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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

Protest to save shops

ALMOST 300 people protested at a plan to de- molishahistoric parade of shops in Bearsted Green. Among themwere

parish, borough and county councillors, including the leader of Kent County Council, Paul Carter, who pledged: “This community will stand united.” Landlord Evenden

Estates has applied to replace the three shops and build six apartments on two storeys above. It withdrew a similar scheme a year ago. Cllr Carter (pictured)

urged residents to write to each member of Maidstone Council’s planning committee. Referring to the council's decision last year to approve 50 homes in Lilk Meadow, south of Cross Keys, Bearsted, he said: “People power is so important. Andwe know some pretty irrational decisions have been made by electedmembers of Maidstone Borough Council in recentmonths.” Full story – page six

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

16 23 Pudding Lane • Maidstone • Kent

January 2016 No. 225 News ‘Proceeds of crime’

A LANDLADY from Otham says she was “legally robbed” after po- lice seized more than £89,00 from her pub. 10

Tax office to leave

HM Revenue and Customs is clos- ing its Maidstone office, which employs 200. 12

Alfred Mynn awards

THREE community champions were honoured by Bearsted Parish Council.

24 Dorothy Lucy battle

MORE than 2,500 people have signed a petition to save a Shepway care home. 26

New blood needed

VOLUNTEERS are required for the local Neighbourhood Watch group.

Congestion hope

TWO sites off the M20 have been put forward to ease Operation Stack chaos. 29

Comment 34-35 Obituaries

A DESIRED pedestrian crossing at Broomfield and Kingswood was unlikely due to too few crashes.

Crime Reports 47

CCTV was being viewed to find the culprits who stole a golf buggy from Leeds Castle.

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 32

46-47 36

Parish Councils 46 28

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