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Anger at school expansion

ANGRY parents have voiced their concerns at plans for a big increase in places at the Discov- ery School, Kings Hill. KCC proposes to expand the primary school from the current 420 pupils to a maximum 630, as it says demand for places shows no sign of abating. The authority would like to formalise the temporary arrange- ments and expand the Discovery School by 30 places per year group. This would mean admit- ting 90 reception pupils per year from September 2013. “The expansion would be gradual, with additional places created annually to accommo- date reception aged pupils only,” says a KCC public con- sultation document. Parents say the school is al- ready cramped, and were plan-

ning to voice their objections at a public meeting at the school on Tuesday, November 27. Sarah Mason, who has two children at the school, said: “The school is overcrowded. Crowd- ing another 210 children in is not the answer. “We have taken an extra 30 children for the last three years. Children are taking lunches in classrooms as the hallwon’t hold all of the pupils.We have lost an IT room and a special needs teaching room.Walking to school is chaotic. Paths are crowded and parking is an issue.” Angela Vincent, who cam- paigned for a free school atKings Hill, said there was a fear tempo- rary classrooms could eventually be removed, leaving conditions more cramped. The Discovery and Kings Hill

Temporary post office

to open in village hall TESTON Village Hall could be extended to house a post office and stores. Themove follows the closure of the village

post office after the death of popular sub- postmaster John Zygmant. The parish council is seeking planning per- mission for temporary facilities in the grounds of the hall, which it believes would be required for 12 to 18 months while amore permanent solution is provided. Interim proposals are for a large single-

storey portable building, about 3m by 8m, with a second smaller structure, possibly an- other cabin, to provide toilet and hand wash facilities. Both would be discreetly coloured, probably dark green, says the application to Maidstone Council. If the scheme proves viable, the cabins

could eventually be replaced by an extension to the hall. The village was left without a post office

afterMr Zygmant (66) was diagnosed with an untreatable cancer. He died in October. A meeting held at the village hall was at- tended by 150 people – so many that some had to stand outside and listen through the door and windows. The parish council said it received “a

strong mandate to proceed, subject to P4

Primary were allocated 120 re- ception places between them. Additional places were added at Discovery in 2010, 2011 and 2012, bringing the shared total up to 150 places, but this year saw 175 first choice applications. With about 250 houses still to

be built, and proposals for a fur- ther 950 homes, KCC admits a third school will be needed. It says this could be up and running by September 2015, but meanwhile the possibility of ad- ditional places at Kings Hill School is being explored. Closing date for comments to

KCC is December 19, and a re- port will go before the educa- tion cabinet committee on January 18. If agreed, a further period of public consultation will precede the final decision in March.

Malling Edition December 2012 No. 188 Local MP feels

political heat EQUALITIES Minister and Maidstone and The Weald MP Helen Grant has been left smart- ing after her first major political backlash. The ConservativeMP sparked outrage when her political as- sistant Tony Williams claimed she had altered his contract, af- fecting his holiday entitlement and reducing his sick pay from 52 to just two weeks. Mrs Grant denies the allega-

tion, claiming the contracted sick pay allowance was the re- sult of an error from the Inde- pendent


Standards Authority (IPSA), who authorised Mr Williams’ contract. She later corrected his sick pay entitlement. However, her claim that she

is planning to vacate her con- stituency office to save taxpay- ers’ money has now turned the spotlight on her own expenses. Since March this year theMP

has been claiming an additional £1,666 permonth for the rent of a London flat close to the offices of MI6 in Vauxhall. This deci- sion was made before she was appointed EqualitiesMinister. Full story - page 14

Michelle Adams, Rachel Coppins and Kemi Adams ‘Gateway makers’ at risk

A VOLUNTARY project compared to the Games Makers at the 2012 Olympics faces closure unless funding can be found to keep it going. Since September 2010, 53 volunteers have been on

hand to meet and greet members of the public at Maid- stone Gateway in King Street. Gateway volunteers, runbyVoluntaryAction Maidstone,

has also helped 22 volunteers progress into training, em- ployment or mainstream volunteering. But the project’s National Lottery funding, which amountedto about£60,000this year, finishes inFebruary. Kemi Adams (33), of TonbridgeRoad, Maidstone,was a

Gateway volunteer but left to start a full time job, only to return again when her hours reduced. “Being a volunteer here was one of the best


Primary school in special measures

01622 750733 10 St Faiths Street Maidstone

Kent test results PRIMARY school pupils have been celebrating following the release of the Kent Test results. Three of the five top perform-

ing schools in the area were in Tonbridge andMalling, includ- ing the village school in Mere- worth, which has turned its fortunes around since the ar- rival of headteacher Diane Moore. Mrs Moore, who was praised

for her drive and enthusiasm in the 2010 Ofsted report, was ap- pointed in June 2010 after the departure of the previous head in 2009 and a period P6


Apathy warning for village hall


More homes plan for former hospital P22

MARIA Heslop, a borough coun- cillor, has become the first woman ever to win the annual Snodland 10k road race. Her time of37mins57seconds also broke the ladies’ course record. For more details see Town Talk in the central pages of this month’s Downs Mail. The bi- monthly independent magazine is written by and dedicated to Snodland and Halling residents.

Town Talk alk

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

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