Medway’s free parking offer is a recipe for confusion
Plus councillors have no idea what is happening, Medway's gender pay gap, and hardman Lammas is coming for bike thieves
Medway’s free parking offer is a recipe for confusion
Medway Council has announced plans to provide free parking on Mondays from 3 April. This was decided at the recent budget meeting and is supposedly a way to offer cash-strapped motorists a way to visit our town centres at a lower cost.
On paper, this sounds great. The reality is rather more confusing though.
First of all, the offer doesn’t apply all day on Mondays. Instead, it only kicks in after 9am. Presumably, this is a deliberate strategy to stop commuters from parking in council car parks for free and clogging all of the spaces. It seems inevitable that this will still happen though as instead commuters can just purchase a ticket for an hour or so that will take them to 9am, something that will inevitably be considerably cheaper than parking at any of our train station car parks.
The bigger opportunity for confusion though is that not all car parks will be included in the offer. The reasons why some are selected and others are not isn’t clear, but we are left with two car parks in each town included, and none of the others.
In Chatham, free parking will be available at The Brook and St. John’s car park, but not the Riverside or The Paddock. In Rochester, it’ll be Blue Boar Lane and the Cathedral, but not Corporation Street. You can view the full list here, but it’s the same picture across each of the towns.
This creates some bizarre scenarios where car parks literally next to each other, like the Littlewoods and Jeffrey Street car parks in Gillingham, will not have the same offer. Park in Littlewoods and your parking is free, park across the road and you’ll need to pay.
Again, there seems to be no rational pattern for which car parks are selected and which ones aren’t. So it becomes difficult for Medway residents to know which car parks are included and which ones aren’t.
As a result, residents can easily park and not pay, thinking ‘free car parking on Mondays’ and end up with a ticket, while others may end up paying even if they don’t have to.
While any assistance at the moment is positive, the details of this plan feel like they’ve been thrown together for a quick pre-election giveaway with very little thought to the potential for confusion.
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NHS in numbers
999 calls: South East Coast Ambulance answered 75,706 calls in February. The average time for a call to be answered was 28 seconds. 10% of callers waited longer than 110 seconds for an answer. These figures are broadly the same as in January, albeit with considerably more calls being answered.
Ambulance response times:
A little bit of a step back in ambulance response times this month. Only Category 4 calls met their target during February, with all response times getting worse in the past month. They aren’t anywhere near as bad as the figures we saw in December, but it’s a reminder that things are absolutely still not right.
Ambulance queues: 4% of patients arriving at Medway Hospital are waiting more than 30 minutes to be handed over to A&E, up from 2% last month. This is notably better than the national average, where 23% are still facing significant delays.
A&E waits: 27% of A&E patients waited more than 4 hours to be seen during February at Medway Hospital. This is down slightly from 28% in January, and in line with the national average.
Waiting lists: 39% of patients were waiting longer than 18 weeks for routine treatments in February. This is down slightly from 40% in January, with the national average at 42%.
Councillors oblivious to what’s happening around them
Medway’s planning committee this week saw a discussion about opening a new car wash and tyre shop on Canal Road in Strood. This news isn’t hugely exciting, but what was interesting is how local councillors seemed to be entirely oblivious to the plans.
Plans for the site were first submitted last summer, and as no one objected, they were waved through with little scrutiny. This week saw an updated version of the plans, which were discussed by the committee who seemingly completely missed the previous approval last year.
Cllr Stephen Hubbard (Lab), the ward councillor for where the site is located, said he had no idea of the plans, and moaned that officers approved the plan without consultation. Cllr Adrian Gulvin (Con) was similarly unhappy about the plans, saying he couldn’t understand how Medway Council had blown it.
All of this points to a dereliction of duty from councillors.
Planning applications are shown to councillors on a regular basis, and more importantly, all applications are in the public domain via Medway Council’s planning portal.
While no one expects random members of the public to browse through hundreds of planning applications, surely this kind of thing is the duty of councillors? Or at least should be if they don’t want to get caught out like that.
Still, some of us are out here doing the hard work. Every month, Local Authority sends out a planning roundup to our paid supporters. Indeed, we covered the Canal Road car wash back in July of last year.
Come on councillors, become a paid supporter and let us help you do your job better.
Medway councillor goes Liam Neeson
Devastating news for Medway councillor and fictional estate agent come to life Robbie Lammas, who has his bike stolen this week. Obviously, having your possessions taken is horrible and no one should have to deal with that, but what was more notable was his response:
Robbie managed to go full Liam Neeson in Taken, threatening to find the perpetrators to get it back, pointing out to them that while he works in parliament, he is from the ‘East End mate’. He doesn’t specify which East End, so we’re not sure how threatening this is supposed to be.
Still, we wish Robbie all the best in getting his bike back.
Covid in numbers
Cases: Once a month, the ONS do still publish local data on cases. It is now estimated that 2.5% of the Medway population would currently test positive for covid. This is an increase from 1.6% last month.
Hospitalisations: There are currently 44 patients being treated for covid in Medway Hospital, with 3 of them on a ventilator. This is up 22% from last week. This is the highest number of patients in the hospital since October.
Deaths: No new deaths were recorded this week, keeping Medway at 1,014 covid deaths in total.
Medway Council’s gender pay gap gets called out by a bot
International Women’s Day was this week, which meant businesses and organisations fell over themselves to tell you all of the brilliant things that women do. Which would be very nice if they actually lived up to the words and did things like pay women equally to men.
In recent years, the Gender Pay Gap Bot has been taking organisations to task who tweet about International Women’s Day, pointing out their gender pay cut. Some of these are absolutely brutal given the horrific gaps that exist in a lot of places, so Medway Council ended up escaping relatively lightly:
Medway Council has a gender pay gap of 5.2%, which isn’t great by any means but is better than a number of similar organisations the bot targetted. It has also managed to close the gap somewhat in the past year, reducing it by 1.8%.
At the current rate Medway Council might actually reach equality in three more years!
The Battle for Gun Wharf
We’ve been overwhelmed by the response to our debate between Medway’s party leaders ahead of the local elections. Over 100 of you have already booked a place to listen to people talk about politics on a Wednesday night!
If you’re interested in coming along, don’t sleep on this and book a place. Spaces are filling up fast, and by booking in advance you’ll have an opportunity to submit a question that might be asked during the event itself.
The Battle for Gun Wharf takes place on Wednesday 19 April at MidKent College in Gillingham and you can book your free tickets here.
Paid supporters of Local Authority receive two extra editions of the newsletter every week. This week, Steven Keevil sat down and interviewed Medway comic publisher and Breakthrough Party activist Ian Sharman, while I published our monthly planning update, which would have been very helpful for Cllr Hubbard.
Becoming a paid supporter ensures we can keep this thing running for the long term and currently costs as little as £3.75 per month. Please consider it if you can!
New nature reserve for Hoo has been given the green light (KentOnline). Inevitably, some of the locals aren’t happy.
League of Friends shop at Medway Hospital is closed for a three-month upgrade (KentLive). A new, fancier version will be open by the end of May.
Cllr Jarrett’s branding of unaccompanied child refugees as illegal immigrants is getting national attention (Daily Express). When even the Daily Express thinks you might have gone a bit far, it’s maybe worth considering your language.
Splashes is set to reopen by Summer 2024 (KentLive). We’ll see.
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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: Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart by Martha.
Note to Editor - and now for something completely different........
I just found a link to one of Medway's great [but hidden] claims to fame...
Best wishes from a happy subscriber
CB in Rainham