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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.


KCC is looking to shave £22.5 million 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, ac- cording to KCC leader Paul Carter. Withdrawal of the pass would


cause an outcry among Kent fami- lies, aswell as adding to the severe congestion onMaidstone’s roads. With many parents opting to


drive their children to school, rather than paying the full cost of public transport, the extra cars would have a massive impact on traffic flows, according to Cllr Carter. He told the town’s Joint Trans-


portation Board that if the Goven- ment’s spending review on No- vembner 25 was severe the young person’s travel pass would be under threat. He said: “The differ- ence 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, aswell 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


Why Annette is a star


AWOMAN who set up amediation serv- ice to help residents settle disputes is to receive a lifetime achievement award. Annette Hinton has been chosen by


the CelebrateMaidstone team to receive the 2016 award at the Stars of Maidstone award ceremony inMarch 2016. Formore than 25 years, Annette has championed free access to mediation services for people in Maidstone, setting up Maidstone Mediation in 1989 to help settle disputes between residents, and to facilitate restorative justice for victims of crime. Annette said: “There was no office, no


training manual, no template for doing mediation and no money – just the concept of using a neutral third party to help people resolve conflicts. I had six volunteers and worked


8


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cost per pass is £588, leaving KCC to subsidise each pass purchased by £388. Families with more than two secondary 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 is-


sued 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.


Budget crisis at museum


MAIDSTONE Museum is still strug- gling to make ends meet, in spite of its hugely successful summer exhibi- tion.


Brick City was a popular attrac-


tion throughout the school holi- days, with people of all ages getting involved in building and creating items out of Lego. But even with an annual budget


of almost £260,000, excluding staff costs, Maidstone Council expects the museum to have overspent by £9,208 at the end of the financial year. In a normal year, this could be


closer to £65,000. The council says the museum’s budget is under “sig- nificant pressure”. Paul Riley, the council’s head of finance and resources, said: “The recent Lego event has negated some of the overspend for this fi- nancial year only.” Within the culture, heritage and


leisure sector, theVinter’s Park Cre- matorium also failed to achieve its income target in 2014/15. The council has been asked


to find savings of £1.63m in 2016/17, of which the culture


5 December 2015 No. 224 News Chicanes saved


BUS improvements will not take place because they would have required the removal of traffic calming measures. 6


Vacant shops


A SURVEY has revealed that 10.2% of town centre business units are empty.10


Mote Park measures


ACTION is to be taken after anti- social behaviour at this year’s Social festival.


Ring road scheme


DEVELOPERS are to help fund the long-awaited Leeds- Langley bypass. 20


Railway plan


A NEW community hall could be built on the goods yard at Bearsted Station. 26


Obituaries Comment


46-47 30-31


34


Crime Reports 35 Parish Councils 46-47


DOWNSWOODclaimed the road network was overstretched after a survey; meetings were to be broadcast online in Harrietsham; the cost of an A20 pelican cross- ing in Hollingbourne was £70,000; racial abuse was linked to a reported dog attack in Otham; there was a report of drug possession in Ulcombe.


Service dips THE quality of ambulance serv-


ices continues to deteriorate, re- ports West Kent Clinical Commissioning 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.


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