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Maidstone Neighbourhood Watch Association AGM Website takes crime fight online

A WEBSITE is set to revolu- tionise theway the world thinks about NeighbourhoodWatch. Maidstone and District Neigh- bourhood Watch Association’s new website, due to go live in the New Year, was the brain- child of Sergeant Stefan Martin, of the Maidstone community safety unit, and has been de- signed by Bearsted company SiteWizard. Visitors to the website will be

able to buy items such as timers to turn lights on when they are out, so potential burglars think someone is home. A list of con- tacts will be displayed on the site, as well as crime statistics and warnings about scams such as criminals posing as door-to- door traders. Downloadable crime preven-

tion posters, including ones stating “No trick or treaters”, will be available, and in an at- tempt to involve younger peo- ple in Neighbourhood Watch, 15-year-old Joshua Coupe has been recruited to write a blog. Newsletters will eventually be emailed to people who register on the site.

The projct will be funded through online sales, as well as sponsorship by local and na- tional companies. The website was launched by Mayor of Maidstone Cllr Rodd Nelson-Gracie at the associa- tion’sAGMand has been funded by nine county councillors. Chairman Ken Stevens de- scribed thewebsite as fresh and

informative and said it would help get away from the percep- tion that NeighbourhoodWatch members were spies or curtain twitchers. The website’s address will be Those without internet access can call Maidstone and District NeighbourhoodWatch Associa- tion on 01622 604398.

CHIEF Inspector Jon Bumpus, police commander for Maidstone and district, has revealed crime levels are falling in the area. Addressing the Maidstone and District Neigh- bourhoodWatch Association’s AGM, he asked peo- ple to guess how many crimes were committed in Maidstone and the surrounding areas each day then revealed the actual figurewasmuch lower than peo- ple thought. MrBumpus,who said he had had a lot of help from NeighbourhoodWatchmembers during his 27 years as a detective, revealed 22 crimes were committed in the Maidstone district per day, down from 25 per day last year. This figure does not include certain crimes such as speeding. He said crime was down in 21 of Maidstone’s 26

wards, compared with last year. Mr Bumpus said police detected 38.5% of crimes,

Spreading the word to other areas KENT Police’s new volunteers and watch liaison officer Jacqui Blake would like to see more NeighbourhoodWatch groups in the Maidstone area, and asked co-ordinators to help set up schemes.


History lesson required COUNCILLORS Chris Garland and Stephen Paine clearly require a history lesson (Cyni- cal attempt to win votes – Downs Mail De- cember). The last Maidstone Council Development

Plan was created under a “hung” council, with no one party in overall control. Far from agreeing the 2000 Local Plan, council- lors of all political persuasions were in- censed when an unelected inquiry inspector overturned many of MBC’s sensi- ble and democratically-agreed development policies and allocation proposals. They are, however, correct when they

write that the deputy leader of the Lib Dems and I have taken part in discussions relat- ing to the Core Strategy. We have consistently stated that the pro- posals for the North West Housing alloca- tion sites were over-intensive, with little likelihood that the required infrastructure to support them would be forthcoming. We have never supported a “no develop-

ment in my backyard” attitude. Taking part in discussions does not imply consent to the proposals as currently drafted, and I wrote to the chief executive on July 8, stating “the position we are cur- rently in falls far short of what is required”. When the draft consultation went before cabinet, little if any notice had been taken of our concerns. Iwas therefore happy, indeed keen, to get the draft into the public domain for consultation, in the expectation that res- idents would respond in no uncertain terms to what was proposed.

30 East

Chairman Ken Stevens and secretary Linda Sinclair

Offences down, and detection rates go up

Sgt Stefan Martin, left, with Ch Insp Jon Bum- pus

compared with30%when hewas a young detective, and added that in 52% of cases where there was a victim of crime, the perpetrator of that crime is found. He said: “This is really good. Not as good as we want it to be, because we want to catch every- body, but it’s a really good performance.” Anti-social behaviourwas highlighted byMr Bum-

pus as an important issue and he said incidents of it were downin 22 of the district’s 26wards compared with last year.

Committee member off to new watch area BILL Brunger, a committee member from the London Road area, was presented with an engraved paperweight as he left the group, following his move to the Gravesend area.

You can write to us at: Downs Mail, 2 Forge House, Bearsted Green Business Park, Bearsted, Maidstone, ME14 4DT or e-mail:

Over 3,000 comments have been received

by Maidstone Council, and in the main, they are in tune with what we have been telling the Conservative administration for the past 18 months. It is surely accurate when we call these documents the “Conservative Core Strategy draft proposals”. It now remains to be seen whether Cllrs Garland and Paine will take any notice of the voice of Maidstone’s residents. FranWilson

Lib Dem Group Leader, MBC

Villagers against Co-Op Dear Sir – You have published a series of ar- ticles in the Downs Mail, mostly highlight- ing antipathy to the proposal to site a Co-op in Lenham. It is not unreasonable that in your December edition you printed the con- trary view in Mrs Tolhurst’s letter that wel- comes the idea. She says she is trying to “redress the balance and negativity” [sic] but the question is, where does the balance of opinion lie? I believe voluntary petitions run by vil-

lage shops and facilities against this pro- posal now have close to 1,000 signatures. How many were in Mrs Tolhurst’s straw poll – half a dozen? In contrast to her find- ings, I have yet to hear one resident speak in favour of the Co-op. Lenham itself has a population of just

over 2,000, and so about half this number have voluntarily stated that they are against the proposal. Given the normal apathy seen when communities can express an opinion (election of police commissioners?), the

weight of opinion against the Co-op is prettymassive – local councillors take note! I disagree totally with Mrs Tolhurst’s view

that all these services can survive side by side. The introduction of a supermarket will completely destroy the viability of the pri- vately-run shops and facilities in Lenham. The loss of these shops and the probable ugly eyesore of boarded-up premises that will ensue will deter rather than attract tourists to the village. If, as Mrs Tolhurst suggests, more people

will come from the surrounding area to shop in Lenham, where will they park in the already bursting village square? I echo what others have said – the iron- mongery and the great service it offered are sorely missed and should be reinstated if a way can be found. I do not know what planning powers parish and borough councillors have in this matter but, if they can prevent the arrival of a Co-op, I urge them to do so and thus re- flect the majority view of those who have elected them.

Jon Bacon, Harrietsham

Subway closure a good idea Dear Sir – How pleased Iwas to read in your November issue about the shutting ofMaid- stone town centre subway at night on the weekends. I strongly agree. It is particularly dangerous for members of the public. I am a young woman and amoften out in the town centre at weekends and would not walk through the subway under any circum- stances at night. C Edwards. Martin Square, Larkfield

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