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NOTHING stands still – so I

suppose I should not have been so sad on a visit to our museum to be reminded Maidstone has lost so much industry, business and sport. Compared with 50 or so years ago we live in such a different town. Many older readers will re- member Maidstone industries known nationally and interna- tionally. Sharps made creamy toffee;

Foster Clarks tinned vegetables and soups; Grants was a popu- lar cherry brandy; Fremlin brewed successful beers; Read- ers’ cricket balls were used worldwide; Whatman was a leading papermaker at Turkey Mill; and so it goes on. On the business front, Maid-

stone and District’s green and cream buses were everywhere; Woolworths catered for so much that was cheap and use- ful; the town centre was full of department stores like Chies- mans, Army & Navy and Dun-

A depressing look at Maidstone’s past MailMarks

DENNIS FOWLE - President Kent Campaigning Journalist of the Year 2001 email:

nings; Len Ltd was big in chair manufacture inWater Lane and W. Webb flourished as engi- neers inWaterside. New businesses have arrived,

of course, but they lack the magic of what has been lost. Maidstone Council seeks more well-paid jobs close to the M20 junctions but the recession has brought a halt to most of this. Perhaps sports followers are

even more saddened. The mu- seum recalls the days of Maidstone United playing suc- cessfully in the Football League at the London Road ground until the financial traumas and sale in 1988. Since then the town club has


Asda needs longer parking Dear Sir - Like Karen (July, South),my friend and I, alongwith our children, also parked at Asda Living and received a fine for overstay- ing our time. We were unaware of the charge as they did

not put a ticket on the windscreen of our ve- hicle. I called Asda and they were extremely helpful. They advised that we write a letter of appeal to Parking Eye, and explained that they were unable to control the car park situ- ation as itwas not their property. We did appeal and Parking Eye retracted

the fine.We are unsure if this company con- trols all of the shops, ie:Hobbycraft,TKMaxx and Homebase. I feel that asAsda has a coffee shop and ex- cellent baby changing facilities along with such a wide selection of home and clothing goods, two hours is not a realistic time span for shopping.

Cheryle Lewis, by email

Dear Sir - With reference to the letter from Karen Carpenter in last month’s Downs Mail, Iwonder howmany people are aware that pri- vate companies cannot enforce parking fines for exceeding parking times. Although not exactly the same as Karen’s

case, a driver recently received a large 'fine' for parking too long in a privately owned car park.They sent to the company concerned an amount to cover the cost of the extra parking. This satisfied the ‘contract’ they had with

the company. In this case the parking was something like £6 for three hours. They over- stayed by one hour so sent £2 as payment for the extra time spent parked. The parking company threatened the driver

with court action and when told, “see you in court then”, they backed off as they knew they didn't have a case. Perhaps having a receipt fromAsda is the same and a strongly worded letter without a cheque for £60 will have the same effect. I believe that imposing a time limit for you

to do your shopping would be seen as a breach of contract by Asda with their cus- tomer.

22 South

struggledwith homematches at Dartford, Sittingbourne and Ashford. Financing a new ground in Maidstone is still proving very tough – but we are not now without hope. The town has also lost its an-

nual county cricket festival for the last six years due to prob- lems at The Mote ground. It was a vital feature of the sum- mer social scene – and a huge loss. It went when a wet wicket

cost Kent a points penalty, but now is more related to an old and inadequate pavilion. The Mote Cricket Club is nowtrying to raise big funds for a new pavilion on the existing site –

with encouragement from Maidstone Council. But there are mountains to climb. Maidstone needs a huge busi-

ness and sporting lift. The chal- lenges currently are immense.

Been to Saltwood? I HAVE enjoyed visits to

many of the best British castles – but none made such a deep impression as a recent tour of Saltwood Castle in the village near Hythe. It was the home ofAlan Clark,

the rakish MP who died almost 12 years ago and is buried in the grounds. Now it is run with such dedi- cation, energy and charm by his widow Jane (68). She leads pre-booked group

tours with infectious enthusi- asm – and I doubt if any visitor leaves without the greatest ad- miration, both for her and the fifth-century castle and its mag- nificent contents. How does she fit so much


You can write to us at: Downs Mail, 2 Forge House, Bearsted Green Business Park, Bearsted, Maidstone, ME14 4DT or e-mail:

The high profile lawyer famous for getting people off speeding tickets is taking up cases like this andwinning. I am sure he would be glad to advise anyone as he says he is “on the case”.

David G.Woodcock, Willington Street

Wrong on grammar schools Dear Sir – Your defence of the selective sys- tem in education (“Good news for our gram- mar schools” – July 2011) is seriously flawed. You blithely assume that the 11+ exam was

(or is) an efficient way of sorting out those with academic promise from those deemed to be without. In reality, the system was much more arbi-

trary in its workings. The Oxford sociologist A.H. Halsey once stated that there was an error rate of 25%, that is to say, one child in four went (or still goes) to the wrong school. Dreadful and I would have thought, indefen- sible.

When you say that you are strongly in favour of “re-establishing these excellent schools in towns sadly deprived of them by political machinations over the last 40 years or so”, what you are really calling for is the reintroduction of secondary modern schools, with their poorer facilities and lower status, since thiswas where the vast majority of chil- dren alwayswent. Why can’t you be more honest about the matter? Given the choice between a compre- hensive and a secondary modern, most par- ents would opt for the former since their children will have greater opportunities there. The comprehensive school no doubt has its problems but remains, as Churchill said of democracy, the worst system there is apart from all the others. In stating, “life is all about competition”,

you are taking a depressingly low, Social Dar- winist view of reality.Aren’tmenandwomen also social beings capable of cooperating with each other, much as animals do in herds? I am not convinced that we all require the

“vital leadership” to be offered by the (often) smug products of an inequitable systemmod- elled on theminor public schools. K.G. Banks, Bower Lane, Maidstone

Emergency suggestion Dear Sir - Bishops’Waywas gridlocked as an approaching klaxon could be heard. Panic showed in the faces of some of the drivers but there was nothing they could do. Whensitting in a car and a klaxon sounds it

can be difficult to determine from which di- rection it is coming and obviously valuable – perhaps invaluable – seconds can be lost by an emergency vehicle trapped in a line of waiting vehicles. So can I suggest that an information board

(of the type used to display messages such as Maidstone great for shopping) be placed on the central division of Bishops’Way near the Archbishops’ Palace and facing towards Loose advising drivers of the need to clear a passage for an emergency vehicle. All three emergency services come from the Wheatsheaf area so, as they leave their depots the drivers or station staff could press a button triggering a signal on the board by the Palace stating ‘emergency vehicle expected in three minutes; please leave outer lane empty’, and for that time to be counted down. As the fire, ambulance or police vehicles

pass the board the notice would be automati- cally deleted unless a follow-up vehicle was en route. Have thewarning notices in red and possibly any other messages in white. Ron Stubbs, Silverdale, Maidstone

Fewer buses hurt rural areas Dear Sir – It is a disgrace that rural bus serv- ices are left to bear the brunt of the so-called cutbacks. They are already considered the least important service, with buses cut to the minimum. It is, however, quite notice- able that cutbacks do not seem to affect the very frequent 20-minute bus routes to places all over the town. The Hunton service is practically a non-

event and the 59 bus that covers nearly six villages now has even fewer buses. Young people have already commented

on their need to be linked to both social and educational activities. Likewise, older peo- ple need to keep in touch and transact every day business, appointments and so on. A. Parkes, Kingswood

Have you got news for us? Phone our News Desk on 01622 734735

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