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April 2017 We are 20! community it serves. Inside,

we celebrate this milestone with a special edition of DownsMail.

Consultation plan on relief road options

A PUBLIC consultation on options for a Leeds-Langley relief road to ease congestion in south Maidstone will be held before the end of the year.

A Kent County Council-led scheme will come up with a series of proposals to first be considered by affected parish councils. Cllr Gary Cooke, who is leading

the campaign for a A274 - M20 link, said the scheme would cost "north of £50m". KCC's head of transportation, Tim

Read, said the authority must work hard in the next two years to make the case that a relief road will bring "significant benefits" to Willington Street, Wheatsheaf and the A274 to justify it being built. KCC has set a timescale of deliv-

ering a proposal by 2019 so that it can be included in a reviewed Local Plan in 2021, after which funds could be sought. But topographical and other surveys will be carried

KCC’sTim Read outlines the relief road plans watched byMPHelen Whately and Cllr GaryCooke at a recent public meeting

out soon to assess the suitability of each route. By going alone, Cllr Cooke and

KCC have side-stepped Maidstone Borough Council and the cross- party Joint Transportation Board. The JTB has been mulling over three options for a relief road for months.

Cllr Cooke said he was acting "without necessarily the support from other authorities", a clear refer- ence to tensions between KCC and MBC over the effects of its house- building programme on roads. MBC transport chief David Bur-

ton, who represents Marden and Yalding, said he "completely" sup- ports a Leeds-Langley relief road. Current strict rules mean levies

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can only be charged on develop- ments for specific projects, but once Maidstone's Local Plan is adopted, raising funds will be easier. Ukip accused Cllr Cooke of an “election stunt” ahead of the KCC polls on May 4.

FREE No. 240

News Mike’s Spitfire treat

TWENTY years ago, DownsMail landed on doormats for the first time, heralding a new era in local newspaper publishing. It has become a firm favourite with readers and advertisers, trusted for fair and accurate journalism. Two decades on, it is still a family-run company based in the heart of the

BOROUGH councillor Mike Cuming celebrated his 70th birthday by taking a flight in a Spitfire.

3 Archbishop’s praise

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has praised the work of volunteers in Maidstone.

5 Otham build dispute

A HOUSE extension is causing tension between neighbours in Otham. 6

Is lorry ban in place? 8

AN HGV driver fined for breaking Leeds’ lorry ban brings hope to residents.

Catherine turns 107 10

BEARSTED resident Catherine Hart has celebrated her 107th birhday.

Primary head retires 12

THE head at Hollingbourne Primary School is to retire.

Comment Obituaries

40 42

Parish Councils43-55

FENCING at Scragged Oak view- point in Detling is still broken; concerns were raised about algae on the lake in Harrietsham; Cllr Gill Fort is objecting strongly to a planning appeal for an industrial site at junction 8 of the M20 near Leeds; a resident was thanked for helping to clear drains in Bredhurst.

Crime Reports 55

PLANTS were stolen from the garden of a house in Bearsted; a battery was stolen from a farm in Lenham; an empty property in Harrietsham was burgled; there was an attempt to burn a bench in Downswood; number plates were stolen in Otham.

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