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Maidstone & Malling’s No. 1


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Council bales to stem housing tide


MAIDSTONE Council is aiming to go against professional advice stating


that 19,600 new homes need to be built in the borough by 2031. Independent consultant G L Hearn


says the figure is based on population trends, the need to support economic growth and to provide amix of hous- ing for all ages, tastes and incomes. YetMaidstone Council, which com- missioned the study, says the reality of land availability, road networks and environmental issues will ulti- mately determine what can be achieved. Cllr Chris Garland, the council leader, said: “Whilst the consultants


New year, new look


WELCOME to our redesigned Downs Mail, fresh for 2014. While still providing unrivalled


coverage of local news to over 88,000 homes, we have imple- mented a few new ideas, including different layout; updated fonts, easy-to-find sections and two-way letters pages. We hope you will enjoy the new- look Downs Mail and we remain, as ever, keen to hear your feedback.


have identified a 19,600 need, that is not necessarily our target. Our target will be what we think we can fulfil, based on sound evidence.” The council had been basing its


local plan, due to be adopted in 2015, on a 14,800 target, which was well above the 11,080 – until 2026 – previ- ously earmarked by the Govern- ment’s South East Plan. But Downs Mail revealed in De- cember that the target might have to rise to about 18,000 after the Govern-


ment rejected other councils’ local plans for being too low. KCC leader Paul Carter criticised


the borough, arguing: “The borough council’s methodology to determine housing is totally flawed. I will not accept any argument from Maidstone Council that the Government is in- sisting on numbers above the SE Plan, a regional policy.” He argued Maidstone could set the


figure and had no need to in- flict such a large amount of


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Crimefighters’ work rewarded A HUNTON couple


who set up a Neigh- bourhood Watch Scheme in their village have been declared NHW Co-ordinators of the Year. Sue and Steven Wyles were presented with a silver trophy in recognition of their hard work.


 Neighbourhood Watch AGM – page 19


Call for action to prevent floods


CAMPAIGNERS have called on the Prime Minister to ensure that flood improvement measures are under- taken after the floods that left parts of the borough underwater. David Cameron visited Yalding


after the village was besieged by floodwater and left without power for hours on Christmas Day. Flooding also affected Ladding-


ford, parts of the Low Weald and Maidstone town centre. A flood barrier at Leigh currently


retains 5million cubic metres ofwater, but an increase in height of just 1m would increase its capacity to 7.5mil-


lion. However, the proposals, along with a range of other flood defence solutions, have been repeatedly jetti- soned for being too expensive. Yalding Parish Council, which has


been pressing the Environment Agency to take action since the Mil- lennium flood, says the latest chaos has altered the cost to benefit ratio. A spokesman said: “The cost of


doing nothing is now a very expen- sive option. In 2000, the cost of dam- age to properties in Yalding and Laddingford was estimated at £6m. Given the additional amount of prop- erties and the fact the devastation is


so much worse, this year I would ex- pect it to be nearer £12m.” Three connecting rivers – the Med-


way, Teise and Beult – surround Yald- ing. Although the Leigh barrier helps control the flow of theMedway, it has no control over the Beult, and the En- vironment Agency claims the water levels in the Teise and Beult alone were sufficient to cause flooding in Yalding at Christmas. Yalding Parish Councilwould now


like to see additional action taken on harnessing the Beult. An exercise was carried out by the Environment


6


Constantly checking UK SALE prices to get you the lowest price. Bargains in-store now


The Big Yellow Building, St Peters St, Maidstone 01622 691 291 www.lincolnfur niture.co.uk Motewins bronze


MAIDSTONE’s Mote Park picked up a bronze award in a public vote on the highest rated parks in the coun- try. It came third out of the 1,448 parks and green spaces in the UK that have received a coveted Green Flag award in the past 12 months. Formore details on the story, see the Maidstone Council-sponsored 12- page Borough Update in the centre pages.


January 2014 No. 201 News


Schools merge THE Ulcombe village school is


joining forces with neighbouring Kingswood Primary School after the resignation of head Vincent Hampton.


Villages may grow YALDING and Coxheath may


increase in size under a proposal by Maidstone Council – and residents of the two villagers are far from happy.


4


Gypsy backing A WARD councillor who has made


outspoken attacks on the rise of the local gypsy population has written a gushing letter in support of a traveller who wants to settle in the borough.


Comment 7 20-21


IN a new feature, read our responses to reader views on the floods that engulfed Yalding, traffic congestion in Marden and cycling in Maidstone.


Obituaries 24


Crime Reports 35 Parish Councils 26-35


3


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