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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 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
12 Parking fee plan at Mote Park Village sewers
‘badly flawed’ AN INDEPENDENT engineers’ re- port into Headcorn’s ailing sewers has found the system to be seriously flawed.
Sanderson Consulting Engineers from Huddersfield were called in by Headcorn Parish Council to investi- gate why the village is constantly plagued by foul water and over- flowing drains.
Engineers found a staggering 14 pipes which have been laid with out- flows falling in the wrong direction and a further 15 which do not have the capacity to take the estimated flows.
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In addition, there are numerous sites where the flow in the existing pipe does not provide enough ve- locity to achieve a self-cleansing regime, leading to possible block- ages and a build-up of foul material. Headcorn Cllr Martin Round is fu- rious that Maidstone Council is pressing ahead with building an ad- ditional 50 homes in the village – on top of more than 100 currently being built – despite the existing system being overloaded and said he did not believe a system which was already flawed should
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April 2015 No. 216 News
A HOST of top sportsmen have pledged their support to the campaign to save Yalding Cricket Club.
Road misery calls
VILLAGERS are broadcasting videos showing the anger felt by drivers queued up close to the bridge in East Farleigh.6
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.
St George’s Day fun
MORRIS dancers will be out in force during a day-long celebration on April 25. 32
Crime Reports 32
A GARDEN centre and farm shop were among targets by thieves.
34 46-47 36-37 Parish Councils 37-47
Broomfield and Kingswood was holding a meeting about a by- pass plan; a playing field dog ban in East Farleigh was ex- tended to cover events; the con- struction of a new pavilion in Hunton was underway, a phone kiosk was bought for £1 in Loose.
comes of age DOWNS Mail president and re- tired chairman/editor Dennis Fowle addressed The Round- about Lunch Club at the Dog and Bear in Lenham, on his book “So I started a newspaper”. The Downs Mail is 18 years old
this April and reaches more than 80,000 households in the Maid- stone area through four editions (Town, East, South, Malling).26
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