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News Drug dealer sent to jail

ADRUG-dealer arrested at Coxheath with a large quantity of cocaine and cannabis in his car and at his home has been jailed for three years.

Johnathon Tree (27) was arrested

after officers smelled cannabis com- ing from his car. He handed over the drug and a grinder and cocaine was found in his jacket pocket and a bag. Aset of electric scales and a small

wrap of the illegal substance were also recovered from the vehicle. Tree (pictured right), formerly of

South Road, Marden, had been parked in Westerhill Road, Cox- heath, when he was arrested on August 22, 2012. Another 306g of cannabis were found stuffed into carrier bags when officers searched his home. He concocted a story that on the day of his arrest he had been forced

Gypsy family’s

two-year stay PATRICK Maloney was given planning permission to station a mobile home, touring caravan and dayroom for a gypsy family in Lenham Road, Headcorn. The land is behind The Mead-

ows, which has more than 30 cara- vans and is the borough’s largest gypsy site. Maidstone Council accepted

that the site causes visual harm to the landscape, but there is an unmet need for gypsy accommo- dation in the borough, so a two- year temporary permission was granted to enable a rethink after the local plan has been adopted, possibly in late 2015. Despite objections from Head-

corn and Ulcombe parish councils over its impact on the open coun- tryside, the committee voted unanimously to grant consent.

into carrying drugs after stopping to help two men whose car had broken down. However, Tree admitted the

wrap of cocaine was his and a tub containing 22g of cocaine also be- longed to him, saying he bought drugs for other people “to help them out”. Tree claimed three separate balls

of cocaine – which weighed 80g – and the scales belonged to two men who forced him to look after them. He told Maidstone Crown Court

that he had been driving past Mar- den Cemetery when he stopped to help two men whose car appeared to have broken down. However, he said, one of them

told him: “You’re going to do this for me”. Tree then told officers that the three balls of cocaine, aswell as the scales, were forced into his pockets by the man, who de- manded he look after them and re- turn them later that day. Tree eventually admitted four

counts of possessing drugs with in- tent to supply – two relating to co- caine and two to cannabis. Judge David Griffith-Jones QC sentenced Tree on July 10 to three years in prison. DC Gemma Kent, who led the

investigation, said: “Tree invented lies about being forced to carry co- caine for someone else, when all the drugs seizedwere his.

“He was in possession of a large quantity of cocaine andwas clearly operating with the intention of sup- plying drugs to make substantial gains.”

Why our tax

bills are up Continued from page one

years, above the UK average amount of £4,985 which is an in- crease of 6.2% since 2006/7. Households in Tonbridge and Malling have seen an even higher hike, paying an average of £6,970 in income tax each year, an increase of 10.6% over five years.

Accountant UHY Hacker School bowled over by cricket result

EAST Farleigh Primary School were runners-up in the Maidstone area Kwik Cricket competition, contested by 22 schools. Prizeswere presented by Alex Fordham, captain of The Mote CC, now expanding its colts section with coaching for seven to 17-year-olds (call 07975 609 730).

Investment returns questioned

MAIDSTONE Council has hit back at a suggestion that it is not earning enough interest on council taxpay- ers’ money.

Newly-elected Labour councillor

for Fant, Cllr Paul Harper, was backed by Conservatives and Lib Dems when he challenged figures put before a recent audit committee, which revealed the council earned just £231,000 in interest last year, de- spite having more than £19m in re- serves – about 0.77%. Cllr Harper said: “With inflation

at or close to 2% for most of the pe- riod, this means we are losing sub- stantial value every year.” But a council spokesman said this was not the case. “While it is possi-


ble for members of the public to gain greater rates for their invest- ments, the council is considered to be a business and when lending amounts of £1m plus, it fits some- where between an individual and a large investor. For that reason it is hard to get much above base rate.” The council has £3m invested

with Lloyds Bank for two years – the maximum period permitted by the council’s strategy. Lloyds is cur- rently offering long-term fixed rates of 1.3% for two years. But rates for short-term investments – less than a year – are nearer 0.75% or 0.5%, de- pending on ease of access. The council’s audit committee supported Cllr Harper in seeking a

Maidstone South August 2014

review of the process, with the find- ings being presented at a future meeting, so that members could de- cide if there was a way to get a bet- ter rate of return for the residents. But the council spokesman said:

“The strategy approved by council is to protect taxpayers’money above everything else, therefore we must protect the capital and maintain liq- uidity of our investments before considering return (interest earned). “The council’s strategy allows in-

vestment in a limited number of AAA-rated or government-backed organisations, which are so secure they can afford to pay low rates. None of the investments are with building societies or small banks.”

Young said the statistics are due to the shift of the tax burden onto higher earners living in stockbroker belt towns in the South East, within commuting distance of London. They have been hit by an increase in the upper rate of tax, currently at 45p, and as tax thresholds have not increased in line with infla- tion, more people have been pushed into the highest bands. The firm said:“With property

prices in London pushing many out of the capital and into the surrounding counties we are likely to see a further increase in higher earners in other areas of Kent.

“The area weathered the re- cession well, with a large num- ber of residents continuing to take home significant pay pack- ets. The downside of Kent’s large number of high earners is that residents have some of the highest income tax bills in the country.” Sevenoaks and Tunbridge

Wells top the league in Kent, while Medway and Ashford had a drop in the average in- come tax bills over the past five years.

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