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Churches to offer homeless a bed

CHURCHES are to be used to give the homeless in Maidstone a bed during the coldwinter nights. The Maidstone ChurchesWinter Shelter pilot, which will cost £27,430, isbeing supportedby the borough council, which has to pro- vide B&B places for the homeless during the extreme cold. Thechurchproject will offerbeds

for 10 homeless people from De- cember 30 to February 23 in its first year, possibly rising to 12 weeks infuturewinters.Amealwill also be provided. An estimated 20 guests are ex- pected to make use of the church hostels, which will move among participating churches.So far, four churches have offered volunteers

Major Grayson Williams

and venues, including the Salv ation Army in Union Street, St Faith’s, Sta- tionRoad, and Maidstone Baptis t Church in Knightrider Street.Anum-

ber of other churches are support- ive, but have yet to commit. A key driving force has been

MajorGrayson Williams, theleader in Maidstone of The Salvation Army, which has put up £5,800 for the scheme. He is confident that the town’s churches will be able to

Malling Edition October 2013 No. 198 Locals object

mobilise up to 200 volunteers to man the scheme, to complement homeless services in the town. The initiative’s steering group

will start looking for volunteersand a salaried manager and deputy manager to oversee the schemein October. The group’s funding leader,Matt

Clifton, said: “Given the desperate plight of people in Maidstone forced to sleep rough in freezing conditions, there is a determina- tion that another winter must not pass by.” A church shelter for the home-

less that has run in Folkestone for the past four years has helped shape the pilot for Maidstone, where all guests must:

P4 Parish’s £7,000 poll bill

LEYBOURNE Parish Council is calling for a change in the rules of mid-term parish elections after spending £1,500 on a count that never took place. The parish council has spent a total of £7,000

in the past year, after a group of parishioners twice raised the 10 signatures required to force an election. Without such a petition, members de- cide in a public meeting who should fill a va- cancy in a process known as co-option. In January, the council paid £5,500 to hold an election that saw a turnout of 419 – from a popu- lation of almost 4,000 – to elect Kevin Wagstaff with 252 votes. The other candidates were local borough councillor Brian Luker (91 votes) and Steve Baldwin (76). Now the parish council has had to pay another £1,500 in administration costs to Tonbridge and Malling Council for notification of a count in Au-

£100m scheme

for retail village AMASSIVE £100m plan has been unveiled to re-develop and extend Newnham Court Shopping Village, near Maidstone. Land Securities, whichhascome

up with the proposals to transform the Harvestore site into a retail “lifestyle and outdoor living” vil- lage – trebling the shopping area – says Waitrose (artist’s impres- sion, pictured right) and Deben- hamswill open in2016if the plans are approved. The Nottcutts gar- den centrewould transfer to a pur- pose-buit two-storey development to the north of the site. The company – which operates

18shopping centres across theUK –says the BearstedRoad develop-

mentwill create800 newjobs and £5mwould be spent improving ac- cess to the site, on roads around the park, and links to the town. Land Securities is looking tosub-

mit plans for the two-phase devel- opment,with parking for900cars, to Maidstone Council by autumn.

For full story, turn to page 6

gust. But on this occasion the organisers of the pe- tition failed to produce a single person willing to stand so Jamie Stewart was elected without the need of a poll. The parish council has put forward amotion to

be discussed at Kent Association of Local Coun- cils’ annual general meeting to change the law so parish elections can only take place if 10% of the electorate have signed for it. Parish council chair Bob Ulph said: “The law

that 10 people could call for an election relates to when parishes used to be very small, but it is wrong when you have almost 4,000 people living in a parish, as they do at Leybourne. “Co-option is themost democratic way of doing

it anyway. Candidates are questioned by council- lors and have to state their case in front of us, as well as the general public. They are asked to leave the room while we assess their suitability –


to new school A NEW free school has opened itsdoorsinHadlow–aweek before being given the go-ahead by planners. Hadlow Rural Community School, based in vacant build- ings belonging to Hadlow Col- lege in Ashes Lane,was granted full planning approval for its temporary site on September 12, but the first students started on September 5, in line with other schools in the county. Some 80 students joined the school at the start of term, in Years 7 and 10, and are already settling in well, according to the school. But the college’s proposal to

build a 3,364sqm permanent school for up to 330 pupils to replace nearby lambing sheds was deferred by Tonbridge and Malling Council’s planning committee after road safety concerns were voiced. Hadlow Parish Council re-

mains opposed to the siting of premises that it feels are on an inappropriate and unsafe site – as well as being in the Metro- politan Green Belt. Councillors believe the col-

lege should have spent more time considering other possible locations. Vice chairman Janice Massy,

who chaired an extraordinary meeting of the council to

SNODLAND’s NatWest bank has been givenareprieveafter being threatened with closure on two days a week. For more 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 Town Talk

Delay in reopening of river towpath

Villagers swap skills for new scheme

P12 P8


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