versions alongAroutes as thework begins in earnest. The 6.5-mile stretch will be

widened between J3 and J5, West Malling and Aylesford, where con- gestion is heaviest. This work is being carried out by

Kier on behalf ofHighwaysEngland andwill take about two years. AHighways England spokesman

said: “Smartmotorways reduce con- gestion and improve journey time reliability bymaking thehardshoul- der available as a traffic lane anduse variable speed limits to smooth traf- fic flow. “They also add much-needed ca-

pacity to some of themost congested parts of our network and support economic growth. “OnMonday, July 2,wewill start

to install three narrow lanes be- tween J3 and J5 on the westbound carriageway. “We use narrow lanes so that we

can keep the same number of lanes open when we carry out improve- mentwork,while also allowing ad- ditional space at the side of the

Fruit thefts

THREEmen have been arrested in connection with the large-scale theft of strawberries from fruit farms inwest Kent. Since early May, strawberry

crops worth thousands of pounds have been stolen froma number of locations, including farms in East PeckhamandWateringbury. Kent Police’s Rural Task Force

has been investigating allegations that the fruit is then sold on at places such as boot fairs. On June 13, officers stopped a ve-

hicle believed to be linked to the thefts on land off Lavenders Road, West Malling. Three men aged 40, 54 and 70, were arrested on suspi- cion of theft. A search was then carried out at

a property linked to the men, where police seized 38 fruit collec- tion trays suspected to be stolen.

Suon serenade

SUTTON Valence Choral Society will perform a summer concert of favourites on Saturday, July 7. It starts at 7.30pm at Sutton Va-

lence School and tickets are £10 and children £1 and available by calling 01622 861313 or by emailing

8 Maidstone East July 2018 Dad and son on the buses

BUS driving is a family affair for the Bumsteads. Bob Bumstead (72), has been

driving buses inMaidstone formore than four decades and seven years ago, his son Rob, now 42, decided a life on the road was appealing. Dissatisfied with his job in butch-

ery, Rob also went through a rela- tionship breakdown and moved back home to live with his parents, before deciding to follow in his fa- ther’s footsteps and retrain as a bus driver for a national company. Bob said: “I have loved working

on the buses, having done itmost of my adult life. I love the freedom of being on the road and getting to

know the regulars. “We rarely see each other atwork,

so there’s no chance to get on each other’s nerves.We get on reallywell at home, and often go out at night together to tear up the town! “I think it’s good for your kids to

followin your footsteps, I have been able to pass down my knowledge, which hopefully has helped him.” Rob added: “It has been great

working with dad. He’s so well known after doing this job all these years, and it’s great to get to know people in the community. I have alway been impressed with his driv- ing so when I started training I was happy to get advice fromhim.”

Hard shoulders will be reinforce to createmore roomfor Operation Stack

motorway to provide a safer work- ing environment for ourworkers. “The speed limitwill be reduced

to 50mph for the duration of the works. We expect to complete the work byMarch 2020.” There has been much distur-

bance to Bearsted residents when lorry drivers have ignored signs banning them from using the vil- lage as a ratrun if the M20 has been closed for resurfacingworks. Highways England acknowl-

edged the issue recently and an- nounced it

is considering a manned gate at Roundwell to stop

the problem. Government is brac- ing itself for huge problems on the M20 post-Brexit inMarch 2019, be- cause potential lorry park sites have not been found. Last year, Port of Dover bosses

warned of 17-mile tailbacks if a frictionless customs clearance fa- cility is not developed soon. Highways England has said it

will reinforce the hard shoulders between J8 and J9 to create more Operation Stack capacity. A recent attempt to rebrandOp-

eration Stack as “Brock” was greeted with derision and the nick-

M20 ‘chaos’ for smartworks Timetable

FULL closures of theM20 for the smartmotorway work will take place as follows:

Thursday, June 28 to Saturday June 30, 10pm– 6am. Overnight closure of theM20 eastbound fromJ4–J6. Diversion A228-M2-A229

Monday, July 2 to Thursday, July 5, 8pm– 6am. Overnight closure of the M20 westbound fromJ6–J4. Diversion A229-M2-A228

Wednesday, July 5 to Sunday, July 8 8pm– 6am. Overnight clo- sure of theM20 westbound J4– J2. Diversion A20

name “Operation Roadblock” by critics. It plans to create a contraflow to

keep traffic moving in both direc- tions but fewobservers contactedby DownsMail gave itmuch chance of succeeding.


in Otham,

Downswood,Madginford and Lan- gley raised £1,387 for ChristianAid Week 2018. This is down from 2017 (£1,662),

which is blamed on a fundraising crewreduced from29 to 12. Parish coordinator Peter Body-

combe has decided to step down, butwill continue to helpraise funds. He told the Two Spiresmagazine:

“It is becoming increasinglydifficult to collect envelopes as some resi- dents seen reluctant to support this cause. I wonder if their judgement might be affectedby recent badpub- licity about other charities.”

Church social

A PIMMS,Hymns (and Things) so- cial event will be held at St Mary Church in Langley from 2-6pm on July 29.All arewelcome. For more details, call Maria Mackedlen on 01622 861783.

Quiz evening

A QUIZ night will be held at St Nicholas in Otham onWednesday, July 11, starting at 7.30pm. Bring your own nibbles and

drinks.Details fromDiane on 01622 739129 or Peter 01622 746462.

MOVES to make the M20 a "smart motorway" will cause significant disruption to travel plans over the next fewweeks, Highway England haswarned. Therewill be lane closures anddi-

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