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Maidstone & Malling’s No 1 - 88,000 copies - 4 editions Maidstone South Edition February 2012 No.178

Self starters are key to more jobs Broadband boost

THE number of people turning to self-employ- ment in a bid to beat the recession could have made a marked impact on unemployment in Maidstone. While Britain has just recorded its worst unem- ployment figures for 17 years, job prospects in Maidstone appear much brighter. In the annualHalifax Quality of Life Survey, the borough scored highest in the UK for employ- ment, with a rate of 84%. The employment data was taken from the Labour Force Survey of the total population of 16 to 64-year olds in the local authority during the 12 months ending March 2011. The LFS also produces a “confidence interval”

– ie: how confident it is that the figure is accurate and, for Maidstone, it is confident the figure is in- deed accurate. While the statistic came as something of a sur-

prise to a number of the town’s employment agen- cies, Kent’s largest chamber of commerce said the

THE Jubilee Church and Training Centre is to reward Maidstone’s un- sung heroes – and it wants the help of Downs Mail readers to make it happen.

Celebrate Maidstone asks local people to nominate a number of worthy ‘star’ recipients in several categories, such as lollypop person, driver and volunteer. Other awards will be handed out for great contributions in areas such as business, arts and the next generation. Each category winner will be presented with a Stars

of Maidstone award at a glittering event at the Mer- cure Hotel (formerly Ramada Jarvis) on the A20, near Hollingbourne, on Friday May 11. Celebrate Maidstone chairman Neil Pattison said:

“We are very happy to ask for the help of readers of Downs Mail because the paper covers good new sto- ries and is genuinely interested in, and actively seeks to support the local community.”

For more details on the categories and how to vote, see page 10.

MAJOR disruption toMaidstone’s town centre traf- fic is on the horizon with news that gas mains are due for replacement in Upper and Lower Stone Street.

Southern Gas Networks are due to begin on the 12-month project in April this year and a KCC traf- fic management system has already earmarked po- tential problems as far away as the M2. Maidstone is notorious for traffic bottlenecks whenever there is an accident or road closure and councillors have been warned that traffic in the

figure could be indicative of a surge in self-em- ployment and new business start-ups. Tudor Price from Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, said: “Our experience to date – and particularly in the last quarter of the year – is that there has been a significant increase in the number of people look- ing to start up in business and access information and advice. “Our business workshops and one-to-one ap- pointments are grossly oversubscribed, particu- larly in Maidstone.” Tudor said the surge in interest was across the board, but with service sector dominance. The chamber is working with Maidstone Job- Centre Plus to support people wanting to go down the self-employment route and Tudor said; “Per- haps it is indicative of the times that people are looking towards other options when employment is no longer so readily available.” The Maidstone figures could also have been af-

fected by the high number of people in the P4

for businesses THE long-awaited faster broad- band for Yalding, Laddingford and parts of Hunton is set to go live.

KCC awarded Yalding Parish Council £50,000 as part of its community broadband scheme in May last year. Call Flow Solu- tions of East Peckham has since been working to deliver the serv- ice to residents and businesses, who should be able to access sig- nificantly faster speeds from this month. Most homes and businesses

will access the scheme via five main broadband “boxes” – in Yalding, Laddingford, Collier Street and Hunton. Premises whose phone lines

are not connected via a nearby “call flow” box, should still be able to access faster speeds by means of the company’s strategi- cally-placed radio transmitters. Andy Conibere, managing di-

rector of Call Flow Large gypsy site next

The first Star of Maidstone is Dave King, who was given a life- time achievement award for his voluntary and community work, particularly in the Shepway area.

P10 Gas works could cause traffic chaos

town will need to reduce by 10-15% if the centre is not to gridlock. Southern Gas expects traffic to reduce naturally

as drivers try to find other routes out of town to the south on the periphery – such as Farleigh Bridge andWillington Street. However, the reduction in traffic is unlikely to go

down well with traders in the town, who may suf- fer the knock-on effect of a reduction in business. In the first phase of work, Knightrider Street will

be completely closed to traffic for three months from the end of March, along with the right filter lane, which leads to Knightrider Street from Lower Stone Street. Through traffic will be diverted

via the A229 South, along Upper Stone Street , (A229 North) Sheals Crescent, Postley Road,Hayle Road and College Road. Access to Priory Road and Knightrider Street


to school to remain CAMPAIGNERS have been de- feated in their attempts to oust gypsies on three neighbouring plots in Boughton Monchelsea. In April last year, Maidstone Council refused separate appli- cations for a total of six cara- vans to be sited on land just south of the primary school in Church Lane, following a 700- strong petition in protest at the plan. But planning inspector Keri

Williams overturned this deci- sion and allowed the eight adults and nine children living on the sites to remain there per- manently. She reported that Maidstone Council had failed, over a long period, to provide adequate gypsy provision and effective policies to


Gypsy dies on day of planning hearing

Pavilion wrecked in copper haul

Cost of dying set to rise in borough

P3 P4 P10

Two head teachers to leave posts P12

The Big Yellow Building, St Peters St, Maidstone 0800 652 0102

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