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Drinking ban plans to ‘clean up town centre’

A NEW order making it illegal to drink in the street, beg or sleep rough could be introduced to “clean up” Maidstone town centre.

Maidstone Council says the Pub-

lic Spaces Protection Order, which could be introduced as early as May, would help to cut crime and anti-so- cial behaviour (ASB) in urban Maid- stone, where levels of ASB are the fifth highest in the county. The order would include further measures to deter unauthorised col- lecting of money on the street, the use of “legal highs” and rough sleep- ing on the street. Drinking alcohol in public spaces, not including licensed premises, would also be prohibited where it affects the quality of life for visitors and residents. The proposed order is based on

crime andASBdata provided by the police and would extend from the town centre along the river to Ringlestone, out to the Vinters Park estate, to Rock Road towards Penen- den Heath, across to Mote Park, and Waterloo Street and Campbell Road. Maidstone Green Party cam- paigner Stuart Jeffery said the plan to use the order to “criminalise the homeless”was appalling. He said: “Homeless people need support to get off the streets, support that will often include help with other issues rather than just finding a place to live. Criminalising them through a PSPO is the opposite of

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


help and support in my book.” He said the council had failed homeless people in Maidstone, where there are now seven times more than in 2010, adding: “The council needs to focus its energy on providing shelter and support for homeless people.” A map of the proposed control

area can be viewed at www.maid-, where you can also have your say. The consultation runs until Janu-

ary 25, after which the results will be considered by Maidstone Council’s communities, housing and environ- ment Committee.

£785 a day for

town planner MAIDSTONE Council’s town cen- tre troubleshooter Paul Spooner is costing taxpayers £785 a day. By the time his six-month con-

tract as interim director of regener- ation ends on February 23, 2016, more than £80,000 of public money will have been spent on Mr Spooner, according to the council’s response to a Downs Mail Freedom of Information request. Mr Spooner, who replaced Zena

Cooke in August, works four days a week so his services are costing the annual equivalent of £163,280 – exceeding that of chief executive Alison Broom, who earns up to £115,000 a year. Town planner Mr Spooner has worked on projects in Manchester, Birmingham and Portsmouth. In 2013 he was Croydon Council’s in- terim executive director of plan- ning and environment, costing the equivalent of £242,666 a year in wages and agency costs. In Maidstone, Mr Spooner re-

ceives £590 a day with the remain- ing £195 going to an agency, who will have pocketed more than £20,000 by the time he

22 Christmas 2015 No. 225 News Seasonal donations

THE Salvation Army has invited members of the public to give gifts for its Christmas present appeal.

Air may take flight

KENT Air Ambulance is looking to move away from its base in Marden.

8 Tax office to leave

HM Revenue and Customs is clos- ing its Maidstone office, which employs 200.

10 School go-ahead

PUPIL numbers are being halved at Jubilee Primary School in Gatland House, Fant. 11

Separate the shows

MAIDSTONE Council is taking steps to avoid event clashes in 2016. 14

Shopping chaos

A LOCAL MP is attempting to address traffic issues at Quarry Wood.


Comment 28-29 Obituaries

SCHOOL-RUN parking caused fury in Barming; a Speed Watch scheme might be set up in Loose.

Crime Reports 46

A LIT firework was thrown into the doorway of a home in Wheeler Street.

Road doubt

IT could be at least 15 years be- fore Maidstone gets its long- awaited south-east link road. Maidstone Council’s draft in- tegrated transport strategy says the Leeds-Langley bypass may only be deliverable after 2031.

Full story – page 34

46-47 32-33

Parish Councils 46 6

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