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THE death of former mayor of Maidstone and long-serving councillor, Malcolm Robertson (67), has brought tributes from all sides of politics. Flags flewat half-mastover the council’s TownHall headquarters from


theannouncement of his death, onFriday,August10, until his funeral on August 29.ALiberalDemocrat, Malcolm served hishomewardofAlling- ton for 30 years, joining the borough council in 1982, the county coun- cil in 2005 and serving his term asmayor from 1996. Council colleague Dan Daley said: “Malcolmwas a bigmanin everyway, I feel like I’ve lost my rightarmbecauseweworked so closely together.Hewaswell known for his caring for his communities and for the incredible depth of knowl- edge he brought to bear on so many important subjects and issues. “Whether itwas on the intricacies of planning, of transport, ofwaste treatment and incineration, on highways or on the preservation of the green environment, Malcolm’s encyclopaedic research and memory could always be relied upon to give the uttermost in advice and action. “Of this one could always be certain, that nomatter what itwas that


troubled local residents, once contacted,Malcolm would see the prob- lem through to the end andwould leave nothing to chance, always hav- ing done very deep research. His attention to detailwas legendary.


P8 Town’s future in your hands


THE people of Maidstone are being urged to vote with their feet as the latest public consultation on the future of the town gets un- derway.


Attempts to get the council to


block development at J8 of the M20 have gone unheeded, as have objections to retail develop- ment at J7 – so nowmatters are in the hands of the general public. The council’s Liberal Democrat opposition has decided not to “call in” for scrutiny the cabinet’s decision to press ahead with its draft core strategy. Lib Dem leader, Cllr Fran Wil-


son, said: “These things all take officers’ time and cost a lot of money. Our requests to have things changed have been ig- nored, so there is no point calling the matter in, incurring even more cost to the taxpayer, when thematter is going to public con- sultation. It is now down to the


A MAIDSTONE borough coun- cillor has launched a campaign to prevent the council’s pro- posal to extend the town south- eastwards. The draft Core Strategy iden-


tifies greenfield land east of Park Wood for around 1,000 new homes. It earmarks large- scale development at Langley Park, land to the north of Sutton Road and BicknorWood. Cllr Gordon Newton, who represents Downswood and


public to make their feelings known.” Despite vehement oppo- sition to development atWoodcut Farm, near J8 of the M20, the council has designated the whole area – including two further sites – as a “strategic site” for future de- velopment. One of the sites is south of the


A20, between the Mercure Great Danes Hotel and Old Mill Road, which was originally out of the question due to water contamina- tion issues. But it is now being considered,


which is good news for construc- tion company Gallagher, the own- ers of the land, who had been pressing for a retail distribu- tion/logistics park. CllrWilson said: “The council


had the chance to remove this area from the core strategy and has chosen not to do so. The cab- inet has “fudged” the issue and bottled out.” She said the land


Otham, said: “I am totally against it and it is my intention to see that it doesn’t happen,” he said. “There is a big area around


the back of Downswood, right up to Sutton Road that is ear- marked for development. My mandate from Downswood and Otham Parish Councils is to fight any development. This is a rural area; there are woods and trees that are protected by TPOs. I will fight hammer and


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south of the A20 was even more sensitive than the former Kent In- ternational Gateway site, which Woodcut Farm was a part of. “The council leader Chris Gar-


land has stressed how much this document is just for consultation, so we have decided to see what the people have to say.” Cllr Garland pointed out that


the area around J8 has no desig- nation to protect the area: “We could say we are not going to do anything with Junction 8 - that would satisfy an awful lot of peo- ple, but if somebody comes along with a scheme and we reject it, we would then have absolutely no control of the type of develop- ment if it is overturned on appeal. “An inspector will find itmuch harder to turn down 16 hectares of development than the 117 hectares when KIG went to ap- peal.”


Protest over J7 plans


Maidstone Town Edition September 2012 No.185 Councillors’ tributes to former mayor


Pizza the action THE sale of late-night food has been blamed for “slowing down” people leaving the town centre and causingmore crime. Sixty-six calls were made to police in the first half of this year at the lower end of the High Street, of which 37 were at night, according to a report drawn up for the town’s licens- ing subcommittee. Of those, 23 related to crime and disorder. PC Neil Barnes said: “Unfor- tunately, late night food outlets in areas of busy night time economy effectively slow down customers leaving the area while they wait for, or eat, their food.


“This causes a large number


of people normally under the influence of alcohol to concen- trate in a small area, which causes the problems not only of crime and disorder but also of noise and litter.”


P8


Council tax up? RESIDENTS in Maidstone might soon see the end of their two-year council tax “holiday”. The council has maintained


the levels of council tax since 2011, but its projected medium term strategy budget for 2013- 2018 shows an allowance for a 2.5% increase in council tax. This would add £5.56 a year


to the bill for a band D taxpayer in 2013, increasing it from £222.39 to £227.95. The increase is expected to


raise an extra £0.16m in the next financial year


P18 Campaign to prevent south-eastern sprawl


nail for it to stay that way.” Instead of having a large de- velopment on greenfield land, Cllr Newton prefers a more dis- persed approach. “Sites become available around the borough, and we don’t need them put in the same place,” he added. “We already have problems


with schools in Downswood and the local KCC members say there is no money available for infrastructure. It is absolutely ridiculous.”


Council nets £80,000 from litter fines P3


Outrage over ‘legal high’ shops


P26


New bin for garden waste on way P32


Traffic warning MORE traffic changes are on the cards, as the latest phase of work with the Stone Street gas main replacement gets under way in the town centre. Romney Place was closed at


its junction with Lower Stone Street on August 13 for approx- imately six weeks. Traffic diversions are in place


and Arriva buses will divert via High Street, King Street and Wat TylerWay to get to the bus station. Other traffic will be di- verted via Mote Road and Pad- sole Lane.


Borough growing THE population of Maidstone borough rose to 155,200 (up from 139,100 in 2001) accord- ing to the 2011 census, a growth of 11.6%. It is the largest in Kent after the unitary authority of Medway (263,900). The population of the county of Kent increased by9%- to 1,727,800. The pop- ulation of Tonbridge and Malling is 120,800 (up 12.1%).


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