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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- social behaviour (ASB) in urban Maidstone, 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

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-

Praise for hospital staff

HOSPITAL staff at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells have been praised for “going the extramile”. Staff Star awardswere presented to almost 30 team members following

a poll of patients, visitors and colleagues. Prizeswere presented by the trust’s chief executive Glenn Douglas, chairman Tony Jones and actress Cheryl Fergison, who played Heather Trott in EastEnders. Winners included the League of Friends (pictured), who received a special recognition award.

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

17 January 2016 No. 225 News Recycling success

THE amount of household waste recycled is now almost 50%, moving the borough up 16 places to 62nd nationally. 6

Passengers wanted

TRAVELLERS are being encour- aged to car-share to cut congestion in Maidstone. 8

Tax office to shut

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

Congestion hope

TWO sites off the M20 have been put forward to ease Operation Stack chaos. 11

New blood needed

VOLUNTEERS are required for the local Neighbourhood Watch group.

Comment Obituaries

46-47 28

24 22-23

Crime Reports 30

TURKEYS and peacocks were stolen in Hunton; a table was damaged at a Yalding school.

Parish Councils 38-39

A ROAD closure was to take place in Chart Sutton; a £6,000 loan was agreed for speed reductions in East Farleigh; a wasps’ nest was removed from the village hall in East Sutton; flood defences were wanted in Headcorn; young people were using catapults in Marden.

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 three 10

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