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Southeastern – we overcharge commuters

SOUTHEASTERN trains has admitted it charges customers too much to

travel into London from Kent on the Maidstone East line. Commuters have long believed that fares from the station are dis- proportionately expensive. Now the rail company has con- firmed that the fares for the line, which runs through West Malling, Barming, Bearsted, Hollingbourne, Harrietsham and Lenham – are “an anomaly”. However, the company claims it is powerless to change them be- cause of the effect it would have on its revenue projections.

in local MPs Helen Whately and Helen Grant.

BCG member Tony Fitzpatrick said: “It is utterly outrageous that they can admit there’s a problem, that in effect they are overcharging hundreds of passengers, yet they are unwilling to address that. “How can that possibly be ac- ceptable? The fact it affects the whole line, at least a dozen stations, is extraordinary.

But the Bearsted Commuter Group (BCG), formed at Southeast- ern’s suggestion to work with the rail company to address customers’ concerns, has said it will not let matters rest.

The group is drafting a letter to rail minister Claire Perry, copying

“Southeastern ended its last email to us by saying it was sorry it could- n’t write in positive terms. What I don’t understand is why it couldn’t. Surely if it recognises a problem, it should try to fix it?”

In his letter to the BCG, South- eastern’s Benjamin Ward admitted: “I accept there does appear to be an

Town fire: man charged

A 21-YEAR OLD Slovakian man has appeared in court charged with causing a devastating fire in Maidstone town centre. Part of Week Street was cordoned off for eight days after the fire, which

totally destroyed The Works bookshop and severely damaged the neighbouring properties of Hotter Shoes and Thomson travel agent. Other stores on the stretch

from Marks & Spencer to the High Street were affected by the road closure, with a police cordon preventing access. Detectives investigating the fire

arrested Adam Stajer of Lower Stone Street, on Thursday June 11 and he appeared at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court on June 12. He was remanded in custody to appear before Maidstone Crown Court on July 3. Police enquiries into the incident are ongoing and officers are appealing to members of the public for information. They are also working to establish any potential links with a series of car fires in the Buckland Road and Somerfield Road area of the town earlier the same morning. Anyone with information is asked to call Kent Police on 01732 379285. Alternatively call Kent Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555111.

anomaly in the system” and added: “With over 2,000 stations on the UK rail network there are hundreds of thousands of fares and fare combi- nations in the system. These contain a number of anomalies.”

He cited an example where, until a few years ago, a passenger want- ing to travel from London to Dover between October and March would have been better off buying a ticket to Calais. This was because the former British Rail also operated the cross- channel ferry services until the 1980s and used the reduced fare as a means of attracting additional business during the winter. Mr Ward said that as anomalies like these were discovered, they were corrected, where

6 LibDemFran

leads council LIB Dem Cllr Fran Wilson is the leader of Maidstone Council. Just a year after Conservative Cllr Annabelle Blackmore took over the reins of the hung council she has been ousted from the post – by a single vote from the Labour member who sought to succeed her. Labour Cllr Malcolm McKay launched a surprise bid for the lead- ership after the recent election results returned another hung council. He said: “Everyone assumes the

leader will be a Conservative or a Lib Dem. But it hasn’t worked in the past, so why should it work in the future. I amoffering a real

38 July 2015 No. 219 News Daniel takes robes

PARK Wood man Cllr Daniel Mori- arty was unveiled as the mayor and says he is focussed on serving the community. 3

Youngster estate ban

NEW injunction powers were used to prevent a 17-year-old from entering a housing estate in Tovil.

Bring back festival

A WARD member has called on his colleagues on Maidstone Council to support a river festival in 2016.

5 Football club funding

THE Gallagher Group is helping to fund Maidstone United FC’s ground expansion. 8

Month of events

THE Kent Show and Ramblin’ Man Fair will draw big crowds to town.15,20

Comment 32-3346-47

THE decision not to debate the demolition of the Russell Hotel is defended.

Obituaries 34 Crime Reports 46

Parish Councils GLUE was sprayed on a door and

window of a home and into a car exhaust in separate incidents.


A RUNNING event caused park- ing chaos in Barming; badgers were reported on an allotment pathway in Loose; ideas were sought for an area name in Tovil.


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