone conclusion. Had they really engaged with our case, a compromise would have been reached which would have satisfied all parties: council, residents, schools, developers and, not least, wildlife. A great educational opportunity has gone forever."
John Abram, The Tideway, Rochester.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"Two Tough Interviews and an Assessment."

Getting on the Tory A-list is a tough business - just ask Gillingham's very own A-lister* Reh Chishti.

To be able to have the honour of saying you are an A-lister* takes "two tough interviews and an assessment."

Interesting way of putting it Reh...especially when you consider The Yorkshire Post's recent report on your Parliamentary Assessment Panel. The Yorkshire Post claim you failed your first assessment panel.

But hey - that's not so bad, right? Everyone deserves another chance.

A second assessment panel was organised and "phew!" Reh is through and free to look for a seat.

And there's the problem. It would appear that under Conservative rules our Reh should have been made to wait 12 months before being allowed a re-sit - not the mere few weeks Reh had to wait out.

I'm guessing they had to act quick in case he decided to pack his bags and chance his arm with the Lib Dems.

But apparently this is not the way to win friends in the Party. One dis-gruntled Tory party member commented: "I don’t see why people who have worked for the Conservative Party for years should be pushed to one side to make way for somebody who has been working against the party for years. Everyone should be treated equally."

It's okay Reh...we still love you here at Medway Tory Watch.

* I keep on saying that Reh is an A-lister. He is, infact, really a B-lister. He never made it onto the first batch of A-list candidates.

But let's not quibble, eh? No seat, didn't win Dragon's Den and that terrible sporting injury curtailed his promising athletic career.
To point that out he is really a B-lister would be just plain petty!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Paul Foster Arrested in Sex Offences Investigation

The Medway Messenger reports that Cllr Paul Foster has been arrested by police officers investigating alleged sexual offences.

On October 19th Paul Foster was arrested at a care home he runs in Lonsdale Drive for young adults with learning disabilities. Police have since released him on bail while they continue their investigations.

A police spokesman said: "I can confirm police arrested a 48 year old man at an address in Rainham in connection with an investigation into alleged sexual offences."

Leader of Medway Council, Cllr Rodney Chambers, said: "We are aware there is a police investigation under way and we are co-operating fully, as you would expect us to do when there are any allegations of this nature. This is a police investigation and, therefore, I'm unable to comment further."

The Medway Messenger attempted to contact Cllr Foster on Wednesday and Thursday - but were unsuccessful.

Earlier this month, Cllr Foster created a political storm with his comments on the type of person most likely to be succeed in being selected as a Tory PPC, when he
appeared on BBC's The Politics Show.

Cllr Foster currently represents Rainham Central on Medway Council. At the last general election he was the agent for Rochester & Strood and Gillingham & Rainham constituencies.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Sheer Bloody Cheek: Where was the encouragement when you were counting out the money?

The Medway Standard reports that Medway Council are keen to bring vacant homes back into use (Tues, Oct 24th. Pg 16).

Currently there are 1000 homes across the Towns that have been empty for more than six months. To encourage the owners to bring their dis-used homes back into the market the council are offering renovation grants of up to £15,000.

Medway Labour Group have long been advocates of bringing empty properties back into use. If you take a look at their pledges, you'll find it alongside their promise for extra affordable housing.

It would appear our local Tories have finally caught up with their national party's approach to policy: pull a quick U-turn or pinch a good idea - even better if you can do both at the same time.

What I find particularly galling about this "stunt" is the way our caring Tories handled the sale of the land behind Compass Close.

Bob Marshall Andrews, in his letter to Rodney Chambers opposing the sale and supporting the residents, pointed out the abundance of empty housing:

"Rather than developing these green areas attention should be paid to reducing the excessive number of abandoned habitable homes in Medway and seeking the development of brownfield sites first, to which the Government has handed a considerable contribution."

Bringing empty homes back into use was the last thing on Alan Jarrett's mind as the pound signs sent his eyes spinning like the drums in a fruit machine. I'm surprised he could stop rubbing his greedy hands together long enough to sign the contract.

Off they skulked to their Civic Centre den thinking - 'let's ignore what the local residents want and sell the last peice of open land in Rochester East, build another 135 homes on the land, trouser £5.5m, and THEN start a campaign to bring 1000 un-used homes back into play.

'And just to be really cheeky, while we are shafting the residents we can put out a press release basically saying: government very bad demanding more homes and threatening to tax us for wanting to keep our green spaces free from developments.'

I'm sorry but this is all wrong. It is just another example of their arrogance and hypocrisy.

How can we allow them to stay in power?

Come on Medway, vote them out in 2007.

Monday, October 23, 2006

What Does This Man Have That Rehman Chishti Doesn't?

Answer: a seat to fight at the next general election.

The chap on the left is Gareth Johnson who has been described as a "small, perfectly pleasant if underwhelming right-winger." He was selected for Lewisham West in 2001 - where he lost to the sitting Labour MP Jim Dowd.

However, a contest he recently did manage to win was to be the PPC for Dartford.

Losing in Dartford at the last election must have really impressed the local Tories because the other A-listers up for selection didn't get a look in, including Gillingham's very own Rehman Chishti.

Better luck next time old chap. We're rooting for you here at Medway Tory Watch.