Roads a national disgrace MailMarks

IN 60 years’ driving I have never been so

worried and depressed about the state and safety of our roads in Kent. They are but one symptom of much wider financial disasters growing over the years since the times of Gor- don Brown’s government and more recently evidenced in the spring budget. I know the Government must steer a very

tight ship in raising national income and strict control of costs but I now question if I live in a prime country and if second class and even third world increasingly threaten. I was ashamed driving by mountains of rubbish lining theA249 from Maidstone to Sit- tingbourne. Up to the M2 roundabout this is KCC responsibility; from Stockbury to Shep- pey it is that of the Highways Agency. They are as bad as each other. Having just returned from a pristine Florida Iwonder what visitors think. Stockbury Parish Council are so em- barrassed they are litter picking from the air- drome to the M2. Our thanks to them. There is little or no money either for safe

street lighting, refreshed road markings, ren- ovated road signs, awareness of those horri- ble speed humps, clarity of roundabouts... After a frightening experience with a poorly- lit monster lorry in a busy Old Tovil Road my appetite for night driving has diminished. Government cuts in KCC and Maidstone Council grants and severe restrictions on

Educate lier louts

CAN I highlight a problem that seems to be growing in rural parts of Maidstone bor- ough – littering? Not fly-tipping, which seems endemic, but the waste that is casu- ally chucked out of car windows on the smaller country roads. Much of this seems to be from a large, well-

known burger franchise with golden arches! Bags, wrappers and drinks containers are sim- ply lobbed out of the vehicles and into the roads or on to verges. Another unsightly littering problem is that of throwing newspapers out of windows in the middle of a village, which then get scattered by the wind. It looks horrible. While I am not blaming any authority in par-

ticular, perhaps what is needed is an awareness campaign directed at those who feel there is nothing wrong with acting in thisway. WPrice, via email

No relief without support

ONMay 4, residents in the Maidstone south- east division are being asked to vote for their KCC representative. Living inWillington Street, I, with others


council tax increases are now really hurting. The fat has gone – now we are losing vital bones. I had hoped for some relief in the spring budget – but this only proved to me what an awful national messwe are in. I have written recently about my deep con-

cern over localNHSservices and poverty of so- cial care. I can add to these reductions in the number

of police and prison officers, the impact on the armed services, cuts in school budgets and de- creasing support for charitable causes (I fear for our Heart of Kent Hospice). The Government calls still on many of its departments to make further cuts – and at the same time increases taxation, now really hurt- ing so many. Government attempts to try to sugar these pills no longer work. I deplore the huge rises in stamp duty and

the massive increases proposed in probate fees – these are desperate measures; the huge hike in business rates for many is associated. I do not see this, in the main, as a party po- litical issue. Iwas very angry when Kent Lib-

have for decades campaigned for the Leeds/Langley relief road to relieve growing congestion, HGVs and through traffic thundering passed our homes. In that time, I’ve received support from thousands of people, including residents and businesses living and operating well beyond the boundaries of south and south- east Maidstone, including Cranbrook, Yalding, Lenham, Biddenden Merworth andWest Malling, proving the importance of this new road. Sadly, KCC councillors, from all political parties, have not been particularly supportive. KCC, as the highways authority, is the only authority able to ‘give the go-ahead’ for the road. This has caused us a long uphill struggle but we have fought on, remaining a non-political force. Some years ago, I became aware of KCC

Cllr Gary Cooke. Though not my own KCC representative, he has always been supportive. During those years I’ve seen a vast transformation for the beer locally (Parkwood/Senacre/Shepway South) and become confident he is the KCC councillor who means business. Cllr Cooke sees the bigger picture – that

Dems tried to bringNHSproblems to the elec- tion battleground. We face some national crises which require cross-party co-operation – not cheap kicks at a perceived political foot- ball.

There is evidence that any government is

faced with huge problems trying to balance the national books. They attempt two solutions – cuts and economies which become ever more painful and increasing or introducing taxes on almost anything that moves. And still the national debt is a harsh and

costly embarrassment to us – and will be for our children and grandchildren. Something radical must happen – and my

hope is this will be achieved through Brexit. It is far from guaranteed. But it does give me hope that a solution to our roads in Kent is wrapped up in a much more significant long- term road to recovery.

Grammars and technicals ON a brighter note – I welcome the Gov-

ernment’s drive to increase grammar school education – and to restore the status of tech- nical qualifications. I know there are two sides to this story. But I have good reason to admire the high

quality and benefits to the nation of these two streams of education.

Willington Street’s congestion and heavy through traffic affects this entire neighbourhood and beyond, and the need for a suitable, direct route from the A274 to the A20. Accused by some of this being an “election stunt” is insulting to both him and those of us who have campaigned for the relief road. Those accusers have to date, not assisted in anyway with their constituents’ loud calls for the road. It is for this reason I'm coming off the

fence politically. There comes a time when common sense must prevail. Cllr Cooke’s willingness to become an Independent KCC councillor proves to me he is determined to see this through. He deserves our support. Jenny Sutton,WillAct

Back in safe hands

On 25 February a lady from Snodland lost herwedding ring at Tesco’s, Leybourne and thought it was gone for good. So many thanks to the ladywho found her ring in the car park and handed it in. Thanks also go to the as- sistant at customer service at Tesco. Patricia Coleman, via email

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