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Maidstone & Malling’s No 1 - 88,000 copies - 4 editions Maidstone South Edition March 2011 No.167 Housing beyond villagers’ reach


YOUNG people looking for a starter home in rural Maidstone need to earn substan- tially more than the average salary. This emerged from a document just pub- lished by Action with Communities in Rural Kent. Rural housing enabler Tessa O’Sullivan,


who led a recent survey in Staplehurst, said the findings were typical of other villages such as Marden and Headcorn. She said: “It is a problem all over. In rural


areas, housing tends to be more expensive and it’s harder for people on lower incomes


to afford to buy.” One of the Staplehurst survey's aims was


to assess shortfalls in affordable housing. It concluded that a first-time buyer would need an annual income of: * over £29,000 to buy a small, one-bed-


room terraced house in Staplehurst. * over £33,000 to buy a two-bedroom apartment * over £42,000 to rent a two-bedroom ter-


raced house. The typical Briton earns an annual salary


of £23,250.


Pic: Matthew Walker of KM


DOWNS Mail is delighted to an- nounce that all of our newspa- pers are now available online. Our four editions will continue


Read us online


to be delivered by Royal Mail to over 88,000 homes in and around Maidstone, but you can now catch upwith all of their contents on our website – www.downs- mail.co.uk. You can choose from any one of


our four newspaper editions, each focusing on truly local news giving you the full picture across our coverage area. A key feature of the online edi-


tions is our live links facility, en- abling users to click on an advert to instantly connect to the adver- tiser’s website and email contact. Chairman Claire Procter said “Everyone is used to receiving the Downs Mail from the post- man but now you can also read the newspapers on your com- puter.


“This is a superb initiative to enable all members of the public to access the entire content of our newspapers. We have had excel- lent feedback from advertisers who say that it provides un- doubted added value. “The new online facility is quick, simple and free to use, with no registration required. Downs Mail wants to hear your comments, so connect today and email your feedback to: digital@downsmail.co.uk.


Housing targets for local villages


Major gypsy site allowed to remain


P6 P4


The Queen is escorteded by Lt Col Simon Hulme and a member of the Queen’s Gurkha Engineers


Queen comes to Maidstone


THE Queen made her first royal visit to Maidstone for many years tosee a regiment that had been named after her. Her Majesty was at Invicta Barracks toobserve the 5,000th re-


cruit tothe Queen’s Gurkha Engineers swear allegiance. She also commissioned three late-entry officers before meeting some of the regiment’s injured soldiers and families. She joined the Gurkhas and their families for lunch and was presented with a Nepalese garland before signing the visitors book and departing for Buckingham Palace.


Maternity plan


judicial review? THERE is a case for Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to answer over his decision to allow Maidstone Hospital maternity services to transfer to Pembury. That is the thrust of a new


report of KCC’s legal experts who have considered the three grounds: illegality, irra- tionality and procedural im- propriety. But the cost of taking this


to the High Court could be £30,000 – and more than double if the case were lost. “We desperately need to


see this funded,” said MASH chairman Dennis Fowle. “So many say his decision was perverse.”


Thinking furniture? ...you should be


The survey - to which 30% of the parish responded - discovered a need for up to 48 affordable homes, comprising 17 single peo- ple, 15 couples without children and 16 families. The largest group of people in housing need were aged 25-44. Ms O’Sullivan said: “One reason why we


concentrate on affordable housing in rural areas is that it enables people on lower in- comes to stay. As younger people get older they often have to leave to find cheaper housing and you can end up with a fairly unbalanced community with just


P15 EastFarleigh


gets its 40mph CAMPAIGNERS in East Far- leigh are celebrating now KCC has agreed to a 40mph limit on Lower Road, from the centre of the village to Dean Street. It has been a prolonged and confusing campaign and for months speed signs have been obliterated with blacks bags. KCC wanted the old 60mph


limit reduced to 50mph and there was local pressure for 40mph - largely due to danger- ous bends on the narrow road. KCC says it incorrectly adver-


tised a 40mph limit in a public notice and this added to delays and confusion. But now that notice will lead to 40mph signs within the next few weeks. KCC cited “overwhelming


local support for a lower limit than the speed limit review process recommended.” *Mail Marks, page 20


New hospital open by 2013


A £78m PRIVATE hospital at Newnham Court, near Grove Green, is expected to admit its first patient in summer 2013. This was confirmed by James Dickmann, development director


of the Kent Institute of Medicine & Surgery (KIMS). He said: "It will be a tertiary hospital providing advanced and highly specialised procedures and care in areas such as cardiology and neurology for both privately insured and NHS patients. “There is no other specialist provider of such services locally, ei-


ther within the private healthcare sector or the NHS." KIMS will be able to offer clinical services for which patients would otherwise have to travel to London. These include ear, nose and throat, urology surgery, gynaecology and rheumatology.


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