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DOCTORS and a patient group across Maidstone and Malling are holding urgent 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 amalgamatewithWest 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

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 amajor investment scheme to revitalise theMedway 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, Lock- meadow, and the Archbishop’s Palace, to Maidstone East rail- way 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

TRIBUTES have been paid to Tonbridge andMalling Council leader Mark Worrall, whose death has shocked colleagues and friends. He died in hospital early on Thursday, April 26. Cllr Worrall, aged 58, repre-

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

Malling Edition May 2012 No. 181

GPs fighting to keep control of their resources by Dennis Fowle

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

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 trying

to negotiate "locality rights" within the enlarged West Kent Group. The Maidstone and Malling GP Clinical Commis- sioning Group had been developing well over the

P6 Catch solar boat to work

Mr Bailey, who is on the com- mittee of the new Maidstone Tourism Association and also the River Alliance, said: “Many 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

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 Castle and he has gained permission 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.

sented West Malling and Ley- bourne, and was elected to the council in May, 1982. He had been leader of the Conservative group since 1985 and led the council from 1985 to 1995 and again from 2003. In 2008 he was awarded an OBE for serv-

Inside this edition: Jubilee party time is close, and the eight-page Malling Ac- tion Partnership supplement gives you the full lowdown on the holiday weekend. MAP supports people, businesses and events in Malling and the 10 parishes around it.

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 the more 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

Shock at death of ‘remarkable’ council chief, 58

ices to local government. David Hughes, chief execu-

tive of Tonbridge and Malling Council, said: “Cllr MarkWor- rall’s death has come as a huge shock to us all, and our first thoughts must be for his fam- ily and friends, in particular his three children and sister. “Cllr Worrall was held in

great esteem and he promoted a culture within the council of service to the community. It was undoubtedly as a result of his great skill and personal qualities that the council was judged by the Audit

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


Schools crisis ‘may lead to

home tuition’ FRUSTRATED parents who can’t get their children into pri- mary schools in Kings Hill are considering taking tuition into their own hands. A nucleus of parents has al-

ready held informal talks about home schooling for children whowould be due to start at ei- ther Kings Hill Primary or the Discovery School this year. With prospective pupils

being offered places in East and West Malling andWateringbury – a round trip of some 12 miles –aswellasStMary’sPlatt, many parents are questioning the reasons they first moved to Kings Hill. Angela Vincent, one of five people who put together pro- posals for a third primary school last year, said: “Kings Hill is sold as a family-friendly environment. It is inconceiv- able to most residents that get- ting into a Kings Hill primary school is not a reasonable ex- pectation. However, we have been told that Kings Hill has the highest birth rate in the county – it’s already full!” Kent County Council has ap- proved plans for three tempo- rary buildings at the Discovery School, but an objection by Sport England, because of a po- tential loss of open space and play amenities, means the deci- sion may have to go to the Sec- retary of State. Mrs Vincent said: “If these classrooms are not built, there are 30 children with nowhere to go come September. “We have East Malling par-

ents making a 10-mile round trip every day, while in the Oaks Hamlet development (close to the school), parents get offered a Wateringbury school, which involves a 12-mile round trip every day.” There were 168 applications

for Kings Hill School this year for just 60 places and 175 ap- plications for Discovery School, with just 90 places. KCC’s draft Commissioning

Plan for Education ProvisionP4

Postal firm goes into liquidation


A vision for a better rail service

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

P14 P21

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