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Malling Edition August 2013 No. 196 Library and children’s centre at risk

CONCERN is mounting in Larkfield over the future of two KCC facilities – the chil- dren’s centre and library – which are both under review. The children’s centre, next to the GP sur-

gery in Martin Square, could face closure in a major shake-up announced by the county council, and there is also anxiety over the public library, just a few yards away. East Malling and Larkfield Parish Council

has expressed concern about this feared double blow, and asked tomeet KCC to find out what is being considered. Chairman David Thornewell said: “The council is worried that these two important facilities in the square are in doubt.We have asked to meet KCC to discuss both issues andwe are worried about the lack of public consultation.

“Larkfield library is well-used, not only by

our local parish residents but people from the surrounding areas such as Ditton and Ley- bourne. It helps make the square a viable local centre and we feel it must be kept.” A KCC spokesperson said: “In Larkfield

and across Kent, we are discussing the Future Library Service approach. This is to work with local people and organisations to find new ways to deliver local library services in partnership.We are committed to maintain- ing library services in Larkfield as in every otherKent community, but in the current cli- mate, KCC has to find ways to spend less.” The children’s centre, along with one serving Hadlow/East Peckham, is among 23 out of 97 centres throughout the county which could close, saving KCC at least £1.5 million in the next financial year.

Sixteen larger units would be turned into

lead centres, known as Children’s Centre Plus, and would work closer with GPs, schools, health visitors and other local or- ganisations. Larkfield and Hadlow, which also serves

East Peckham, are considered to be in areas where smaller numbers of children and families need early support services. The Larkfield centre was used by 143 children during the 12 months starting in October 2012, of whom just 22% only went to this centre. KCC has launched a 12-week consulta-

tion, which closes on Friday, October 4. A decision is expected in December, with any changes starting to take place next April. County Cllr Jenny Whittle, KCC cabinet member for specialist children’s

P3 Olympic boost to community centre

COUNCILLORS and residents in Snodland have been celebrating a dream come true, with the granting of Olympic legacy cash towards a long-awaited extension for the community centre. The town council will receive £50,000 National Lot-

tery funding from Sport England, enabling the expan- sion to finally go ahead. The project will provide changing rooms to serve the

playing pitches and a hall for sports as well as social events. There will also be internal changes, giving a new kitchen and bar. The estimated cost of the extension is about

£500,000, mainly from a developer agreement with KCC granting £30,000 and the Snodland Partnership £20,000. The £50,000 cash boost comes from Sport England’s Inspired Facilities fund, part of its Olympic and Paralympic legacy programme. Town council chairman Anne Moloney said the grant

meant the work could now be put out to tender. She said: “Local people really are celebrating this

week. So many people have worked for years to im- prove the community centre and this grant means the plans for expansion can finally go ahead. This is a won-

A DECISION to allow quarrying to go ahead in a treasured area of ancient woodland in Maidstone has caused outrage among resi- dents and environmentalists – not only locally, but nationwide. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has granted permission to extend Gallagher Aggregates’ Hermitage Quarry, inHermitage Lane, into 32 hectares of ancient woodland at Oaken Wood, be- tween Barming and East Malling – a site revered as a home to rare and threatened species of flora and fauna. The decision – the first real

test case of Government's Na- tional Planning Policy Frame-

Snodland Town councillors and Community Association members celebrate the £50,000 grant

derful opportunity to provide quality facilities and offer more sporting opportunities to people of all ages. What a great way to celebrate the Olympics’ legacy in Snodland.” The town’s MP, Tracey Crouch, said: “It is very wel-

come news. The local council have put a lot of hard work into planning this extension project.” Sport England’s chairman Nick Bitel said: “This Na-

tional Lottery investment is helping us deliver a last- ing sporting legacy in Snodland.”

Anger as woodland quarry agreed

work in relation to ancient woodland – is considered to be of national as well as local sig- nificance and could put hun- dreds of other precious wildlife habitats under threat. It follows a three-week plan-

ning inquiry inNovember,when residents and conservation char- ities battled long and hard to save the woodland from poten- tial devastation. Kent Wildlife Trust has dubbed the decision “a bitter disappointment” while local MPs say the Government has “badly let down” the British public. TristanOsborne, Labour’s par-

liamentary spokesman for Chatham and Aylesford, said: “It is a deeply disappointing re- sult for residents in Ditton. “This Government promised

to protect our cherished green spaces, yet they have done the exact opposite.” The decision has come as a serious blow to opponents of the Croudace proposals for a nearby residential development (see story on page 6) who are fighting to protect Bluebell Wood in Allington. Woodland Trust chief execu-

tive, Sue Holden, said: “This is a landmark decision, but for all the wrong reasons. This


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quarry warning POLICE issued warnings about the hazards of swimming at an Aylesford quarry after more than 100 people, including ba- bies, were seen cooling off in the dangerous water. PCSOs stepped up patrols around the lake after reports of people venturing onto the site near Bull Lane. Families were warned that the water is un- suitable for swimming. Chatham and Aylesford MP

Tracey Crouch also issued a warning on Twitter after tweets from young people talking about swimming in the quarry. Aylesford parish councillors

were advised that the quarry was being sold by cement sup- plier Cemex UK and security had been employed. The Mineral Products Asso- ciation said: “The impact of cold water can result in swim- mers suddenly finding them- selves in trouble.”

HOLLEY Blount has been ap- pointed head of SnodlandCof E PrimarySchool. Formore details see Town Talk in the centre of this month’s DownsMail. The bi- monthly independent magazine is written by and dedicated to Snodland and Halling residents.

Town Talk

Festival attendance increases by 30%


Firefighters contain oast house blazeP12

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