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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 reviewwas severe the young person’s travel pass would be under threat. He said: “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, 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


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 Air may take flight

KENT Air Ambulance is looking to move away from its base in Mar- den, where it has been lo- cated since 2000. 6

Separate the shows

MAIDSTONE Council is taking steps to avoid event clashes in 2016.

Energy proposal

MP Helen Grant is hoping to prevent a 25-acre solar farm for Marden.

Park wins honour

MOTE Park has been named in UK’s top three parks for the third year in a row. 14

Ring road scheme

DEVELOPERS are to help fund the long-awaited Leeds- Langley bypass. 23

Crime Reports 24

A SHOP sign, portable toilet and moored boat were among items stolen in the local area.

Obituaries Comment

46-47 28

30 Parish Councils 38-39

THE pre-school was struggling in Broomfield and Kingswood; the presence of police dogs had aided police engagement in Mar- den; poppy seeds were to be sown in Staplehurst; a school alarm was going off in Yalding.

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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