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Malling Edition April 2013 No. 192 Tree felling site ‘like a war zone’

THE sudden destruction of a row of trees lining a conservation area footpath along- side the boundary of The Malling School has been deplored. Furious residents say the site at East Malling is now an eyesore, with some trees completely felled and some reduced to stumps, and have questioned how the work was allowed. Prompted by safety concerns, the school gained permission from Tonbridge and Malling Council to fell eight white poplars flankingBlacklands Lane and replant with London planes. Eight leylandii were also condemned and allowed to be felled. The trees overhang the pathway that sits

on the boundary of Clare House Park, and is used as a route to school by up to 300 children a day. A tree surgeon’s report com- missioned by the school raised fears about

One resident complained: “Thiswas sup-

posed to have been a protected landscape, located in a conservation area and in the original grounds of the grade 1 listed Clare House. Caveats were applied to theMalling School building approval relating to the im- portance of the tree screen between Clare Park and the school, yet now it is reminis- cent of the FirstWorldWar trenches.” No tree preservation order (TPO) was in

the potential hazard to users of the path and field from falling branches in heavy winds. East Malling and Larkfield Parish Council chairman David Thornewell said he agreed the trees now looked “terrible” and the work had caused much local concern. The parish was taking up the issues raised by residents with the borough council.

Stephen’s marathon bid to help big cats

DOWNSMail editor Stephen Eighteen is preparing to run this year’s London Marathon forWildlife Heritage Foundation – and needs your help.

WHF, located between Headcorn and Smarden, works to ensure the big cat species of the world are pro- tected from extinction. There are more than 45

big cats, including African lions, Sumatran tigers, jaguars, North Chinese leop- ards and Amur leopards. It costs £1,750 per day to

run the charity, which relies on donations, fundraising and revenue from the occa- sional Big Cat Experiences it hosts.

Sponsoring Stephen (33)

to run his first marathon on April 21 could make a world of difference to these endangered animals. Stephen said: “Running the London Marathon has been a burn-

Downs Mail editor Stephen Eighteen with Mia, a three-year- old cheetah

ing ambition of mine for as long as I can remember so it was about time that I finally bit the bullet, instead of enviously watching thou- sands of others complete it every year. “For a few years I have been going on hour-long runs every day

before work so the main test has been increasing the mileage. For making this possible Imust thank the earlier, and dreaded, 5.10am alarm call! “This charity is undoubtedly one of the best-kept secrets of the

Kent countryside. Anything you can offer would be greatly appreci- ated and would go directly towards a great cause based locally.” You can sponsor Stephen’s marathon run online by logging on to If you are a taxpayer WHF can claim an additional 25% in Gift Aid. If you would prefer to donate by cheque or cash, then please

make cheques payable to WHF and send them to the following: Stephen Eighteen, Mail Publications Ltd, Forge House, Bearsted Green Business Park, Bearsted, Maidstone, Kent ME14 4DT.

place, but as the trees were in a conserva- tion area the school had to notify the bor- ough council of its wishes, which it did before Christmas. The borough did not raise an objection and chose not to serve any TPOs, so the work could go ahead. The council’s landscape officer, Liz Guthrie, agreed that the treeswere in a high risk situation and said they should

Bank cuts opening hours By Peter Rimmer

THE decision by NatWest Bank to close the doors of its Snod- land branch on Tuesdays and Thursdays of every week has caused uproar in the town. The change, due to a fall in de- mand on those days, came into effect from April 9. As cus- tomers use the branch earlier in the day, the opening hours for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fri- days have changed from 9.30am to 3.30pm to 9am to 3pm. A spokesperson for the bank said: “We have changed the opening hours at our Snodland branch to reflect the times when customer demand is highest. At other times customers can get a full branch offering at our Lark- field branch, just over three miles away. “We also have a range of other options that our customers can use to access their accounts. These include our NatWest mo- bile phone applications, online and telephone banking services and the use of any post office to pay bills, withdraw cash and check balances.”

The chairman of the town council, Anne Moloney, de- scribed the decision as “a bolt out of the blue”. She said there was no advice to customers, and residents and businesses needed a reliable bank, there when they needed it. She said the part closure would cause real hardship for many, while others might change their bank. “The town council and bor-

BIG IN OAK The Big Yellow Building, St Peters St, Maidstone 0800 652 0102


ough councillors have written to RBS chief executive, Stephen Hester, expressing very consid- erable concern about this and asking for the decision to be re- versed,” she continued. “If anything, our bank should

be upgraded and properly com- puterised.We believe this is an ill thought-out decision, taking into account the speed of growth in the area and the planned expansion of business opportunities.” Alan Totham, chairman of Snodland Chamber of Com- merce, said many memberswere unhappy with the situation. “A great many local busi- nesses bank with NatWest in Snodland for the convenience of it being local andwithin easy reach, and no one I have spo- ken to is happy about these changes,” he added. Businesses needing daily

SNODLAND Primary School has been rated outstanding in a Christian schools inspection. 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 Talkown T

New road signs ‘have increased danger’

Concern as store is given off-licence

P12 P4


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