local sports facilities reports (DownsMail, August) commissioned and nowbeing considered byMaidstone Council. Very sadly, the council’smeaningful

financial support for local sport in recent years has been grim, and it has always been pushed to the back of the queue – or banished fromthe queue altogether. I amnot sayingMaidstone Council is

unsympathetic to local sport.As an officer of TheMote Cricket Club, I have good reason to value encouragement in several ways. But these newreports call for serious capital contributions and there has been no sign of this by the council in recent years. Demands on councilmoney are

immense, of course, and cuts in grants by national government havemade financial life very tough for local authorities. But government does see the need to

support local sport and puts pressure on councils to produce and update a strategy, especially as part of Local Plans. Maidstone has reacted to that pressure

and two years ago commissioned froma specialist company twomajor and detailed reports nowbefore council commi�ees for consideration, consultation and approval so that an action plan is completed by next summer. TheGovernmentwants to see the plans

regularly reviewed – so therewill be li�le opportunity for back sliding. Is there a local need? You bet there is.

Participation in sport and physical activities is higher in the borough than county and regional averages and almost 27%of residents aremembers of sports clubs (national average 22%). That need

Smallmajority not enough

I ENTIRELY agreewith the sentiments expressed by K G Banks in theAugust issue of DownsMail. I amsick to death of hearing that as far

as leaving the EU, the “British people have spoken”. Some of themdid and of those who did therewas a smallmajority in favour of leaving. Many of the British people did not speak

andmay verywell come to seriously regret not speaking, bearing inmind that a great many of themwere the younger generationwhowill bear the serious consequences of leaving the EU. Any vote on such a serious and

potentially damaging change to the status quo should have required a vote of at least 66%in favour, as opposed to the 37-38%of the eligible to votewho actually supported withdrawal. Thiswholemess can be a�ributed to

perennial infighting amongst one political party over the issue of Europe, resulting in the decision by its then leader and prime ministerwho decided to abrogate responsibility by passing the decision to a largely uninformed electorate.

42 Malling September 2018

Opening eyes to sport’s needs MailMarks

HOW Maidstone needs the twomajor


will growasMaidstone’s population rises bymore than 22,000 by 2031. The reports just published are

substantial and very detailed. The Sports Facilities Strategy runs to about 100 pages and the Playing Pitch Strategy to 150 pages. The authors have investigated many local sports and clubs in great detail to assesswhat they provide and need. Volunteerswho run ourmany local clubs would dowell to read them– and try to influence the council going forward. It seems fitness facilities and swimming

topMaidstone preferences, and these activities, plus football, cricket, rugby, sports halls, rugby league, hockey and lacrosse are currently seen as needing money spent on them. The reports are detailed onwhat is

needed, eg a four-lane swimming pool, 187 fitness equipment stations, 17 newfootball pitches, four sports halls, three cricket pitches, three rugby union/rugby league pitches and so on. The costs quoted in the reports are high,

and the big question nowis,what can realistically be achieved? The reportwants the council to allocate developer planning contributions (S106/Community Infrastructure Levy) and also ensure as many improvements as possible qualify for grants fromnational sporting bodies. I suspect the reportswillworry

misinformation and probably lies by those seeking to promote their causes and very li�le in theway of hard facts. I daresay thatmany people voted on the

councillors (and officers) inMaidstone Council. They can see all kinds of infrastructure needs inMaidstone and it has suited themto turn a blind eye to sport. But those eyes have nowbeen opened andGovernmentwill demand they do not close again. Some local sports suffer considerably

because they cannot provide or find the facilities and pitches tomeetmodern needs. Probably the best example is at The Mote,where our top cricket and rugby clubs have been ba�ling for 20 years or so to upgrade this old but so significant site. The clubs and town suffer inmany

ways, including the loss of the annual and very popular Kent cricketweek. Could this be the key to restoringMaidstone’smuch- missed summer sporting event?

Badger bothers I used to think badgerswere adorable

creatures.Nomore.Nowthey are very unwelcome in our garden. This year they have a�acked two

underground bees nests, digging outmuch earth to get at the grubs. The toll on treasured beeswas immense, and damage around the garden considerable. Afewyears ago they demolished a

valued shrub to get at and devour a nest of young blackbirdswe had been following closely. So sad. Badgers have even been digging to

create a home in our garden. Theywill never succeed.We have even bought courtesy lights to frighten themoff at nights. Theymay look cute ...

What followed this decisionwas a diet of We need to work together

basis of a glorious return to the dayswhen we had an empire and I remember one interviewee on a “vox-pop” advocating leave on the basis that “we don’t like the French and they don’t like us”. Howmany of thosewho voted thought

that the EU and the European Customs Union are the same thing? We live in internationalmarkets largely

dominated by international companies and ifmanufacturing bases in the UK become at a competitive disadvantage compared with similar bases in the EU, it is quite obviouswhatwill happen.Waking up to reality at that stagewill be too late. Far toomuch emphasis by Brexiteers has

been placed upon the costs ofmembership and very li�le on the benefits of being part of a larger economic and social community. Far fromenhancing our global presence

wemay verywell end up in inglorious isolation on theworld stage. David Hacke, ParkWay,Maidstone

THE recent headline on Dennis Fowle’s column on Brexit is of course absolutely right –Maidstone needs a real Brexit but then again Royal TunbridgeWells needs to remain in the EU and here rests Britain's predicament. Brexit cannot be aboutwinning a vote

52/48, but everyone singing fromthe same song sheet, and Imean everyone digging in to achieve its aim. Brexiteers such asMr Fowle need to

convince the 48%thatwe need to jump and jump together, but our Houses of Commons and Lords are hopelessly divided; our Cabinet is hopelessly divided and both Tories and Labour parties are hopelessly divided. The nation chews on Brexit over and over again at PM's Question Time aswell as the BBC programme. This has “big boy” implications but our

politicians are playingwith a nation and todaywewake up to caramel, a huge and costly “fudge”. Sowhere isMaidstone in this

international super league? TheMBC suing KCC over a fund to carry out


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