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HIS Royal Highness the Duke of Kent spoke to visitors and staff as he went for awalk about in Maidstone’s newest showcase library. The Duke, who unveiled a plaque at the new Kent History and Library

Duke opens new heritage centre

Centre in James Whatman Way, toured the building which has brought together the cream of the county’s archives under one roof. Since it opened in April, the centre has issued more than 112,000

books, CDs and DVDs, registered more than 1,200 babies and provided more than 32,000 computer sessions. It has also seen a 22% increase in children’s book issues, a trend de- scribed as ‘very encouraging’ by a spokesman for KCC. The dukewaswelcomed to Maidstone by Viscount de L’Isle, and Maid-

stoneMayor CllrRodd Nelson-Gracie, aswell as the chairman ofKCC, Cllr Richard King and leader of the council, Paul Carter. To coincide with the royal visit,amajor exhibition hasbeen launched to

display rare documents, some of which are on loan from the National Archives and other collections from the UK and overseas, until March. Stuart Bligh,KCC’sheadofarchives, andNicFulcher,archivist at Leeds

Castle, showed the duke some the prime exhibits, which include letters, diaries and charters linked to famous people in British and Kent history.

Barnes elected Town tops crash league

to police role ANN Barnes stormed to vic- tory in the Kent Police and Crime Commis- sioner elec- tions, beating her nearest rival by thou- sands of votes. Mrs Barnes,

who lives in Lyminge, near Folkestone, has pledged to keep politics out of policing, resist privatisation of police services and fight funding cuts.

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the highest number of goods ve- hicle crashes in 2011, with 45 accidents. It also tops the table for acci-

dents involving children under 16, has the highest increase in ac- cidents involving pedestrians and recorded the highest number of 17-24 year old casualties (136). Theworst-affected wards were

High Street and Boxley, followed by Marden and Yalding. The report, compiled for KCC

by Jacobs Engineering UK Ltd, confirms a report given to the town’s Joint Transportation

Board in the summer, which pointed out Maidstone consis- tently records the highest num- ber of personal injury accidents across Kent. Driver error and behaviour

were significant factors in the cause of accidents, with young drivers being at particular risk. Maidstone Green party has

now challenged the police com- missioner Ann Barnes to make Maidstone a 20mph town. Spokesman Stuart Jeffery

said: “Default 20mph limits are the norm in much of western Europe, and in the UK eight

million people live in areas that are committed to them, includ- ing York, Liverpool, Islington, Bath, Newcastle and Oxford. “It has been shown that 20mph limits reduce accidents, pollution and congestion, and they have overwhelming public support. The case has been made for 20mph limits. There is no reason to not back them." The appeal to Ms Barnes fol-

lows a long campaign by the Greens for 20mph limits where people live – a campaign that has so far been blocked by Kent Police and KCC.

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