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Town slipping down the ‘shopping league’

A TOWN centre programme manager is to be appointed to recapture

Maidstone’s reputation as a shopping destination. The town is facing a number of challenges, not least of which is its decline in retail popularity. Maidstone Council’s cabinet heard that there were more empty shop units compared with competing cen- tres and a lack of large units and sites to attract anchor retailers. The town slipped in its retail posi- tion from 33rd out of 2,500 towns in the country in 2007 to 52nd in 2013, chiefly due to a lack of investment,

the cabinet heard – although the peak position of 33 followed the opening of Fremlin Walk.

Despite a number of restaurants opening in the town, there was still an under-representation in the mid to high-end restaurant market and a lack of integration between the town centre and retail outlets on the other side of the River Medway. Traffic congestion continued to be a problem and there were limited

Top marks for childminder

A WORKING mum from Maidstone who started her child-minding business after being forced to find a new carer for her family has been awarded an “excellent” rating in an Ofsted report. Wendy Carey has “an excellent knowledge and understanding of the areas of learning and development,” and her home in Barming is a “welcoming and highly stimulating environment for youngsters”. The former nurse, who set up the business 10 years ago, now looks

after 14 children. She scored top marks in each category of care. The report praised her use of imaginative and engaging activities. Wendy said: “The parents have supported all the work that I do.”

Downs Mail Late-night culture

MAIDSTONE Museum is open until 9pm on Thursdays. For in- formation see the Maidstone Council-sponsored 12-page Bor- ough Update in the centre pages.

comes of age DOWNS Mail president and re- tired chairman/editor Dennis Fowle addressed The Roundabout Lunch Club at the Dog and Bear in Lenham, on his book “So I started a newspaper”.

The Downs Mail was 18 years in April and reaches more than 80,000 households in the Maid- stone area through four editions (Town, East, South, Malling).

opportunities for office space in the town centre, fuelled by the attraction of out-of-town business parks. The council has set aside £100,000 for the appointment of a programme manager who will work with busi- nesses, landowners and stakehold- ers for two years to deliver a five-point action plan: town centre living; employment and retail; cul- ture and leisure; transport; and pub- lic realm and connectivity.

KCC weighs

up lorry parks KENT County Council has failed to rule out using the site of the now closed Aylesford Newsprint as a large lorry park for Operation Stack. KCC wants to relieve congestion on the M20 corridor when periods of bad weather or strike action in France force the closure of the Chan- nel Tunnel.

Currently, the coastbound motor-

way is closed between two junctions when Operation Stack is imple- mented, but KCC wants at least one dedicated parking area for lorries to enable traffic to flow freely. The 38-hectare


Newsprint site, which closed in Feb- ruary, is being considered by KCC for this purpose.

A spokesman for KCC said the au- thority shared Tonbridge and Malling Council’s aspiration for em- ployment the site, but would only go as far as to state that it does not form part of any lorry park- ing plans “at the moment”.

3 May 2015 No. 217 News Town sport success

MAIDSTONE’s rugby and foot- ball clubs have been celebrating winning their respective league titles.

Halfway house off

A CHARITY has pulled out of converting a former pub into homeless accommodation after a price increase. 4

Traffic calming calls

MORE than 2,000 people have backed demands for road safety measures at two separate primary schools.

Election preview

POLITICIANS have put forward their policies to win your votes. 20-21

Free school response 36

PARENTS have defended the Ju- bilee School after it was slammed by councillors.

Comment Obituaries

46-47 40-41

38 Crime Reports 50

CCTV was helping police to find those responsible for damaging the barrier of a car park in St Peter’s Street, Maidstone.

Parish Councils 51

IT was hoped that a bus route serving Barming could be saved by swapping the subsidy of a less-used service; quotes to paint bins and treat benches were being sought by the parish council in Loose.


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OPENING HOURS: 12.00NOON - 2.30PM & 6.00PM - 11.00PM 8 3,6

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