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Local tax to support our NHS MailMarks 

WEcherish our “free” NHS health service

– but know it is far from totally free, becomes less free and will cost us more in future. We have long accepted most opticians’ and dentists’ work is charged … heavy costs of parking at hospitals…payment for prescrip- tion drugs… Government is now authorising a 2% in-

crease in council tax if ring-fenced to social care. This is closely driven by pressures on the NHS, especially hospital bed-blocking, a shortage of nursing home places and care in the community. After watching Government and the local

NHS and social care economies and councils struggle through desperately difficult finan- cial years I have no serious problem with these charges if they truly protect the health service and social care. One advantage of charging through Coun-

cil Tax is that generally the heavier cost will fall on those best able to pay. As a Band G council tax payer I expect I need to find about another £5 a month. Now Government is taking this council tax

route I anticipate other charges will follow. For instance, could another 1% be added to

Badgerswere there first

Dear Sir - I think Dennis Fowle (Mail Marks, December) is being unfair to badgers. Does he not think it is he who is encroaching on their land? It is always the human that is right and all the wild animals that are wrong. You only have to look around to see how

much countryside is being used up for housing to know why he is being invaded. I know it is annoying, but what about

cats?A lot of people where I live go off to work and put their cats out and it is they who ruin gardens. P Durant, Flood Hatch, Tovil

Re-open High Street

Dear Sir -With reference to your article on the proposed new traffic system (Edition no 223) the comments and proposals of Carlo Aubato are entirely correct. Every main road leading out of Maidstone has a set or sets of traffic lights which inhibit the flow of traffic out of the town and which could be eliminated by the provision of footbridges or in other cases such as The Wheatsheaf, a roundabout. An example of inconceivable planning

was the construction of the FremlinWalk car park next to the dual carriageway along Fairmeadow. The carriagewaywas originally developed to ease traffic flow but is now restricted by numerous traffic lights and is often congested by traffic queuing to enter the car park.

Contact our team ...

Stephen Eighteen Editor 01622 734735 ext 231

28 Maidstone Town Xmas 2015 Diane Nicholls

Assistant editor 01622 734735 ext 232

Jane Shotliff Journalist 01622 734735 ext 233

Dawn Kingsford

Journalist 01622 734735 ext 233


support our local hospitals or to finance im- provements in our seriously under-perform- ing local ambulance service? Is the time close when Government will

want us to pay a fee for GP appointments, a contribution towards surgery we elect to un- dertake (eg replacement knees or hips), hear- ing aids, preventive care, and hospital meals? It is political dynamite, of course, but politi-

cians know the financial truth and at some stage they will have to reveal courage to sus- tain a health service under such pressure from increasing demands and costs and a rapidly- growing and ageing population. Calls on the Government purse are im-

mense. One way or another we are going to have to pay more to retain a high-quality health service. Just look at what residents of most other countries pay – and grit your teeth!

Whether the construction of Fremlin

Walkwas actually necessary is a maer of conjecture, but entry into the car park could have been made available from Faith Street via Station Road, an area which is now virtually disused by vehicles. A similarly barren area is the top end of the High Street which supports few shops and a vast expanse of expensive paving, presumably designed mainly for the congregation of late-night revellers, who appear to be the main category of individuals the county town has sought to aract for the past 20 years. In view of the limited number of major shops and stores in this area of the town, surely it would also make sense to reopen the High Street to all vehicles in order to alleviate the congestion caused by channeling traffic around peripheral roads that are unable to cope with it. Ron Carr, by email

The death of democracy

Dear Sir –A very sad thing has happened – democracy has died. The planning application for a change of

use to a class D1 at Gatland Housewas approved. The planning commiee as always squirmed around the issue with only one thought. If itwent to appeal, they would have to pay the costs.A message, in the form of an unseen update, advised them that there would be a shortfall of school places. That’s funny - if you keep leing greedy developers build houses and the

Wobbly welfare What a pity MP for Chatham and Ayles-

ford (also Minister of Sport) Tracey Crouch was advised to apologise for saying the cost of subscription television should not be counted when considering the level of state benefits. That should have been the starter for a

very long list. I believe it should include overseas holidays, cars, mobile phones and iPads etc… friends suggest many more. In Britain today, welfare ensures a fairer

and more compassionate society. Govern- ment now has a responsibility to try to achieve a living standard belowwhich no re- sponsible people should fall. The world has moved on since I experi-

encedmy parents and other members of that family having to consider so carefully how every penny was spent to avoid the despair of poverty. I recall how my new pair of school shoes

was considered an exciting luxury. But I still look back on mostly very happy days. Many are convinced that Tracey Crouch

got it spot on.

EFA does not build schools, there will definitely be a shortage of places. It’s not rocket science. Objections to the application came from councillors and residents of Fant. They were listened to politely and just ignored. The highways department fulfilled its

usual role of not objecting to the application as “there would be no significant impact on the local infrastructure envisaged”. We residents now await a further application at the earliest opportunity from the school to extend it to its original wish for a two-form entry school, with 420 pupils. The presumption will be in favour of it, as the planning commiee will not fight against it on behalf of our community or on the behalf of common sense. If theywant a planning reason, here is a

clear one. In 1997, when Gatland House was given planning permission for its previous use as a health facility, the decision notice stated: “The premises/land may be used for clinical centre for child and adolescence services only and for no other purpose (including any other purposes in class D1 [educational use such as schools]). Reason: unrestricted use of the property would not be in the interests of the locality. Barbara Skinner, Fant

Cafe dog ban annoying

Dear Sir – Regarding your article on Cobtree Manor Park, I amalso amazed that dogs are banned from the cafe there. The thing that annoys me most is that it is claimed it is for hygiene reasons, but in the


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