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New leader bids to end power struggle

NEW Conservative group leader Annabelle Blackmore was hopeful she could keep the party in power at Maidstone Council aswewent to press. Cllr Blackmore (48) has succeeded

Chris Garland,whoresigned the day after the local elections, which left the borough under no overall control thanks toUKIPtaking four seats – its first ever in the borough – from the Tories. Within days of her appointment Conservative Cllr Richard Lusty re- signed from his seat in Staplehurst in protest, leaving the Tories with 24 seats, Lib Dems 19, Independents five, UKIP four and Labour two. Councillors were due to vote for

the new leader at mayor making on June 7, with both the Tories and Lib

Dems hopeful they could form coalitions. With UKIP claiming it would not be part of a union, the key may rest with the In- dependents, who were more likely to side with the Conser- vatives under Cllr Blackmore than under Cllr Garland, due to his back- ing of the unpopular draft local plan. Cllr Blackmore, a ward member

for Marden and Yalding since 2003, said: “I feel energised about the chal- lenge ahead.We are in tricky times

with the local plan and interesting political climate. “I am confident that with a good

Cllr Blackmore

team around me, and some careful negotiation with our council partners at parish and county level, the Con- servatives can continue to deliver a bright future for Maidstone.” Cllr Blackmore defeated Cllr

Paulina Stockell and Cllr David Bur- ton in the first round of the leader- ship battle. Malcolm Greer will remain deputy. Cllr John Wilson wanted to lead the group but was not backed by his col- leagues.

9 ‘Pre-loaders’

hit bar trade LICENSING laws aimed at turning Britain into a café culture have failed completely, according to landlords in Maidstone.

Villagers aim to save shop

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save the Sutton Valence village shop have put in a bid to buy the business from the owner. A consortium of local businesses has made an offer – believed to be

about £500,000 – for the premises in Broad Street to owner Gary Coyle. However, the offer was rejected and Mr Coyle is applying to Maidstone Council for permission to convert the shop into a house. Villagers are being urged to write to the borough’s planning department voicing their objections to the plan in order to preserve the shop – which also houses the post office. Mr Coyle and his wife Janet have run the business for almost 30 years but now want to retire. The only other location for the post office to come forward so far has

been Haven Farm, which many residents feel is too far fromthe village centre. They also believe the shop, under new management, could once more be viable. The Village Shop Preservation Group (VSPG) failed to get the


Bar and nightclub takings are de- clining in the county town as youngsters drink heavily before coming to party in town, where nightclubs can now take advantage of 24-hour drinking opportunities, the town’s night economy forum heard.

Bar managers and club owners are planning their own campaign to turn trade back to the “halcyon” days of the 1980s when clubbers came out at 8pm – and were back home in bed by 3am.

Morrisons threat

MAIDSTONE Council could face a judicial review after changing its mind over the Morrisons proposal. The planning committee refused the supermarket idea for Spring- field after backing it in principle at an earlier meeting. The developer may now contest the ruling at court. Full story - page 32

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June 2014 No. 206 News

Street clutter call

A LOCAL councillor wants plan- ning restrictions to halt the pro- liferation of estate agent signs in the borough.

14 Village road re-opens

AFTER a sink hole appeared six months ago, the B2163 through Leeds at last re-opened to traffic at the end of May.15

Junction 7 meeting

OFFICERS will urge Maidstone councillors to refuse the plan for a Waitrose and Deben- hams at Newnham Court.

17 Patient care criticism

MAIDSTONE Hospital fails to meet basic standards of care, according to a health watchdog inspection. 21

Lollipop lady demand

VILLAGERS want trusted crossing patrol to return. 22

Sewage in villages ANGER over dirty water. 34

Comment 30-31

THE local parish council criticiises KCC for wanting to build 550 homes in Kingswood; praise is given to a garden centre and resi- dents in Headcorn.

Crime Reports 31

COLLECTION boxes for two local charities were stolen from The Shop on the Green, Chart Sutton.

Obituaries 36-37 Parish Councils 37-47

YOUNGSTERS were seen swinging from an oak tree in Chart Sutton; Speedwatch had caught 67 vehi- cles in East Farleigh; the Head- corn parish precept was revised after a clerical error; a new chair- man was likely in Staplehurst.

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