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Questions over Cavity found beneath homes

pollution levels QUESTIONS are to be tabled in the European Parliament about pollution in Maidstone. MEP Catherine Bearder vis-

ited the town on November 14 to see the problems for herself, particularly at the Wheatsheaf junction in Loose. Jasper Gerard, Lib Dem par- liamentary campaigner, sent pollution readings to Brussels revealing several pollution “choke spots” where air quality is below EU standards. Readings from Maidstone Council show that in Upper Stone Street pollution would need to be cut by 89% to con- form to EU standards. At the Wheatsheaf junction it would need to be reduced by 51% and in the High Street by 43%. The South East MEP later

spoke addressed a meeting at the Y Centre, Loose. It was chaired by Sean Carter, of SMART, the group looking for solutions to the congestion problems in south Maidstone. Loose Cllr Sue Grigg said: “If

you build vast numbers of houses in the south of Maid- stone and the villages beyond, all the traffic will have to come through the Wheatsheaf. I hope Catherine Bearder will put pressure on the council to take action, for instance by looking again at park and ride.”

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RESIDENTS in Leeds were anxiously awaiting the outcome of geotechnical surveys, following the dis- covery of a cavern beneath their homes, as the DownsMail went to press. Residents of four cottages in Upper Street were among those of about 130 properties who found themselveswith little or no water. When engineers from South East Water turned

out to investigate, they uncovered a cavity contain- ing a broken sewer pipe and another water main. Steve Andrews, head of customer and commer-

cial services at South East Water, said: “The void encroaches beneath a row of cottages and as a re- sult both we and SouthernWater are working with structural and geotechnical engineers who are car- rying out investigations into the issue.” South East Water was able to restore water sup-

plies by 8.30pm that evening and the team arranged for bottled water to bemade available for those who needed it in the interim. Mr Andrews said: “We were able to re-route the network to get water back on to those customers

who had contacted us by 8.30pm that evening.” Unfortunately, the longer-term problem remained

and specialist structural and geotechnical engineers were called in to examine the void and explore ways of making the properties safe. One of the homeowners decided to move out but

the remainder stayed. A spokesman for South East Water said: “South EastWater, SouthernWater and Kent County Council Highways are continuing to work with residents of all four properties whose safety is of paramount importance.” It is not yet known if the properties will need to

be underpinned. The spokesman said: “We are working with ex-

perts to establish any potential risk and the extent of this. It is far too early to speculate.” Upper Street was closed to through traffic while

the investigations into the cavity were undertaken. Mr Andrews said: “We would like to thank cus- tomers and motorists for their patience while we work to resolve this situation together with South- ernWater and Kent County Council Highways.”

Car club’s boost to air ambulance

MEMBERS of Maidstone MG Owners Club presented a cheque for £1,000 to theKent Air Ambulance. Themoneywasraisedataflydriveevent,

jointly organised with theKent Gliding Club. Alarge number of classic cars of allmakes were present, and their owners were able to enjoy the facilities of the Kent Gliding Club, taking flights andwatching flying dis- plays. Amy, of theKAA, ispictured left receiving

the cheque from Roger Henbest, secretary of theMaidstoneMGOwners Club.

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