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Bite the bullet on local plan MailMarks

 AFTER years of prolonged agony and

painful controversy a Government inspector is now able to work at last on putting Maid- stone’s highly significant local plan to bed. Let’s hope he is successful. Because the

most dangerous reason for rejection is that Maidstone has set a target for residential de- velopment too low. Neighbouring Swale has learned how devastating that can be, as it goes back to the drawing board to find more hous- ing sites.

Maidstone needs this plan agreed urgently.

It helps put Maidstone Council in control of future development and is a defence against construction businesses wishing to build in areas not acceptable to us. The inquiry will be long and lively. There

are many pressure groups unhappy with Maidstone Council’s consultations and deci- sions mainly on housing, business growth and local transport. The council has spent many very difficult

years on this final draft and has had to balance local objections against its requirement to meet evidence-based needs. There are now many objectors hoping and expecting they will be able to present a case for major changes in the draft. The inspector will give them fair opportunity – but I amnot expecting many to be successful when the final decision is announced. This is, after all, aGovernment inspector en-

gaged by a Government very intent on in- creasing massively the nation’s housing supply. It is not even a party political issue.

Road repairs such a waste

REFERENCE the roads at Valentine Road and Hubble Drive in Maidstone. The sweeper lorry recently came to Valentine Road and Hubble Drive and went up and down quite a few times to make sure that everybody knew he had been. Since the holes in the road had been

filled with the wrong method for a lightly- used domestic road to start with, all he achieved was to sweep up many of the small stones that were actually left in the road. As the holes had been filled with small

tarry stones instead of tarmac and then not rolled in, many of the stones had travelled on to the footpath, so the sweeper lorry missed them. These small tar-covered stones walk indoors, however much one wipes their feet, and mark the carpets. No notice had been given about not parking in the road today, so there were many cars parked in Valentine Road, mostly from homes inWillington Street where it is too dangerous to park safely because of all the huge lorries that have to use it. These cars were still parked in Valentine Road when the sweeper truck

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Got something to say? Write to The Editor, 2 Forge House, Bearsted Green Business Park, Maidstone ME14 4DT or email

42 Maidstone East October 2016 Simon Finlay

Editor 01622 734735 ext 231

Diane Nicholls

Assistant editor 01622 734735 ext 232

Dawn Kingsford Journalist 01622 734735 ext 233


Just about every MP agrees the country’s housing stock must grow massively. Locally we may not all agree with the out-

come of this inquiry and dislike decisions about to be made, but this inspector will be very conscious of Government demands – and we must expect most of his decisions will meet them.

Pay up for NHS THE top health authorities across Kent

currently look very hard at the NHS and say they want to make it beer and more cost effective. We all wish themwell – but I fear now they face an impossible task. There will be steps they can take. We are

likely to see much more work performed out- side expensive hospital environments and closer to our homes by NHS staff and social services. The danger is these professionals (such as our GPs) are often working under great pressure. We are also likely to see more hospital de- partments centralised – the old reconfigura- tions which caused so much anger in Maidstone when we lost women’s and chil- dren’s services (including maternity) and

arrived. Nothing appears to have been done

about all the weeds growing up in the gutters and edges of the pavement. They are breaking up the edges of the road; some of the repairs appear to have been put on top of them and many are already growing through the repairs. Only some of the holes were filled with

the tarry stones. What about the rest of the holes, some of which are more of a problem than the ones which were supposedly mended? This whole exercise has been rather a

waste of rate-payers’ money. The organisation and supervision which went into the project seems to be next to non- existent. Perhaps the ratepayers would benefit by having fewer chief officers, with the town re-employing a direct team of men that could go round and mend any holes that they saw, instead of having to get quotes to do half the job because quotes cost money to produce and contractors companies need to make profits all of which is added to the bill. There may also be enough money left

over to employ a few more road sweepers who can manage to sweep paths besides

major trauma and orthopaedic work to Tun- bridgeWells. We do not know yet what is in the minds of

the NHS budget-holders, but it seems the stroke unit in Maidstone Hospital is a target. Speed is now at the centre of stroke treatments and this must be a major factor. It could be that an extra 30 minutes of journey time makes sense if the specialist equipment and expertise is immediately available to all pa- tients. That is a debate ahead of us. After many years working closely as a jour-

nalist with local health authorities, I have come to the sad conclusion that the Govern- ment must now make some very brave (and unpopular) political decisions. We all value our NHS.We expect it to meet

our growing demands and support us in to a grand and healthy old age. But these expecta- tions come at an increasingly great cost at a time when the national budget is under im- mense pressures. There are those who will saywe must pour

our national funds in to the NHS at almost any cost. But there are so many demands on the national exchequer this just cannot go on. One way or another, a Government will

have to raise from us financial contributions if our demands are to be met. The NHS is NOT totally free now. We pay for dentistry, opticians, prescriptions.We are going to have to pay more or the NHS will continue to face massive problems which impact seriously on patients. We all have to understand this un- palatable truth.

the machines that sweep the road gutters. Margaret Basham, Maidstone

Road planning a disaster

REGARDING the letter in edition 233 by David Thornewell I would like to comment on Hermitage Lane. The planning of this essential road, not

only to the hospital but linking the A20 with the A26, must go down as the biggest disaster by a planning department in the whole of Tonbridge and Malling. No respect to its situation and effect on

traffic volume could ever have been undertaken, it’s a total nightmare for people using it. The new retail development has traffic

lights access a little way from other lights and the resulting queues are unbelievable. Don’t planners consider the effects their decisions will have? This retail outlet should never have been placed in this location with access onto Hermitage Lane. Mr Thornewell’s letter mentions possible further development in Hermitage Lane. This cannot take more traffic. The field opposite the retail site is part of the Green Belt between Tonbridge


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