Ann Barnes, Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, has given Kent Police a ‘clean bill of health’ following the latest inspection, released today, by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) into the force’s crime recording practices.ann-barnes-3.jpgdeserve. Now the second inspection – carried out in November 2013 and published today – has seen an improvement in Kent Police’s accuracy level from 90 per cent to 96 per cent.

The latest inspection report found that Kent Police had:

• ‘Responded positively’ to the concerns raised by the first report by significantly improving accuracy in crime recording, including no-crime decisions
• Put in place a comprehensive action plan to address the recommendations from the first inspection
• Moved away from a target-based approach to focus on quality of service
• Ensured officers and staff had a clear understanding of their priorities without any pressure to chase targets
• Had surveyed victims identified in the first report as well introducing an appeals process for victims in cases where a crime is either not recorded, or where a crime is initially recorded but subsequently ‘no crimed’

Commenting on the latest report, Ann Barnes, Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, said: ‘I am delighted with the latest independent inspection as it clearly highlights the hard work that the Force has undertaken to overhaul crime recording procedures. I am now confident that the people of Kent can have trust in their crime figures. Kent Police didn’t bury their heads in the sand but tackled head-on the difficult findings from the first inspection. Kent is the first force to be independently inspected and it’s now time for all police forces in the country to take an independent look at their own crime figures. All local communities must have trust in their forces crime recording figures.

‘Kent Police must now sustain this high level of accuracy and I expect the new Chief Constable to make this his constant focus now and in the future. It is imperative that the force’s culture on crime recording does not slip back to the bad old days. As the Kent newchief Police and Crime Commissioner I will be holding the Chief Constable to account to deliver this. One of the reasons why I chose Alan Pughsley to be our new Chief Constable is because I have confidence that he can, and will, deliver on this.’

The HMIC’s Rape Monitoring Group also released its latest report today, summarising the national picture of rape offences against adults and children.

The report, showed during 1st April 2012 – 31st March 2013 Kent Police had, for adult rape offences:

• A recorded crime rate below the national average (231 cases)
• A sanction detection rate in line with the national average (18 per cent)
• A ‘no crime’ rate that is in line with the national average (13 per cent)

For child rape offences the report found:
• A recorded crime rate below the national average (177 cases)
• A sanction detection rate above the national average (40 per cent)
• A ‘no crime’ rate that is in line with the national average (5 per cent)

Commenting on the rape report, Mrs Barnes said: ‘These are horrendous crimes and whilst the report shows that Kent is at the national average I am not complacent. I expect better and I want to see the numbers improved. However, the figures are historic and do not take into account the vast strides Kent Police has made since June 2013 in overhauling crime recording procedures, particularly when it comes to recording ‘no crime’.

‘This report is timely and completely vindicates my decision to call in HMIC to forensically and independently examine our crime recording practices.

‘It is only with clear and transparent statistics – which at this stage do not always make happy reading – that we can move forward to really examine Kent Police’s performance.’

HMIC is due to return to inspect Kent Police in 2014 as part of a national inspection into ‘crime data integrity’ which will compare all 43 police forces across England and Wales.

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2014 069Another evening, more rain and more puddles, more mud and no chance of getting outside and really enjoying yourself.

Then it’s a good job the Upnor Pier is here to brighten up our evenings and whisk us off to the Caribbean for the evening with entertainment, three course meal and fun competitions combined to provide a great evening again and not forgetting the genuine Steel band.

Our chivalrous host enabling all to take part Our chivalrous host enabling all to take part

Our congratulations to the Limbo Competition winner who beat off some stiff competition, not that it was a close run thing as I meant stiff in a…. finding it awkward to bend sort of way.

And the winner is........feeling a little unwell. And the winner is……..feeling a little unwell.

As for the winner of the Chilli eating contest, well Julia, you are fearless, we are checking, but don’t think anyone, ever, in the History of the Upnor Pier chilli eating contest (It’s a tradition now you know) has eaten all six, the last one being named a Ghost Chilli. Congratulations and sympathy go to you this morning.

If you would like to know more about events at The Pier, find them on face book, or see them on page three of our printed edition for regular updates. You can find all the pictures from last nights event HERE.

Layout 1A long-term plan that secures the future of Rochester Airport has been approved by Medway Council.

The Rochester Airport Masterplan includes proposals for 1,000 jobs with the creation of a new hub for science and technology firms and much-improved facilities in this key location.
The approval of the masterplan comes after a comprehensive public consultation.

First established in 1933, the Rochester Airport site is owned by Medway Council and has been leased since to an airport operator – Rochester Airport Limited.

Proposals involve replacing many of the existing buildings and facilities on the airport that are now reaching the end of their useful life and a reconfiguration of the existing runways.

One of the grass runways on site will be closed and replaced with a new parallel grass and paved runway. The paved runway will allow a small aircraft to take off and climb to a higher altitude very quickly, reducing the impact of noise on surrounding homes.

The grass runway will allow the nationally recognised Medway Aircraft Preservation Society (MAPS) to continue to use the site for heritage aircraft and open days.

The new runway layout will allow 29 acres near to Rochester Airport Industrial Estate to be developed as a new hub for science or technology related firms – with the potential to eventually create up to 1,000 new skilled jobs.

There are no plans to develop Rochester Airport into a commercial airport.

Cllr Alan Jarrett, Deputy Leader of Medway Council and Portfolio Holder for Finance, said: “Rochester Airport is an important asset for Medway and securing its future will help contribute to the regeneration and economic development of Medway.

“We want to ensure the future of the airport by maximising its potential for jobs and tourism and that’s what the masterplan does.

“The potential for new jobs here is just one of many benefits this masterplan brings.”

Archeological remains of the NAMUR, the ship beneath the floorChatham Historic Dockyard Trust has received funding of £150,000 from DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement fund, in support of “Building the Future” – an element of its Command of the Oceans project, shortly due for commencement.

Within the Command of the Oceans project, The Trust faces the challenge of retelling the dockyard’s age of sail story and ensuring that the Namur, the highly significant archaeological ship’s timbers find, becomes a central element of that story. Thanks to this funding, “Building the Future” will allow the Trust to renew interpretation of the ship’s timbers as the centre piece of new age of sail galleries and improving the environmental conditions within the Wheelwrights’ Shop – benefiting visitors, the archaeological find itself and improving energy efficiency. The project will also see the creation of a new, more visible visitor entrance to The Historic Dockyard which will act as an arrival point to the wider Chatham Dockyard & its Defences site incorporating a free to enter initial interpretation and orientation ‘Discovery Zone’ in the Wheelwrights’ Shop with easy access and modern visitor facilities.

Bill Ferris OBE, Chief Executive of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust said; “The announcement of this award effectively completes the major element of our fundraising campaign for what is arguably the most significant single project undertaken by The Trust in pursuit of its own educational charitable purposes since the ‘Wooden Walls’ gallery opened in the late 1980s. Funding from the DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund 2011-15 will allow work to commence on the wider Command of the Oceans project later in 2014 and we are extremely grateful to the DCMS/Wolfson Museums & Galleries Improvement Fund for their continued support of The Historic Dockyard Chatham.”

Steam rollers and traction at Festival of Steam and Transport 2013 003It’s Full Steam Ahead to The Historic Dockyard Chatham, as thousands plan to travel to one of the South East’s biggest and best events – The Medway Festival of Steam and Transport  

Visitors to the Medway Festival of Steam and Transport being held at The Historic Dockyard Chatham on Easter Sunday and Monday, 20th and 21st April, are in for a real treat this year as one of the South East’s favourite events gets bigger and better still! 

Returning to the Dockyard are the spectacular sights, sounds and smell of steam as traction engines and locomotives rumble by.  Hundreds of classic and vintage vehicles, live music across the site, penny farthing and land train rides will delight all ages and the interactive Modelling Zone with planes, trains, automobiles and boats of the miniature variety will captivate visitors!  Also returning is the Airfix “make & take” model building area, where children can experience building a model kit for free.

Children’s indoor soft play and outdoor play areas gives little Dockyard visitors a chance to let off some steam of their own!  Dotted across the site there will plenty of themed places to eat and opportunities to buy that special Easter gift.  All the attractions and galleries of The Historic Dockyard will be open to visit, as part of the event.

Steampunk1Due to popular demand, the Steampunks with their unusual Neo-Victorian costumes and steam powered wacky gadgets will return and have moved to the bigger venue on the Mezzanine floor, under the roof of the awe-inspiring 3 Slip: The BIG Space.  ‘Steampunk Central’ will provide a colourful and imaginative world with vendors offering Steampunk fashions, accessories, gadgets, and books; and the Steampunk Morris team will perform, together with an exhibition of Steampunk art installations.

Sixties and Rockabilly live music featuring “Like…The Beatles” and many others will entertain the crowds while they are surrounded by our new category of Hot Rod and Drag cars, with American saloon vehicles and trucks.  Live Folk and Blues music will fill the air on Museum Square with Skiffle band “Hobo Jones & the Junkyard Dogs”, as seen at Glastonbury Festival, plus many others to entertain you throughout the day.

The new temporary exhibition in No. 1 Smithery: The Gallery “A Squash and a Squeeze: Sharing Stories with Julia Donaldson” is perfect for families!  Visitors’ children can follow in Toddle Waddle’s footsteps, climb into the cave with the Cave Baby and meet The Gruffalo; sing-a-long to songs on Julia’s Jukebox or perform a play on the stage.

CallTheMidwifeAn exclusive opportunity is provided to take a walking tour around the location for the popular TV drama series ‘Call the Midwife’ and see how areas of the Dockyard were transformed to become the perfect backdrop for the programme.  The Dockyard ‘Midwives’ will lead the tour taken through the cobblestoned ‘Poplar’ Dockyard Streets with period vehicles, hanging washing lines and bicycles and music will recreate the special 1950s atmosphere, as it was for filming.  The perfect opportunity for the avid fan.

For a special treat, Easter Afternoon Tea in can be taken in the splendid Georgian glamour of Commissioner’s House.  Vintage crockery, 1950’s music and set dressed as the ‘Grosvenor Hotel’ featured in the second series of Call The Midwife.  Spaces are limited so to avoid disappointment, bookings should be made in advance by calling 01634 823846 to check availability and to make a reservation.  Alternatively there will be refreshments available in the Pavilion Marquee, plus good wholesome home cooked foods to enjoy from Wheelwrights’ Restaurant, The Railway Workshop and several catering units across the site.

Early Bird discounted tickets are now available to purchase online or from The Historic Dockyard Chatham. For more information go to www.thedockyard.co.uk/steamandtransport

Photo Credit Gemma Morson Photo Credit Gemma Morson

Try this second recipes from Michelin star chef and Gary Rhodes protegégé Paul Welburn, head chef at Searcys.

Chocolate tart pastry–

                200g icing sugar

                400g butter

                3 large eggs

                700g plain flour

Chocolate tart filling-

200g dark chocolate

100g butter

75g olive oil

70g plain flour

40g cocoa powder

6 eggs

150g caster sugar

 

Lemon curd icecream

1 litre milk

200ml double cream

60g milk powder

300g lemon juice

325g whole eggs

200g egg yolks

300g caster sugar

 

Salted caramel popcorn

25g pop corn kernels

50g clarified butter

150g caster sugar

Pinch of coarse sea salt

 

Other ingredients

Chocolate crumble (optional)

 

Method

For the pastry, start by creaming the butter and sugar together till pale, add the eggs and beat till smooth, add the flour and then mix until a smooth dough is formed, don’t overwork the pastry or it will affect the finished texture, wrap the pastry in cling film and rest in the fridge for 1 hour.

Once rested roll out the pastry to 2mm thick and line 8 x 4inch tart moulds and then fill with parchment paper and baking beans and blind bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°c for 12 minutes, remove the baking beans and return to the oven for a further 4 minutes till golden brown.

Once cooked allow to cool before trimming any excess pastry with a sharp knife, keep the cases till ready

For the ice cream, place the lemon juice, eggs, yolks and sugar in a pan and cook over a medium heat stirring all the time and cook until the mixture thickens and remove just before it reaches the boil, once cooked pass through a fine sieve .

In a pan bring the milk, milk powder and double cream to the boil, remove from the heat and whisk in the lemon curd, allow the mix to cool and then churn in an ice cream maker , and store in a plastic container till required.

For the pop corn in a pan place the clarified butter, heat the butter and add the popcorn kernels and continue heating until the kernels begin to pop, place a lid on the pan and remove from the heat and allow the kernels to continue popping.

In a separate pan add the sugar and begin to heat until a dark amber caramel is achieved (be careful not to burn the caramel) then remove from the stove and add the popcorn and stir immediately to coat each piece, add a sprinkle of salt and stir in ,  place the coated corn on a piece of greaseproof paper , and allow to cool and the caramel to harden

For the tart filling melt the chocolate in a bowl over hot water, add the butter and incorporate, remove the bowl from the heat and  add the olive oil and whisk in to emulsify, then add the flour and cocoa powder and mix in thoroughly,

In a separate bowl place the eggs and sugar and lightly whisk until pale, fold this into the chocolate mixture and mix together.

Pipe the filling into the tart case and place In preheated oven on 170°c for 7 minutes.

To serve place a tart on the plate, add a sprinkle of chocolate crumble (optional) a scoop of the lemon curd ice cream and top with some of the salted caramel popcorn.

Photo Credit Gemma Morson Photo Credit Gemma Morson

Try this recipe for a birthday dinner or even St Valentines Day, from Michelin star chef and Gary Rhodes protegégé Paul Welburn, head chef at Searcys.

Serves 4

Lobster –
2 x 300g-400g live native Cornish lobsters
3 tsp mayonnaise
3 tsp crème fraiche
Juice of ½ lemon
Season to taste
½ tsp chopped chervil

Bloody mary sorbet-
1 litre tomato juice
75ml belvedere Bloody Mary Vodka
4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
5 splash of tabasco (depending on the heat you prefer)
Salt and pepper to taste

Pickled fennel
1 bulb of fennel (sliced thinly as possible)
150ml white wine
100ml whit wine vinegar
150ml water
50g caster sugar
1 x star anise
1 x sprig of thyme

Avocado puree
2 ripe avocados
Juice of 1 lime
2 tsp crème fraice
Salt and pepper to taste

Other ingredients
Baby gem leaves – washed and torn roughly
Fennel cress (optional)
Olive oil to dress the leaves

Method

For the lobster, first cook the lobster, the most humane way is to place the lobsters in a freezer for 30 mins to relax and place them in a dormant state, then once removed pierce the lobster with a knife just behind the head pressing the tip all the way through, may seem a lot of work but fresh lobster is the only way to eat it in my opinion.(it can be replaced with the traditional prawns but it is supposed to be a special occasion!)

Next place the lobsters into a pan of boiling salted water and allow to cook for 8 minutes, remove and place into iced water, immediately remove the shell and slice the meat up and reserve the claws for garnish.

Mix gently the chilled sliced lobster meat with the mayonnaise, crème fraiche, herbs, lemon juice and season to taste, keep till required.

For the bloody Mary sorbet combine all the ingredients in a bowl , like the drink it’s a personal preference to the seasoning, lemon juice and heat from the tabasco, for me I like that strong kick of flavour and this ends up as the replacement for the traditional Mary Rose sauce in the finished dish so bear this in mind.

Once mixed churn in an ice cream maker and then store in a plastic container in the freezer until ready
For the pickled fennel bring all the ingredients apart from the fennel to the boil and then pour directly onto the thinly sliced fennel , cover and leave for a minimum of 1 hour to marinade, the longer the better if possible.

For the avocado puree place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth adjust the seasoning to taste .

To serve take a retro-style martini glass, place the baby gem leaves dressed in olive oil and lemon juice in the base, top with a generous mound of lobster mix, add few shavings of the pickled fennel and top off with a spoon of avocado puree, the dressed claw some fennel cress, and finally a spoon of the bloody Mary sorbet

Medway Council will set aside a row of seats at Full Council meetings for citizen journalists as it values the work they do scrutinising the authority.stgeorgechat

The council’s Full Council meetings take place at the St George’s Centre in Chatham.

Each time they are held around six citizen journalists come along to live Tweet as the meeting happens before them.

To recognise the fact that citizen journalists play an important part in local democracy, Medway wishes to make it easier for them.

And now it will make the row available (usually at the front) to try and ensure they have a place.

The council has already Tweeted this message to announce this news and will ask citizen journalists on the day to tweet us to say they are coming – as spaces will be limited.

Cllr Alan Jarrett, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Finance, said: “We are very keen to engage with people and to help them play a part in local democracy.

“Our council meetings do get a number of people turning up in the public gallery including citizen journalists who spend the night Tweeting about what is being said.

“It is important that councils are open and accountable and we want to help people who give up their time to tell their followers about our meetings.”

The row of seats will usually be at the front of the council’s public gallery (unless there is a specific reason that others may need accommodating there.)

As spaces are limited, Medway Council is asking those who wish to use the citizen journalists’ row on the night of Full Council meetings to please Tweet us @medway_council on the day.

speed article Consultation ends next week on proposals to reduce the speed limit for drivers on the Hoo Peninsula.

A number of parish councils have been asked for their views on new speed limits proposed for the area. And they have until Monday, 3 February to have their say.

The idea is to reduce the current 60mph limit down to 40mph and also 30mph for some roads. The consultation follows a request by some residents to implement a 40mph speed limit on the Ratcliffe Highway and a 30mph limit for the hamlet of St. Mary Hoo and St. Mary’s Cottages.

This will provide consistency for drivers on the rural roads as well helping the local environment by cutting down on carbon emissions.

Backers of the campaign also hope reducing the speed limit will decrease road collisions and improve conditions for other users such as pedestrians and cyclists.

Cllr Phil Filmer, Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services, encourages the move. He said: “These changes could make a huge difference to the area, making the roads safer for residents and commuters as well as benefiting the rural location by decreasing pollution and noise.” “I welcome people to come forward with their comments.”

Parish councils, including Allhallows, Cliffe Woods, High Halstow, Hoo St Werburgh, St Mary Hoo and Stoke still have until next week to voice their opinions. If the plans are approved, new speed limit signs will be put up during March.

Figures released today show schools in Medway are narrowing the achievement gap between disadvantaged pupils and other pupils.

Performance at Key Stage 4 shows that in Medway, there has been an increase in the percentage of disadvantaged pupils gaining 5+ GCSEs at grades A*-C including English and mathematics, up 1.8 percent to 38.8%.

That closes the gap from 30% in 2012 to 28.5% in 2013.

cllobrien.jpgIn 2013, the overall Medway figure for the percentage of pupils achieving 5+GCSEs at grades A*- C (including English and Mathematics) has been maintained at 61%. That means Medway is above the national figure of 60.6%. Lead Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services at Medway Council, Councillor Mike O’Brien, said: “We have much to celebrate in Medway schools with further evidence of a continuing improvement.

“Figures only show part of the picture and don’t always reflect the hard work being done by teachers and pupils but today we can congratulate all those involved for showing Medway schools are really going places.

“That’s not to say we will take these figures for granted and the hard work will continue.
“But this is fantastic news and I would like to say well done to all our young people who have worked so hard to achieve this with their dedicated and hard-working staff.”

Key facts and figures:
Medway Performance at Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5

• The number of pupils at the end of Key Stage 4 has increased by 2.3%, from 3168 in 2012 to 3242 in 2013.

• In 2013, the overall Medway figure for the percentage of pupils achieving 5+GCSEs at grades A*- C (including English and Mathematics) has been maintained at 61%.

• The number of pupils entered for all English Baccalaureate subjects increased by 68%.

• The percentage of Medway pupils achieving all English Baccalaureate subjects increased from 14.7% in 2012 to 18.6% this year. This represents an improvement of 3.9% and exceeds the 2012 national figure of 18.4%.

• Almost all Medway state funded schools saw an increase in the percentage of pupils achieving all English Baccalaureate subjects.

• Both of the Medway LA maintained secondary schools had successful results.

• The number of pupils at the Howard School at the end of Key Stage 4 increased from 219 in 2012 to 238 in 2013. In the past year, the Howard School maintained it performance level for the number of pupils achieving 5+GCSEs at grades A*- C (including English and Mathematics). Their figure of 62% was the same as last year, and exceeded both the corresponding Local Authority and national figure for 2012.

• The Howard School also saw a remarkable increase in the percentage of pupils achieving all English Baccalaureate subjects. Their performance improved from 1% in 2012 to 20% in 2013.

• In 2013, St John Fisher Catholic Comprehensive School increased the percentage of pupils achieving 5+GCSEs at grades A*- C (including English and Mathematics) to 47%, up one percentage point from the previous year. The percentage of pupils achieving all English Baccalaureate subjects also saw a notable increase from 2% in 2012 to 8% in 2013. The school also showed significant gains at Key Stage 5.

• Robert Napier is the most improved for 5+ GCSEs at grades A*-C including English and mathematics, with figures increasing from 31% in 2012 to 47% in 2013.

• Medway has reduced the achievement gap between disadvantaged pupils and all other pupils. There has been an increase in the percentage of disadvantaged pupils gaining 5+ GCSEs at grades A*-C including English and mathematics, up 1.8 percent to 38.8%, thereby closing the gap from 30% in 2012 to 28.5% in 2013.

• The percentage of Medway disadvantaged pupils achieving the English Baccalaureate has also increased by 1.6%

Food waste recycling has just got easier for Medway residents.

medway council caddyFrom Monday 27 January, compostable kitchen caddy liners to take food leftovers can be bought at selected Medway libraries.

The liners are £1.50 for 26, a competitive price to encourage more residents to use them.

Libraries at Chatham Community Hub, Hoo, Rainham, Strood, Walderslade and Wigmore will stock them for a six-week trial. If successful, other libraries could be added.

Cllr Phil Filmer, Medway Council Portfolio Holder for Frontline Services, said: “Using these liners is good. They keep the kitchen caddy clean, reduce smells and make it easier to transfer food waste.

“We have had a good response from residents since we introduced weekly recycling in October and we want to encourage more.

While caddy liners are best, newpaper or kitchen roll can be used as an alternative. For more details, www.medway.gov.uk/recyclenow

Shoveler Anas clypeata, drakes in flight, Norfolk, AprilLovely weather for ducks as a record number lands at RSPB Cliffe Pools

The North Kent Marshes are a vital winter retreat for European ducks and waders that escape the frozen north, a birdwatching spectacle that has drawn ornithologist Murray Orchard to Cliffe Pools for the past forty years. This month Murray counted 720 of one of the UK’s most attractive ducks, the Shoveler, dispersed across the flooded clay pits.

Murray said, “This count is probably the highest at a single site in Kent since 1961. In my experience, the last two winters have seen the largest gatherings of waders and ducks in the history of Cliffe Pools. I have never before seen so many Shoveler in one place at one time; the total is four times the national threshold and almost twice the international threshold for conservation significance.”

The male Shoveler has an enormous beak and striking plumage and is normally seen in much lower numbers, less than a hundred, than the other species of duck.

The clay pits became an RSPB reserve in 2000, and are unique in the Thames Estuary for their saline lagoons. Murray lived near Cliffe for thirty years and regularly travels down from his home in Hertfordshire; counting birds on this scale takes experience and patience, skills Murray has honed since the age of 12 when he started birdwatching in his garden. Murray said, “Seeing these Shoveler was a great pleasure but they were hard to count, taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend will be a much simpler task.”

Cliffe Pools recently attracted 10,000 Dunlin at high tide, which Murray described as “twisting and turning like a huge cloud of smoke over the pools,” and 9,000 Black-tailed Godwits were recorded last winter. The information gathered by enthusiasts such as Murray, and all those participating in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, provides a finger on the pulse of nature in the UK, buying time to respond to conservation threats before long term damage is done to UK wildlife.

Statue of General Gordon (Ron Strutt) / CC BY-SA 2.0 Statue of General Gordon (Ron Strutt) / CC BY-SA 2.0

The annual memorial service for Charles George Gordon is to take place at the Gordon Memorial Gardens on Friday 24 January, 2014 at 11am.

This year marks the 129th anniversary of his death at Khartoum and a small working party have devised a special service to commemorate this local hero.

The service is to be officiated by Rev Graham Herbert from Milton Church and attended by the Mayor of Gravesham, Cllr Derek Sales who along with pupils from Chantry School, members of the Royal Engineers Association and the president of Gravesend and Meopham Rotary Club, will be laying flowers placed at the foot of Gordon’s Memorial.

The Gravesend Borough Band with additional members from the Salvation Army will be providing musical accompaniment to the service and members of the Gads Hill School Combined Cadet Force will be in attendance as guard of honour.

General Charles Gordon 1833 – 1885
British general Charles Gordon became a national hero for his exploits in China and his ill-fated defence of Khartoum against Sudanese rebels. Gordon lived and worked in Gravesend between 1865 and 1871 and during that time showed great generosity and kindness to the poor people of the borough. He was appointed to upgrade the various fortifications along the Thames which included the New Tavern Fort. He lived in Fort House in the grounds of the New Tavern Fort. The building was demolished following an explosion caused by a V2 in 1944.

Charles Gordon was born on 28 January 1833, the son of a senior army officer. He was commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1852. He distinguished himself in the Crimean War (1853 – 1856) and in 1860 volunteered for the ‘Arrow’ war against the Chinese. In May 1862 Gordon’s corps of engineers was assigned to strengthen the European trading centre of Shanghai, which was threatened by the insurgents of the Taiping Rebellion. A year later he became commander of the 3,500-man peasant force raised to defend the city. During the next 18 months Gordon’s troops played an important role in suppressing the Taiping uprising.

He returned to England in January 1865, where an enthusiastic public had already dubbed him ‘Chinese Gordon’. In 1873 he was appointed governor of the province of Equatoria in the Sudan. Between April 1874 and December 1876 he mapped the upper Nile and established a line of stations along the river as far south as present day Uganda. He was then promoted to governor-general, where he asserted his authority, crushing rebellions and suppressing the slave trade. However, ill health forced him to resign and return to England in 1880 before travelling once more to places including India, China and South Africa.

In February 1884 Gordon returned to the Sudan to evacuate Egyptian forces from Khartoum, threatened by Sudanese rebels led by Muhammad Ahmad al-Mahdi. Khartoum came under siege the next month and on 26th January 1885 the rebels broke into the city, killing Gordon (against al-Mahdi’s instructions) and the other defenders. The British relief force arrived two days later.

The British public reacted to his death by acclaiming ‘Gordon of Khartoum’, who had had a strong Christian faith, a martyred warrior-saint and by blaming the government, particularly Gladstone, for failing to relieve the siege.

David_Leak-apprentice1Confirmation that government will provide funds to buy a site at Chatham Docks for Medway’s new University Technical College (UTC) clears the way for the public to be consulted on proposals for the educational establishment.
The move follows the agreement by Minister for Schools, Lord Nash, that the Department for Education will release the finance for the college.

The consultation begins today ( 20 January 2014), and runs until 3 February. This will allow local people to put forward their views on the UTC and what they think about the suitability of the UTC Trust’s proposals for young people in Medway. They will be able to respond online, by post, by phone and by email (details below).

In addition, a series of events will be held in February where members of the public can turn up and discover more about the UTC, as well as share their views (details also below).

The UTC, which will specialise in engineering and construction, is due to open in September 2015.

It is sponsored by the University of Greenwich, Mid Kent College, Medway Council, BAE Systems, and other local employers and partners.

The UTC will provide a technically rich education for up to 600 students aged between 14 and 19, for 40 weeks of the year. The working day will typically be from 08.30 until 17:00 to reinforce the business approach to the UTC.

Professor Alan Reed, Director of Regional Development at the University of Greenwich and Chair of the UTC Project Steering Group, said:
‘’After exploring numerous options, the UTC Trust is delighted that the Minister has agreed to fund our proposal for the UTC to be sited on the new Chatham Waters development at Chatham Docks, subject to finalising the acquisition with Peel Land and Property and securing detailed planning permission. “Importantly, the £10 million new build will be in close proximity to the University of Greenwich, MidKent College and the Royal School of Military Engineering, thereby providing UTC students with easy access to the specialist facilities in engineering and construction available at these partners’’

Professor Reed added: “An essential part of the development of the UTC is listening to the views of as wide range of people as possible, to ensure that Medway UTC fully meets the needs of local young people, their families, employers and others.

“The consultation provides everyone with a valuable opportunity to provide their views.

“However, this is just the beginning of a dialogue we hope to have with the people of Medway between now and the opening of the UTC in 2015, and beyond.”

Cllr Rodney Chambers, the leader of Medway Council, said: “Medway has a rich history of construction and engineering, and a University Technical College specialising in these subjects will not only continue this tradition, but will also equip a new generation with first class technical skills that will help them pursue careers in these important sectors at all levels.

“The UTC will enable a degree of specialisation before the age of 16 that is currently unavailable, and it will engage and enthuse students. It will also benefit local employers, which in turn will boost the local economy”

The UTC will be situated on a 5,000m2 single site, with all the facilities required to deliver a high quality technical and vocational education.

It will feature state of the art buildings that will combine business and workplace facilities and ethos within an academic environment.

New Photographic Display Outside IWM North
Launching the 2014 First World War Centenary programme at IWM North
From 18 January 2014 – Free Entry; Donations Welcome

IWM _Q28231: Female worker in Charles Macintosh and Sons’ Ltd rubber factory, Manchester, 1918 IWM _Q28231: Female worker in Charles Macintosh and Sons’ Ltd rubber factory, Manchester, 1918

Exploring how the First World War changed the society we live in today, a new external photographic display at IWM North, part of Imperial War Museums, in Manchester, reveals images of women working in industry during the conflict.

As IWM builds towards a major programme of events and displays commemorating the First World War Centenary, six images by official First World War photographer G P Lewis are being unveiled in huge, 5 metre high frames, outside IWM North, on the Quays in Manchester.

George Parham Lewis, an official photographer of the home front, specialised in documenting heavy industry and photographed women workers in the glass, vehicle and food industries.

The images in the free IWM North display document women’s vital contribution to the war effort in factories across the North West of England almost 100 years ago.

Taken from IWM’s renowned Photographic Archive, the images were jointly commissioned by IWM and the Ministry of Information, demonstrating the wide range of roles performed by women during the First World War.

Visitors are invited to contact IWM North on Twitter @I_W_M #IWMNorth or Facebook.com/iwm.north if they recognise family members in any of GP Lewis’ photographs on display.

IWM_Q28392: Female glass worker carrying a tube of rolled glass at Pilkington Glass Ltd., St Helen’s, 1918. The company still exists today IWM_Q28392: Female glass worker carrying a tube of rolled glass at Pilkington Glass Ltd., St Helen’s, 1918. The company still exists today

Graham Boxer, Director of IWM North, said: ‘The First World War was a major turning point that shaped the world we live in today, including the roles of women in society. These six powerful images depict women at work during an extraordinary time. It is a fitting start towards a major programme of exhibitions, displays and events marking the First World War Centenary at IWM North. Later this year we will open the largest exhibition ever created exploring the role of the North West of England during the First World War.’

The Women and Industry display opens on 18 January, while IWM North’s major exhibition marking the centenary, From Street To Trench: A War that Shaped a Region, will open on 5 April. For more information, visit http://www.iwm.org.uk

HMD Poster FINALA holocaust survivor will recall the horrors of fleeing Nazi Germany during a special event at Rochester Cathedral.

Susi Bechhofer, who wrote a moving book of her experience, is expected to talk about how she fled Germany at the age of three and and how it took her almost 50 years to learn that her mother had died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, in Poland, in the Second World War.

Susi’s account is part of an event to mark Holocaust Memorial Day at the cathedral on Monday, January 27, at 6pm.

Medway schools have been busy preparing for the event and there will be readings, poetry, drama, music, exhibits and prayers by pupils.

Pupils will also reflect on more recent genocides in Rwanda, Cambodia and Bosnia, focusing on the current problems in South Sudan.

In addition to the Memorial Day, there will be an exhibition of artwork at Rochester Guildhall produced by schools and Mid Kent College students.

A Peace Wall has also been created where individuals will be able to pledge what they can do to make the world a better place.

Members of the Medway Youth Parliament will be taking the Peace Wall to the Pentagon Centre in Chatham on January 25 and it will be at the cathedral on the day of the service, which this year has the theme of ‘Journeys’.

Holocaust Memorial Day is being supported by Medway Council, Rochester Cathedral, Medway Youth Parliament, Chatham Memorial Synagogue and Medway Inter Faith Action.

For press enquiries and confirm a place at the Memorial Day call Canon Philip Hesketh from Rochester Cathedral on 01634 843366 or email bookings@rochestercathedral.org

Lions 1Night-flying Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance is appealing for runners, swimmers and cyclists to sign up for this year’s Tonbridge Lions Triathlon and help save lives 24 hours a day.

Lions Clubs across the South East have pledged to raise £250,000 for the Marden-based charity over the next 10 years.

The funds will be a significant contribution towards the additional £1million-a-year needed to provide a 24-hour service which was launched last month (December 18th).

The triathlon is to be held on May 5th at Tonbridge School’s sports complex which was used by the Australian Olympic team as a training base for the London 2012 games.

Competitors can choose a sprint consisting of a 400-metre swim, 25km ride and 5km run or the standard route which is double the distance.

Triathlon chairman Tom Simmons said: “This is the second year the Tonbridge Lions Club has arranged for the Tonbridge Triathlon to be linked up with Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance.

“We once again welcome the opportunity to be able to offer the means for the general public to take part in the triathlon and also raise funds for this much-loved and vital charity.

“The Air Ambulance needs approximately £6m each year to maintain their service in the counties and provide 24- hour cover. The pilots, doctors and paramedics are extremely dedicated to their task and deserve all our support.”

Tonbridge was the first Lions club launched in the UK in 1949 and has raised more than £275,000 for charity in the last 10 years. The triathlon alone has raised more than £125,000 over 24 years and organisers are aiming to raise a total of £13,000 from this year’s event.

There are 500 places available with an entry fee of £46 for the standard distance, £42 for teams of three and £39 for the sprint. To book a place go to www.tonbridgelions.co.uk or call 07549 949615.

Blake Aldrige2More than a thousand people have signed up to take the plunge at Medway’s mass swimming event The Big Splash with Olympian Blake Aldridge even making an appearance. Aldridge – who competed for Team Great Britain at the 2008 Beijing Olympics – has won three world medals in diving and will now be joining the Big Splash as a special guest.

The Medway Big Splash takes place on Saturday, 18 and Sunday, 19 January at Medway Park in Gillingham and Strood Sports Centre. Watersports, aquatics and water-based fun will make up the weekend-long event, all culminating in a mass community swim challenge. Taking a quick break from coaching with Tom Daley on ITV show Splash, Aldridge will be at Medway Park on Sunday from noon to 2pm.

He will be meeting members of Black Lion Swimming Club and Medway Sporting Academy to share his experiences of diving from the age of five. He will also perform some of his award-winning dives. Visitors can also see Medway’s own GB synchronised swimmer, Amy Campbell, in action at Medway Park on Saturday. She will be showcasing her talents at 3pm during a display with synchronised swimming team the Medway Mermaids.

The Big Splash will be an action-packed weekend at both leisure centres. On Saturday, both pools will host free taster sessions in a wide range of activities including water polo, diving and swimming lessons. These run from 10am to 5pm at Medway Park and 10am to 3pm at Strood, with different sessions held every hour. In the evening both pools have free family pool parties, complete with a giant inflatables, games, music and lighting.

The main event on Sunday, 19 January is the Big Swim Challenge, when swimmers will take to the water and swim anything from a length to a mile, with the aim of seeing how far Medway can swim in one day. Every participant taking part will receive a free souvenir t-shirt and certificate. On the same day, a family sports day will be running from 11am to 3pm at both sports centres with no pre-booking required.

The weekend will also start the countdown to Medway’s other new mass participation event – the Medway Big Ride. Static bikes on turbo trainers will be set up in the reception at Medway Park for the launch of a four-month touring roadshow, setting Medway the challenge of riding to Rio, the next host city for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Howard Doe, Portfolio Holder for Community Services, said: “It is very exciting to have an Olympian as well as a local sporting star coming to The Big Splash. “The event offers families in Medway a fantastic opportunity to swim and have fun for free as well as a chance to see these experts in action. “I’d encourage people to come along and take part in activities if they can.”

*Tickets are still available for the 5.30pm to 7pm party at Strood on Saturday and for a 3.30pm to 5pm party on Sunday at Medway Park.
For full timetables, booking and registration information for all elements of the Big Splash weekend visit www.medway.gov.uk/bigsplash

PaulWeller14hrPaul Weller has confirmed five forest gigs, appearing as part of the Forestry Commission’s Forest Live concert programme in spectacular woodland locations across the country.
It’s been thirty years since Paul Weller first exploded onto the music scene, suited and booted, and armed with statement tunes in The Jam. Blending the best of British with his love of Motown, Weller crafted a new landscape in the UK music scene thanks to an impressive portfolio of work including amongst others, Stanley Road, Illumination, 22 Dreams and 2013’s Sonik Kicks all hitting Number One. A significant figure in popular music for the past three generations, he remains a cultural icon.
Forest Live is an independent programme organised by the Forestry Commission bringing music to new audiences without commercial branding or sponsorship. Income from the concerts is spent on improving the woodland for both people and wildlife.

Following on from two sold out Forest Live dates last summer, Paul said of the 2014 shows, “It’s a favourite summer jaunt for me so I look forward to performing in a few of the forests that I haven’t played in a good while”.

Paul Weller plus special guests will be performing:

Saturday 14 June: Sherwood Pines Forest, Edwinstowe, Nr Mansfield, Notts.

Saturday 21 June: Bedgebury Pinetum & Forest, Nr Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

Friday 27 June: Dalby Forest, Nr Pickering, N Yorks.

Saturday 28 June: Cannock Chase Forest, Nr Rugeley, Staffs.

Friday 4 July: Delamere Forest, Nr Northwich, Cheshire.

Tickets £46.20 (including booking fee) go on sale at 9.00am Friday 17 January from the Forestry Commission box office tel 03000 680400 or buy online at www.forestry.gov.uk/music.

Info
www.paulweller.com

health appAn innovative new NHS service is helping to put Medway people more in control of their own health and find the right treatment quickly when they need it.

The web app Health Help Now advises people on the best treatment for different symptoms, and helps them contact the best service for them, whether that is a pharmacy, their GP practice, NHS 111 or many other services.

In the first month since its launch on 13 December 2013, Health Help Now has been used more than 3000 times by more than 2100 people.

Dr Chris Markwick, Urgent Care GP at NHS Medway Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Health Help Now has useful information and advice for people of every age. By using Health Help Now, people should be able to find the service in Medway or Kent that can help them, whether they are at home or out and about.

“We know that it can be confusing to know where to get help. People who are unsure often just go to A&E, even if they only have a minor injury or ailment.

“Health Help Now can help these people to get the right treatment without having to wait in a busy A&E department.

“That will help them and, by keeping A&E free for those who really need it, it will also help the NHS focus lifesaving care on the most seriously ill and injured patients.” Now, everyone who lives, studies and works in Medway and Kent can have details of local health help at their fingertips, whatever the time and wherever they are.

Health Help Now shows the user where their nearest services, such as GP practices, minor injuries units, dentists, optometrists and pharmacists are. It also suggests support phone lines for mental health worries, and contains a wealth of information on common health conditions, and links to reliable resources.

The web app is available via the website www.healthhelpnow-nhs.net and can be saved to your phone, tablet or computer for easy use. Why not save it so you have it readily to hand when you need it?

St Werburgh Court, Hoo St Werburgh Court, Hoo

A recent report, commissioned by the National Housing Federation, revealed that the gap between supply and demand in housing is widening. Nationally, England needs to build 240,000 homes a year just to meet the demand[1] yet house building decreased by 11% between 2009 and 2013[2]. In Medway, the demand for affordable homes is clear: rental prices are expected to rise by 38% by 2020[3].

mhs homes is on target to build more affordable homes across Medway in 2014 with developments at Amherst Hill, Brompton and the sites previously used as Rainham and Rochester police stations. The properties will be available for shared ownership and affordable rent. More homes are planned for Kent and Medway in 2015 and beyond.

Emma Riddington, Head of Development at mhs homes, says:

“At mhs homes, we recognise the need to support the local community and are developing properties to suit all individual circumstances. We are increasing our portfolio of both affordable and market rent properties and have started work on sites outside of Medway. In 2012/13 we built 140 new homes, and are on target to build another 260 new homes by the end of March 2015.”

[1] National Housing Federation, “Supply and demand/affordability”
[2] ibid
[3] National Housing Federation, statistics for Medway.

newchiefKent’s Police and Crime Commissioner and the county’s most senior police officer visited Medway’s innovative CCTV hub today to see how it keeps more than 600,000 people safe.

The hub, which was started by Medway Council in April last year, looks after CCTV cameras for Medway, Gravesham, Maidstone and Swale.

In total, it helps keep the streets safe for an area with a population similar to a city the size of Sheffield.

And the centre – which allows councils across Kent to operate CCTV much more cheaply – has been behind numerous arrests.

In fact, since it started in April 2012 and up to November last year the centre and its operators were responsible for helping bring about 5,095 arrests across Kent.

Last year alone the hub was behind more than 2,000 arrests.

The centre – which looks after 750 cameras – is used to watch over town centres night and day at spots where people gather – such as High Streets – as well as areas that people have to use late at night, such as outside train stations.

It can also track alleged criminals travelling into Kent from elsewhere to direct police to their whereabouts.

For example, the centre was recently alerted to keep a look out for three males known to be travelling to North Kent from London with intent to supply drugs.

The centre’s operators spotted the men at Gillingham railway station and called police as they headed towards the town’s High Street.

One was arrested, but two of the men ran off. The CCTV operators were able to track them as they made their getaway until they were later picked up.

In other incidents it has also helped find missing vulnerable people including a man who left Medway Maritime Hospital and was found at Chatham High Street.

At today’s visit, Police and Crime Commissioner Ann Barnes and newly appointed Chief Constable for Kent Police Alan Pughsley were being shown around the hub by Medway Council Deputy Leader Cllr Alan Jarrett and Cllr Peter Hicks, the Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Customer Engagement.

Commenting on the visit, Ann Barnes, Kent Police and Commissioner said: ‘It was fantastic to visit one of the largest CCTV Centres in the country today. Having seen the Centre for myself I can absolutely reassure the people of Kent that this is true partnership working at its very best. I’m confident that the joint CCTV centre is value for money for the taxpayer and there is a phenomenal amount of work going on behind the scenes to keep everyone safe.’

Chief Constable Alan Pughsley said: ‘This is a great example of the police and local authorities working in partnership to keep the public safe. Collaboration and
joined-up working across public services is absolutely critical, and this is a very good example of that in action, working to the benefit of Kent residents.’
Medway Council approved the formation of a CCTV Services Partnership in 2012 to improve the service and provide value for money. It is estimated to save each local authority 20 per cent of the cost of running their own CCTV service, as well as reducing crime.

Cllr Alan Jarrett said: ‘I am pleased that Ann Barnes and the new Chief Constable have come to our centre to see the good work that is being done helping keep people safe across Kent.

‘This innovative operation allows council across the county to have a CCTV service while keeping costs down. That is important in this time of austerity

Cllr Peter Hicks added: ‘Our hub allows many other councils to have a CCTV operation at a cost they can afford. It also allows Medway’s residents to have the same service while keeping costs down, which is good for the taxpayer.

‘It was very good to show the Commissioner and Chief Constable our centre and to show how all our staff are committed to work at keeping Medway and wider Kent safe for residents.’

Picture1On Friday (13th December) Gad’s Hill School, Higham held a poignant official unveiling of its Kindergarten, The Jennie Marsh Wing, coinciding with the School’s annual cross country run.

The multi-million pound wing, named in memory of the former Head of Gad’s Kindergarten and Junior School, Jennie Marsh, who passed away in 2009, was opened by the Headmaster David Craggs, pupils and staff past and present and Jennie’s husband and daughters.

Mrs Marsh, who joined the Headmaster in campaigning for pupils to vacate the historic and increasingly fragile 18th century house of Gad’s Hill Place – which the School has used for teaching since the 1920s – died in May 2009, aged 58, after a short battle with cancer, leaving behind her daughters Sallie and Alison and her husband of 37 years, Malcolm, who also taught at the school.

(Photo left to right, back row: Former pupils join Gad’s Hill School Headmaster David Craggs, Alison Marsh, Malcolm Marsh (centre) Alison Marsh, Head of Gad’s Kindergarten and Junior School Fiona McPherson, with current pupils.)

Jennie travelled a long, varied and eventful journey from Zimbabwe, where she was born and raised, to Kent where she settled nearby in Wouldham. She devoted the remaining nine years of her life to the children and community at Gad’s.

During the unveiling ceremony, Headmaster of the school for three to sixteen-year-olds, Mr David Craggs said: “In September 2000 Jennie joined Gad’s as a temporary class teacher. It was soon apparent that she was not only a first rate teacher, but someone who possessed a huge amount of experience and had the qualities required to help drive Gad’s forward over the next few years. Within six months Jennie had become Head of Juniors and Kindergarten and helped to form the school it is today.”

He added: “She was loved by all students and staff, and there are many who feel that she had a profound impact on their lives.”

It was no coincidence that the unveiling ceremony was held on the same day as the School’s annual cross country run as the entire Marsh family – Jennie included – are keen runners.

It was in fact Malcolm, Jennie’s husband, who, alongside the Headmaster, came up with the concept of the run some ten years previously. As a special request, Malcolm – who travelled all the way from his home in South Africa for the special ceremony – Sallie and Alison Marsh were asked to run round the school field with the Kindergarten children, as Jennie would have done while teaching at Gad’s. Malcolm later presented awards to the winners of the Kindergarten, Junior and Senior School race winners.

Headmaster, Mr David Craggs, who took part in the race alongside a number of other staff, said: “While running about in the wet and cold is not to everyone’s taste, making sure our youngsters are fit and healthy is just as important as ensuring they can read and write and perform math’s to a decent level, a belief both Jennie, myself and Malcolm shared.

“Malcolm was especially pleased that so many years on, our pupils still brave the elements in a lesson that that teaches youngsters about the importance of teamwork by encouraging them to run the cross country on behalf of their school house – something his wife believed in. It’s a fantastically fun – although muddy! – outlet for all and we thank the Marsh family for joining us.”

A confidential fraud hotline for Medway residents has been launched this week. Customers can use the hotline to report all fraud against Medway Council from false benefit claims to fraudulent use of the Blue Badge for disabled people.

The types of fraud against the council people may report include: false applications for benefits, the unlawful sub-letting of council housing and the misuse of disabled badges or discounted bus passes. By phoning the new number- 01634 332233- a resident can select the type of fraud they wish to report and will be directed to the appropriate department, where they can speak to someone in confidence.

Reports can be made anonymously and information may be passed on to other relevant organisations the council work with, such as the police or Department for Work and Pensions.
The hotline is part of the council’s drive to help reduce fraud and protect public funds. The council has the power to investigate and prosecute those who commit council related offences in Medway.

For example, failing to declare a change in circumstances – such as getting a new job or moving in with a partner who is working – and wrongly claiming Council Tax, Housing Benefit or Income Support is a criminal offence.

It is hoped the confidential hotline will encourage more people to come forward. Cllr Alan Jarrett, Deputy Leader of Medway Council and Portfolio Holder for Finance, said: “I am very pleased with the introduction of this fraud hotline as I welcome anything that is done to clamp down on crime.

“I would urge people to contact us if they know of anyone acting fraudulently against the council, especially when a person wrongly claims benefits as they are using public money, which is paid for by taxpayers.” “Equally, it’s really important that people contact the council when their circumstances change to avoid the possibility of a criminal conviction.”

The Fraud Hotline number should not be used for enforcement type offences such as Fly- tipping and Trading Standards etc.

main copy.qxdHouse prices in the South East will see an increase of seven percent over the course of next year while the cost of renting a home should rise by a further two percent. This growth is being driven by the acute imbalance between burgeoning buyer demand and sluggish supply with new instructions to estate agents close to stagnating.

Although significant challenges remain to achieving a sustainable economic recovery, 2014 may well see the nascent pick-up in activity gather pace and this will be reflected in the housing market. In addition to rising prices, the number of transactions should also see a further increase, moving up to 1.2m (from 1.05m in 2013). Although this represents an improvement, to put this in context, total sales in 2006 were well above this at 1.67m.

With the shortage of homes coming onto the market a key factor behind the price rises, some comfort may be drawn from a likely twenty percent jump in new starts in England over the next year. That would push the total towards the 155,000 mark compared to 125,000 this year and only around 100,000 in 2012. While this is an encouraging trend, it is still insufficient to address the more rapid growth in population and will leave significant shortfalls in all tenures.

Across the UK, all parts of the country should see prices rise next year. Predictably, the biggest increases are to be seen in the capital, where the cost of a home will jump by around eleven percent. It remains to be seen what impact the recently announced increase in capital gains tax for overseas vendors will have on the prime central London market.

Meanwhile, the North East and Northern Ireland will experience the lowest rises with prices increasing by five percent and four percent respectively.

2014 UK housing market at a glance

UK REGION GROWTH

East of England ——————10
East Midlands———————10
London—————————-11
North East————————-5
Northern Ireland——————-4
North West————————-7
Scotland—————————7
South East————————-7
South West————————-7
Wales——————————7
West Midlands———————-7
Yorkshire and Humberside———–7
UK———————————8

• Cost of renting to grow by two percent
• Transactions to increase to 1.2 million
• Housing starts to edge up to 150,000 in England

Peter Bolton King, RICS Global Residential Director, commented:
“The cost of a house is now picking-up right across the country and next year should see more of the same. We expect all areas of the country to see prices increase with London, predictably, recording the biggest rises. The improving economic picture aside, this is largely down to the fact that buyer numbers considerably outweigh the amount of homes on the market. While the number of new homes being built is now on the rise, it still won’t be anywhere near enough to meet demand and we expect the problem of insufficient housing stock to be the main driver behind price increases over the next twelve months.”

Earlier this month, mhs homes staff members spent three days volunteering with Medway Foodbank.

The volunteers worked at Medway Foodbank’s warehouse and main office in Medway City Estate, allocating goods to six local centres across the Medway area. This included organising goods in date order, packing up boxes of food to replenish the centres, and sorting the ‘Christmas corner’ which contained seasonal treats such as mince pies to help bring some extra Christmas cheer to Foodbank users. The volunteers sorted through donations received from Tesco shoppers, Medway churches, the general public and mhs homes staff.

Kevin Jennings, Medway Foodbank Warehouse Manager said:

“We really appreciate the wonderful help we have received from mhs homes staff. It has been really busy in the warehouse and the extra help has been a real blessing. During the first weekend in December we had approximately 4.4 tonnes of food donated by generous Medway residents, for which we are extremely grateful.”

Joanna Blackwood, Housing Systems Co-ordinator said:

“At the time the warehouse seemed packed to the rafters but we were told that this was only because of the food drive. In fact the Foodbank manager said that if we came back after Christmas we would see a much depleted stock! It was great to see how generous the public had been, and especially that there were also some extra treats to provide some extra Christmas cheer.”

For more information about Medway Foodbank, or to give a donation please visit http://www.medway.foodbank.org.uk or call: 01634 757057

There is a bit of a trend happening this morning, after the brilliant Paul Hollywood star of The Great British Bake off revealed his best loved Boxing day treat on television last night (if you missed it you can see it here).

A very much loved but underused pastry called Hot water crust pastry more commonly found on pork pies and alike had the nation watering at the mouth! Paul Hollywood demonstrated a fabulous Boxing day pie, one that all of us can enjoy regardless of our pastry skills. This versatile pastry may feel tender to handle but its ability to hold its shape makes it perfect for this dish.

 

Make the most of Christmas dinner leftovers with a turkey, stuffing and cranberry pie made with hot water crust pastry.

Ingredients

For the pastry
  • 450g/1lb plain flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
  • 100g/3½oz strong white flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 75g/2½oz chilled butter, cut into cubes
  • 150g/5½oz lard, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten, to glaze
For the filling

Preparation method

  1. Sift the plain and strong flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre of the mixture.
  2. Heat the lard and 200ml/7fl oz water in a small saucepan over a medium heat. When the mixture is simmering pour it into the well in the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon, gradually drawing the dry mixture into the liquid, until the mixture comes together as a dough.
  3. Grease a 18cm/7in springform cake tin, or raised pie mould with melted lard. Make sure you grease the tin liberally to prevent the pastry from sticking.
  4. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and pliable. Roll out three-quarters of the dough and use it to a line the prepared tin. Press the pastry into the base and sides of the tin to prevent air bubbles from forming. Leave the excess pastry hanging over the edge of the tin.
  5. For the filling, spoon half of the stuffing into the pastry case and press down with the back of a spoon. Arrange half of the turkey over the stuffing, then season with salt and pepper. Mix the cranberries and cranberry sauce together and spoon half over the turkey. Repeat the layers once more, pressing down as before.
  6. Roll out the remaining pastry until it is large enough to cover the pie. Brush the overhanging edges with water and place the lid on top, squeezing it together at the edges to seal. Trim off most of the excess pastry using scissors or a knife, and crimp to create a decorative edge. Make a small hole in the centre of the lid and chill for 30 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 (fan 160C).
  8. Place the chilled pie in a roasting tin (to catch any juices that may leak from the pie tin) and cook for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush with beaten egg to glaze. Return to the oven for 15 minutes.
  9. When the pie is cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Leave to cool for a further 30 minutes before removing from the springform tin or pie mould.

 

Now i am not sure about you but this wonderful Boxing day pie sounds like a hit for anyone!

Shoppers cashing in old gold to buy new Christmas presents are facing a price war.

A batch of scrap gold offered to different local shops by Medway Council Trading Standards officers fetched prices varying by as much as £50. The best offer was £130 and the lowest £80.

Now trading standards is urging people who want to sell their old gold to shop around for the best price.

Cllr Peter Hicks, Medway Council Portfolio Holder for Community Safety, said: “Our trading standards officers have shown just how much gold prices can vary. People wanting to sell old gold shouldn’t just accept the first offer they receive.”

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Statement from NHS Medway Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS Swale Clinical Commissioning Group

The Care Quality Commission today issued the report of an unannounced inspection into maternity services at Medway Maritime Hospital. While noting examples of good practice and that the staff were dedicated and caring, the inspection found that actions were needed to improve care in all six of the areas inspected. The CQC has issued three warning notices under section 29 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008.

The inspection comes at a time when Medway NHS Foundation Trust continues to be in ‘special measures’ as a result of the findings of the review led by Professor Sir Bruce Keogh’s team, a review that was triggered by poor mortality rates. NHS Medway Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS Swale Clinical Commissioning Group welcome the arrival of the trust’s new Medical Director and new Chief Nurse.

Medway NHS Foundation Trust is regulated by the Care Quality Commission and by Monitor, the two national regulators of foundation trusts. They are the organisations that can impose warnings or undertakings on the trust, as the CQC has done here, to require change.

The CCGs’ role is to commission healthcare that is safe and meets the needs of our population, and to work with providers of healthcare to assure the public on the quality of services. In our response to the Keogh review, we made it clear that it is the responsibility of the trust’s board to ensure that services are safe, that the necessary monitoring is in place to provide that assurance and that any necessary rectification plans are implemented.

We will continue to work with Medway NHS Foundation Trust to improve the quality of care patients receive. NHS Medway Clinical Commissioning Group plans and buys healthcare for the people of Medway.

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