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Maidstone & Malling’s No 1 - over 83,000 copies - 4 editions Maidstone South Edition May 2013 No.193 River festival needs cash support


TOWN traders and boat-owners are being begged to supportMaidstone’s annual river festival – which could sink without finan- cial support. Martin Cox, whose father was the original organiser 36 years ago, said unless a sponsor – or sponsors – were forthcoming, it would be impossible to stage a festival which would live up to people’s expectations. Although funding from Maidstone Coun-


cil covers essential administration, such as licensing, health and safety and enforce- ment, money is always needed to cover what he described as the “fun element” of the festival. A sum of just £7,000 could secure the fes-


tival this year – with even more financial support leading to a bigger and better event. Mr Cox, who organises the event in a per-


sonal capacity but is also a Maidstone bor- ough councillor, said: “The fireworks alone cost £5,500 for 12 minutes. But if we cut them back to, say, three minutes, the public would be hugely disappointed. The prob- lem with events – particularly in the wake of something like the Olympics – is that people have higher expectations all the time. And it all costs money to fulfil them.


Festival is the town’s biggest annual event


Each year, people are demanding more and more things.” The river festival is the town’s largest an-


nual event and has taken place every year without fail – apart from last year when the Olympic Torch came to town – despite ris- ing costs. With traders in the town standing to reap up to four times their regular profit for the


day, Mr Cox said itwould not be unrealistic to expect a level of contribution. He said: “The council puts £10-18,000 into the festi- val, but we have to pay for the things we want – bands, fireworks and so forth. We cannot charge people an admission fee, so our only real option is to get a business – or several businesses – to sponsor it. “There are opportunities to make money,


with banners or programmes, but times are tight and nobody seems interested.” Mr Cox said he had changed the event


plan and the festival was now poised and readytogoonJuly27–butonlyifhere- ceived some 11th hour support. He said: “We have turned the event around and made it into a successful fam- ily day – with the younger people partying into the night, once the children have gone home. “All the companies and shops in the town benefit from the festival and we have a com- mitted team of volunteers. It would be such a disappointment if we were not able to go ahead because of lack of financial support.”  If you would like to provide financial support for the event contact Martin Cox on 01622 202869.


Speed limit refusal is overturned


THE 30mph speed restriction on theA274 through SuttonValence is to be extended after an officer from KCC used his discretionary powers to overturn a members’ decision. KCC director of highways and transportation John Burr said he would consider residents’ re- quests for a slower speed limit – even though his council had voted to take no action. Cllr Eileen Riden, chair of Sut-


ton Valence Parish Council, told Maidstone’s Joint Transportation Board that 100 homes and 120 people on the half-a-mile stretch of road between Warmlake and FiveWents were affected by pass- ing traffic. Although the village is gov- erned by a30mphlimit, it ends at


Controversial bus lane rejected


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Warmlake on the northern side of the village, leaving vehicles free to speed up heading into Maid- stone, she said. She added: “There are some vulnerable senior people living on this stretch as well as chil- dren,whotake their lives in their hands when getting off buses and running across the road.”


‘Support us’ Speaking on behalf of 250 peo-


ple who signed a petition asking for the speed restriction to be ex- tended, she pleaded: “Please sup- port us and make our lives a little safer.” KCC’s head of transporta- tion TimRead told the board that the county council had decided not to accede to the request as Kent police said it would not be


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able to monitor and enforce it. But Cllr Jenny Whittle argued:


“We cannot stop changing speed limits that residents want be- cause the police say they cannot enforce them.” Cllr DanDaley said: “The junc-


tion at Five Wents is extremely dangerous and anything that can be done to slow traffic down should be welcomed.” Mr Burr said he accepted that


the police had resource issues but in the circumstances, he would comply with the request under his discretionary powers. “Itwill be done,” he assured. Cllr Eric Hotson said: “This is a common sense decision.”


Why Paul uses


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Classrooms in car parks


MAIDSTONE children could be taught in car parks, empty shops and office blocks, as pupil num- bers continue to soar. A third of councils across England are preparing emer- gency measures 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, says Jasper Ger- ard, the LibDem parliamentary spokesman for Maidstone and theWeald. Cllr Mike Whiting, KCC cabi-


net member for education, said councils needed to look at alter- native models for school build- ings if the provision was to be met. He said: “The days of sin- gle-storey premises with lots of green fields 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 for more than 450,000 children of primary age by 2015 and 800,000 by 2020.


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