Deprivation in Medway is literally all over the place
Plus covid starting to tick back up, bus drivers set to strike again, and Timmy's been to town
A pretty quiet week in Medway this week in terms of news. That said, I’m not about to go BBC News in 1930 on this thing, so instead, we’re going to dig into the issue of income deprivation in our towns, as well as some smaller bits of news.
Deprivation in Medway is literally all over the place
Watching today’s ‘mini-budget’ that seems to have gone down about as well as a bucket of sick, I started pondering what it might mean for the people of Medway.
A brutal assessment from the Institute of Fiscal Studies estimates that today’s announcements will only benefit those earning over £155,000 per year, while those below will end up with a larger tax burden.
This led me to what I thought would be a simple question: How many higher-rate income tax earners (those on over £150,000) are living in Medway? I assumed not many, leading to a slightly bizarre scenario where these tax changes could seriously only benefit a handful of people in our towns with a population approaching 300,000.
It turns out though that finding data on this is nearly impossible. I’ve spent the day trawling through various reports, both national and local, in an attempt to find out this information, but have drawn a blank all around.
With that said, I ended up down a rabbit hole of income deprivation, and the government’s local data on this contains some very snazzy maps.
Swings and roundabouts, and all that.
Now, if you’re familiar with the social and economic geography of Medway, this map may not be a great surprise to you. The darker blue an area is, the higher the income in that area. The darker red, the lower. Apologies for not including the Hoo peninsula, but I couldn’t make the formatting work. It’s pretty blue out in Cliffe and Allhallows and very much not blue when you head towards Hoo or Grain.
Much of this will make sense. Richer areas are concentrated around Hempstead and the fringes of Rainham, the top end of City Way and Maidstone Road on the Chatham/Rochester border, St. Mary’s Island, and the edges of Strood.
The poorer areas tend to run through our urban centres, with the hearts of Chatham, Gillingham, and a good chunk of Strood.
There are surprising findings in this data though. There’s a big cluster of deprivation in the centre of Rochester, Rainham has a cluster on its eastern edge, and it’s hard to figure out what on earth is going on around Walderslade and Lordswood.
Medway consists of big extremes. 30 of our 163 neighbourhoods are among the most deprived in the entire country. Conversely, 25 are in the least deprived. Often within a stone’s throw of each other.
It’s probably too early to judge the full consequence of today’s unfortunately euphemistically sounding ‘fiscal event’ on our towns, but it seems likely that the biggest beneficiaries will be those in the bluest parts of our towns. In both meanings of the term.
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Covid in numbers
Cases: There are still no specific data, but 1.3% of the population in the south east are estimated to test positive for coronavirus this week, down from 1.2% last week. That said, the national data does suggest we are moving into an uptick in cases again, so we will likely see this metric increase in the coming weeks.
Hospitalisations: There are currently 26 patients being treated for covid in Medway Hospital, with 4 of them on a ventilator. The number of patients is up 44% from last week, and the number of patients on a ventilator is at the highest level since January.
Deaths: No new deaths were recorded this week, keeping Medway at 975 covid deaths in total.
Vaccinations: 81% of the 12+ population in Medway have now had at least one vaccine dose, 77% have had two doses, and 60% have received a booster dose.
79% of those eligible for a fourth dose have now received one.
10% of those under 12 have had at least one dose of the vaccine.
8% of those aged 50+ have so far had their autumn booster.
A quick reminder that bookings are now available for autumn boosters, despite very few public announcements making that clear. If you are aged 65+, or younger with a chronic health condition, or even self-declare yourself as someone who spends time around someone vulnerable, you can now book an appointment using the NHS booking system. Appointment availability in Medway seems to be plentiful, with a number of sites offering the boosters. I’ve got mine tomorrow after my original appointment was mysteriously cancelled!
Bus drivers are set to strike again next week
Medway’s bus drivers are set to go on strike again next week, after cancelling their previous industrial action because the queen died.
Bus drivers at Arriva are seeking a pay increase that keeps up with the cost of living, which shouldn’t be too much to ask, but the company appears to disagree.
As such, the drivers will launch their next day of strike action next Friday (September 30). Buses by other operators will continue to run, but the vast majority of services in Medway are operated by Arriva, so the wider network will pretty much grind to a halt on the day.
The union of the bus drivers (Unite) claims that Arriva hasn’t even contacted them in an attempt to resolve the dispute, while Arriva say their offer of a pay rise of just under 10% is still on the table. With the cost of living increases running at 12.3%, it’s hard to imagine an easy resolution to this, so more strikes look likely in the future.
Won’t somebody please think of the flowers?
Following the queen's death, Medway Council designated Rochester Castle Gardens as the official mourning zone and required that all floral tributes be left there.
Indeed, such was the anticipated outpouring of floral grief that they cancelled the Medway Food and Drink Festival that was set to take place on the site last weekend.
It’s clear why, as by the following Monday the gardens were positively overflowing with flowers:
Timmy’s been to town
In this week’s baffling celebrity news, 80s tv personality Timmy Mallett (sadly not with his mallet) has been to Rochester this week, and for some reason is posting random history stories about it on social media.
He’s posted another video about Rochester Castle on Facebook, and seems to be travelling around the country visiting, talking about, and painting various places as he goes. And this week he made it to Medway.
Here’s his painting of Medway from his travels, which is actually pretty nice.
Look, I said it was a slow news week, alright?
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This week saw my occasional collection of weird and wonderful Medway-based Youtube videos, while Steven Keevil dug into the archive of General Election results in Medway to look at just who has represented us over the years..
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