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THE outlook for Maidstone's public sector- dominated economy is "grim" as hundreds of council workers await the full impact of the Government's austerity measures. A third of the workforce is employed by

one of the several local authorities. Maid- stone Borough Council, Kent County Coun- cil, the police and fire services all have their headquarters in the town, and hundreds more are on NHS payroll. Talks are under way with staff about the

future shape of council services. Many will be holding their breath about the long-term prospects as Chancellor George Osborne ex- pects councils to cut their spending by more

Waste plant ‘will take Tovil back 30 years’

ANGRY residents have vowed to continue their fight against the construction of a concrete crushing plant in Tovil, despite the scheme being given the go- ahead by county councillors. The plan, to convert a dis-

used paper recycling centre off Straw Mill Hill into a facility that would process 90,000 tonnes of building waste a year, had provoked objections from Tovil Parish Council andMaid- stone Council. The application by SBS Recy-

cling would involve a concrete crusher andwood shredder and material would be transported by skip loads and lorries, gen- erating around 200 HGV move- ments a day between 7am and 6pm weekdays and 7am to 1pm on Saturdays. Kent’s planning committee

was told by County Cllr Dan Daley that the project would be a retrograde step in a burgeon- ing new community area. But after hearing from officers

that their decisionmight attract costly appeal proceedings un- less it was based on sound planning reasons, members opted in favour of the project. The outcome was greeted

with boos and angry shouts from some of the 40members of the public who attended. Objections, which included

two residents’ petitions con- taining hundreds of signatures, cited excessive noise, odour, disruption to neighbours, and concerns that local roads, par- ticularly Straw Mill Hill and its junction with Tovil Hill, would fail to cope with additional traf- fic and so compromise


Lucky Lola’s new lease of life IT'S one of those pictures with the "Aaahh" factor – but the story behind it is even more emotive. Little Lola, who had gone into labour, was dumped in a sealed box at Penenden Heath. When a passer-by found the box, Lola was

close to death. But she eventually pulled through – and now has a new, loving owner, vet Robyn Stevens. £1,000 reward: page 14.

Maidstone’s link to Unknown Soldier P6

Protest at greenfield housing plans

Ofsted praises two town schools

P27 P15

Maidstone Town Edition December 2010 No.164 Grim prospects for town economy

than 25% over the next four years. By 2014, Maidstone aims to have reduced its current £23m budget by £6m. Council leader Chris Garland said Mr Os- borne's comprehensive spending review was broadly in line with what the council had assumed in its budget calculations. But the fine detail will not emerge until next month. He has warned about “very tough decisions”, many of which will be unpopu- lar.

And Lib Dem leader FranWilson told the Downs Mail: "It will be grim. Maidstone is to a great extent based around public serv- ices. A third of our workforce is in the pub-

lic sector. That is our biggest industry. Ifwe are all taking a serious hit - and 25% is the average - that will impact on our second biggest industry, retail and leisure. "We have a problem in the short term. I

can't see where we can pick up those lost jobs. That's the challenge we've got - we know employers want to come here but the problem is finding the right locations for them." That issue - creating the crucial Local De- velopment Framework - was put on hold for two years while planning policy officers prepared for last year's complex KIG in- quiry. The LDF is not expected to be

P4 But it’s not all bad news ....

Education gives the borough £88m boost

MID Kent College is planning a £23m refurbishment of itsMaidstone campus at Oakwood Park.And a £1m vocational skills studio at Senacre will be opening soon to offer training for 14 to 19-year-olds as well as adult learning opportunities. These "good news" stories are part of an £88m spend

on education and training which proves it is not all doom and gloom in the current economic climate. That's the view of John Foster, Maidstone Council's re- generation and economic development manager. He said the Mid Kent College revamp would coin-

cide with a curriculum designed to support local busi- ness needs, within the setting of a new, high quality student environment. It starts next year and will be completed by 2013. Meanwhile, a £64m investment by the town's two-

site New Line Learning Academy represents a big boost for secondary schooling. A major redevelop- ment costing £26m opened at NLL Academy in Boughton Lane, Loose, in September, and next June, CornwallisAcademymoves into £38m state-of-the-art facilities in Hubbards Lane. Mr Foster said: "A skilled and educated workforce

is a critical driver in creating a prosperous local econ- omy and Maidstone is well placed to deliver this. "Higher education provision has never been better,

with the University for the Creative Arts staying at Oakwood and also delivering courses at Maidstone Studios. Together with other universities in neigh- bouring areas, Maidstone can offer a high-quality ed- ucation provision for all ages." In a recent BBC report, Maidstone was ranked in the

top 40%of English local authorities for its anticipated overall resilience to forthcoming public spending cuts.

Maidstone was also placed 25th out of 324 English council areas for GCSE results.

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