Promoters of Great Lines music festival push on despite council saying no
Plus we have a new budget, some rubbish news, and a really big table
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Promoters of Great Lines music festival push on despite council saying no
Last month I wrote about a proposal for a new music festival to be held on the Great Lines in May that could generously be described as optimistic. The plan seemed to consist of one red flag after another, from half-baked plans, a brand identity bordering on the baffling, and a nervous response from Kent Police.
The image of promoters pushing their luck was further confirmed when they began selling tickets for various events before Medway Council had even granted them a licence to hold the event. The lineup was a varied affair, with one-day featuring opera singer Katherine Jenkins, with the next being a 25,000 capacity dance music event.
While Kent Police expressed concerns about the entire festival, it was that dance event, branded as Dream Valley, that attracted the most concern. The capacity for that event was significantly higher than any of the others, and the police pointed to issues with drugs when the organisers held a similar event in Lydd last year. On top of these concerns, Medway councillors were worried about the traffic impact in the area, as the event would have required a substantial number of road closures around the site.
The issue came to a head this week as Medway Council’s licencing committee formally rejected the licence for the event, meaning that the festival will not be able to go ahead. This is unfortunate for anyone that bought tickets, but the baffling part is that the promoters are continuing to sell tickets. Which seems highly questionable under the circumstances.
Dream Valley, the biggest of the events involved in the festival, is continuing to push tickets hard on social media, and it seems to be working. Tickets for most tiers are now unavailable, only leaving tickets that start at £71 and go as high as £275 for ‘VIP Access’. This might be tempting if there was any chance of the festival going ahead, but with only three months to go and Medway Council not seemingly inclined to let it go ahead, feels incredibly unlikely.
Tickets are also still on sale for the Katherine Jenkins event on the Friday, with prices ranging from £28 to £62. None of the marketing for the event has addressed the issue that the festival has failed to obtain a licence, continuing to sell to unsuspecting customers despite the fact the event is almost certainly not going to take place.
The organisers did grumpily tell KentOnline that “the Great Lines Great Music Weekend is not cancelled” and said that they will be appealing the decision. Which is technically possible, but it’s hard to imagine a world where they can win. Even if they do, the odds of putting on four events of the scale they are planning with only a few weeks left feel optimistic at best.
This is the sort of thing that gives live music events a bad name as being sloppily run by promoters only interested in pulling in as much money as possible no matter what the consequences. Hopefully, all of this will be resolved in a satisfactory way, and potential attendees are properly refunded when the promoters run out of routes to try and make this event happen. But their continuing push to sell tickets for an event that’s very likely to be cancelled is not something that inspires confidence.
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Parties set out their budget plans ahead of election
Medway Council held their annual budget-setting meeting last night. These meetings are usually pretty drab affairs. The ruling Conservatives have a large enough majority that they can basically put through whatever budget they like, so they become a time for positioning rather than any serious policy decisions.
This mood was slightly different this year though. As we hurtle toward local elections where the Conservatives could quite feasibly lose their grip on Medway Council, and thus the finances, the stakes are higher than usual.
So it was quite surprising to see the Conservatives not really come up with anything new. There was little proposed in terms of new initiatives, and the budget largely reflected the ‘steady as she goes’ mentality their administration has become famous for. Which is a technique that might work well between elections but isn’t necessarily as viable when facing the electorate.
The headline figure is of course the 5% increase in council tax. This will mean an average band D property pays over £2,000 for the first time. While it is understandable that Medway Council will push to the maximum permitted increase following years of underfunding, it is another challenge facing residents in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.
Both of the main political parties on the council were aware that this was an election year though, so there was some wiggle room for trying to pull some rabbits out of the hat. The Conservatives offered two significant last-minute additions: free bulky waste collections for all residents and free parking in some town centre car parks on Mondays.
The free bulky waste collections just restore a policy that was removed years ago when Medway Council decided to start charging for the service. The free parking is likely more useful to more residents and does cover car parks in all of the main town centres. Amusingly though, it does mean shoppers will be able to park for free in Rochester on Mondays, the day all of the shops there are closed.
There was also the matter of the official coronation of King Charles in May. What’s the point of a royal coronation if it doesn’t let a council spend a bunch of money? As such the administration has set aside an extra £50,000 to ‘celebrate’. No idea what that will involve, but jolly good. At least they knew the name of the King this time around, unlike when they placed an advert in the local press that renamed him George.
On the other hand, Medway Labour proposed to scrap the £338,000 of Members’ Priorities funding which allows the council leader to support small projects from councillors, and instead put the money into other pots that may indicate some of their priorities for a future administration. Nearly half of the money would go to the town centre forums, a chunk to volunteers looking after parks, and a few other interesting projects like setting up a pocket park and greening Strood riverfront. None of this is wildly groundbreaking, which likely is the idea, but it does demonstrate what they would like to do differently.
Of course, these plans were roundly voted down by the Conservative administration. Still, Labour might get a chance to act upon these ideas in only a few short months.
Still, there was one exciting development buried in the budget for politics nerds. Which is pretty much just me, but that’s beside the point.
The St. George’s Centre has never been a good location to hold council meetings. The sound is appalling, it’s cold, most of the technology doesn't work, and it’s a pain in the arse to get to without a car. Medway has long needed a dedicated chamber to conduct business, and while there is a short-term cost in this project, having appropriate and accessible facilities is worth doing.
As if to prove the point, the microphone system failed during the budget meeting last night, leaving councillors having to pass round a handheld microphone and looking like they were having the worst karaoke night in history:
If you have four hours to spare and a deep hatred for yourself, you can watch the meeting in full here:
Covid in numbers
I’m no longer regularly including case data here as no one is tracking this data anymore. There might be a monthly update from the Office for National Statistics, but there is no meaningful weekly data that I’m able to include at this point.
Hospitalisations: There are currently 31 patients being treated for covid in Medway Hospital, with 1 of them on a ventilator. This is down 22% from last week.
Deaths: No new deaths were recorded this week, keeping Medway at 1,012 covid deaths in total.
Rubbish news for some local residents
Changes were announced to the way Medway Council and Kent County Council refuse sites will work this week. Up until now, a reciprocal agreement has existed between Medway and KCC allowing interchangeable use of refuse sites between the two areas. Form May, Medway residents will have to pay £10 to visit KCC sites, while KCC residents will not be able to visit Medway sites at all.
This agreement is set to come to an end in May, meaning Medway will residents will have to use the three Medway refuse sites, while KCC residents will have to use the Kent-operated sites. This all sounds very logical and would be if the borders between our two areas weren’t wildly out of control.
Most of us would probably regard areas like Walderslade and Lordswood as being part of Medway. And while they largely are, big chunks of them actually sit outside of Medway’s control. Here’s a map:
While the M2 motorway would seem like the logical border between Medway and the rest of Kent, the reality is far messier. As a result, residents who live on the wrong side of the line now face driving their waste down to Maidstone rather than the Capstone site which is literally a few minutes away from their homes.
Pretty rubbish for all concerned.
Come and see a really big table
I didn’t envision I’d be writing about tables in this newsletter, but Rochester Cathedral have one going on display in a couple of weeks and maybe you’d like to see it?
It’s a giant table, 13m long, and it’s made from 5,000-year-old oak. It’ll be in Rochester Cathedral for a year and you can come and take a look at it.
I have no idea why this giant table exists or why it’s so important, but it’s hard to deny that it’s an impressive table.
Look at it:
Definitely a big table. Cool.
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Medway Hospital is freeing up beds by using virtual wards where patients remain at home but are monitored remotely (KentOnline). Seems like a good idea for some things at least.
A World War 2 explosive injured someone in Wainscott (KentLive). Incredible that we still manage to find these lying around.
Gin and prosecco bar could be the next thing to open in Rochester (KentOnline). The bar would take the vacant shop previously used by SupaGlazing.
Waitrose inside Dobbies in Gillingham is now open (KentOnline). And I can’t wait to visit it.
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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: Courting Strong by Martha, Yikes by Dollar Signs, Stagger & Fade by Sourpatch, Whole Damn Body by Los Campesinos!, and Emphatically No by Cheekface.