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David Icke’s secret tour of the suburbs
Plus another attack on Chatham Memorial Synagogue, a business owner angry about Pride, and a former President comes to Hoo
Editor’s note: Thanks for all of the kind words yesterday about our launch of Medwayish, and especially to all of you who placed orders. Very cool. We’re back to proper news today, with a mixed bag featuring David Icke’s visit to Medway, the depressing attack on Chatham Memorial Synagogue, a business owner angry about Pride, and the 44th President of the United States…
David Icke’s secret tour of the suburbs
Three weeks ago, we covered how covid denier, lizard people believer, and all-round conspiracy theorist David Icke was coming to Chatham as part of his ‘Secret Tour’. The Secret Tour appears to be part of Icke’s gimmick of playing the cancelled martyr, where one is banned from mainstream appearances for speaking about his sort of fringe theories. As a result, each venue on the tour is a secret until 90 minutes before the show starts.
When we published that piece, we hadn’t been able to identify the venue in question, but eagle-eye readers threw themselves into solving the mystery. All we knew at the time was that it was a venue with free car parking where you could leave your vehicle overnight, and it had 18 rows of seats, as that is how many Icke is selling at £35 to £55 a pop.
As a venue, one of the function rooms for hire at the Lordswood Leisure Centre would seem to make sense for Icke. It’s privately run, so no worries about council jitters. It’s far enough off the beaten track for only the attendees to be aware of it. The centre has function rooms of anything between 200 and 500 capacity, which feels like an overestimate for the number of people willing to pay to see Icke in Medway, but really who knows?
Quite why any venue would want to host Icke is another matter. Icke has engaged in anti-Semitic tropes and questioned the Holocaust, making his claims about a reptilian race running the world feel rather quaint. In recent years he has embraced more commonly far-right conspiracy theories, claiming that covid is a lie and that 5G will end human life as we know it.
Countries around the world are starting to take a firmer stance toward Icke. In 2019, Australia blocked him from entering the country for a speaking tour. Last year, he was banned from the Netherlands due to the risk to public order, and as a result, he claims he is also banned from the entire 25-country European Schengen area. In the UK, venues in London and Manchester have cancelled shows by Icke.
Still, it seems that the Lordswood Leisure Centre have no such issues having Icke performing in their venue.
We reached out to the Lordswood Leisure Centre and asked them to comment on the booking for this piece, but we received no response ahead of publication.
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Meanwhile, Chatham Memorial Synagogue attacked once again
While one venue in our towns is happy to host someone who engages in anti-Semitic tropes, another has to deal with the consequences that kind of hateful speech results in.
Chatham Memorial Synagogue in the Intra area of Chatham High Street was targeted by vandals once again last week, marking the fifth time the site has been attacked in recent years.
In this incident, gravestones were pushed over and damaged, causing damage amounting to around £19,000. Previous incidents have included faeces being smeared on the building, graffiti including Nazi symbols being left on the site, and CCTV cameras being ripped from the walls.
Kent Police are investigating the latest vandalism as a hate crime, and today arrested a local man on suspicion of criminal damage.
This is a potential speedy outcome in this case, but likely will do little to reassure the Jewish community in Medway given the frequency of these incidents.
Chatham Memorial Synagogue was recently granted Grade II listed status and is a stunning building. If you’re interested in visiting, the building will open its doors for tours in September as part of Heritage Open Days.
Barack Obama comes to Hoo (sort of)
Phenomenal scenes from the Medway Council consultation on the Deangate Community Parkland in Hoo, where one enterprising designer decided to insert a former President of the United States into the plans.
Taking to Twitter this week, independent councillor Michael Pearce highlighted the appearance of Barack Obama in the consultation documents, even sourcing the original image the former President had been lifted from.
It’s not unusual for real people to be used in these kinds of graphics, but they usually tend to be generic stock photo models rather than recognisable world leaders. Unsurprisingly, Medway Council quickly updated the document, replacing Obama with a young family, and an older man who may or may not be the former Labour MP Dennis Skinner.
Rochester business owner attacks Pride flag because… reasons?
Last week’s Medway Pride seemed to be a great success, with thousands of people descending on Rochester and having a generally lovely time. Exactly as it should be.
So trust one local business owner to try and ruin it for everyone by taking to Instagram to register his disgust over the Pride flag being draped from Rochester Castle. Oh, the horror.
Scott Campbell, owner of the Ace of Wands tattoo studio on Rochester High Street, posted his outrage, calling the flag a ‘hideous, pedo cult flag’. Which is one hell of a take.
Unsurprisingly, members of the local LGBT+ community didn’t seem to take too kindly to this, with his posts being shared widely, including by local Drag Race star River Medway. This has led to a review bombing of his studio on Facebook to the point where the page has been hidden from the public, while Campbell himself has been unrepentantly posting on his own Instagram throughout.
As ever, people can have whatever views they have. If you don’t want to engage with Pride, that’s entirely your business. But equally, if you raise your head above the parapet to post something contentious about an entire community, you’re likely going to get back as good as you give. If that community happens to be a marginalised group on the week of Pride, it seems like a pretty foolish thing to do, but each to their own and all that.
Grain railway nerds, assemble
Undisputed king of the railway vloggers Geoff Marshall has been to Medway for one of his latest videos. He came to Thamesport in Grain to visit the facility that is making tunnel segments for HS2, which are then being transported to a construction site in West Ruislip using overnight freight trains.
The whole video is great (as Geoff’s videos always are), but the Medway-specific content is in the opening few minutes and features a segment on the Grain level crossing where we get to see it in action. Exciting stuff!
🗣️ Medway’s new Local Democracy Reporter has hit the ground running, with a series of interviews with Medway’s political figures. In his first week, Robert Boddy interviewed Tristan Osborne, George Perfect, and Naushabah Khan.
🛍️ The unrelenting march of the Gillingham Street Angels across our towns continues with the charity opening a new shop in Rainham. The organisation will move into the former Lloyds bank on the High Street.
⚡ 24 electric vehicle charging points at Medway Services cannot be used due to lack of power. Moto, who operate the services, and Medway Council, who issue the works permits, are blaming each other for the issues.
Paid supporters of Local Authority receive extra editions of the newsletter every week. This week was fairly quiet, but we still found time for Steven to interview Teresa Murray, the Deputy Leader of Medway Council and to introduce Medwayish, our new venture offering unique Medway-related products from local creatives.
In the coming week, we have an interview with George Atzev from Future Medway, our monthly event guide, and more.
Thanks for all of the kind words about Medwayish. You can browse our full selection of items in our store, and we’ll have a stall at the Rochester City Vintage & Artisan Market tomorrow on Rochester High Street. Come and find us near The Two Brewers.
Music that soundtracked the creation of this newsletter: Tourist In This Town by Allison Crutchfield, Peanut Butter by Joanna Gruesome, Dress Up by The Spook School, Maybe Don’t by Maybe Don’t, and Emphatically No. by Cheekface.