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A LOCAL MP claims to have exposed a loophole which allows train companies to escape having to refund passengers for poor performance. It follows the release of figures that show Southeastern achieved its punctuality tar- gets last year – but only by a whisker. Season ticket holders would have been entitled to a 5% reduction had the operator


Malling Edition January 2011 No.165 MP criticises train refund loophole


failed to run 82% of its trains on time in 2009. Southeastern said it managed to run


82.04% of services punctually but several MPs, including Tonbridge and Malling MP Sir John Malling has called for the issue to be re-examined. He wrote to Transport Secretary Philip Hammond. “It is quite clear that the penalty


A MEAL inspired by his gamekeeper father helped 11-year-old Thomas Perkins dish up suc- cess in a cooking competition. Thomas, who goes to Holmesdale Technology College in Snodland, was the youngest finalist in the cook-off for the Kent Young Chef Awards at Thanet College. He carried off the junior trophy after inventing a dish called “Gamekeeper’s Sup- per” made with pheasant caught locally by his dad.


The judges, who included television chef Richard Phillips, said Thomas demonstrated “an unflappable style to produce a well-seasoned and flavoursome dish that worked beautifully”, using ingredients sourced from the Garden of England. The youngster said: “This is brilliant. It’s been


such a tough competition with a really high stan- dard of dishes so I’m absolutely thrilled to win. I love cooking and I just feel so free when I cook.” The senior trophy went to 16-year-old Steven


Yap of The New School at West Heath. The awards scheme aims to encourage Kent’s young people to cook with local and seasonal fare. The two winners were invited to design and be


guests of honour at a three-course charity dinner with head chef ClaireWood atWoods Restaurant in TunbridgeWells on January 20.


GCSE students at Holmesdale Technology College, Snodland, have achieved record-breaking results with increases in exam passes over the last three years. Secondary school league tables published by the


Government show more than a third of Holmes- dale pupils (37%) getting five or more GCSEs, at grades A* to C including English and maths. This was up by 8% on last year’s figure and shows a steady improvement since the 2007 score of 22%. The figure put the school above the increased


new benchmark set by Education Secretary Michael Gove of 35%. The threshold set by the previous government was 30%. The percentage of pupils achieving five or more passes at grades A* to C in all subjects was 68%,


Top young chef Thomas Perkins is congratu- lated bySouth Thanet MP Laura Sandys and TV chef Richard Phillips


and nearly half of students achieved good marks in science with 49% gaining two grades A* to C. Aylesford Sports College also showed a steady improvement over the last four years with 27% of pupils attaining five or more grades A* to C in- cluding English and maths, compared to 16% in 2007.


Across all subjects, 93% gained five or more grades A* to C and in science subjects, 94% of pupils achieved two grades at A* to C. Results at the Malling School, East Malling, also showed a steady improvement over the last four years with 26% of pupils achieving at least five grades at A* to C, compared to 14% in 2007. Nearly half of pupils – 48% - gained five or more passes at grades A* to C in all subjects. The Malling School principal


Carl Roberts said he was im- mensely proud of his students’ achievements. “The other good news is that


our predictions for GCSE this year are that the percentage of students gaining five plus A* to C including English and maths show a huge jump from 2010 to over 40% in 2011.”


Thomas is game for a pheasant sur-prize


system, which the present Government has inherited, results in train companies ma- nipulating their services and cancellations to their own financial advantage and not in the best interests of their passengers. This has got to stop.” He accused the previous Government of “extreme naivety” in signing up to agree- ments that impose penalties for the late-run- ning of trains but no equivalent penalties for train cancella- tions.


“This results in train compa-


nies cancelling trains rather than risking lack of punctuality when rail travellers would pre- fer their train to be a bit late rather than being cancelled al- together.”


Meanwhile, Aylesford and Chatham MP Tracey Crouch, who has had many complaints from constituents about train services, said: This is certainly something that needs to be looked at." Fares rose this month by an average 7.8% - a season ticket from West Malling, for exam- ple, now costs £3,500 - and Ms Crouch said: "The vast majority of Southeastern commuters are rather miffed about the fares in- crease because the service they get does not match the in- crease.”


Supplement for Malling


Schools celebrating great exam results THE first full edition of the


new Malling Mail can be found in the centre of this edition of the DownsMail. The eight-page magazine isproduced on behalf of the Malling Action Partnership and will appear bi-monthly. MAP supports residents, businesses and events in West Malling and the 10 parishes around it. Money raised locally is matched by government grantsto set up and run variousactivities suggested by residents. Requests included a really


local magazine delivered to homesthroughout the area.


Waitrose on cards for Kings Hill P3


Village pre-school’s joy at new home


P16


Jail for killer drivers in M2 chase


P19


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