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


A VANDAL-hit charity shop has had to divert much- needed cash to pay for extra security after its van’s brake cable was cut. The Heart of Kent Hospice superstore at Hall Road,


Aylesford, has been preyed on by yobs since it opened in December last year. Offenders regularly break into the shop’s clothes do- nation bins and its four vans have had diesel siphoned off and wiper blades stolen. Most of the damage has been limited but staff were shocked by the latest attack when a handbrake cable was cut, putting workers’ lives at risk. Manager Nathan Hodge said: “This was a very wor-


Superstore manager Nathan Hodge


rying incident which has shocked and upset everyone involved in the superstore.” Staff uncovered the damage during a thorough check after the Peugeot Boxer van was found parked in a dif-


100-bed hotel touted A 100-BEDROOM Whitbread Premier Inn hotel is planned for London Road, Maidstone. Applicant Reef Estates has applied to convert London House, an empty four-storey of- fice building on the one-way system, into the hotel, which would also have 92 parking spaces.


Maidstone already has a host


of large out of town hotels and town centre guesthouses, but the applicant’s planning state- ment claimed: “There is high demand” for another hotel.


LITTLE litter pickers Faith and Grace Turley joined in the fun when community groups in Larkfield turned out in force for a big clean-up. The sisters were among members of Holy Trinity Church who took part in the ‘Love Where You Live’ event.


For full report and more pictures turn to page 8.


Rail commuters facing ‘devastating’ rise


THERE is growing concern about the imminent rail fare rise in the Tonbridge andMalling area. Average increases of 8% are expected from Jan-


uary based on a formula of retail price index (5%) plus 3%, as prescribed by the Government after its Comprehensive Spending Review last au- tumn. But the borough council has challenged the


rises in letters to rail minister Theresa Villiers and the train operator, Southeastern. Cllr Nicolas Heslop, the borough council’s cab-


inet member for transport, said: “Rail user groups told us that if current increases continue, the cost of commuting from Tonbridge and Malling to London will, by 2014, have gone up by nearly 150% since 1995, a staggering amount over this period.” The reaction follows a rail forum held at the council’s Kings Hill offices atwhich Network Rail


and Southeastern were quizzed on a wide range of issues. The greatest focus of concernwas fare rises, due


to be announced by Southeastern by early De- cember. There seems little room formanoeuvre, though. Under the original terms of its franchise, which started in 2006, Southeastern’s increases were to have been RPI + 1%in the period 2012-14. But the Chancellor’s drastic spending review changed all that and the formula has since been revised upwards – for the last three years of the franchise – to RPI + 3%, based on July’s RPI of 5%. Cllr Heslop said: “The cumulative effect of rail


fare increases on commuters whose livelihoods depend on travel to and from London is devastat- ing, all themore so at a time when there is severe wage restraint.”  ‘Safety is reason for crossing queues’ - page six’


Inside this edition: News on Malling’s own inter- national music festival and a guide to what’s on this Christmas. MAP supports people, businesses and events in West Malling and the 10 parishes around it.


Gypsy homes plan for stables site


P4


Praise for green scheme successP14


Malling Edition November 2011 No.175 Yobs cut charity van brake cable


ferent place from where it had been left. Mr Hodge said: “It appears the hand brake cable had


been cut to allow the offenders to roll the vehicle. “Fortunately no onewas hurt, as the damage was dis- covered before the van was used that day, but this could have resulted in a nasty accident and someone getting hurt.” As well as a £100 repair bill for the vehicle, the char-


ity has now been forced to pay out for security gates and further CCTV cameras. Mr Hodge said: “This is very sad as we are here to raise money for the hospice, not to divert it away from the care of patients with life- limiting illnesses and support for their families.” Police have closed their investigation due to a lack of evidence but will re-examine the matter if further de- tails emerge. Anyone with information is asked to call 01622 690690.


Sisters love where they live Alarm over A&E By Dennis Fowle


ACCIDENT and emergency pa- tients expecting to go to Maid- stone Hospital are angry and mystified because ambulances are taking them instead to A&Es at Pembury and Medway hospi- tals they find seriously over- stretched. They tell stories of confused ambulance crews, long journeys and serious delays for treatments for minor injuries such as sprained ankles and broken fin- gers, which should be treated much more conveniently and quickly at an under-employed Maidstone A&E - as projected in original NHS proposals. The hospital trust, during the consultation period, said only ‘blue-light serious trauma cases requiring specialist surgery’ would be taken to Pembury – es- timating 30 or so a week. A trust spokesman categori-


cally denied claims that Maid- stone A&E is being run down, stating: “Maidstone A&E contin- ues to see the vast majority of pa- tients it did before.” Yet it


P25


Mystery over suicide on motorway


Runners go off track in racing mix-up


COMPUTING FOR BEGINNERS One to One Computer Training in your own home


Internet, E-mail, Word Processing, Digital Photography, etc... Now also i-Pad training


BIG IN OAK P18 P27


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