MCH staff to receive pay rise after all
Plus the new faces of Medway, Cllr Lammas tries to head to parliament, and only a few days left on our crowfunding!
Editor’s note: It’s been another big week in Medway, with our new council finally taking shape and our exclusive on a dramatic U-turn for MCH staff in their push for a pay rise. There are more details further down, but we’re into the final few days of our crowdfunding and we’re less than £300 away from our stretch goal. If you find any value in Local Authority, please consider throwing a few pounds into the pot to get us closer to the line. Thanks!
MCH staff to receive pay rise that should never have been in doubt
Last week, we reported an infuriating situation where 1,500 healthcare workers across Medway discovered they weren’t eligible for an NHS pay rise. This was because their roles were under the banner of Medway Community Healthcare (MCH), a social enterprise set up to deliver NHS services. Despite the staff providing NHS care to patients and being on the same contracts as NHS staff, they were not eligible because the government didn’t include them.
In these times of challenging budget situations, this left MCH in an almost impossible position. Their staff rightly expected the pay rise they believed had been previously agreed upon, but the government provided no additional funding for them to be able to cover it.
MCH confirmed this week that they would provide all staff with the expected 5% pay rise and a non-consolidated payment of between £1,600 and £3,800, which appeared to be the element that was causing problems as the government hasn’t provided organisations like MCH with the resources to pay it.
In an email to all MCH staff seen by Local Authority, Managing Director Martin Riley confirmed that staff will get both the pay rise (backdated to April) and additional payment with their June wages, calling it “a challenging decision for the Board to make”.
Riley goes on to explain that the decision has been taken on the merits of staff deserving it, without any external funding being made available to MCH to fund it. As such, the organisation is preparing for “a tough financial year ahead”, and will share more details with staff soon “about what we’re asking of you in terms of tighter budgets and ways that we can save.”
It is clear that MCH is facing challenges to fund this pay rise, but has effectively been forced into providing it as their staff understandably expect it, even if this means putting themselves in a more perilous financial position for the year ahead.
The email to all staff goes on to urge staff to continue to fight the case for MCH to have the award funded by MPs by lobbying and campaigning wherever possible. Whether or not any of these actions will change the mind of the government remains to be seen.
MCH provide vital care in our community, offering many of the things that we consider to be staple NHS services from blood tests to physiotherapy to community nursing. There is no difference in what the staff there do to NHS staff in other areas, other than the sign above the door.
It’s disappointing and indicative of how healthcare workers are treated that organisations providing vital NHS care are effectively having to ask staff to beg the government for the basic pay that they should be entitled to.
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Last few days to get cool rewards on our crowdfunding!
We’ve been crowdfunding for the past few weeks, and we’ve been blown away by the response so far. We reached our initial goal very quickly, and now we’re within £300 of hitting our stretch goal.
This funding will help us put on a series of live events, get vital equipment, boost our own development, and commission unreported Medway stories. If you can contribute to us get over the line, you’ll be helping support a new form of local journalism for Medway, and we have some awesome rewards available for supporters. Check it out!
The new faces of Medway
Wednesday night saw the first full Medway Council meeting since the recent local elections and offered us a glimpse into what changes we might expect in a council controlled by a Labour administration.
This meeting was largely administrative, setting out the form and structure of the council for the coming years. Unsurprisingly given Labour’s majority, Cllr Vince Maple was elected as the new Leader of Medway Council.
He used his speech to highlight some of the democratic changes that will happen in the coming months. He committed to moving Cabinet meetings to the evenings to make them more accessible, allowed Cllr Habib Tejan to be Chair of Business Support Overview & Scrutiny committee despite being from the opposition, and pledged again to return the role of Mayor to the non-political points-based system.
It was too early to change the system this year though, so the Labour administration has their choice of Mayor and Deputy for the coming year, and selected two new faces to represent Medway: Cllrs Nina Gurung and Marian Nestorov.
Both figures only became councillors in these elections, and now face being the public face of Medway over the next twelve months. It is particularly notable that Cllr Gurung is the first female Mayor of Nepalese heritage anywhere in the UK. The new Mayor used her speech to highlight that this was an indication of how progressive Medway is.
That didn’t stop the Conservatives from trying to ruin the fun though. While the meeting was broadly amicable with most matters being agreed on a cross-party basis, the Tories bafflingly proposed previous Deputy Mayor Cllr Roger Barrett as the new Mayor for the year, despite not having close to enough votes to secure the office. This sour moment was given short shrift by the rest of the chamber, with Medway’s four independent councillors siding with Labour to elect their candidate.
Covid in numbers
Hospitalisations: There are currently 4 patients being treated for covid in Medway Hospital, with none of them on a ventilator. This is in line with the past few weeks.
Deaths: No new deaths were recorded this week, keeping Medway at 1,035 covid deaths in total.
Vaccinations: 48% of those eligible for a spring booster have received one. This compares with 65% who received the autumn dose.
Mr Lammas tries to go to parliament
Congratulations are in order to Conservative Princes Park councillor Robbie Lammas, who updated his Twitter profile to reveal that he is now a ‘Prospective Parliamentary Candidate’.
PPCs are a group of candidates who are potential challengers for parliamentary seats, which suggests Cllr Lammas has eyes on a grander ambition than representing Princes Park on Medway Council.
Cllr Lammas has had an eventful few weeks, from threatening to hunt down the thieves who stole his bike, to getting into an altercation in Londis, to storming out of a Health and Social Care committee meeting. Still, this should provide some positive news for the councillor.
As best we understand, there isn’t currently a vacancy for a Conservative parliamentary candidate in Medway, with all three of our sitting MPs intending to stand again next year. As such, Cllr Lammas will need to look further afield to achieve his aims.
A gain for another part of the country, but a loss for the people of Medway…
🚓 Over 400 traffic offences were recorded by Kent Police in Medway on one day last week. Hell of an achievement.
🗣️ Former Medway Cabinet member Rupert Turpin has written in the Medway Messenger about the challenges the new Labour administration faces. It’s a fairly bleak rundown of the situation Medway Council has found itself in after two decades of Conservative rule.
🖼️ Cafe Nucleus will open its new branch in Rainham on September 1. The new High Street venue will also include fine dining on Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as an art gallery.
🚨 A 17-year-old has been charged with attempted murder following a stabbing near Medway Park in Gillingham. The incident was one of a number of knife crime incidents in Medway in recent weeks.
🍺 KentOnline’s Secret Drinker has been to review The Robin Hood pub near Bluebell Hill. It’s not exactly a rave.
🧁 Cake House Bakery is set to open in Chatham. The company already operates in Gravesend and is expanding to Medway.
🕺 Chatham has been rated the fifth worst town in the UK for a night out. The methodology might be questionable, but the conclusion is sound.
🔥 Homes and businesses were evacuated following a gas main fire on Canterbury Street in Gillingham. The disruption lasted in the area for more than 24 hours.
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In the coming week, paid supporters will receive our exclusive interview with Simon Cook, Chair of the Medway Place Board, our events guide for June, and a look at Medway’s latest Monitoring Report, which sets out how things are looking for our towns. It’s going to be quite a ride.
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Music that soundtracked the creation of this newsletter: Mad Half Hour by Panic Pocket, Disposable Everything by AJJ, Daddy Issues by The Ballet, and Can’t Make Any Promises by Radiator Hospital.
Would you be ok with showing what is coming up at Medway little theatre? It's a community theatre in Intra that not only has an active programme of drama but has also picked up some of the space for music left by the closure of the Brook. We have a return visit by Billy Childish and The Loins as well as the drama production of Lillies on the Land in June and Kodachrome as the first production of our 23/24 season