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£15k housing report finally comes to light

THE Downs Mail has seen a copy of a draft housing report commissioned by KCC that both its leader Paul Carter and a Freedom of Information re-

sponse claimed did not exist. A £15,000 study was undertaken

in the spring by consultant Peter Brett Associates (PBA) under order from KCC’s Paul Carter, who wanted to prove that the method- ology behind the then 19,600 hous- ing target for Maidstone borough between 2011 and 2031was flawed. After former Maidstone Council

leader Chris Garland claimed he had seen the PBA report and it had agreed with this figure, the Downs Mail submitted a FoI request specifically requesting the draft copy of the report. The response from Caroline Dodge, team leader of KCC’s infor-

mation resilience and transparency team, said: “The information you request is not held by the county council.” Cllr Carter, a Conservative who represents Maidstone Rural North, later told the Downs Mail that no report had been produced, but in- stead therewas an “interim study” that he labelled “half-baked”. However, we now have posses-

sion of a 23-page submission by PBA, titled “Maidstone Borough Housing Targets and Housing Sites. Draft report April 2014”. The document assesses the cred- ibility of a study on housing need

Howvolunteering led to job

A 20-YEAR-OLD from Coxheath has told of how volunteering at Age UK has transformed his life. Jack Allen, who attended Cornwallis Academy, began volunteering for

one day a week at the Goodman Centre in Bearsted, after completing amedia studies course at Mid Kent College. His days at the centre, which helps dementia sufferers, gradually increased and a year after starting, he was given a full-time job. He said: “In 2013 I was

so new to all this. I began making teas but I became a lot more confident, helping clients with their activities and making a good impression. “I am really happy that I have got a job here now. I am helping

Jack with Age UK chairman Bryan Vizzard

elderly people enjoy life and giving something back to the community. It is great to hear elderly people’s stories about their lives.” Jack, who enjoys photography and left college hoping to become a

film director, says he found volunteering “really rewarding”. He told the Downs Mail: “If someone wants to volunteer I would tell

them to go for it. I was taken on with no knowledge about the centre andmy confidence has grown somuch. Before I could never go up and introducemyself to someone but now I am a lot more confident.”  Age UK feature – page 36. Working for the future: focus on starting a business – page 18.

THE BIG DEAL Free delivery and collection. Subject to terms and conditions.

by consultant GL Hearn that was used to formulate the 19,600 figure (recently reduced to 18,600). It concludes: “We agree with the SMHA [Strategic Market Housing Assessment] that 980 net new dwellings per annum is a reason- able objective assessment of hous- ing need for Maidstone borough in 2011-31.” Ian Chittenden, a KCC member

for Maidstone North East and a borough councillor, said: “If the re- port had advanced to the point that itwas available to certain members, then it should also have been available to the public.

14 Call to rethink

trading park MAIDSTONE Council is being asked to make a dramatic U-turn on the Waterside Park development near M20 Junction 8. Labour Cllr Paul Harper has lodged a controversial motion to full council in support of Gallagher’s proposal for land south of the A20 near Hollingbourne – despite the council’s planning committee refus- ing, for a second time, an application for commercial use and warehous- ing on the site. The motionwas due to bedebated

as the Downs Mailwent to press. Cllr Harper says the Labour group is concerned at the potential loss of jobs if

28 December 2014 No. 212 News Repairs needed

GRADE one listed All Saints Church in Mill Street has been put on English Heritage’s “at risk” register.

Shock for diners

FIVE illegal immigrants were awaiting deportation after a raid on an Indian restaurant in London Road, Maidstone. 6

Reduction to the 703

ARRIVA has been urged to have a rethink after a bus service to Bluewater was cut to two days a week.

10 Home ‘falling apart’

A MAIDSTONE housing estate is in line for a top design award – but one of its residents is less than impressed.

ELECTRIC cars are the way for- ward, according to one letter writer.

Obituaries 38 Crime Reports 47

A TELEVISION, wine and spirits were stolen from the Hare and Hounds pub in Lower Boxley Road; animal feed was taken from a barn in Tovil.

Parish Councils 47

MORE people were needed to help combat the problem of dog waste at the King George V Play- ing Field in Loose; it was agreed to spend £1,500on improve- ments to the parish council office in Tovil.


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