Medway Messenger: Thursday, 25 May 2017

Letters
Standard

Over the past 12 months, I have used many more NHS services than most 27-year-olds, including emergency care, routine investigations and invaluable support form my GP.

I have accessed help from both a physical and mental health perspective and the care I have received has always been first class.

However, my experience has also allowed me to see first-hand just how stretched the NHS is.

For the service to survive into the 21st century without risking back-door (or even open) privatisation, a serious increase in spending is required.

But that increase must be sustainable against a fragile economy facing the uncertainties of Brexit.

Adding additional borrowing puts our nation’s financial security at risk, and cutting funding from other vital areas such as education or welfare would lead to separate funding crises in those departments as our population continues to grow.

I would, therefore, fully support the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to a 1p increase in personal taxation, providing the additional £6bn generated is ring-fenced for health and social care expenditure.

Adding 1p to personal taxation would have little impact on most people’s disposal income but it would make a huge difference to securing the future of one of the country’s most-loved – and most-needed – institutions.

Alan Collins Pérez de Baños
Goudhurst Road, Gillingham

Medway Messenger: Friday, 4 March 2016

Letters
Standard

I left the Conservative Party in 2013 for a number of reasons, but my principal reason for joining Ukip was to campaign for the right of the British people to have their say on continued membership of the European Union.

Now I am genuinely undecided over which way to cast my vote. I have always believed that the EU is too bureaucratic and unashamedly undemocratic – and the European reaction to the Prime Minister’s meagre renegotiation suggests a firm opposition to meaningful reform.

The EU affects our lives in so many ways, some good and some bad, which is precisely why I wanted everyone in this country to have the first right to decide on this issue since 1975.

It saddens me to see that the opening shots in the referendum battle (from both sides) have been more about scaremongering than promoting facts and sensible debate. If voters are to make an informed choice on June 23, then we need to see less rhetoric and more reality from both camps.

It would be a shame if the final result was tainted because remain and leave campaigners could not leave their dogma to one side to promote reasonable debate on an issue which is, frankly, much more important than their own egos.

Alan Collins
Goudhurst Road, Gillingham

Welcome to the new Medway Elects

Medway Elects
Standard

After a little over one month in maintenance mode, I am delighted to finally relaunch Medway Elects.

The window on democracy in Medway was originally born in April but the final design was rushed to ensure it was able to launch in time for the local and general elections in May. I acknowledged at the time that the layout was not “flash”, and I continued to have reservations about the look long after I published it.

I have since spent the past several months working on building a new site layout that was fresher and cleaner, whilst still sticking the the original objective of being simplistic. The design is fully-responsive to provide you with the best possible viewing experience based on the size of your screen.

In addition to the new design, I am unveiling a raft of new features, including:

Medway Council
Appointments to Cabinet and Committees;
Political Group Leaders, Deputy Leaders and Whips;
Terms of Office on Councillor and Ward pages; and
Voting history for every Councillor.

UK Parliament
Terms of Office on MP and Constituency pages.

NEW SECTION
EU Parliament
Election results since June 1999;
Every candidate for every party; and
Terms of Office on MEP pages.

NEW SECTION
Kent PCC
Election results since November 2012; and
Terms of Office on Kent PCC pages.

NEW SECTION
Referenda
All referenda held in Medway since May 1997.

The process has taken longer than expected, not only because of the vast amount of increased data being added but also because I have had to significantly alter the code structure to be able to cope with all of the new features without crashing the site (as happened during early development tests!).

As I said when I launched Medway Elects in April – it is still not finished. I am continuing to explore additional improvements to the site – and if you have anything you would like to see added to it please do feel free to ask and I will see if it is possible.

Until then, you can explore the new Medway Elects in all its glorious political geekiness at www.medwayelects.co.uk.

P.S. A continued thank you to Jennings and Keevil of The Political Medway for their continued advice and assistance as I tried to create the most user-friendly design possible. I am sure that their Twitter harassment will never cease…

Farewell Medway, farewell UK

Alan Collins
Standard

I love Medway.

Sure, it’s got its faults, but, having lived in this corner of the UK for 25 years, I can say in all honesty that Medway is a place we can all be proud of.

Indeed, I love Medway so much that I stood for election to Medway Council, wishing to represent the people of Medway when important decisions were being made. The voters of Rochester South and Horsted decided they wanted to stick with the councillors they knew and trusted, and have no fear: in Trevor Clarke, Sylvia Griffin and Rupert Turpin, they have three wonderful local councillors who have always worked hard for their constituents and, no doubt, will continue to do so.

Four years ago, I decided against seeking election because (as was well known) I was moving away from the area just a couple of months afterwards. I stood this time because it was my intention to live in Rochester and work hard for my community. Had I been elected, I wouldn’t have resigned from UKIP and I wouldn’t be writing this post today.

The fact I love Medway so much, the fact most of my family and friends live in Medway, the fact I work (well, used to work) in Medway, the fact I volunteer in Medway and the fact I am a trustee of a Medway charity all made the decision a difficult one. However, it is time to spread my wings (again) and experience a new life further afield.

Today, I am boarding a flight to Barcelona, to start a new life with my (Catalan) fiancée.

The decision to leave my family and friends behind was not easy, and I will miss them greatly. However, thanks to modern technology, they are only a Skype call away, and they know they are more than welcome to benefit from cheap holidays to warmer, more pleasant climes. (My flight this evening only cost £36, although I have obviously paid extra for the benefit of taking two suitcases of most of my important and necessary possessions with me).

The decision to leave my job was not quite so difficult. I will, of course, miss my amazing work colleagues, but the profession I joined, even a short time ago, is not the same today. I will leave to your imagination why that might be, but at 25, I am able to start again in a new career without too much trouble. I have enjoyed my time in law, but I don’t enjoy it any more and I certainly won’t miss it.

What the future holds for me in Barcelona is far from certain. A short period of rest from a hectic 12 months, and a short period of settling, will be welcome, but I do not intend to be sitting on my backside for too long. I may not have enjoyed my job in the end, but that didn’t stop me from working hard, because that is the right thing to do; to work hard to have a life, not to expect other people to pay for you to live on easy street.

So, while it will be sad to watch the green fields of England fade into the distance this evening, I know I have made the right decision. For myself, for my fiancée, and for our future children (don’t worry, there’s no news on that front – and we aren’t planning on it for a while yet, either!): I am confident that living in a warmer, healthier, more tolerant region will provide the best possible future for our family.

New Spanish-language blog

Alan Collins
Standard

As those of you who follow my random musings on Twitter are no doubt already aware, I am moving to Barcelona on Tuesday.

In light of the momentous occasion, I have today launched a new Spanish-language version of this blog and, when I have learnt enough of the language, I will also be launching a third, Catalan-language version.

I am currently going through my blog posts and translating those which I think would be appropriate in Spanish. So far, the new blog only has four posts (including one photo album and one video!), but I will be working to translate more as time goes by.

New posts will either be written in English or Spanish, but not every post will be translated into the other language. You can switch between the two versions using the links under the “Languages” section of the sidebar, but please bear in mind that this will only work on the home page, or where an article is in both languages.

I must also point out that my Spanish is not perfect, and is unlikely to be until I have practiced it more in my new home. However, I am trying to ensure each post is proof-read by a native Spanish speaker before being published, where time allows.

The new blog can be accessed at alanwcollins.es.