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Flood families who are still waiting to go home

NINE months after the devastating floods receded in Yalding, more than a dozen families are still living in temporary accommodation.

For some, there is no hope of re- turning home before Christmas. The cost – not only financial – has been huge, with a surge in the num- ber of people seeking counselling and anti-depressants from the vil- lage doctor’s surgery. The Environment Agency is look- ing at ways to upgrade flood de- fences, but with little hope of any action before 2019, residents face five more winters of worry.

But soaring insurance premiums and crippling excesses have not caused families to flee. Instead, a re- markable picture has emerged of a village where community spirit is not just alive and well, but growing. Postmaster Tim Chapman, whose

home on the banks of the river Beult was one of the worst affected in last year’s floods, will have spent all his “rainy day money” by the time he moves back into Yalding next year. Tim has obtained planning per- mission to convert the roof space at his home into living space. In the spring, he and his wife June and daughter Melanie will move in to the top two floors, leaving the ground floor for storage.

When Tim bought his house in 2011, he knew it came with risks – and also a flood skirt. He said: “We thought the flood skirt would be enough to keep the water out, but in the end, it came over the top.” He said: “We have bought two

pumps and a huge generator, but we love the house, we love the people here and would never leave.” Carol Owens is not only coming to terms with the loss of her home – but also the loss of her husband. Now in her fourth home since being washed out of The Tatt in De- cember, she is struggling to keep her business afloat whilst coping with the death of husband David in May. But the tragedy and trauma has made Carol (65) more determined to remain in Yalding. She said: “The people have been so kind and given me fantastic support. It is a great community to be a part of, particu- larly now I am on my own.” Full report on page 15

£4m update

for The Mall A £4m REVAMP of The Mall will get underway in January as the first phase of a bid to bring Maidstone’s anchor shopping centre into the 21st century. While longer-term plans hinge

Park life likely to get busier

MOTEPark could become the Hyde Park of Kent after consentwas granted for a company to hold up to eight major social events per year. Maidstone Council has given a premises licence to Social Events

Worldwide to host more events after The Feast–atwo-day food and drink festival – was organised on the August Bank Holiday weekend. The Social Festival, a dance and cultural event, will return to


on the proposed Newnham Court development, The Mall’s new man- ager,Andy Davy, is aiming to bring the “tired-looking” retail centre up to date. Newflooring and ceilings will go

into The Mall early in theNew Year and, while short-term leases only are being granted to incoming traders, Mr Davy is confident most of the empty units will have been let by then. Mr Davy, who took over as Mall manager in May, said the site va- cated by T J Hughes was being left “strategically empty”. The 57,000sqft unit has been ear- marked in longer-term plans should Debenhams seek an alter- native site to Newnham Court, off M20 Junction 7,

36 OAK AND PINE The Big Yellow Building, St Peters St, Maidstone 01622 691 291

September 2014 No. 209 News

Lottery delight

A COUPLE from East Farleigh are planning a luxurious retirement after winning £1m in the EuroMillions draw.

Threat to wardens

KCC has announced that community wardens could be cut, which could leave some areas without one. 4

Gold medal for Ben

FIFTEEN-year-old Ben Stuart has picked up a gold and a bronze medal at the British Transplant Games, .

Road re-opens

Roadworks at Willington Street are over – but more repairs are scheduled for next year. 14

Village WI relaunches

The WI is making a comeback at Hunton and members are trying to trace their predecessors18

Students celebrate

PUPILS across the borough are celebrating their A-Level and GCSE results.


26-27 32-33

THE leader of Maidstone Council responds to an enquiry about housing figures, readers sound off about Willington Street and local MP Helen Grant defends her position on expenses.

Obituaries 34

FORMER mayor of Maidstone Je- remy Hindle dies, aged 68.

Parish Councils 37-47

Plans for the Christmas were being made in Headcorn; a solution for parking problems in Nettlestead was discussed; a pattern of speeding vehicles in Hunton was emerging; Egerton school was congratulated on a good Ofsted report.

Crime Reports 47 12 3

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