Former MP guilty of child sex abuse image offences
Plus Medway is becoming less religious, no one wants a railway to Hoo, another terrible rental property, and more
A weird week for Medway news. No one big story, but a bunch of little things to cover. Tonally the news is all over the place this week, but that’s the way it goes sometimes
Former MP guilty of child sex abuse images offences
This isn’t usually the sort of thing I’d cover here, but given who it is it’s pretty difficult to ignore.
Former Labour MP for Gillingham Paul Clark was in court today, accused of downloading hundreds of child sexual abuse images and distributing them between 2013 and 2021.
Clark has been released on bail ahead of sentencing in the coming months.
KentOnline has the full details, so if you want to find out more, you can read their coverage.
What stands out here is that despite the offences seemingly all taking place after he lost his parliamentary seat in 2010, he was selected and fought for the seat again in 2015. To be clear, there is no suggestion that anyone else would have known what was going on, but it is remarkable that Clark himself sought the nomination and campaigned while engaging in the activity, despite the potential extra scrutiny one faces as an MP.
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More Census data has dropped
The big data drops from the 2021 Census continued this week, with the ONS releasing a new set of demographic data about what our towns look like these days.
Religion was the big subject this time around, with many of the worst people in the country going into meltdown over the country no longer being majority Christian for the first time.
That picture is repeated in Medway, where 45.1% of the population now defines themselves as Christian. This is still the largest group overall, but no religion heathens like myself are nipping at their heels on 43%.
After that, Medway is 2.7% Muslim, 1.6% Sikh, 1.1% Hindu, 0.4% Buddhist, and 0.1% Jewish, with 0.6% ‘other’ and 5.5% declining to answer the question. This is sad as it means we don’t know exactly how many Scientologists there are locally. Oh well, maybe next time.
Ethnically, Medway remains overwhelmingly white, with 84.3% identifying as such, with that figure touching 94% in our rural communities. 5.9% of our population are Asian, 5.6% are Black, 2.8% are mixed, and 1.4% are from another ethnic group.
Another interesting shift nationally was that ten years ago the majority of the population identified as English, but now British is the favourite choice. That’s the same in Medway, with 56.5% of our population defining as British, but only 18.8% choosing English.
You can play around with the maps here, and more data will continue to be added over time.
No one wants a railway to Hoo
The consultation on the Hoo Development Framework closed this week, and two political parties weighed in with their views.
And it turns out no one wants a new railway to the peninsula.
The Medway Labour proposal is fairly well thought out, albeit while still coming to the critically flawed position that the rail link should be scrapped and replaced with a bus instead. Because buses have always serviced the peninsula so well, of course. There’s some vague aspirational stuff about a transport hub at Strood without any detail of what that actually entails, but it demonstrates the lack of vision that sometimes still permeates the group that is most likely to be running Medway after May.
Meanwhile, the Greens are opposing everything, saying the peninsula needs new public transport but also that the railway won’t benefit residents. The most deranged part is their proposal to house building in Medway to around 850 homes per year, which is sure to help in the middle of a housing crisis.
A good tweet
Covid in numbers
Cases: There are still no specific data, but 1.7% of the population in the south east are estimated to test positive for coronavirus this week, up from 1.5% last week. Uhoh.
Hospitalisations: There are currently 4 patients being treated for covid in Medway Hospital, with none of them on a ventilator. This is down 60% from last week, and the lowest figure recorded since June.
Deaths: 2 new deaths were recorded this week, taking Medway to 996 covid deaths since the pandemic began.
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.
78% of those eligible for a spring booster received one.
10% of those under 12 have had at least one dose of the vaccine.
61% of those aged 50+ have so far had their autumn booster.
Medway’s rental market continues to get worse
It’s a running theme of this newsletter to write about terrible properties available to rent in Medway. So thanks to reader Chris for sending this Facebook Marketplace listing over this week.
On paper, it doesn’t sound bad at all from the description. A one bedroom, one bathroom flat with parking and access to a garden for only £400 each month!
Clicking on the ad itself soon reveals exactly what the issue might be:
Yep, someone is renting out a caravan in their back garden for a mere £400 each month.
But at least bills are included, so it could definitely be worse.
Local MP doesn’t know what he’s talking about
It’s been a while since we’ve featured everyone’s favourite MP, the esteemed member for Gillingham and Rainham, Rehman Chishti.
While Rehman declined to run for leadership of the country a second time this year, he has been happily tweeting away on local issues, including this gem criticising his own government for limiting the number of international students entering the UK:
Now, taking aside the unusual fact that his broad point is actually right, I’d like to focus more on the final assertation that there are three universities in Medway.
This does raise a question of which one he thinks doesn’t count, given there are in fact four.
The University of Kent, the University of Greenwich, Canterbury Christchurch, and the University of the Creative Arts all have campuses here. Given Rehman’s politics, it probably isn’t a great leap to figure out which one he wouldn’t have any interest in there.
Another good tweet
This week, paid supporters of Local Authority received an investigation by Steven Keevil into the alleys of Medway, as well as our monthly events guide.
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You can tell we’re entering election season as the Lib Dems are out pointing at potholes. (KentOnline)
Lower Thames Crossing plans have been accepted by the government. (BBC News)
Gillingham FC are possibly being taken over by a US property tycoon. (KentOnline)
The ghost shops of Kent in pictures. (The Guardian)
KentOnline actually published something sensible on housebuilding in Kent. (KentOnline)
There will be a slight change in the usual publishing schedule during December. For free subscribers, this Friday newsletter will publish up until December 23. I’ll take the Christmas to New Year week off and return on January 6. For paid supporters, usual service will continue up until December 23 and then resume on January 2. Hope that’s okay.
Next week I’ll be publishing a Medway gift guide full of interesting Medway relevant gifts that might come in handy this time of year. I’m still putting it together, so if you’re someone who makes something relevant to Medway or are a maker based in Medway, please hit reply or drop a comment to let me know!
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Music that soundtracked the creation of this newsletter: Out in the Storm by Waxahatchee, No Blues by Los Campesinos!, and Beneath the Big White Moon by Soup Review.
She also has prints of the local area that you might like to include.
Btw, we’ve really been enjoying your posts. With local investigative journalism almost dead, what you’re doing is really important, so thank you.
Medway-based indie publishers Cultured Llama are offering 15% all of their titles to Local Authority subscribers. Enter the code Medway15 at the checkout. Poems, Stories, Curious things, including several books by Medway authors. Code valid until 31 December. https://www.culturedllama.co.uk/