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Maidstone & Malling’s No 1 - 88,000 copies - 4 editions Maidstone East Edition April 2012 No.180 Getting tough on bus lane drivers

MOTORISTS could soon be handed on-the-spot fines for driving in “bus and taxi only” lanes inMaidstone. A three-pronged push by Maidstone Council, KCC and Town Centre Management to get a change in the law has been taken up by Government trans- port minister Norman Baker. At present, only police officers

have the authority to fine mov- ing vehicles, while parking at- tendants take action against those that are illegally parked. If the changes go ahead, parking at- tendants would be able to issue tickets themselves. This would bring Maidstone

in line with London boroughs, where parking attendants are

THE owner of Lenham Ironmon- gers is still waiting for his shop to be rebuilt - 17 months after it was ravaged by arsonists.

TheFavershamRoadbuilding re-

mains in the same state - boarded up, burnt out and inhospitable - that followed the deliberate fire back in October 2010, due to a stand-offbetween landlordRamac Holdings and its insurers.

Dave Silvey, who took over the business in 2000, is desperate for the two to reach an agreement. Without a shop to trade from, he hashad to runitasaninternet business. The annual turnover has decreased from £320,000 to £35,000.

He said: “From what I under-

stand, the landlord wanted it de- molished but the insurers say it is

EIGHT out of 10 people are happy to be living in Maidstone borough, but there is still room for improvement, according to a new survey. Thirty per cent of respondents

were very satisfied with the local area as a place to live, with 55% fairly satisfied. This was 1% down on a similar survey in 2008/09. Lake Market Research was commissioned to carry out the survey on behalf of the Maid- stone Council, to provide a public assessment on five of the key council services - doorstep recy- cling, refuse collection, Maid- stone Leisure Centre, parks & open spaces and street cleanli-

renowned for their hard line stance and wider powers – and the minister is looking at whether or not to extend the scheme.

Maidstone Town Centre Man- agement is particularly con- cerned at unauthorised vehicles using the pedestrianised part of the High Street, where only buses and taxis are allowed. If the scheme was introduced, it would apply to all the town’s bus lanes, including those in Sutton Road, London Road and Ashford Road. Cllr Malcolm Robertson (Lib-

Dem) said: “Some motorists find themselves in the restricted sec- tion of the High Street by acci- dent, but there are some repeat

structurally sound and needs to be refurbished. Ineedthem to come to an agreement.”

Last December, those re- sponsible for the fire - Neil Clark, (35), of Surrey Road, Shepway,andMarcHitchcock (20),ofOxfordRoad,Shepway - were respectively jailed for 10 years and four-and-a-half years in youth custody. They also started four other fires south and east ofMaidstone.

ButMrSilvey is still inlimbo

andyet toseeclosure. Hisper- sonal insurance covered fix- tures and fittings, stock and earnings for two years. “But this doesn’t cover any of the goodwill that I built up, which has nowgone,” he added.

Dave Silvey outside Lenham Ironmongers “Whenwelaunched the internet

business we had good trade, but nowthose customershavegone.A thirdofmybusinesswaswith trade customers, but they have


Happiness is... clean streets and nice parks ness. Less than six in 10 residents are happy with street cleansing – a worse picture than the last survey – although the majority of resi- dents speak favourably of their re- fuse collection. Some 1,700 people completed

the survey across the borough – the majority being between the ages of 25 and 65.

Street cleansing, road mainte-

nance and tackling crime are still top of most residents’ ‘wish’ lists for action, followed by more refuse collections, better public transport andmeasures to reduce traffic con- gestion. Dog fouling, improved parking

and more employment opportuni- ties also feature.

Museum extension THE new-look EastWing on Maid- stone Museum has been officially opened. For more information on the project, as well as other mu- seum news, see the council-spon- sored 12-page Borough Update in the central pages.

OAK BEDSIDE CHEST £89! What a tiddly widdly insy winsy price

offenders who blatantly flout the rules.” Cllr Robertson and Cllr Bryan Sweetland, KCC cabinet member for highways, contacted Mr Baker, who said he had received similar complaints from other local authorities around Britain. Mr Baker is now gathering ev- idence from Transport for Lon- don to see if there is a case for implementing the relevant sec- tion of the 2004 Traffic Manage- ment Act. Cllr Robertson stressed the

move was not a money-spinner for Maidstone, but to ensure traf- fic regulations were adhered to. He said: “There is no question of the councils using these powers to go out and wage a vigilante

Ironmongers still boarded up after arson

war against the motorist across our towns. “Parking attendants would

have the power to stop and ques- tion motorists and to use their discretion in imposing fines.” The Department of Transport

has been contacted by several local authorities, including Kent, as well as various other trans- port-related bodies. Mr Baker said: “As a result, I

am reflecting on the case for im- plementation and will be re- viewing available evidence from Transport for London and the London boroughs, who already carry out civil enforcement of these contraventions. The views of road users themselves will also be a key consideration.”

Animal magic if

zoo proceeds AZOO-themed play area, visitor centre, nature trails and outdoor “trim trail” are among more than £1m-worth of proposals that could breathe new life into Maidstone’s Cobtree Manor Park. The park, once home to Sir GarrardTyrwhitt-Drake’s private zoo, is one of the town’s more under-utilised attractions. Now, Maidstone Council, which leases the park from the Cobtree Charity Trust, has applied to the Charity Commission to release £1,065,000 of its permanent en- dowment to finance a three- phase major improvement scheme. The council agreed a similar project two years ago but was disappointed when the Heritage Lottery Fund Parks for People scheme declined an application for £500,000 grant funding. Cllr JohnWilson, chairman of

the Cobtree Manor Estate Char- ity Committee, said: “The key emphasis from the start has been to attract visitors to explore and enjoy the full extent of the park at all times of the year.” The park houses an impressive collection of trees and shrubs and the new design will incor- porate these existing elements while introducing new

Council tax frozen for another year P24

Hope for Lenham Youth Centre P30


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

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