Welcome to the new Medway Elects

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.

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

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

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…

Introducing #medwayelects

A little over four years ago, I introduced the world to my latest project, Democracy in Practice, with far more fanfare than it probably deserved.

It was, essentially, a collection of Medway Council election results and basic councillor details (i.e. their allowances) presented on a primitive site that looked like it belonged in 1997. After the local elections in 2011, I moved away from Medway and started to migrate the format to my new-found home in Birmingham, although I didn’t live there long enough to complete the project and launch.

I know that Democracy in Practice had its fans, but I was never happy with the look and feel of the site. I have always been a programmer, never a designer. So when the code started to show flaws, and I got involved in other projects which took up my time, I switched the site off and let the domain name expire. I thought that would be the end of the story.

Today, I am launching Medway Elects. We are 25 days away from the most important, and most unpredictable, general election in my lifetime – and, on the very same day, voters in Medway have a chance to change the makeup of Medway Council. I felt Democracy in Practice could live again, but it needed a major facelift – and a lot of changes under the hood to make it function in exactly the way it should.

I got to work building the basic site layout first of all. I modelled it on another website I had built for an Air Cadet project. It’s not flash – just easier to navigate and more pleasing to the eye. I am also working on building a mobile-friendly version. Next, I rewrote the code from scratch – using Democracy in Practice as a strong foundation – and began adding new elements to the website.

Medway Elects still contains election results (plus newly-added turnout figures, where available), including the ability to see each candidate’s electoral (and, where they have served on the council, allowances) history. But I am pleased to have been able to add electoral history for Medway’s three parliamentary constituencies (running from 1997). I am also excited to have been able to programme in various graphs to better illustrate party support and how it has changed over time.

Parliamentary Election page

Clearly, as a party activist, I have never been able to lay claim to being an independent observer (although I have, in the past, had quiet words spoken in my ear for making independent observations on my blog or Twitter), but that is even more true now that I am standing in my first election as a candidate. However, Medway Elects is independent – it contains simply facts and figures, without any spin. Nothing on the site is designed to persuade anyone to vote for any particular candidate, with the only exception being the “Social Media” page, where anybody using the Twitter hashtag #medwayelects can join in the conversation.

Councillor profile page

Perhaps the most exciting part of the Medway Elects which I am launching today is that it is not the finished article. I am continuing to explore additional improvements to the site – although most of these will come after the election, for obvious reasons.

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

P.S. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the authors of this blog for their valuable advice over the past couple of weeks. Their contribution spurred me on to adding new features and tweaking what I had already created. You too can help make Medway Elects even better by letting me know what you’d like to see added.

Originally featured on the local The Centre and What’s Left blog.

Back in the blogosphere

After six-or-so months away, I have decided to return to the blogosphere.

I always enjoyed informing and entertaining my loyal readers but, as with so many things in my life last year, the enjoyment was sucked out of me.

Now that my life is back on track, I resurrected this website and will be blogging on all things Medway, UKIP and beyond.

And I will start, very shortly, with a two-part look at the authority of the leadership of the Conservative administration in Medway – and why I think it is starting to disappear.

Things are starting to change in Medway – and the next few months are looking to be very exciting, indeed!