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School travel pass at risk, says KCC chief

TEENAGERSin Maidstone could face costly trips to and from school if Kent County Council decides to withdraw its Young Person’s Travel Pass.

KCCis looking to shave £22.5 mil-

lion off its £1.8 billion budget next year and the travel pass, which costs the council £8.8 million, is one of the services under threat, according to KCC leader Paul Carter. Withdrawal of the pass would

cause an outcry among Kent fami- lies, as well as adding to the severe congestion on Maidstone’s roads. Withmanyparents opting to drive

their children to school, rather than paying the full cost of public trans- port, the extra cars would have a massive impact on traffic flows, ac- cording to Cllr Carter.

He told the town’s Joint Trans- portation Board: “As part of our spending review, the Young Per- son’s TravelPass is under threat. The difference it would make to travel for students in Maidstone would have a phenomenal impact.” All schoolchildren from years 7 to

11 are entitled to apply for a pass, as well as 16- to 21-year-olds in care or young carers aged up to 18. The annual pass costs parents £250

(or £100 to those in receipt of free school meals) – a significant saving on regular bus fares throughout the year. The average cost per pass is

Phoebe is sew talented

ACORNWALLIS Academy student has proved she’s a cut above the rest in a national textile competition. Phoebe Aldrichwas crowned the

winner of an annual contest launched by expert Julie Boyd. The year 9 student interpreted

the theme “The Elements: Earth, Air, Fire andWater”, by using coloured buttons and fabrics. Her finishing touchwas a pocket full of lavender. Phoebe won a sewing machine for the school, and a bag full of equipment for herself. Ms Boyd said: “The judgeswere looking for interpretations of the theme thatweren’t too literal but that used the mood, colours and feel of the theme to inspire the work. Phoebe’s use of buttonswas particularly effective, giving her work a tactile quality.” Phoebe is pictured with textiles teacher Gail Rawlins (left) and Julie Boyd.

£588, leaving KCC to subsidise each pass purchased by £388. Families with more than two sec- ondary school age children get the remaining passes free. The county council has to save

£209 million over the next three years and faces yet another year of central government funding cuts. The travel passes have been issued

at the discretion of KCC for many years, despite the rising costs. The council has increased the cost of the pass to offset its losses, but this is the first time Cllr Carter has admitted that the benefit could be at risk.

New challenge

to M20 J8 snub THE Gallagher Group is to chal- lenge a Government inspector’s de- cision to refuse it permission for a warehouse development close to M20 Junction 8. The company says Maidstone Council’s opposition to itsWaterside Park proposal relied too heavily on its existing local plan, which it con- siders irrelevant, and on evidence by Cllr Tony Harwood, labelled “a self- confessed enthusiastic amateur” by Gallagher Properties’ chief executive Nick Yandle. A High Court judge will examine

on January 13 whether the devel- oper’s challenge to the ruling by in- spector KatiePeerless justifies a fresh public inquiry. Mr Yandle told Downs Mail: “We

are not picking on Tony Harwood, or his comments, but no matterhow earnest he may be, a public inquiry is an evidence-based process and the planning inquiry inspector put far too much weight on his narrative over the evidence.” The planning in- spector dismissed two proposals for the site on appeal in September, one of 56,000sqm and a smaller scheme of 45,528sqm.

5 December 2015 No. 224 News Junction proposal

RESIDENTS are opposing a plan to realign the Wheatsheaf junc- tion in Sutton Road, Maidstone.

Ring road scheme

DEVELOPERS are to help fund the long-awaited Leeds- Langley bypass.

Bluebell Wood loss

RESIDENTS have lost their battle, on appeal, to prevent new housing in Hermitage Lane.

Money worries

MAIDSTONE Museum is strug- gling despite a money- spinning Lego exhibition.13

Park wins honour

MOTE Park has been named in UK’s top three parks for the third year in a row. 16

Comment Obituaries


32-33 38

Crime Reports 47

Head rests were taken from a ve- hicle in Boxley Road and a camper van window was smashed in Fant.

Parish Councils 47

EQUIPMENT fell out of a cup- board onto a village hall user in Barming, where measures would prevent ball-kicking against a pavilion wall; work was due on an allotment wall in Loose.

Service dips QUALITY of ambulance services

continues to deteriorate, reports West Kent Clinical Commission- ing Group.

All performance indicators are below standard, moving towards red ratings, and the downward spiral since April continues. A plan is now aimed at bringing per- formance under control with emergency responses a priority.

8 6 4

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