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

FIREFIGHTERS’ family houses that have stood empty for years are finally to be brought up to standard for general letting. Two of them are in Kingfisher Road near the

fire station in Larkfield, where local council- lor Anita Oakley has campaigned strongly on the issue. Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) has agreed for them - and another empty property in Tonbridge - to be part of a pilot scheme run by Russet Homes which, if successful, could be extended across the county. Cllr Oakley said of the properties: “They looked horrible and there are so many people on the housingwaiting list. I thought it was an absolute travesty that this is a public body keeping houses empty for no reason.” She spoke to Tonbridge and Malling’s hous-

ing department. “I really had a go at them, that KFRS is a public body and it’s awful that

Toy firm could

bring 30 jobs IRISH-based chain Smyths Toys is planning amove toAylesford retail park at Quarry Wood which could bring 30 new jobs. The company hopes to move

into part of the unit currently occupied by Bhs, if proposals including conversion of the building and trading hours are approved by Tonbridge and Malling Council. Owners of the business park, Crown Estates, have submitted plans to sub-divide the existing store, leaving Bhs to occupy a smaller area. The remaining floorspace, with the addition of a mezzanine non-trading floor has been earmarked for Smyths, who would require Christmas shopping hours until


‘Not a blackspot’ EAST Malling residents who have campaigned about traffic problems have been told that there is nothing to justify fund- ing for calming measures. Villagers had complained

that vehicles had continued to use East Malling as a rat- run after the temporary clo- sure of theA228 last summer. Following a petition, Kent Highways conducted traffic surveys but did not consider the route was a crash blackspot.

Residents of Catlyn Close, EastMalling, have sent a peti- tionwith 46 signatures to KCC, requesting traffic calming to slow down speeding traffic.

Malling Edition December 2011 No. 176 Solution to empty homes ‘scandal’

the houses are empty. They acted on it and must have got Russet and KFRS to talk about them.” Cllr Oakley added: “Public bodies should

not sit on houses and do nothing about it. Pri- vate individuals do it but that’s up to them. I don’t think it’s good to allow perfectly good houses to fall into disrepair. “There must be houses like this in every borough and no one is doing anything about it. But now, because of this, something might be done.” KCC Lib Dem

group leaderTrudy Dean said it was a “scandal”

the houses had been

Hospital bus campaign goes on THE fight to secure bus links from theMalling area to the new hospi- tal at Pembury is continuing at the highest level. MPSir John Stanley has been pressing the case with the chief exec-

utive of Maidstone and TunbridgeWells NHS Trust, Glenn Douglas. Sir John has stressed the need for public transport for patients and

their families, particularly those in Hadlow, West Malling and Bor- ough Green. The trust has acknowledged being in breach of its planning permis-

sion in not providing bus services between those places and the hos- pital, but has agreed to look at a “better targeted” way of improving access – working with local stakeholders and the voluntary sector. Planned investment for transport is £2.1m over five years. But, in his reply,Mr Douglas said the trust could not justify a route between Borough Green and the hospital. A postcode study of likely numbers using the hospital gave a journey cost of £200, or £100 if vis- itors were included. He said this “would lead to the NHS having to make a

P8 Welcome to the Christmas meerkat

CROWDS enjoyed a great day out at West Malling when the town got lit up for Christmas.Theday promotes local charities and several or- ganisations manned stalls in theHigh Street. Kings Hill Parish Council vice-chairman Sue Wood- cock is pictured helpingwith Kings Hill Rotary’s fundrais- ing effort. Full story and more

pictures - page 26

Failed ATM ram-raid in Snodland


Job hunters scramble forWaitrose posts

Hazardous waste site gets go-ahead

P4 P10 MONSTER SALE STARTS Digital Solutions Ltd

vacant for so long - one formore than 12 years. Her successor on the fire authority is Cllr Malcolm Robertson (Maidstone Central). He said: “The ultimate intention is to roll this out to other redundant authority-owned homes, ei- ther in partnership with Russet or with other partners introduced by them.” The houses will remain in KFRS’s owner-

ship,with Russet receiving amanagement fee of about £400 per property per annum. The usual Russet/TMBC occupier nomina- tion rules will apply.

Empty: 114

King- fisher Road, as is No 120

Damages claim for brain-damaged boy

AMOTHERwhose sonwill need round-the-clock care for the rest of his life has launched a High Court case for compensation. William Lindenbauer, now 13,

of Birling Road, Snodland, suf- fered severe brain damage after he was asphyxiated during birth in Maidstone Hospital. Now, through his mother Jill Browne,William is seeking dam- ages from the Maidstone and TunbridgeWellsNHS Trust. The trust has admitted sub- standard care but the sides are thought to be unable to agree on how much compensation William should receive. A claim for unlimited compensation of more than £1m has been made to the High Court. William suffered acute as- phyxia caused by cord compres- sion during his birth, which would have been picked up if midwives had made more fre- quent checks of his heart rate, the claim adds.

More health issues: pages 30/31

Town Talk MP in club fight

own alk

LOCALMP TraceyCrouch is in- volved in the fight to save the SAMAYS youth centre. For full details, seeTownTalk in the cen- tral pages of this month’sDowns Mail. The bi-monthly eight-page independentmagazine iswritten by and dedicated to Snodland and Halling residents.


DEC 27TH The Big Yellow Building, St Peters St, Maidstone 0800 652 0102 www.lincolnfur

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