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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 how volunteering at Age UK has transformed his life. Jack Allen, who attended Cornwallis Academy, began volunteering


one day a week at the Goodman Centre in Bearsted, after completing amedia studies course at Mid Kent College. His work 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 24. Working for the future: focus on starting a business – page 22.


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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 Clerks’ concern


overwebcasts THE fear of being ridiculed on social media or having their minutes called into question is causing some parish clerks to reconsider their roles, it has been claimed. Legislation that permits filming


of council meetings by members of the public has put clerks under in- creased scrutiny. Controversy over housing num-


bers and Maidstone’s local plan have caused some residents to post video clips on sites such as Face- book and You Tube, causing a tide of concern, according to the Kent Association of Local Councils.  See page four for the full story


December 2014 No. 212 News Village could expand


THE small parish of Collier Street could get much larger if a plan for 23 new luxury homes gets the go-ahead.


Railway costs


COMMUTERS in the Weald are paying more per mile for train season tickets than those elsewhere in the South East.6


Sewage summit


SOUTHERN Water has vowed to take action on overflowing drains after a meeting with local politicians.


Repairs needed


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


13  Comment 32-3346-47


READERS have been having their say on a call for all schools to start and finish at the same time.


Obituaries 36 Parish Councils38-47


SPEEDING concerns were in- creasing in Chart Sutton; dogs were being forbidden from the recreation field in Collier Street; talks were held about the expan- sion of Coxheath Primary School; chain saw operatives were wanted to help with an emer- gency plan in Headcorn; a naked male cyclist was seen in Hunton; a footpath smelled unpleasant in Langley; children were unleash- ing fireworks in Marden.


Crime Reports 47 11 3


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