News M-way diversion causes uproar

RECKLESS drivers being diverted off the M20 are causing huge concerns for residents in rural areas ofMaidstone – and a “spike” in the amount ofwildlife killed by vehicles. Overnight resurfacing works

have led to closures between junc- tions six and eightof themotorway most commonly used by vehicles heading to the Port of Dover. A diversion is in place advising

drivers to use the M2, which is a significant detour, and as a result, a number of vehicles are staying on the motorway until the last possi- blemoment. Sat-navs then take themthrough

areas such as Penenden Heath and Sandling, where the roads are ill- equipped to cope with the in- creased volume of traffic. Cllr Tony Harwood, pictured

right, raised the issue at Boxley Parish Council’s October meeting, saying: “The information on the M20 closures has left much to be desired. “We have HGVs thundering

through roads, and the speed vehi- cles are travelling is causing much consternation. “The last couple of weeks have

been dreadful. The traffic issueswe are facing are akin to Operation Stack. The prolonged closures will impact on various parts of the town.” More work is due on the M20

early in 2018 as a section of it be- comes a ‘Smart Motorway’, and

Kent County Council have legal powers to prevent such local ‘rat running’. “Residents of Penenden Heath

and Sandling have had to put up with reckless speeding and foun- dation-shaking traffic night after night.Wildlife commuting between the nature reserves at Cuckoo Wood and The Chestnuts flanking the western stretch of Sandling

Cllr Harwood, a Liberal Democrat representing the North Ward on Maidstone Borough Council, is fearful formore traffic issues. “HGVs and speeding traffic are

diverting through residential roads in north Maidstone,” he added. “Neither Highways England nor

Lane is also being caught out by the speed and volume of the diverted motorway traffic. The spike in roadkill, including foxes and badg- ers, is all too clear. “Local councillors have been in-

undatedwith calls and emails from residents affected by the re-routing of theM20 traffic and are in discus- sions with KCC and latterly High- ways England to resolve this unacceptable state of affairs. Kent Police have also been approached in relation to the high speed of much of this diverted traffic. “The proposed formal diversion

route is via theM2 (a round trip of more than 20miles). It is inevitable that trafficwill divert viaA20Ash- ford Road, New Cut and Bearsted Road, Ware Street, The Street and Roundwell. “There is a real concern thatHGV

drivers,who do not knowthe area, could follow their sat-nav devices and become trapped at the Bell rail- way bridge inWare Street.” Work between junctions six and

seven should be completed by Oc- tober 13, but three days later work will start between junctions seven and eight, lasting for twomonths. A Sandling Lane resident told

Downs Mail: “In all the years we have lived here, we have never ex-

perienced anything like this. “The lack of sleep we are getting

is causing us a lot of problems in our daily activities.We have con- tactedHighways England but they just log our complaints. “I even saw one lorry - a British

one - not even slow down as it ap- proached the mini-roundabout by the shops at Penenden Heath. For- tunately, the car coming down from the Boxley direction turned left, otherwise there would haveen an horrific accident. My parents have witnessed the noiseand the house shaking - they are disgust- edthat no one can do anything.” A Highways England spokes-

man said: “We have become aware that some road users ignore the clo- sure and diversion signs and follow their sat-navs instead, which take them through roads that are not part of our diversion routes.While we can’t prevent road users from entering public roads, we continue to do everything we can to make the closures and diversions clear well in advance.”

See video online: s_sport/News/VIDEO_Traffic_wo es_as_drivers_ignore_M20_diver- sion/

Sex offender’s 23 year stretch

A RAPIST who carried out a series of sex attacks against females – some in the Maidstone area - has been jailed. Jamie Tay-

lor (42), right, was sentenced to 23 years in prison after being found guilty of a string


physical and emotional at- tacks spanning 11 years. After a trial at Canterbury Crown

Entente cordiale is music to choir’s ears

MAIDSTONE Choral Union has been providing music to the ears of our French counterparts in the county’s twin town of Beauvais. The choir earned a standing

ovation fromFrenchmusic fans at St Peter’s – the highest vaulted cathedral in Europe at 48metres. Led by Marion Weller, their

concert includedwork by English composers Elgar,MalcomArcher, John Stainer and Howard


Goodall, with a little Mozart added for good measure. The choir then teamed up with their French colleagues to performJohn Lennon’s Imagine. Afterwards, Cllr David Pickett,

chorister and president of Maid- stone Choral Union, said: “I very much hope that this visitwill pave the way for further cultural ex- changes between the twin towns.” The choir’s next concert is

Maidstone East November 2017

Gilbert and Sullivan’s comedy TheMikado atMote Hall Leisure Centre, Maidstone, on Saturday, October 28. The event is in aid of Voices for Hospices and starts at 7.30pm. Tickets for the events are available at www.maidstone-  The choral union was formed in 1902. The link between Maid- stone and Beauvais twinning as- sociations goes back to 1961.

Court, which heard Taylor com- mitted multiple counts of rape and sexual assault, along with other crimes including making threats to kill, false imprisonment, possessing a firearm and perverting the course of justice. Taylor, previously of Flimwell,

East Sussex, was sentenced on Sep- tember 22 for the offences, carried out between 2006 and this year. Detective Sergeant Michelle

Burgess of Kent Police said: “I hope this lengthy sentence sends a strong message to other victims of sexual abuse that you do not need to suffer in silence.”

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