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MAIDSTONE Council has earmarked a piece of land in LenhamHeath for a £1.36m gypsy site. The borough council enlisted planning consultant BPTW Partnership to conduct a feasibility study on the creation of 15 pitches in Kettle Meadow, east of Forstal Road and south of the train line. To the north of the site is Wheatgratten, where three years ago gypsies were given planning permission to site four mobile homes and six touring caravans. The council has been given a grant by the Homes and Communities Agency, which is responsible for homes and regeneration in England, to fund a new site to help meet its target of 105 pitches by 2016. Mark Bottomley, a director at BPTW Part-

Classrooms in car parks

MAIDSTONE children could be taught in temporary class- rooms in car parks and even empty shops and office blocks, as pupil numbers continue to soar. A third of councils across England are preparing emer- gencymeasures to cope with an unprecedented surge in pupils.

Maidstone, where the birth

rate is rising and house build- ing growing, could be one of the hardest hit, according to Jasper Gerard, the LibDem par- liamentary spokesman for Maidstone and theWeald. Cllr Mike Whiting, KCC cabi-

net member for education, said councils did need to start look- ing at “alternative models” for school buildings if the provi- sion wastobemet andsaid: “The days of single-storey premises with lots of green fields and playing space are no longer the norm.” In the week that Kent parents

found out if their children had been offered the primary school place of their choice, it was re- vealed by the Department for Education (DfE) that primary schools in England will have to find space formore than 450,000 children of primary age by 2015 and 800,000 by 2020.


Maidstone East Edition May 2013 No.193 Fears of gypsy blight at meadow site

nership, told Downs Mail: “We did a feasi- bility study for Maidstone Council about five months ago, but have not heard any- thing since.” Despite this confirmation, the borough council could not comment on the pro- posal. A spokesman said: “The council can neither confirm nor deny any of its pro- posed land purchases during negotiations because the taxpayer could end up paying more for the land. “The council was given a government

grant, in January 2012, to provide a public site for 15 gypsy and traveller pitches by March 2015. No final decision has been made on the location of the new public gypsy and traveller site. “Residents will be consulted on any plan-

Bus lane U-turn

MAIDSTONE Council leaderChris Garland has made aU-turn on his own group’sproposal to relieve congestion through the creation ofabus lane in Loose.

The cabinet, chaired

by Cllr Garland, previ- ously nodded through the controversial pro- posalas partof its draft integrated transport strategy – which could become part of the overall Core Strategy – despiteopposition from residents.

But, in a surprising

new manoeuvre, Cllr Garland has called for the brakes to be put on part of the bus lane along LooseRoad, from the Wheatsheaf pub to Armstrong Road.

A short bus lane al-

ning application for a public gypsy and traveller site.” Persistent rumours over recent months

that the land would be used as a gypsy site have led to Lenham Parish Council writing to borough council leader Chris Garland and chief executiveAlison Broom, localMP Hugh Robertson, KCC member JennyWhit- tle and borough councillors Tom Sams and John Barned. It said: “These concerns have been varied,

from surveyors being observed in a field close to an existing traveller site to com- mentsmade by individuals associated with other councils in Kent. “Earlier this week I received a call from a concerned resident in Lenham Heath, stat- ing that her house sale had fallen

Why Paul uses

Downs Mail PAULMill Television, Maidstone, is a confident regular advertiser in the Downs Mail. “TheRoyalMail distribution to

every house throughout Maid- stone and Malling and its deep readership means we get very good responses,” Paul said. “It’s the best way for local businesses to keep their serv- ices in front of the local public.”

Villages in dark

ready exists south of the Wheatsheaf, along part of SuttonRoad. But the council is proposing to extend this as far as Wallis Avenue to the south then beyond to the north as far as the junc- tion of Loose Road with Armstrong Road.

A petition against the bus lane plan was handed to the Joint Transport Board by Lib Dem councillors Derek Mortimer, Ian Chittenden and Susan Grigg and Loose sub-postmaster Brian Clark

Cllr Garland had originally said there was an argument for allowing

cars into a bus lane on the LooseRoad if they could prove theywere car- ryingmore than one passenger – effectively “car sharing”.

But nowhe has said: “I do have concerns about the proposed bus lane

from the Wheatsheaf to Armstrong Road. It would take up 50% of the carriageway and, if carswanted to turn right into PlainsAvenue, itwould cause a terrific backlog.” He said he remained in favour of an extension of the SuttonRoad bus lane, but revealed: “While the officers atKCCare very much in favour of a bus lane, there is a lot of opposition P18

KENT’S claim to be the best lit county in the country is about to be extinguished. The county council is pro- posing a “common sense plan for safe and sensible” street lighting, which means many lights will go off after midnight until 5.30am. Among those affected will be several on Ashford Road in Hollingbourne and Harriet- sham, the A249 Sittingbourne Road, the B2246 Hermitage Lane and the 2020 industrial estate. Kent has about 120,000 P8

Kent cricket may return to Mote

Residents wage war on dog fouling

01622 750733 10 St Faiths Street Maidstone

LIVES, TOGETHER Visit: CHANGING BIG IN OAK The Big Yellow Building, St Peters St, Maidstone 0800 652 0102 GREAT MUSIC

P24 P8



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