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News Backlog aer planning merger

THE merger of three borough council planning departments is not working well so far, Maid- stone Council has admitted. Applicants have been disrupted

in their attempts to submit propos- als, and details of applications have not been appearing online, making it difficult for members of the pub- lic to comment. The Mid Kent Planning Support Service started operation in May, incorporating Maidstone, Swale

and TunbridgeWells councils. The planning support manager, Ryan O’Connell, has written to parish councils, councillors, businesses and other organisations to apolo- gise for poor service. He said: “We are doing every-

thing possible to manage the back- log of work as quickly and efficiently as possible. “Whilewe expected some delays

at the start and took measures to minimise disruption, the technical

difficulties we have experienced have been significantly greater than anticipated.” The three councils have increased staffing levels to deal with the backlog that began after the merger and Mr O’Connell said the situa- tion was improving. But he ac- knowledged that “a significant number of planning applications will run over their targets”. However, he promised that con- sultation periods will run for the

statutory period of time as the serv- ice did notwant to limit the public’s ability to comment or risk decisions that were challengeable due to an unlawful consultation period. The new Mid Kent Service was implemented to save money. It is based in Maidstone House in King Street and planning officers remain in their own boroughs. It combines the work of administration, land charges, scanning, validation and technical teams.

MP gets knighthood aer resigning Rector on mend

MID Kent MP Hugh Robertson has received a knighthood – just a week after standing down from the Government’s cabinet to spend time with his family. He will be made Knight Com- mander of the Order of St Michael and St George to honour his work during the London 2012 Olympics. The busy former foreign minis-

ter was in Beirutwhenthe reshuf- fle was announced. His resignation was posted on his website’s home page, telling

David Cameron it now “feels like the right time to take stock with my family”. Hewent on

to say it would be un- fair on the Government and his “ex- cellent team at the Foreign and Com- monwealth

Office to remain the minister for The Middle East, North Africa

and counter terrorism, without being totally focused onmy job”. He added: “It has been a gen-

uine privilege to serve in your government,” noting his time as minister for sport and the Olympics during London 2012 as a highlight. Mr Robertson’s personal assis-

tant in London said: “All the trav- ellingmeant that he had little time to spend with his family and so he asked the Prime Minister to let him return to the backbenches.” See Mail Marks, page 27

A CLERIC who was injured in a car accident in May has announced he is on the mend after being out of ac- tion for several weeks. The Rev Peter Callway is rector of

five parishes in Coxheath, East Far- leigh, Hunton, Linton and West Farleigh. He suffered a broken leg and ankle after his car collided with another vehicle at a petrol station in Larkfield. Rev Callway praised the support he received from police, the ambu- lance service and hospital staff at Maidstone and Pembury, as well as the care he received from his wife, Alison.

Maidstone South August 2014


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