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Benefit laws blamed for rise in homelessness

A PROMINENT local church leader believes changes in benefit laws are

causing a disturbing increase in homelessness in Maidstone. Rev Canon Stephen Taylor, the Archdeacon of Maidstone (below), who was previously a church leader in County Durham for 25 years, says he was shocked to dis- cover that people were sleeping in doorways in Kent's county town when he took up his cur- rent role in 2011.

He claims a reason for the number of homeless people in Maidstone ris- ing further since then is that claimants now have to wait 34 days before receiving benefit payments.

Speaking at an event to mark the 10th anniversary of Homeless Care's Food For Thought campaign, he said: “When people fall on hard times it is unfair they have to wait 34 days. There are a number of injus- tices in society and I hope that soci- ety is compassionate enough not only to give generously to initiatives such as Homeless Care and Food For Thought, but also to challenge those who decide things and ask ‘can they do better?’ “We are coming up to an election and I hope people will bear in mind those who have less of a voice and try to get a more equitable society.

Parking fee plan at Mote Park

PARKING charges could be introduced at Maidstone’s Mote Park to fund im- provements to facilities. Maidstone Council is considering bringing in a charge of £1 for up to six hours’ parking, with the first hour free, after a survey of residents.

Just under three quarters (73%) of residents who travel to the park by car, who responded to a council- commissioned survey, said they would pay a £1 charge. In some of the outlying

rural areas support was greater, with Staplehurst residents quizzed being 91% in support, in Marden and Yalding it was 81%, in Coxheath 82% and in Allington 79%. Slightly more than 75% of visitors overall said they would be prepared to pay £1. The majority of visitors interviewed by Lake Market Research at the park said they normally travel to Mote Park by car (85%). The primary reasons for visiting among those surveyed were to take

children to the play area (50%), to go for a walk (47%), with relaxation (23%) and dog walking (22%) also figuring.


“I began my ministry in North East England and saw the effects of the miners' strikes, closures of the steelworks and shipyards. This was a dire time.

“I could not conceive back in 1985 that all these years on we would suf- fer so many of the same problems of homelessness. My hope was that we would become a more equitable and caring society.

“The North East got itself out of a lot of the problems and when I left it had improved – there was economic growth. I imagined Maidstone would not have the same problems they used to have

22 Inquiry into

01622 690290 YOUR LOCAL PROPERTY EXPERT 23 Pudding Lane • Maidstone • Kent

council leak A PARISH council is trying to un- earth a “mole” who leaked confi- dential information to the public. Bearsted Parish Council chairman Richard Ash told an astonished parish council meeting he would call in the police if necessary to discover who sent confidential minutes to a resident and the Downs Mail. Cllr Ash adjourned the monthly parish council meeting for five min- utes, asking the culprit or culprits to tender their resignation with imme- diate effect. However, all the coun- cillors present returned when the meeting was re-convened, prompt- ing disgruntled comments. Cllr Ash said the leak was an “un- acceptable breach” of the code of conduct which had brought the parish council into disrepute. However, he has since told the Downs Mail it would be “very diffi- cult” to find out who was responsi- ble for the leak if they were not prepared to own up. He said: “It is not a very satisfac- tory outcome, but I don’t know what else we can do.”

The confidential minutes related to alleged financial impropriety.

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April 2015 No. 216 News

Musician in town

RICK Buckler, drummer in The Jam, will visit Maidstone to pro- mote a book that a local resident helped to write. 3

Road to stay shut

PART OF Willington Street is to remain closed until the end of the school Easter holiday due to resurfacing work. 21

Local plan u-turn

MAIDSTONE Council has decided to remove an allocation for 600 homes next to the house of KCC’s Cllr Paul Carter.

Park business threat

MORE than 7,300 people have signed a petition to keep the Cobtree Cabin cafe. 30

Employment boost

NEW homes should preserve the future of Maidstone Studios, it was claimed. 32

Comment 46-47 36-37

THE Ramblin’ Fair event in Mote Park this July is a great opportu- nity to put Maidstone on the map and, if successful, should take place on a regular basis, according to a reader. Do you agree?

Obituaries 40

Crime Reports 44 outside a home in Bearsted.

Parish Councils THIEVES stole four trees from


A NEIGHBOURHOOD Watch scheme was launched in Boughton Malherbe; the Bred- hurst Woodland Action Group was celebrating its 10th anniver- sary; Broomfield and Kingswood was holding a meeting about a bypass plan; Downswood opted to reduce its parish precept; Leeds was considering putting a stop to recycling in the church car park.



Mon-Sat 9-5 Sunday 11-4 FREE Parking

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