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Driver woes ahead as bridge project starts

MOTORISTS using Maidstone town centre are beingwarned of a summer of disruption as work on the major new road system starts in earnest.

The £5.7m Maidstone bridges project will delay traffic, having a domino effect in all directions, pulsing out from the heart of the town until next spring. Drivers are being urged to “know

your options and plan ahead” as the work on the gyratory system gets underway to push two addi- tional lanes through the busiest in- tersection of the town. So far, vehicle users have been largely unaffected since the work started on June 6, but road widen- ing and other parts of the five- phase scheme will start to have an impact.

Contractors Jacksons Civil Engi-

neering (JCE) have pledged to limit the use of temporary traffic man- agement during peak periods. The firm hopes to keep open at

least four lanes for Fairmeadow southbound. However, road clo- sures are planned between 9.30am and 4pm to allow two new lanes to be built on the eastern side of the river from Bishops Way towards Fairmeadow northbound. New traffic lights to ease north-

bound traffic flows on the A229 will allow vehicles to travel directly without negotiating either of the two existing bridges. Express Cabs director Gary Jobling – whose company runs 100

cars in town – predicts the situation will become “an absolute night- mare”. One Maidstone and the Chamber

of Commerce acknowledge that traders are optimistic but appre- hensive. The chamber’s Roger Keech said:

“I am hopeful the disruption will be kept to a minimum, but we will have towait and see.” Bus company Arriva has advised

its passengers to allow extra time for their journeys in the coming months and will keep customers abreast of developments via social media.  Full coverage, pages 26&27

Busy start for town’s new mayor

MAIDSTONE’S new mayor Cllr Derek Butler haswasted no time in getting immersed in his civic duties since taking the chains of office. Among his many engagements

so far, was to invite Maidstone United’s manager Jay Saunders and the club’s chief executive Bill Williams to the town hall to con- gratulate them on the Stones’ promotion into the highest tier of non-league football. He was also at the town’s Armed Forces Day whichwas at- tended by Deputy Lieutenant of Kent, Trevor Sturgess, and mem- bers of the Gurkha regiment.

Mayor of Maidstone Cllr Derek Butler and His wife Mary are cheered during the civic parade

Crowds thronged the streets

for a civic parade after Cllr But- ler (67)was sworn in. He became a borough councillor in 2002 rep- resenting the Boxleyward and re-

tired in 2014 after a career in the court service at Bromley and in London. Cllr Butler and his wife Mary have a daughter, Georgina.  Full story, page 6

MPs’ security

01622 690290 YOUR LOCAL PROPERTY EXPERT 23 Pudding Lane • Maidstone • Kent

MAIDSTONE MPs Helen Grant and Helen Whately have vowed it will be "business as usual" after the killing of LabourMPJo Cox as she walked to her office in her Yorkshire constituency.

22 July 2016 No. 231 News Tiny libraries open

MAIDSTONE is leading the way in a new community-led book- lending scheme with two out of 26 in the UK. 4

Gardener Mike retires

AN “inspirational” volunteer gardener, Mike Wilson, has retired after 25 years. 5

Oakwood Lit Fest

OAKWOOD Grammar School is opening its first literary festival to the public.

8 Schools’ boss retires

RESPECTED academies’ chief Dr Phil Limbert has retired from his post.

MP’s primary call

MP Helen Whately voices concerns about a lack of primary school places. 11

Castle charity worry

TICKET dodgers at Leeds Castle could impact on giving to local charities.

GPs closer working

MOST of Maidstone’s GPs are likely to work more closely in future. 18

Show’s royal guest

THE Duke of Kent will be the guest of honour at this year’s county show. 23


Comment 36-37 Parish Councils 46

THERE were reports of youths removing fence spikes in playing fields at Loose. September 3 was proposed as the date for this year’s fete in Tovil.

Crime Reports 46 A CAR was damaged in Fant.

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