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£23m for ‘future-fit hospital’ By Dennis Fowle

BIG plans to modernise Maid- stone’s 30-year-old hospital in Hermitage Lane with a £23m spend over the next six years will transform the way patients are seen and treated. The first phase–a£2.9m ur-

gent medical and walk-in unit in a rebuilt former Monckton’s children’s ward, closely linked to A&E – will be in use this month. This will reduce by about

25% the number of patients needing hospital admissions and as beds are vacated, the hospital trustwill, over the next six years, spend £15m mod-

ernising 10 wards into five large specialist medical and surgical wards. There will be more sin- gle rooms, and six-bedded bays will become four-bedded bays with their own bathrooms, en- hancing privacy and dignity. The changes have been driven

by clinicians atMaidstone Hos- pital, following the loss of sev- eral key services to the new TunbridgeWells Hospital – and they are delighted by trustman- agement and financial support. Lead physician, Dr Chris Thom, said: “At present, pa- tients can be transferred be- tween wards and teams in the middle of a hospital stay, de- tracting from good hospital care

Pilot scheme to keep lorries off rural roads

A SPEEDWATCH-style scheme aimed at reducing the number of lorries illegally using the county’s rural roads is to be pi- loted along the B2163 in Leeds and Langley. Lorry Watch is a new KCC project that hopes to attract vol- unteers, trained by police, to monitor and report suspect ve- hicles. It will work in a similar way to Speedwatch, where ve- hicles going above a certain speed are warned, with repeat offenders punished.

A lorry travelling through Leeds

The pilot scheme will target lorries above the 17-tonne weight limit on the B2163. Vol- unteers will be responsible for recording details of lorries that regularly break the rules and will pass the information to KCC. The authority, which has re- sponsibility for the majority of the county's roads, will write to repeat offenders to find out why they are using the road. If the haulier does not have a legiti- mate reason they will be asked to find a more suitable route in future. Anew online journey planner aimed specifically at the haulage industry is also on the cards. Once it is up and run- ning, hauliers will be able to input the dimensions of their vehicle, along with their start and end locations, and the data- base will provide them with the most appropriate route. Leeds and Langley parish councils are in full support of the scheme, which is expected to begin this month.

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andaddingtolengthofstay. The changes mean our wards will be aligned to the needs of patientswith the speciality best able to care for them.” Four other projects planned to

start next year include redevel- oping the endoscopy and urol- ogy units and admissions and discharge lounges. Improve- ments will also include rede- velopment of the hospital’s two cancer wards and private pa- tient unit, and there are plans to increase hospital car parking by 160 spaces. The investment comes at a

time when the trust is offering voluntary redundancy to all staff as it seeks to make


at fruit depot REDROW Homes wants to build 130 homes on the site of an existing depot in Marden. The developer is holding pre- application discussions with Maidstone Council over the provision of a large housing es- tate on the former base of Mar- den Apple Packers, as well as adjacent agricultural land west of Goudhurst Road, directly south of the school. The scheme would include apartments and houses with 40% affordable housing. Parish council chairman Dorothy Reed questioned the development, given part of it would be built on a flood plain. The applicant has submitted

a screening opinion request to Maidstone Council regarding the need for an environmental impact assessment. A supporting statement said: “There have been no large hous- ing developments in Marden for over five years, and there

Advice bureau

may face crisis MAIDSTONE Citizens’ Advice Bureau could face a funding crisis when welfare benefit changes take effect next year. Salaried employees – as op-

posed to the dozens of volun- teerswho help keep the service running – could find their jobs in jeopardy, as the Government tightens up on grants which have helped keep the charity afloat.

Lauren’s prize THE fighting spirit of disabled Boughton Monchelsea gymnast Lauren Lethbridge helped her win the personal achievement in sport category at this year’s Try Angle awards. Lauren (15), has had a tough

year, breaking seven bones and coping withanumber ofmedical conditions, but has continued to train and compete whenever her health allows. She became the British Grades Champion, and in July2011,camesecondatanin- ternational competition inMalta, competing against people with- out disabilities. The KCC Try Angle awards recognise contributions to the arts, sport, music and the com- munity.


Grants from the Legal Service Commission fell from £266,534 in 2011 to £219,704 in 2012, and are set to be less than half of this in 2013. At the same time, cash from Maidstone Borough Council, which went down from £195,160 in 2011 to £185,000 in 2012, could face further cuts as the council tries to

CCTV idea to stop station vandals



Yalding man wins KCC by-election P3


Christmas pause for gas main works

Town centre parking fees to increase

P30 P31

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

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