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GPs battling to keep control of their resources by Dennis Fowle


DOCTORS and a patient group acrossMaidstone and Malling are holdingurgent talks in a bid to re- tain influence over the allocation of local resources after it was an- nounced that Maidstone’s new commissioning group has been pressed to amalgamate withWest Kent andWeald. This will mean just two group


GP members sitting on an en- larged board - covering surgeries in Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Sevenoaks, the Weald and parts


of Maidstone -will have a say on how money is allocated in Maid- stone and Malling. The move has sparked anger


amid claims that the NHS's Strategic Health Authority (SHA) pressurised the doctors to make the decision. Maidstone group doctors were


well advanced in setting up their organisation, which included their ownpatient reference group. This group is so worried that it


will now talk to the Maidstone and Malling GPs about creating a new local health partnership so


Maidstone & Malling’s No 1 - 88,000 copies - 4 editions Maidstone South Edition May 2012 No.181 Homes ‘would


the area continues to have a strong voice on Maidstone and Malling’s NHS needs and spend- ing a local budget of about £130m. NHS Kent and the West Kent


Group hope the patient group will continue and work with the combined organisation. The GPs themselves are try-


ing to negotiate “locality rights” within the enlarged West Kent Group. The Maid- stone and Malling GP Clinical Commissioning Group had been developingwell over the


P16 Catch solar boat to work


A SOLAR-powered commuter boat service could be serving Maidstone town centre from early summer. Entrepreneur James Bailey,


who runs The Barge floating restaurant, next to the Arch- bishop’s Palace, is at the heart of a major investment scheme to revitalise the Medway and turn it into a focal point of the county town’s tourist economy. His other plans include hiring out rowing boats on the river. Three solar-powered electric catamarans are due for delivery at the end of May, which will convey commuters from Tovil to and from several stops in town – from Barker Road, Lockmeadow, and the Arch- bishop’s Palace, to Maidstone East railway station. Breakfast will be provided on


the boat, offering workers the chance to enjoy coffee and croissants on their way into work, avoiding traffic jams and hefty car parking charges. Outside peak times during


the summer, the 12-seater boats will be available for hire or for day trips to Tonbridge and back. Mr Bailey’s eco-friendly arm,


Green Leaf Leisure, already op- erates solar-powered boats on the river beside Tonbridge Cas- tle and he has gained permis-


people see the river as some- thing elitist. Our plan is to open it up to the masses. “Nobody has invested prop-


erly in the river for many years. It needs passion, creativity and drive to bring it back to life.” Boats will be available to hire


Businessman James Bailey


sion to run a “congestion club” service along the Medway in Maidstone. Travelling 41km for just 14p,


the craft are designed to glide silently along the river, offering commuters a cost-effective alter- native way of getting into work. Mr Bailey, who is on the com- mittee of the new Maidstone Tourism Association and also the River Alliance, said: “Many


for30or60minutes andbecon- strained by the locks at Alling- ton and East Farleigh, although the company intends to “geo- fence” the area and fit tracking devices to its vessels. Mr Bailey said: “Maidstone


exists because of the river, but it is a greatly-overlooked amenity. All our staff are qualified life- savers and themore people par- ticipate in water-borne activity, the more conscious people be- come of the safety issues. “Something as simple as a


walk along the towpath will be- come more attractive if there is more activity in the area.” Long-term plans include


P16


Borehole beats hosepipe ban KEEN gardener Alison Brown is beating the hosepipe ban with a borehole that sucks up water six metres beneath herYalding garden. Alison (42), who lives on Lees Road, has a spacious garden, in- cluding a Victorianwalled vegetable garden,where she grows her own organic produce. She decided to explore other means ofwa- tering it after spending hours using water butts and watering cans during a similar ban by South EastWater in a previous summer. Now, she is among a rising number of homeowners to have a personal water supply from a borehole drilled in the garden.


extend town’ A LARGE scheme containing up to 600 homes and a 1,000- space park and ride facility on 80 acres of greenfield land could signal the expansion of Maidstone to the south east. Developer Taylor Wimpey is developing a proposal for Lang- ley Park, just outside the town boundary next to the Parkwood Industrial Estate off the A274 Sutton Road, which also in- cludes a 20-acre country park and potentially a new primary school. Initial meetings have already


been held with Maidstone Bor- ough Council, as well as Lang- ley and Boughton Monchelsea parish councils. Aspokesman for TaylorWim-


pey, which owns the freehold of the land, said: “We are currently in the early stages of developing proposals to build between 450 and 600 homes at Langley Park. “The scheme will provide high-quality homes, including a large proportion of family hous- ing, to fulfil a recognised re- quirement in the area, and will also deliver much-needed af- fordable homes.” The area south-east of the


P3


Found in field POLICE were appealing for in- formation following the death of Cheryl Davy (54), who was found in a field off Hampstead Lane, Yalding. As Downs Mail went to press, the cause of death was unknown but police said they had ruled out any third party involvement.


OAK TV UNIT £149! That’s just another bargain from us


town has, for a number of years, been considered by Maidstone Council as an option for large- scale development. But a large expansion of Maidstone in this direction has always been conditional on es- tablishing a new ring road link to M20 junction 8, which is off the agenda for the foreseeable future, due to a lack of funding. In 2009, the area was ear- marked for 2,700 homes in the council’s Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment survey, but Maidstone Council’s allocations document has not yet been published. Until then, any application would be diffi- cult to justify, as it would be contrary to council policy pro- tecting greenfield land. Ninety per cent of the site is


in the parish of Boughton Monchelsea, whose chairman Stephen Munford said: “Even though most of it will be


P3


Toilet adverts could net council £12K P6


Olympic countdown burns brighter P21


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