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Maidstone & Malling’s No 1 - over 83,000 copies - 4 editions Maidstone South Edition September 2012 No.185 Councillors’ tributes to former mayor

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 funeralon 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 bigman in 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- ingdonevery deep research.His attention to detailwas legendary.

P22 Bridge traffic relief hope

A LONG-standing battle to slow down traffic en- tering East Farleigh and to keep HGVs from dam- aging its historic bridge has emerged victorious from its first attack. Councillors from both sides of the Medway

Benefit cuts may leave thousands poorer Trust gets help

have held a series of meetings with Kent Highway Services officer Ben Hilden, from which it has been agreed that a white weatherboard “gateway” will be erected on the south side of Farleigh Hill, close to the junction with Rectory Lane, to mark the approach to the village. Barming and Teston Cllr Fay Gooch said: “We recognised that we needed to be realistic.We will never be able to prevent ‘white van man’ from using Farleigh bridge and local businesses need to have access. Our main target is HGVs.” The highways department has suggested a sign denoting no access to HGVs be attached to the gateway, as opposed to the usual parish name – as

COUNCIL tax reductions look set to be slashed under cost-cut- ting proposals being put for- ward by Maidstone Borough Council. With the exception of pen- sioners and single people who live alone, every household in the borough currently claiming benefits stands to be affected – more than 6,000 working age people.

Council tax payers are being

asked which of these three pos- sible options they would favour:

Lowering discounts by 24.5% for everyone except pensioners.

Reducing discounts by 18.5% for everyone except pensioners and reducing the discount on empty properties from six to three months.

hicles the opportunity to turn around. Traffic flows over the Grade I listed bridge have been a major concern to residents for many years and have been highlighted as a priority issue in the village plan. Ben Hilden said: “Damage to our ancient bridges is well documented so I am therefore more than happy to support a gateway on the Barming side of the one at East Farleigh.” The gateway will be funded from Cllr Paulina Stockell’s member’s grant. East Farleigh parish council chairman Glyn Charlton said: “This is re- ally good news.”

A 13% reduction in discounts for everyone except pensioners, the discount for empty proper- ties reduced from six months to onemonth, and the abolition of the 10% discount for second homes.

Whichever option is selected,

it is the owners of empty prop- erties and second home owners who will mainly be affected. The council is currently writ-

ing to those who receive such benefits. A council spokesman said: “At present, the Govern- ment decideswho is eligible for council tax relief and how much they can get but councils will have to introduce local schemes of council tax discount from April 2013.” The changes are part of the Government’s Welfare Reform Bill and put a duty on councils

to develop a local scheme suit- able for their area. The council needs to help offset a £1.3m re- duction in funding it gets from the Government for council tax relief. Cabinet member for cor- porate services Cllr Eric Hotson, said: “The council has to make savings in council tax discounts it


to local people because the Government is cutting the money it gives to the council for council tax discounts by 10%. “The council believes the

fairest way to make the savings is to reduce the amount of discount for everyone who re- ceives a discount, except pen- sioners.” Visit

to take part in the consultation, which runs until October 8. For information call 01622 602750.

the gateway will technically be in Barming parish and not East Farleigh. Cllr Gooch said: “These have been used effectively at Harrietsham and on the A20 outward bound.We all felt this could be effective for deterring access to Farleigh bridge.” Placing the sign near Rectory Lanewill give ve-

Food for fought THE sale of late-night food has been blamed for “slowing down” people leaving Maid- stone and causing more 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.”

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 hike is expected to raise an extra £0.16m in the next financial year.

to pay its way MAIDSTONE and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust is being given more government aid to help balance the books. It is struggling to repay a pri-

vate finance initiative (PFI) contract taken out to build the Pembury Hospital in Tunbridge Wells. The cost of the Trust’s PFI repayment is currently £1.7million a month from a monthly income of £30million. The repayments will continue for 30 years, by which P10

Council nets £80,000 from litter fines P3

Remembrance Day money solution P10

New bin for garden waste on way P24

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