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Maidstone & Malling’s No 1 - 88,000 copies - 4 editions Maidstone East Edition December 2010 No.164 Shock as four post offices close

THE sudden closure of the post offices in Harrietsham and Hollingbourne have been blamed on the “negligent” actions of re- ceivers acting on behalf of the taxman. These businesses, along with the sub-post

office in Chart Sutton, came to an abrupt halt due to a £9,000 claim from the Inland Revenue. Receivers were called in and Sta- plehurst Post Office, from where the sub- postmaster for the three outreach offices operated, was closed down, meaning the other offices could not stay open. Staplehurst post office manager Pavan Sawhney slammed the action as “illegiti- mate”. He said a PAYE dispute involving his

Prospects for town’s economy looking grim

THE outlook for Maidstone's public sector-dominated economy is "grim" as hundreds of council workers await the full impact of the Govern- ment's austerity measures. A third of the workforce is em- ployed by one of the several local authorities. Maidstone Borough Council, Kent County Council, the police and fire services all have their headquarters in the town, and hun- dreds more are on NHS payroll. Talks are under way with staff

about the future shape of council services. Many will be holding their breath about the long-term prospects as Chancellor George Osborne ex- pects councils to cut their spending by more than 25% over the next four years. By 2014, Maidstone aims to have reduced its current

Huge competition

father – the owner of the enterprise – was linked to a previous accountant and had been going on for the past two years. He added: “They sent my father a bill for £50,000. It was so ridiculous that he dis- puted and managed to get it down to £20,000 and then to £9,000. We had been begging them for a final figure and state- ment so we could settle with them. “Due to ill-health, my father visited India.

The moment he left the country, we re- ceived threats from receivers.We offered to settle it on the day and pay the money but it was no good. “There were other assets available. For ex-

ample, there were other properties we have the freehold of that we offered them secu- rity of, but they went for a property where we are only the leaseholder. “We begged and pleaded in every way possible but they had their eye on bank- rupting my father without even letting him know. The receivers have acted extremely negligent to us.” The family, under Mr Sawhney’s father’s

name, has owned Staplehurst Post Office for more than10 years and managed post of- fices for more than 30. He added: “We are concerned about the community as we have a lot of customers we can no longer


Showdown talks on parish grants

CRUNCH talks about parish council funding cuts were due to be held as the Downs Mail went to press. Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) chiefs were meeting parish representatives this Monday, Novem- ber 22, to discuss reductions in concurrent function grants. These help them to pay for extra services, such as maintenance and cleaning, in addition to what MBC funds. The system has been in place since 1974. The total annual cost to MBC amounts to £440,000 for 35 parishes. But local authorities are under intense pres- sure from Government to tighten their belts - and Maidstone leader Cllr Chris Garland said parishes should be prepared for "significant" cuts to their grants. A few months ago, parishes were told they faced


forTesco jobs THERE were more than six appli- cants for every part-time job avail- able at the new Tesco Express store now open in Week Street, Maid- stone. More than 200 people applied to

fill the 30 positions. Store manager Tracey Beeson said: “I was over- whelmed by the huge response we received. In this time of economic uncertainty, it is great that we are able to create jobs and help get peo- ple back into work.”


Netbooks, there’s something for everyone this Christmas...

From stocking fillers to

a new lease of life IT'S one of those pictures with the "Aaahh" factor – but the story behind it is evenmore emotive. Little Lola, who had gone into labour,

was dumped ina sealed box at Penen- denHeath. Whena passer-by found the box,

Lola was close to death. But she even- tually pulled through – and now has a new, loving owner, vet Robyn Stevens. £1,000 reward: page 13.



01622 737335

OPEN 9AM-6PM Lucky Lola is given

cuts of 50% in 2011-12 and further 25% cuts in each of the following two years. MBC's plan caused out- rage as parishes said they had two choices - huge in- creases in their own money-raising precepts or the end of services they have provided with the grants. Independents on MBC proposed a motion to full council that the grants should be reduced by only 10% per year. But Cllr Garland (Con) told the Downs Mail: "I don't

think that's realistic at all, not when we know that Government is looking for up to 40% savingsfrom lower-tier councils like Maidstone."

P11 Gurkhas restore castle bridge

A BRIDGE at Leeds Castle, that has not been used by the public for more than 40 years, has been restored by Gurkha soldiers. The structure, which crosses the Cascade Garden Pond, will provide visitors with an alternative route to the castle. Members of 70 Gurkha Field Support Squadron

QGE, of 36 Engineer Regiment, had offered to help with any projects on the estate as part of their Mili- tary Aid to the Civil Community programme.

Village’s 35 weeks of disruption

‘Danger’ bus stop to be moved


20mph campaign’s Euro support

P8 P5

Thinking furniture? should be

Borough Update MAIDSTONE Council’s latest eight-page newsletter can be found in the centre of this edition of DownsMail.

‘thinking Lincoln’ The Big Yellow Building, St Peters St, Maidstone 0800 652 0102

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