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Medway can't even keep its swimming pools warm
Plus Innovation Park Medway continues to do nothing, and Medway is in Time Out!
Medway can't even keep its swimming pools warm
There seems to be a sense in Medway that everything is in a state of decline at the moment. All of our town centres are looking tired and run down, services are stretched to breaking point, and things keep falling apart.
Now, this isn’t purely a local problem. Local government budgets have been pushed so far to the edge that it’s a small miracle that councils are able to maintain much beyond the absolute minimum of public facilities.
The latest manifestation of this occurred this week as a gas supply at Medway Park packed up, leaving all of the swimming pools with cold water.
Now I’m no expert swimmer, but that doesn’t sound ideal.
Of course, things do occasionally go wrong, and it would be churlish to blame Medway Council or anyone else for the incident occurring in the first place. But it is difficult not to question the chain of events of followed.
Posts on local Facebook groups from disgruntled parents talked about the water being frozen for swimming lessons last Saturday, with some of them being told that the failure happened on Friday evening.
On Saturday, they tried to brazen the whole thing out, not telling anyone about the issue seemingly until they had already reached the pool if the posts are Facebook are accurate. By Saturday evening, realising this wasn’t sustainable, they announced that the pools would only be open for adults on Sunday and that no water for showers would be available. By Monday morning, everything was closed.
Quite why it took so long to reach this obviously necessary measure raises questions about the management of Medway Park and its priorities.
Eventually, it took six days from the original incident for the swimming pool to be up and running, and even then Medway Sport was warning people that it’ll be colder than usual.
Of course, Medway Park is currently under additional pressure following the closure of Splashes in Rainham ahead of a rebuild. This may speak to a wider problem in how our facilities are run in Medway.
Splashes closed following a discovery that the building was no longer structurally sound, requiring a complete rebuild rather than the smaller-scale refurbishment that was originally planned. When councillors debated spending money on a new facility at Splashes, some raised concerns about the state of the other two Medway leisure facilities at Medway Park and Hoo. It appears they were right to raise these concerns.
Facilities in a perilous state seem to be a theme in Medway at the moment. Only a few weeks ago the Medway Tunnel had to close for days as a result of a systems failure. Rochester Pier recently fell into the river. Our roads are full of potholes.
With a 5% council tax rise on the horizon, perhaps Medway’s facilities can be brought back up to the standard that we expect. But with things already in such a state, it’s going to be a tall order for whoever is running the council after May.
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Covid in numbers
Cases: 1.3% of the population in the south east are estimated to test positive for coronavirus this week, down from 1.6% last week. More specific local data is now only published monthly.
Hospitalisations: There are currently 20 patients being treated for covid in Medway Hospital, with none of them on a ventilator. This is up 43% from last week.
Deaths: 3 new deaths were recorded this week, taking Medway to 1,007 covid deaths in total.
Vaccinations: 60% of the 12+ population in Medway have received at least three doses of covid vaccine.
9% of those under 12 have had at least one dose of the vaccine.
65% of those aged 50+ have so far had their autumn booster.
Innovation Park Medway or white elephant?
Innovation Park Medway is a large-scale project to bring highly skilled manufacturing, engineering, and technology businesses to Medway. It is being created on land that was previously part of Rochester Airport and should provide a boost to our local economy.
Overall, the scheme is set to provide 30 plots for businesses as well as smaller amounts of office space.
The problem is that no one seems particularly interested in investing in the project.
Recently, Medway Council failed to win government funding to build the landmark building on the northern site. It was the latest in a string of blunders for the project. Previously, Medway Council offered businesses at Chatham Docks the opportunity to relocate to the site despite it being entirely landlocked. In July, Medway Council borrowed £12m to build facilities on the southern site after no investors expressed interest.
Despite all that, a ‘completion event’ for the southern site of the project was held this week.
Nearly a year ago, no businesses had expressed any interest in moving to the site. But with a ‘completion event’, surely things are looking more positive?
Not one business is so far committed to using the site, though perhaps two are considering it. So that’s nice.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to not view Innovation Park as a vanity project that is entirely out of touch with the needs of our business community. If successful, the project would be a shot in the arm to the local area, but so far all evidence points to it being a money hole with no obvious upsides.
NHS in numbers
Ambulance queues: 2% of patients arriving at Medway Hospital are waiting more than 30 minutes to be handed over to A&E. This is the same as last week. Medway Hospital continues to perform well here, against the national average of 18%.
The data on A&E wait times, overall waiting lists, and ambulance response times are only published monthly, so I’ll update those when they are available.
Medway takes a time out
Interesting tweet from Medway Council’s official tourism channel Visit Medway this week, who were delighted to see that the legendary events magazine Time Out had written a piece on all of the brilliant things going on in Medway.
“Fantastic to see that Medway has been featured in Time Out” is quite the quote considering that Visit Medway directly paid for the article to be published. No, Time Out didn’t just discover how brilliant Medway is and write all about us. Instead, it’s all about the money, which sort of takes the shine off somewhat.
Of course, this kind of paid editorial is relatively common these days, and Medway is doing nothing particularly unique in utilising it. It’s actually a reasonably good tool to reach an audience that would otherwise prove difficult. But to pretend it’s anything more than paid advertising and promoting it on Medway’s own social channels just looks a bit silly.
Still, we’ve made it this far, so we might as well see what it says.
Hop on a train for 30-ish minutes and you’re in a vibrant area that’s beyond expectations, with bustling food and drink, shopping and a thriving cultural scene
‘30-ish’ doing a lot of heavy lifting there. 34 minutes will get to Strood which, let’s be honest, is not where the tourists are interested in visiting. And thriving cultural scene? Sure.
For a more relaxed vibe, seek out modern international cuisine and hand crafted beers, lagers, craft spirits and cocktails overlooking the stunning marina at Pier Five
Someone at Medway Council must really like Pier Five, as I’m not sure it’s a pub on anyone else’s radar.
Medway isn’t known as Festival City for nothing
I guarantee not a single person that isn’t on the payroll of Medway Council has ever called Medway ‘Festival City’.
Festival City indeed.
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New flats are proposed on the site of Anchorage House in Chatham (KentOnline). These are alongside instead of replacing the existing building, which is currently being considered as accommodation for refugees.
Square Peg Pizza is set to open in Rochester following their first branch in Canterbury (KentLive). The outlet is from the same team as Chuck and Blade Burgers, and will take their place in Rochester when the existing store moves further along the High Street.
Four buildings between Rochester and Chatham have been awarded listed status (Historic England). The new additions include Hulkes Lane Brewery, The Cottage on Cooks Wharf, and monuments around Chatham Memorial Synagogue.
If you hear about any Medway news that might be of interest, let me know! Hit reply to message me directly, DM me on Twitter, or leave a comment below.
Music that soundtracked the creation of this newsletter: The Great Depression by Defiance, Ohio, This is Happening by LCD Soundsystem, Never Not Never Not Never Not by Rosie Tucker, and We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed by Los Campesinos!.