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A SNODLAND paper mill has brought forward the closure of two machines by a year to July, amid fears that a number of workers could be affected. As the Downs Mail went to

press, the Smurfit Kappa group said it was not in a position to confirm numbers as the consul- tation process with all staff was at an early stage. The company announced that

it is accelerating the closure of two existing paper machines at its Townsend Hook mill, which

manufactures recycled con- tainerboard for packaging. The move is part of a £100 million machinery upgrade at the plant and was expected to take place next year. But the firm says the ma- chines, which have a combined capacity of 250,000 tonnes, are now expected to close on July 1, once a consultation process with employees is completed. Smurfit’s statement said: “We

are bringing forward the closure in order to extend the training

Malling Edition May 2013 No. 193 Mill speeds up machine closures

period for our workforce, ad- vance the start-up of the new papermachine and increase the pace of the expected ramp-up.” The existing machineswill be replaced by a 250,000 tonne modern lightweight one, bought from the liquidator of an Italian company in 2010, which Smur- fit says will significantly im- prove its cost competitiveness and efficiency. The new machine will now be operational by autumn next year, rather than the first quar-

Joyful Stones celebrate promotion

MAIDSTONE United’s first season back in the county town since 2001 ended in glory, with the club clinching promotion to the Ryman League Premier Division. Asell-out crowdof2,226 sawthe

Stones secure their return to the higher league after a two-year ab- sence, with a 3-0 win over Faver- sham in the Division 1 South play-off final. It was the fourth time the club

had attracted more than 2,000 supporters since theGallagherSta- dium opened in August last year. The average attendance for the season was 1,668 – more than doublewhattheclubhadbudgeted for last August. United chief executive Bill Williams said: “It has been a won- derfulexperience, but the realhigh was whenwe opened the stadium. It had been somany years coming. “We thought there would be

gates of 800 people over the year, but we have doubled that. We would have been happy to be there or thereabouts in terms of promo- tion, butwe have actually gone up by the play-offs. “We are now going to gear our-

selvesupto improvethesquadand try to win the league again in a year’s time. There willbethosewho say we should settle for mid table, butwe have to be ambitious.” Should theStones earnasecond

successive promotion they will enter Conference Southas theonly club with an artificial playing sur- face. “We would have to put the case

of our pitch forward to the Confer- ence, because they have not yet got it in their constitution to allow it,” Mr Williams said. Maidstone United manager Jay Saunders has signed a newcon- tract to stay at the club for the 2013/14 campaign.

River festival needs cash support

TOWN traders and boat-owners are being begged to supportMaid- stone’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 Maid-

stone Council covers essential ad- ministration, 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 se-

cure the festival this year – with even more financial support lead- ing to a bigger and better event. Mr Cox, who is also a Maid-

stone borough councillor, said: “The fireworks alone cost £5,500 for 12 minutes. But ifwe cut them to, say, three minutes, the public would be disappointed.

Primary school to get another class

P4 P6

Local man in World snooker final

BIG IN OAK The Big Yellow Building, St Peters St, Maidstone 0800 652 0102 P10

Inside this edition: LARKFIELD Parish Council is pressing KCC to re-mark the mini roundabouts in Lunsford Lane and Gighill Road. For more details see this month’s four-page sup- plement by Malling Action Partnership, which supports people, businesses and events in the 10 parishes in the Malling area.

ter of 2015 as originally planned. Smurfit said the investment, combined with that of 40 mil- lion euros at its mill in Hoya, northern Germany, will “en- hance the lightweight capabili- ties of the group, better reflecting current market dy- namics. Together the invest- ments will further increase productivity and significantly lower costs in our UK busi- ness.”

Snodland Town Council chairman Anne Moloney said it was very distressing that the planned closure of the existing machines had been brought for- ward and it was hoped that, if there were any redundancies, they could be voluntary. “We are, however, very pleased that Smurfit Kappa has made a very significant invest- ment at the Snodland works and thiswill ensure the contin- uation of the mill on the site providing jobs for many years to come,” she said.

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.”

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