orderForm.noItems Maidstone Weald Edition Maidstone Weald Edition

Maidstone & Malling’s No. 1 newspaper

February 2017 Inspector cuts 900 off homes target

THE number of homes to be built in Maidstone as part of the contro- versial Local Plan should be re- duced by 900, according to a government inspector after a seven-week inquiry. Robert Mellor’s 35-page interim report largely vindicates Maidstone Borough Council’s approach but will now build 17,600 new houses instead of 18,500 by 2031. Local MP Helen Whately said

she was “frustrated by the failure to take into account” the many con- cerns raised by residents during the inquiry at the town hall. Two residents’ meetings have been called by Cllr Gary Cooke to discuss the impact on residents in south Maidstone. Cllr Cooke said he was “very dis- appointed” by the report, which he said is “full of inconsistencies”. Mr Mellor ruled that house-

building on A274 Sutton Road could be mitigated by providing bus lanes and road widening. He also warns that a relief road running between south Maidstone and the M20 – which would ease congestion through Willington Street, Langley, Shepway, Leeds and Otham – will meet a “signifi- cant funding challenge”. Special reports, pages 4&5 Comment, page 32

Surgeries team up to face the future

TWO GP surgeries are to merge in a bid to save patient services from Government policy changes that look set to close small practices.

The details of the merger were

given in Sutton Valence on Wednes- day at a public meeting called to an- swer questions from patients. Joanna Lambe, practice manager for the Sutton Valence Surgery in South Lane, says the decision to join with Cobtree Medical Practice has been taken to ensure the survival of patient services in Sutton Valence. The merger process has begun, with the hope that they will operate as a joint practice by April 2018. Mrs Lambe said: “The proposed merger is our pro-active response to both local circumstances and the NHS national policy (the STP or sus- tainability and transformation plan). There are many new building devel- opments starting in our practice area and we do not have the capacity to expand to meet the demand as a small practice. The Government also plans to press ahead with seven-day

be put out of danger and will be able to meet the government’s demands. Mrs Lambe added: “We do not an- ticipate any staff will lose their job as a result of this. In fact, we hope to offer more services and more staff.” The surgeries will stay at their cur-

opening, which we could not achieve alone. Finally, the STP also proposes the closure of small prac- tices to achieve economies of scale, and we would like to avoid this. We see this as an opportunity to im- prove the service we provide.” By combining their 6,000 patient registers, they say both practices will

rent venues, but details of how the service will emerge remains to be seen. There is no room to expand the Cobtree surgery, but there is scope for growth at Sutton Valence. Mrs Lambe said: “We haven’t ironed out all the problems, but we will be pressing ahead with this to ensure our patients have all the serv- ices they need.”

Martin Stokes, chairman of the pa- tient support group, said he would be attending the meeting. He added: “If the Government, in the form of the NHS, is proposing to withdraw funding from smaller surgeries, what else can be done?”


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News Queen’s bull in Kent

A SUTTON Valence farm has re- cruited a Highland bull from the Queen’s Balmoral estate to help increase stock. 3

Hunton plan worry

HUNTON residents are con- cerned over plans to ex- pand a local business.

6 Village centre plans

THE village centre in Staplehurst could be rebuilt in planned improvements. 8

Artist’s half century

POPULAR artist Graham Clarke reflects on 50 years of creativity.

MARDEN residents will choose how they want their play area upgraded.

MUSICIAN Jeffrey Vaughan- Martin’s life will be celebrated this year.

16 Marden play choice 20 Maestro remembered 22 Crime Reports 28

TWO Shetland ponies have been stolen from from a field in Forstal Lane, Coxheath.

Obituaries 30

Comment 32-33 Parish Councils 42-43

Recycling reminder

A FOOD recycling sticker will ap- pear on bins as a reminder to residents. For more, see the Maid- stone Borough Council-sponsored 12-page Borough Update inside.

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