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Great Lines festival organisers finally give up
Plus the king comes to town, a chaotic week for Conservative campaigning, and where in the world is Cllr Thompson?
Great Lines festival organisers finally give up
Back in February, we reported how the organisers of the shambolically put together Great Lines Music Weekend festival continued to push on and sell tickets despite having their application for a licence to hold the event rejected.
Having continued to take money for tickets for an event that was almost certainly never going to happen, they finally backed down last week and officially cancelled both events they were selling tickets for.
Dream Valley was supposed to be a large-scale one-day dance music event with a 25,000 capacity that was scheduled for the May bank holiday weekend. It was the event that caused particular concern for Kent Police and Medway Council, who argued that the promoters hadn’t got appropriate plans in place to handle the volume of people attending.
Despite the licence for the event being rejected in February, the promoters continued to sell tickets, before announcing this week that the event would be moved to Upminster in August instead.
Dear Dreamers, We have some news to share. Due to rail engineering works between 26-29th May, we've had to make the tough decision to move the Dream Valley to a new date and location. We are truly sorry we cannot deliver the original show in Kent you were promised. We have been granted a 5-year license for Great Lines Heritage Park which means we will bring you the festival you love for years to come, starting from May 2024 in Medway!
All tickets are automatically reissued for the new date on 25th August at the stunning We Are FSTVL Airfield of Dreams site in Upminster.
This was followed by an announcement to ticketholders for the Katherine Jenkins concert due to be held the day before, telling them that the event had been cancelled. No such move to Upminster for this one.
We’re sorry to share the news that, despite our best efforts, we’ve had to make the tough decision to cancel the May 26th 2023 Katherine Jenkins Classical event due to the rail engineering works taking place over the late May bank holiday weekend.
We understand that this may come as a disappointment to some of you, and we want you to know that we share your disappointment
We’re thrilled to announce that we have been granted a 5-year licence at the Great Lines Heritage Park, so we can continue to bring you the festival you love for years to come from May 2024!
There are several curious things here. First of all, the brazen excuse of rail engineering works as a reason to cancel the event. Bank holiday engineering works are pretty standard, and apparently enough to bring down a whole event in this case.
Next, and most intriguing, is the claim that they have been granted a 5-year licence to operate the Great Lines Music Weekend from 2024. Given how scathing the Licensing Committee were in their rejection of the 2023 event, it seems unlikely that they would turn around on the matter so rapidly. Further, there is no public record of a new licence being applied for, or of one being granted, so this claim feels rather questionable.
It is possible that something will change and the Great Lines Music Weekend will indeed take place next year. But, much like the 2023 event, we wouldn’t hold our breath on that happening.
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The King comes to town
Medway is being used as a filming location more and more these days, with significant productions being shot in our towns. Usually, most of this is centred around Chatham Dockyard, which has established itself as a key location for blockbuster films.
Today, however, it was a chance for Rochester High Street to shine. Filming has been taking place for Netflix’s historical drama juggernaut The Crown, which is currently filming its final season. Many of the businesses along the west end of Rochester High Street have had new shop fronts put up to suit the filming, which will see Rochester standing in for Windsor in 2005.
Local dronemaster Aerial Imaging South East was already in town, carrying out surveys on nearby roofs, and was able to get a sense of the scale of production on the High Street.
Where in the world is Cllr Thompson?
With local elections approaching, there was a certain end-of-term vibe to last night’s full Medway Council meeting. This tends to happen just before elections, particularly if a significant number of councillors are standing down or facing losing their seats.
While there was little of any significance during the meeting itself, it was notable that a number of councillors who are standing down decided to skip out on this final meeting. Perhaps understandable for some, but one of those absent names stood out: Conservative River ward councillor Piers Thompson.
Cllr Thompson has represented River ward since 2019, though represented is perhaps stretching it a bit. As regular observers of Medway Council meetings, we struggle to point to a single time when Cllr Thompson has contributed to any debate or discussion in his four years as a councillor.
This led to us doing a little digging into Cllr Thompson’s attendance record, and it made for some pretty stark reading. While many quiet councillors might speak in more nuanced overview and scrutiny committee meetings, there’s none of that for Cllr Thompson.
The only extra committee that Cllr Thompson sits on is the Climate Change Member Advisory Group. A worthy group for sure, but Cllr Thompson seems to have forgotten that he’s a member.
Looking at the attendance record for the group, Cllr Thompson last attended in December 2020, a mere two and a half years ago, or 864 days. Since then, the group has met 8 times and Cllr Thompson has been absent every single time.
His record at full council meetings isn’t much better either, though he did at least attend one in November 2022. Since then though, he’s not turned up for the three full council meetings that have taken place in 2023.
In a happy coincidence, that November attendance is enough to ensure he meets the requirement of councillors to attend one meeting every six months. Failure to do triggers disqualification as a councillor and a by-election. But thanks to his November appearance, Cllr Thompson can remain a councillor until the local elections, and take his full £10,733 allowance for the year. Hurrah!
Cllr Thompson is standing down at the coming local elections, so this doesn’t matter too much at this stage. But it does raise questions about the commitment of candidates selected by the Conservatives. It also means residents of River ward have had very little representation over the previous four years. So as Cllr Thompson stands down, it seems unlikely that many residents even noticed he was there in the first place.
Covid in numbers
Hospitalisations: There are currently 20 patients being treated for covid in Medway Hospital, with none of them on a ventilator. This is down 5% from last week.
Deaths: 6 new deaths were recorded this week, taking Medway to 1,028 covid deaths in total.
A weird week for Conservative campaigning
It’s been a strange week for the Conservative election campaign in Medway. Traditionally, our local Conservatives have been fairly efficient and strict in their campaigning methods. The appearance this time around though is of a somewhat chaotic campaign. Some highlights from this week alone:
In Rainham, Conservative posters were erected on Medway Council noticeboards, a clear breach of the purdah rules on political impartiality. They were subsequently removed following complaints. Similar incidents have allegedly occurred in the Strood area as well.
In Princes Park, Cllr Robbie Lammas and his ward candidate Alex Hyne bought pizza for Medway Council staff and posed with them for a photo. Another breach of the purdah rules on council resources, they have doubled down on the issue.
Cuxton and Halling Green candidate Matt Nightingale claimed he was accosted in the street by a Conservative activist and the local election agent. He claimed to have been verbally harassed in an aggressive way and apparently has some footage of the event that will be passed on to the election monitoring officer.
These are just the things entering the public domain. Who knows what is going on behind the scenes? As ever, we’re happy to hear from anyone involved in any of the campaigns, and anonymity is assured.
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🏘️ Medway has nearly 4,000 on its housing waiting list. Meanwhile, NIMBYs continue to oppose every new residential development in the area.
🏗️ Medway Development Company has apologised after advertising flats in Chatham as second homes. MDC is owned by Medway Council, which is currently facing a local housing crisis.
👑 Only 30 coronation street parties are set to take place in Medway. This is half the figure that took place for the platinum jubilee last year.
🏆 Chatham Town have won the Isthmian South East league. The team has now won two successive promotions and will play in the Isthmian Premier Division next season.
⚽ Gillingham and Leyton Orient both gave up during their match this week. Following a power cut halfway through the game, Leyton Orient discovered they’d been promoted, and Gillingham had enough points to not be relegated, so both teams stopped bothering.
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Music that soundtracked the creation of this newsletter: Hello Sadness by Los Campesinos!, Le Tigre by Le Tigre, Even On The Worst Nights by Mixtapes, Anaesthesiology by Onsind, and The Noyelle Beat by Standard Fare.