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£12,600 cost of bungled leer


MAIDSTONE Council has admit- ted it made a mistake in a letter sent to 42,000 electors about changes to voting regulations. The Your Vote Matters letter was


sent out to explain how Govern- ment changes will mean people registering to vote individually, rather than one person filling out a form on behalf of a household. The council admitted the error – relating to whether or not an indi- vidual’s details were included on an open register available to busi- nesses to buy – had cost £12,600 (30p per letter: 1p for printing and 29p for postage). A spokesman for Maidstone Council said the mistake, during the mail merge operation, meant those who had opted out of the ed- ited (open) register were told they had opted in, and vice-versa. The letter was sent to everyone eligible to vote in wards alphabeti- cally from Allington to Heath – 55% of the borough – before the


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mistake became apparent and the remainder of mail-outs halted. Coxheath resident Charles Samuell, from Hanover Road, said the letter left him totally confused about what to do next when, in fact, he needed to do nothing. He called the council andwas put through to a recorded message advising him of the error and asking him to de- stroy the letter. Mr Samuell added: “What an


utterwaste of money. I hate to think what the cost of sending the letter and then having to re-issue it will be in terms of time and taxpayers’ money.” The council spokesman added:


“We are very sorry for the confu- sion and the waste caused by this mistake.We stopped the mailing as soon as it was spotted and we are writing with correct information and to apologise to everyone af- fected.” More information about the changes and how to register for free online is available at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and www.gov.uk/yourvotematters.


Cllr Peter Homewood, cabinet member David Brazier, Mike FitzGerald of KCRP and the mayor Cllr Richard Thick


Mayor supports rail trails


THE Mayor ofMaidstone left his car behind when he stepped out to sup- port the Kent Community Rail Partnership. Cllr Richard Thick was one of about 30 members and supporters of the partnership who attended the launch of the Rail Trails Signpost Scheme at Yalding station – then walked to Laddingford to follow one of them. East Farleigh,Wateringbury, Yalding, Beltring, Aylesford, Maidstone East


and Barracks train stations will all be displaying the new panels, which pro- mote a selection of the nearbyMedway Valley Rail Trails and the long dis- tance Medway Valley walk. Mike FitzGerald, chair of KCRP, said: “These seven panels will be a fan-


tastic chance for visitors and locals to discover the beautiful Medway Val- ley circular and linear walks, all with the convenience of starting from a station and letting the train take the strain.” The launch coincided with the annual transportation and train social


day at Laddingford’s Chequers Inn where, after the two-mile walk, the group stopped for refreshments while admiring some of the vintage vehi- cles and model railways on display. The unveiling of the sign at Yalding – the first of seven to be introduced


at stations along the Medway Valley line – was carried out by Cllr Peter Homewood, chairman of KCC, who praised the partnership for their on- going work with the line, which enabled visitors to enjoy the Medway Val- ley both by train and, now, on foot.


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