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Kent general election: The Rochester and Strood constituency and the candidates standing

When the boroughs of Rochester-upon-Medway and Gillingham merged in 1998 to form a single unitary authority, the parliamentary constituency of Medway only covered part of the borough.

By the time the 2010 general election came around the seat was renamed to more accurately reflect the area of Rochester and Strood which it now covers

Rochester Castle and Rochester Cathedral fro the River Medway
Rochester Castle and Rochester Cathedral fro the River Medway

Other parts of the Towns are covered by two constituencies, Chatham and Aylesford and Gillingham and Rainham,

Since 2015, Rochester and Strood has been represented by Conservative Kelly Tolhurst after defeating the sitting member Mark Reckless who famously defected from being a Tory to join Ukip (United Kingdom Independence Party).

Miss Tolhurst, born and bred in the Medway Towns successfully fought the 2019 election with a convincing 60 % of the vote.

But the latest polls predict that she will be toppled on July 4 with Labour challenger; Lauren Edwards expected to storm ahead to gain her seat in parliament.

The last time Medway was represented by Labour was between 1997 and 2010 when the Socialist rebel Bob Marshall-Andrew won the seat.

A map of the Rochester and Strood constituency
A map of the Rochester and Strood constituency


Some would argue that the political landscape tide changed dramatically last May at the local elections when Labour ended 20 years of Tory rule at Medway Council.

The party won 33 seats out of 59 in the process with many notable Tory heavyweights falling by the wayside.

Whichever political party at the helm issues impacting constituents have by and large remained the same since the last election.

A lack of affordable housing and temporary accommodation is high on the list of things to sort out.

A major setback came in July last year when the government pulled the plug on £170m funding to the council.

Rochester High Street
Rochester High Street

The Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) was to support 12,000 homes being built on the Hoo Peninsula which had been promised by Homes England.

A lack of places for pupils with special education needs as well as secondary school places is a growing problem with some pupils having to travel out of the area for their education.

There have been cases where parents have had to home-school their children because there is nowhere for them to go locally.

The long-term struggle to get face-to-face GP appointments or to find an NHS dentist in the Towns is also a major bug-bearer with residents in Rochester and Strood,

After a local government boundary review, which came into effect in May 2023, the wards of Rochester South and Horsted have transferred to Chatham and Aylesford.

The following wards are included in the constituency: All Saints; Chatham Central & Brompton (part); Cuxton, Halling & Riverside; Fort Pitt (small part); Hoo St Werburgh & High Halstow; Rochester East & Warren Wood (most); Rochester West & Borstal; St Mary’s Island; Strood North and Frindsbury; Strood Rural; Strood West; and a very small part of Gillingham North

The candidates

The full list of candidates:

Graham Colley, Liberal Democrats

Cat Jamieson, Green Party

Daniel Dabin, Reform UK

Lauren Edwards, Labour Party

Kelly Tolhurst, Conservative Party

Peter Burch, Heritage Party

John Innes, Workers Party of Britain

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