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November 2016 Fruit farmers turn to pumpkin patch

PUMPKINS mean cash in the bank each bonfire season for a family farm in Chart Sutton. They have been flat out satisfying demand to supply one and a half mil- lion of the orange fruits to supermar- ket shelves all over the UK this autumn. Jake Thompson (pictured) of Dan Mackelden Ltd has seen demand for pumpkins swell in the past 16 years. The farm still grows apples but Jake and brother Mark’s pumpkin patch has grown from 80 to 250 acres.


Victory in bale to cut speed at school

VILLAGERS have won their long-running campaign to reduce the speed limit outside their primary school.

The road outside Hunton school currently has a 30mph restriction but that will be cut to 20mph. The limit will be advisory only but Cllr Paulina Stockell, who is providing fi- nance from her KCC members’ fund, along with road safety im- provements at schools at Marden, Collier Street and Yalding, says she will work to get it made mandatory. The scheme, due to be in place by next spring, has been welcomed by residents but they say that more needs to be done to ease increasing traffic problems in the village. Cllr Gary Thomas, chairman of Hunton Parish Council said: “We are very concerned about this piece of road. Hopefully, people will slow down, but we need an adequate traf- fic calming system with something like speed indicator signs and bumps in the road.”

Road safety problems have been a growing concern in the village which is served by two main roads – West Street, which passes the school, and East Street. Both have blind junctions and there are no pave- ments, except a small stretch outside the school.

Residents have complained about heavy goods vehicles travelling through the village, using unsuitable routes, getting lost and blocking ac- cesses. More than 40 villagers at- tended a parish council meeting which heard that the expansion of fruit farms in the area was generat- ing more HGV traffic.

Cllr Thomas said in September a cement-mixing vehicle crashed out- side the school at about 11am on its way to Amsbury Farm, where a farmers’ co-operative is expanding operations. It demolished metal rail-

ings on the pavement, mounted a verge at the side of the road, and took out a hedge alongside the play- ground and a speed limit sign. No- body was hurt.

On October 24, police were called to a three vehicle accident in West Street near the school at 7.27am. No injuries were reported.

The parish council will be seeking a meeting with KCC and has asked Maidstone Borough Council en- forcement officers to investigate, with a view to setting controls on HGV routes.

A KCC spokesman said Cllr Stockell had asked highways engi- neers to develop schemes for advi- sory 20mph speed limits outside four schools – St Margaret’s Primary School at Collier Street, Hunton Pri- mary School, Marden Primary School and Yalding Primary School.

Ukip’s delay UKIP has postponed selecting its

candidate for the marginal Maid- stone south east division for another month while the national party elects a new leader. The seat is held by Tory Gary Cooke with a slender majority.

12 23 Pudding Lane • Maidstone • Kent

FREE No. 235

News Downs Mail expands

DOWNS Mail announces the ex- pansion of its portfolio from four editions to five - distribut- ing 85,000 copies monthly. 3

Pub award-winner

THE Chequers pub in Ladding- ford has been recognised for its community role.

Vera, 111, has died

VERA Pigott outlived more than 20 prime ministers - read her remarkable story. 5

Villagers go to polls

VILLAGERS are getting the chance to have their say on Staplehurst’s future.


KCC consults on hike 22

COUNTY council chiefs are to consult the public on a tax rise of 4%.

Keep it clean - MP

MP Helen Grant has asked for her Lib Dem rival for a clean election fight.

28 Crime Reports 2839

A WHEELIE bin was stolen from a property in Lenham Road in Boughton Malherbe.

Obituaries 29

Parish Councils31-33 Comment 42-43


Festive recycling

CHRISTMAS is coming and we have advice on recycling festive waste. For more, see the Maid- stone Borough Council-sponsored 12-page Borough Update inside.


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