Archive for the ‘Employment in Medway’ Category

Great to meet the new Head Teacher of the Howard School in Rainham

April 15, 2016

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Having just started in his new role as Head Teacher of the Howard School in Rainham it was a real pleasure to be visited by Terry Millar this morning where he brought both myself and my ward colleague Cllr Barry Kemp up to date with his plans for the future of the school.

Terry joins us from the Haberdashers’ Aske’s Crayford Academy and I know is extremely excited at his new role with us here in Medway.

After discussing local ward issues I was able to spend time with Terry discussing various issues and really look forward to working with Terry and the leadership team at the Howard School in the future.

Thank you Terry for taking the time to visit, it is very much appreciated.

 

Medway Council’s budget 2016/17

February 26, 2016

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Medway Council Press Release

Medway residents will continue to pay the lowest council tax in Kent following councillors’ approval of the budget for 2016/17.

Last night councillors voted for a 1.994 per cent increase in council tax and an additional two per cent social care precept – a new power announced by the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement.
This will help combat an unprecedented cut in government funding that will see the authority lose almost £12million in grant support from central government compared to 2015/16 – that’s a 30 per cent drop. The additional precept will allow the council to partially fund the ever growing cost of looking after an ageing population.
This year’s council tax, inclusive of the two per cent precept, equates to £1,234.89 per year for an average Band D home. This represents a rise of 91p a week or £47 a year on last year’s council tax charge.
While Medway Council seeks to be as efficient as possible, it needs to increase council tax to ensure a balanced budget – a legal obligation it must meet despite the fact that it is becoming harder to achieve this as government funding continues to decrease.
Services such as highways, libraries and leisure will be protected. Medway remains determined to support its community hubs, which have been key in offering residents a whole host of council services. The council will also continue to provide weekly bin and recycling collections, one of a handful of authorities in the country to do this, and car park fees will be frozen until 2017.
Additional funding in the budget will include:
£16,000 for the Queen’s 90th birthday beacons
£50,000 for Dutch Raid commemorations

£49,000 for Medway’s Dickens heritage

£140,000 on HMS Kent Freedom

£55,000 for inward investment

£15,000 has been put aside to continue to fight against a Thames estuary airport, should the need arise.
The authority has embarked on a digital transformation programme which will see more services delivered online for less cost, and in social care there will be a stronger focus on people being supported to maintain their independence and receive care within their own homes. School budgets have also been protected at similar rates to 2015/16.
Historically, Medway receives much less in government funding than other similar sized local authorities and this is a continuing feature.

Because of this, the council is constantly looking for ways to improve services, lower costs but also deliver its priorities for the area.
Alongside the budget, the council has agreed its four year business plan.

Three priorities for change are supported by a range of projects.
• Medway: A place to be proud of – supporting a clean and green environment and helping to put Medway on the map.
• Supporting Medway’s people to realise their potential – helping older and disabled people to live independently; resilient families; supporting a healthy and active community; helping children to achieve their potential in schools.
• Maximise regeneration and economic growth – creating a strong and diversified community; residents with jobs and skills; preventing homelessness; delivering new homes in Medway to meet need; getting around Medway.
Leader of Medway Council Cllr Alan Jarrett said: “It’s been a really tough task to balance this budget, something we have spent a very long time on to ensure we protect the services that are most important to local people, while still making the vast savings required.
“We have absolutely been backed into a corner by central government, as have all local authorities, and while we have again managed to find ways of continuing to deliver important and quality services, continued future funding cuts will be damaging to the level of service we are able offer local people – something we have always strived to avoid.
“The 1.994 per cent rise in council tax and the additional social care precept is unavoidable if we want to maintain services.
“Over the coming years, ongoing major regeneration in the area is going to boost the local economy including Rochester Airport Technology Park, Rochester Riverside development, Strood Riverside and Chatham and Temple Waterfronts, and George Osborne’s recent announcement of Enterprise Zone status for Rochester Airport as part of The North Kent Innovation Zone, will attract more businesses to the area.”

A Wonderful Welcome at Hoo St Werburgh Primary School and Marlborough Centre

February 10, 2016

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I received a wonderfully warm welcome at Hoo St Werburgh Primary & Marlborough Centre when I visited them to personally congratulate them on their fantastic GOOD Ofsted report which has just been released.

Greeted by the Interim Executive Headteacher Frank Eagles and the Chair of Governors Ian Chappell we discussed educational matters before being taken on a tour of the school.

On the tour I met with both staff and pupils and really enjoyed a brilliant question and answer session with the pupils in Year 6 at the Marlborough Centre. The fact that I had been in the Royal Navy seemed to capture their imagination and I really enjoyed answering their questions.

On completion of the tour I met with the Head of Main School Tara Devoy and Head of the Marlborough Centre Catherine McKie and I am photographs above with Tara and members of the School Council proudly holding their GOOD Ofsted.

My sincere congratulations to all of the teaching professionals, governors, staff and pupils for a great Ofsted Grade.

I look forward to returning to meet you all again soon.

A great visit to the Medway UTC

January 11, 2016

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Following a warm welcome from the Principal Dr Karon Buck, I had the opportunity of touring  the Medway University Technical College (UTC) today.

In addition to seeing the wonderful facilities that the UTC has to offer, I was also able to speak to both staff and pupils.

Engaging and confident responses from the pupils, all of whom I spoke to enjoying their time at the UTC and developing a real interest in both Engineering and Science.

I am photographed above with the Principal Dr Karon Buck and members of the Year 10 Company Board members.

 

Medway Council aiming to protect frontline services in 2016/17 budget

January 5, 2016

Mdway

Medway Matters

Medway Council is striving to protect frontline services following the provisional local government settlement which sets out funding available for the next financial year.

The budget for 2016/17 will seek to protect all the vital services residents expect and deserve – a task which is becoming increasingly more difficult as government funding continues to decrease.

Several government grants previously received by the authority have, for 2016/17, been rolled into the total Revenue Support Grant (RSG), meaning the council will lose almost £12million in grant support from central government compared to 2015/16 – that’s a 30 per cent drop.

This is in addition to reductions of 11.9 per cent and 8.3 per cent in grant support in 2011/12 and 2012/13 respectively (circa £20million), followed by further reductions in Revenue Support Grant alone of at least £35million since 2013/14.

Despite this, the authority is working on proposals to balance the budget without impacting on important day to day services such as highways, waste collection, libraries and leisure.

The council will keep weekly bin and recycling collections, one of a handful of authorities in the country to do this, and car park fees will not rise – as the authority has pledged to keep these at the same level until 2017.

Medway is also determined to support its libraries and new community hubs which have thrived in recent years and have been key in offering residents a whole host of council services from easily accessible, central town locations.

In order to fund and protect the more than 140 services the council provides for the 270,000 people living in Medway, the budget proposals will seek a basic 1.994 per cent rise in council tax. Then in response to an ageing population and dwindling funding from central government, it is likely that the council will exercise its new power, announced by the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement, to increase council tax by a further 2 per cent to partially fund demographic growth in the social care budget.

If approved before Full Council at the end of February, council tax charges, inclusive of the 2 per cent precept, would equate to £1,234.89 per year for an average Band D home – a rise of 91p a week or £47 a year on last year’s charge.

While Medway Council seeks to be as efficient as possible, council tax needs to increase to ensure a balanced budget – a legal obligation it must meet despite the fact that it is becoming harder to achieve this as government funding continues to decrease.

In fact, the revenue support grant for 2016/17 will reduce to £28million compared to the adjusted 2015/16 figure of £40.1million – an £11.9million loss in government funding that is the principal cause of the near £15million gap against the £316million overall draft budget.

Historically, Medway receives much less in government funding than other similar sized local authorities and this is a continuing feature.

Medway Council’s research shows that the £28 million it will receive works out at £103 per resident.

With funding cuts set to continue in the coming years, the council has to come up with more effective ways of providing services for less.

The authority has embarked on a digital transformation programme which will see services delivered for less online, and in social care there will be a stronger focus on people being supported to maintain their independence and receive care within their own homes.

On-going major regeneration in the area will continue to boost the local economy and George Osborne’s recent announcement of Enterprise Zone status for Rochester Airport as part of The North Kent Innovation Zone, will attract more businesses to the area.

Cllr Alan Jarrett, Leader of Medway Council, said: “Once again it has been an incredibly tough task this year to balance the books. Year on year we receive less money from central government, which is quite frankly backing local authorities into a corner and will inevitably lead to cuts in various areas over the coming years, something we have always strived to avoid.

“In Medway we pride ourselves on protecting frontline services, which we have managed to do again in these draft budget proposals, but in the future, continued cuts to our funding will be damaging to the level of service we are able offer local people.

“The 1.994 per cent rise in council tax and the additional social care precept is unavoidable if we want to maintain the important services that residents rely on and deserve.”

Details of budget proposals will be subject to change up until final decisions are made at the Full Council meeting on 25 February 2016.

The implications of the provisional local government finance settlement are available online at
democracy.medway.gov.uk/mgconvert2pdf.aspx?id=29326

Chatham to Gatwick bus service is launched

December 6, 2015

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Medway Matters

National Express’ all-new direct airport service linking Kent and Gatwick is all set for take-off on Monday (December 7).

The UK’s largest coach operator will turning the wheels on the new round-the-clock straight-to-the-terminal service after the weekend, and it will be the only means of travelling between Gatwick and Kent direct via public transport.

It is anticipated the service, which stops at three universities, will be popular among people commuting to work at Gatwick Airport as well as holidaymakers and business travellers.

Meanwhile students also stand to gain as the service links the University of Kent, The University of Greenwich and the Canterbury Christ Church University directly to the airport, providing super-convenient transfers for foreign students.

In a boost to the local economy the new service is also set to create 15 new local driving and operations jobs.

The dedicated National Express service will serve both terminals from locations throughout Kent eight times a day, with journey times taking as little as an hour with tickets on sale now.

Pick up and drop off points will include Canterbury, Chatham, Gillingham, Maidstone, Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate. Travel times will be up to 45 minutes quicker than their rail counterparts, all of which involve at least one change.

The move signifies a significantly enhanced National Express presence at Gatwick – the coach company already serves the airport from London, South Wales, the South Coast, the Midlands and East Anglia, operating hundreds of thousands of passenger journeys a year. National Express Managing Director Tom Stables said: “Our new services to Gatwick offer a direct link from the airport to Kent by public transport and underline our position as the UK’s number one provider of straight-to-the-airport travel.”

Cllr Rodney Chambers, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Strategic Regeneration, said: “For the first time, this now puts Chatham on a National Express network and is a major boost, particularly for those wanting a fast, direct connection to Gatwick.

“Medway is now extremely well served with some of the best transport links in the country and that can only be good for business, tourism and the people who live here, in particular our growing student population.

Cllr Phil Filmer, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Frontline Services, said: “I am delighted National Express has chosen Chatham for this new service and eight connections a day to Gatwick is something the public will be pleased with.

“This also means that you can now link up with the rest of the National Express network from Chatham Waterfront bus station and that is something bus users will welcome.”

Gatwick Airport Chief Commercial Officer Guy Stephenson said: “With so many passengers and employees regularly travelling between Gatwick and Kent we are delighted that National Express will be providing a direct transport link. By increasing connectivity with Kent and providing the only direct public transport link we look forward to welcoming even more passengers to the airport.”

National Express is Britain’s biggest coach operator serving over 900 destinations, including towns, cities and major airports across the UK. The coach company operates around 19 million journeys each year, around a third of which are to airports. Online fares start at £5 one-way and the cheapest available fares can be found using a dedicated Low Fare Finder.

To book or for more information visit www.nationalexpress.com

A Brilliant Awards Evening at Victory Academy

November 28, 2015

 

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I recently had the honour of presenting the awards at the Victory Academy in Chatham.

It was great to present GCSE Certificates with brilliant grades to the Year 11’s and to meet and talk to Staff, Students and their Families.

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It also gave the brilliant Principal Mandy Gage the opportunity present me with my Victory Medal.

 

 

IMG_5468IMG_5469I am looking forward to returning to the Academy in the near future with the Deputy Lieutenant of Kent Ann West to present the Academy with their copy of the History of the Lord Lieutenant of Kent’s Book – Unconquered.

Copyright of photographs belongs to Victory Academy.

Help shape Medway’s future over the next 20 years

November 16, 2015

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Medway Matters

The public is being urged to have its say on Medway’s Local Plan – the document that will define the future of the area for the next 20 years.

The Local Plan will cover a period up to 2035 and will take up to three years to prepare with consultations taking place at key stages.

A key area of the Local Plan will be to consult on the options and sites for housing development and to identify what land is suitable for development and what areas need to be protected.

A first report to Medway Council’s cabinet on 24 November will not identify specific sites for development but will  include the scale of development  the area will need to meet the projected increases in Medway’s population, for homes, jobs, infrastructure and services.

This includes a need for up to 29,463 new homes by 2035, the government says.

Medway Council Leader, Cllr Alan Jarrett, said: “Medway is expected to see a significant level of growth over the next decades and while the area has had significant expansion in the past, it is likely that the rate of growth will be amongst the highest seen and will have an impact on what Medway will be like as a place to live and work.

“There is a genuine chance to establish Medway as an exciting, modern area fit for the 21st Century.

“Ensuring that development meets the needs of all the people of Medway in providing high quality homes, jobs, leisure, and educational opportunities, and that it enables healthy and sustainable lifestyles, will be a key part of this plan.”

Cllr Jane Chitty, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning and Economic Growth, added: “There is a need to ensure that new development is accompanied by adequate transport and social infrastructure such as schools, community facilities, hospitals.

“It is important the public has its say in the coming years on the various consultations that will take place so the people of Medway have a chance to define their future.”

The forecasts of Medway’s population growth are based on data published by the government’s Office of National Statistics (ONS).

In common with many areas in the south east, Medway has seen significant growth in recent years.

The population increased from 249,488 people in 2001 to 263,925 in 2011. The mid year estimates issued by ONS have shown steady increases since the last Census, with the population rising to 274,015 in 2014.

The latest official projection anticipates the population of Medway will increase by 21.8% (58,600 people) to an overall population of 326,800 people in 2037.

In 2012, Medway accounted for 18.1% of the total Kent county population; by 2037 this is projected to increase to 18.3%.

The latest household projections released anticipate a 29% increase in Medway to a total of 139,900 households by 2037.

The biggest contribution to Medway’s population increase is through natural growth –  more people are being born, than dying.

If approved by cabinet on 24 November, a formal consultation process will take  place from 4 January to 29 February 2016.

The document will be on the council’s website, and copies available to view in Medway libraries and at Gun Wharf reception.

The council will also be arranging a number of events and exhibitions to help raise awareness of the plan, and encourage people to participate in the consultation.

Further details will be  available at: www.medway.gov.uk/planningpolicy

 

Opening Best Buys in Norreys Road

October 31, 2015


I joined the Mayor of Medway Cllr Barry Kemp yesterday in opening the new store in Norreys Road in Rainham.

With longer opening hours and a wide variety of goods on sale it will prove a valuable asset to our community.

On hand were the previous owners for 30 years Narendra and Usha Patel happy to wish good luck to the new proprietor Partheepan Kunanayagam.

The ribbon was cut by young Jason Kennedy.

We wish the new owners the very best for the future.

Education campaign launched to Get Medway Learning

October 15, 2015

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Medway Matters

A campaign to drive up standards in Medway schools has been launched today (15 October).

Get Medway Learning is a new initiative which aims to raise the bar in local primary and secondary schools, ensuring children are receiving a quality education and achieving to the very best of their ability.

The scheme, led by Medway Council in partnership with reading charity Beanstalk, will need head teachers, teachers, governors, parents and children to all be on board to make a real difference.

And it is hoped that over the next few years, clear progress will have been made as a result.

Get Medway Learning brings together many strands which contribute to improving learning in Medway Schools. We will be:

• Ramping up our recruitment of good and outstanding teachers and ensuring those currently in post are up to the job, delivering effective and engaging lessons.
• Encouraging deputy head teachers from already high achieving schools in London to step up into head teacher roles here in Medway, to drive improvement and raise standards.
• Promoting the role of school governors and trying to encourage more members of the community to take a more active interest in their local primary school.
• Encouraging local people, universities and businesses to pledge to become a volunteer reader at their local primary school.
• Sending more reading volunteers into schools and highlighting the importance of parents taking the time to read with their children at home – support by national reading charity Beanstalk.

Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services Cllr Mike O’Brien said: “This campaign is set to be a spring board for improvement and progress for our schools here in Medway, particularly in our primary schools.

“While we have some excellent schools in the area, some are not performing to the expected standard and while they are working hard to improve, some are not making progress quickly enough.

“I am excited about this rigorous initiative to drive progress, however the campaign won’t succeed unless we have teachers, governors, parents and children fully on board – only then can we make a real difference.

“This is an energetic programme focussed on sustainable improvement with the aim of seeing progress over the coming years, and we need to drive up standards, give children quality education and enable them to achieve to the very best of their ability.”

Area Manager for Beanstalk Malou Bengtsson-Wheeler said: “’We are delighted to be a part of Get Medway Learning as we know the one-to-one support our volunteers provide can make a huge difference to children who are falling behind with their reading.

“Becoming a Beanstalk reading helper is a great way to give something back to the community and transform the lives of local children. One-to-one support will not only help improve the reading of the children, it also builds their confidence and allows volunteers to develop new skills themselves – and it is great fun.”

Beanstalk are always looking for more reading volunteers. For more information about becoming a volunteer visit www.beanstalkcharity.org.uk or call 01622 662026.

Alternatively, meet a Beanstalk representative and ask questions about volunteering at the following Medway venues between 9am and 5pm:

Tuesday, 3 November – Dockside Outlet Centre, Chatham
Monday, 9 November – Medway Park, Gillingham
Tuesday, 17 November – Asda, Chatham

Photograph shows Mike with the Head of Luton Junior School and a group of young readers.