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Anger over plan for village park and ride

MORE than 100 residents packed into Linton Village Hall to protest at a

plan to put a park and ride facility at the top of Linton Hill. The proposal is for land belong- ing to farmer and haulage contrac- tor Alan Firmin Ltd. There was standing room only as angry locals accused Maidstone Council of making a U-turn after admitting, in its own 2012 draft transport strategy, that “the loca- tion at Linton crossroads is prima- rily constrained due to the setting of the countryside south of the Greensand Ridge escarpment and issues relating to the inter-visibility with the Linton conservation area”. It added: “If the site at Linton crossroads were developed it

would also lead to unacceptable co- alescence in an area where the char- acter is primarily one of only loosely-related settlements.” The council still accepts this is a sensitive area and says there will need to be “landscape mitigation” and “structural landscaping”, but opponents argue that concreting over 17 acres of agricultural land will both destroy the rural aspect of Linton and add to the drainage problems lower down the valleys, in places such as Yalding, Hunton and Marden.

Protagonist Ron Leagas,

spokesman for Keep Linton Green, has amassed more than 700 resi- dents in a petition opposing the scheme. He said: “I have a message for the Maidstone town planning team: you’ve made a mess of Maid- stone, leave Linton alone. “Linton and Coxheath can barely cope with the current volume of traffic, let alone potentially dou- bling it. Park and rides are great in the right place – and that may well be to the north east and west of Maidstone, but it is not from the south, which is served by approach roads that are

8 Chairman picks up award Bid to keep

THE chairman of Yalding Parish Council, Geraldine Brown, was recognised at an awards ceremony for her help during and after the Christmas floods in the village. Geraldine, who has been forced to live upstairs in her house since the floods hit, picked up an honour in the impact category at the third Celebrate Maidstone awards. She was one of eight winners at a gala dinner ceremony at Clive Emson Conference Centre, Kent County Showground. Of the numerous nominations she received, Cllr Paulina Stockell, KCC member for Maidstone Rural West, wrote: “She has been the chairman of the parish council in Yalding for some 20 years and led the community response to flooding in 2000 and again this year, despite being flooded herself. “She organised and

coordinated the rescue services, sandbags, flood packs, shelters and accommodation etc and the post-flooding clear-up. She is totally committed to the village and works tirelessly on many fronts as an unpaid volunteer.”

The change of venue – the

awards were previously held at the Mercure Great Danes Hotel – enabled organiser the Jubilee Church to hold its largest ever Celebrate Maidstone, attended by 380 people.

festival afloat AT LEAST 150 sailors have vowed to hold their own unofficial river festival on the Medway in Maid- stone this July.

After the organisers pulled the plug on the annual boating jam- boree and firework spectacular in 2014 in the hope of reviving the age-old carnival format, boat own- ers have rallied to organise their own waterborne event.

Three local boat owners pooled their brains to set up a Facebook page in support of the impromptu river festival and a large turnout is expected for the one-day gathering of boats at the end of July. Mark Smurthwaite (55), from Boughton Monchelsea, who moors his 25ft cabin cruiser at Yalding, said: “I have 4

April 2014 No. 204 News Royal flood visit

PRINCE Charles and Camilla enjoyed a trip to Yalding. 3

Expansion ‘is good’

NEW homes may improve Marden, it is claimed. 10

Hospital unveiled KIMS is open for business.16

Comment 26-27 Crime Reports 30 Obituaries

32 Parish Councils 34-43

Downs Mail goes digital

DOWNS Mail’s unrivalled local cov- erage can now be found online – along with many more features. Now in our 18th year, and with a circulation of more than 88,000, Downs Mail is reaching out to yet more readers on our enhanced website - Users can go online to read our four editions, as well as our other publication Mid Kent Living, to- tally free of charge. There is also an archive section, enabling you to look back at all of our papers. Our website contains additional news and sections on community events and business. You can also advertise your local community events and place items for sale, all free of charge. Claire Procter, chairman of Mail Publications, said: “We are pleased to extend our offer to readers and advertisers through an enhanced free online service.”

Have your say Award winners12

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MAIDSTONE Council is invit- ing members of the public to give their feedback on the draft local plan. Full details are in the Maidstone Council-sponsored 12-page Borough Update in the centre pages.

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