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Maidstone & Malling’s No 1 - 88,000 copies - 4 editions

Malling Edition May 2011 No.169 Fight to save Oaken Wood goes on

OPPONENTS of plans to extend a quarry vowed to continue their fight after county councillors backed the scheme. KCC's planning committee approved Gal-

lagher Aggregates Ltd's proposal to extend Hermitage Quarry, Aylesford, into Oaken Wood. This was despite objections from hundreds

of residents affected by the blasting opera- tions; the two neighbouring borough councils and three parish councils - Barming, Ditton plus East Malling and Larkfield. Their main concern is loss of "irreplaceable" ancient woodland. Kent Wildlife Trust, Natural England and

theWoodland Trust also oppose the plan. But after a two-hour debate, county coun-

‘It’s a great place to live’

TONBRIDGE and Malling is one of the best places to live in rural Britain, according to a new survey which

puts the borough in 10th place. The survey, produced by Halifax,

ranks 50 rural local council districts in Great Britain for their quality of life, based on analysis carried out in 2010 on residents’ health, life ex- pectancy, employment, school per- formance and regional climate. The borough is one of seven dis-

tricts in the South East to make the top 10.Tonbridge and Malling Coun- cil chief executive David Hughes said: "I think this reflects the fact that we have a rich blend of vibrant vil- lages coupled with very beautiful countryside. “Our good transport connections to London and the continent probably play a part, as does the exceptionally good range of indoor and outdoor leisure facilities we have available. Good schools and health facilities must also be key factors.”

cillors decided by 10-4 votes to support an of- ficer's recommendation for approval, on the basis of need. Gallagher's reserves at the ex- isting Hermitage site run out in four years and the company wants to extract a further 16m tonnes of ragstone from33 hectares (78 acres) of OakenWood over the next 25 years, in 15 phases. Gallagher says the decision will protect the

jobs of 300 people. That, however, is not the end of the matter.

As the quarrying extension is a departure from the county's minerals plan it needs the Secretary of State's say-so and he may decide to call it in for a public inquiry. More than 70 members of Save Oaken Wood Action Group heard the debateP19

Alcohol stains Gurkha image

DRUNKEN Gurkhas have caused early morning distur- bances in Maidstone - twice this year. On the first occasion, in January, soldiers became "abusive and obstructive" when police tried to calm 100 partygoers who had had "far too much to drink" at Babylon Live Lounge in King Street. The second time, at the

same venue, police arrived to find "tensions very high" after reports of a fight at 3.15am. Details of the two incidents emerged when Babylon owner KiritVelani applied to Maidstone’s licensing com- mittee for a “Nepalese cul- tural evening" to last until 10amthe followingday, early this month. This was later withdrawn by Mr Velani. The police had objected: "We cannot have the situa-

Polytunnels mould parish politics

THE issue of polytunnels has acted as a powerful platform in a parish council election. The make-upofWest Peckham ParishCouncil changed this month as

a result of this hot politicalpotato.Adecision byTonbridge and Malling Borough Council on the massive Hugh Lowe Farms retrospective ap- plication, covering over 1,200 acres of soft fruit-growing land, has been delayed till June - post local elections. InWest Peckham, an area surrounded by a "sea of plastic", there were

nine candidates for seven parish seats. Councillor Mark Freed said: "Six of the nine were known to be, at the

least, concerned about the application or feel strongly that it should be rejected out of hand. The other three were very much pro the applica- tion. One of those candidates, a local farmer who does a huge amount of good work in the village, got re-elected.Although people voted for an anti-polytunnel council, I don't think it was a great surprise."

Lib Dems suffer in local elections


Local coroner leaves after 25 years

P24 Thinking furniture?

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tion that a group of very drunk people are let loose in Maid- stone at 10 on a Friday morn- ing." A report due to go before the committee saidMrVelaniwanted to stay open till 10am so he could keep "people on the premises until the trains are running as the event attracts a number of people from London and Folkestone". But the police said trains start

to run from Maidstone to London at 0515 and Folkestone at 05.55, and that the customers should be encouraged to leave the premises as soon as the ‘cool down period’ is over (5am) so as not to miss their train. Police said Babylon had held two Nepalese cultural evenings this year, both resulting in disorder.

 January 7/8 - Officers, who

were called at 04:44 to help two distressed females, were ob- structed by a "large group of sol- diers from the barracks. The problem was “Gurkha soldiers who have drunk too much". Ar- rests may have been made,


MALLING Action Partnership is offering a reader the chance to win a pair of tickets to next month’sMusic on the Hill event. See the latest Malling Mail in the centre pages for details.

Cameron canoe tragedy

THE Scouting movement figured promi- nently in the life of Hunton teenager Cameron Sandell (pictured), as it did at his funeral shortly after he died in a canoeing ac- cident on the River Medway at Teston Lock. The 14-year-old's father Peter said: "He joined it as a boy but the experiences he had helped him become a man, giving him greater confidence and determination." Mr Sandell added: "That’s why we are ask-

ing for donations to be made to Yalding Scouts in memory of his passion for


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