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


Malling Edition July 2011 No.171


Age Concern saved by £1.3m gift


A £1.3M legacy has come to the rescue of Age Concern Malling. Funding cuts earlier this year meant the organisation faced tough decisions about its Rotary House day centre in Norman Road, West Malling, and possible job losses. Now, the future looks much brighter thanks to retired farmer Ron Hollands (pic- tured), a much-loved local character who died on Christmas Eve, aged 94. The charity's treasurer Barry Hughes said


the gift had come out of the blue. “Hewas- n’t a client of ours so this came as a com- plete surprise to us.” He added: “It is incredibly good news.


We’d had a reduction in grant from social services, but this will keep us going for the foreseeable future.We will not have to cut services, in fact we are in a position to in- crease services.” Tonbridge andMalling Borough Council


also played its part by agreeing a short- term loan of £75,000 until the charity re- ceives the first part of the legacy, probably in autumn. The charity's previous fears had been re- vealed in a letter from its chief officer


Hop Farm’s marina idea


A MARINA on the River Med- way is part of the long-term vi- sion for the Hop Farm estate at PaddockWood. A new master plan, which formed part of a recent consulta- tion exercise, envisages the site’s expansion beyond the iconic, listed oast houses. Farming and countryside attractions plus high-quality children's


P10


works for us “SINCE advertising with Downs Mail, we have seen a 50% increase of calls from the advertised areas of Maid- stone and Malling. “We have also had an in- crease in sales by some 40% from the calls we obtained. “The feedback we had


from our customers is that they find the editions easy to read and full of detailed in- formation. We will continue to use Downs Mail as an ad- vertising platform on a regu- lar basis.” Joni Cooper, AHM Instal- lations


Downs Mail


Making a bee-line for East Malling AN East Malling woman was shocked to discover this huge swarm of bees on the rear garden wall of her home in Rocks Close. Find out why it happened and how the bees were moved on – page 6.


Bronze statue tribute for armed forces P3


Kings Hill festival to make a return P12


Local MPs hit out at train surveys P27


Keith Austin to the council's chief execu- tive David Hughes in April when its total funding was reduced by £73,000, a 21% cut in its overall income. Mr Austin said they had been forced to


look at partial closure of the day centre and other budget reductions. He added that such cuts would “seriously affect many vulnerable older people and also result in staff redundancies". But thanks toMrHollands -who also be- queathed large sums to the Heart of Kent Hospice and two national cancer charities - the opposite is the case. Mr Austin said: "This will allow us to safeguard and expand the services we pro- vide throughout the borough and secure its future.” He told the Downs Mail:


P4


Polytunnels plan ‘to proceed’ with strict provisos


THE soft fruit business of Mereworth-based Hugh Lowe Farms should be given the go- ahead for its extensive production by poly- tunnels, albeit under strict conditions, said a borough council planning chief. The issue has generated great heat in the affected parishes during recent months. Dozens of aggrieved residents lobbied the borough council's Area 2 planning commit- tee, which met at Hadlow Manor Hotel, in the same way as they had protested with placards atWest Peckham green during a site visit by councillors in May. Planning director Steve Humphrey's report


to committee members said concerns over impact on residential amenity could be re- solved, and any impact on ecology and wildlife were "likely to be neutral or mar- ginally beneficial". Mr Humphrey added: "Taking all these fac-


tors together, I believe the merits of the pro- posal are substantial and that the balance lies in favour of granting planning permis- sion, that incorporates measures to address the residual landscape impacts identified." Applicant Marion Regan's advisers had ad- vocatedmitigation through landscapemeas- ures and managing the rotational cycle to minimise concurrent use of adjacent fields. Mr Hewett was happy in principle with


that approach but called for further details to be submitted for approval. He sought a total of 11 conditions. They include: The gross area of fields containing poly- tunnels to not exceed 165ha during any cal- endar year This overall total to be split between


91ha rotational tunnels and 74ha succes- sional tunnels No polytunnels closer than 30m to any residential boundary No polytunnel to be covered with plastic sheeting for more than nine months in any calendar year No polytunnel within 3m of any public


right of way.


ALTHOUGH Barons Place Farm in Seven Mile Lane, Mereworth, is the applicant's business base, the geographic area of the proposed polytunnels extends from Beech Road (Kings Hill) in the north to Standford Lane and Bullen Lane (East Peckham) in the south; and from Forge Lane andMartins Lane (West Peckham) in the west almost to Canon Lane (Wateringbury) in the east.


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