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News


downsmail.co.uk Climate change goals ‘on track’


A KENT environment chief says climate change targets remain “on track”, despite concerns about major road and airport plans for the county, writes Ciaran Duggan.


Cllr Susan Carey (Con), Kent County Council’s (KCC) environ- ment cabinet member, said the amount of harmful greenhouse gases emitted from the authority’s estate have continued to reduce this year. A KCC report published last


week shows Maidstone County Hall has cut carbon emissions by nearly 30% on its large land base over the last three years. Cllr Carey (pictured) said: “This is really good news.” KCC’s Conservative administra-


tion has pledged to play an influ- ential role in reducing the county’s carbon emissions to zero by 2050. A more ambitious target has


been set to achieve net zero carbon on its own estate by 2030, which in- cludes libraries and office build- ings, although excludes schools. It means about 28,000 tonnes of car-


Union Street


for surfacing UNION Street in Maidstone will close to resurface the entire road. The closure will take place on January 20 for three week nights, between 8pm and 6am, to allow for KCC Highways resurfacing works between Wheeler Street and the A249 Sittingbourne Road. The diversion for through traf-


fic will be via Wheeler Street, B2012 Holland Road, A249 Sit- tingbourne Road and vice versa. If you live in the closed area of


Union Street, speak to an opera- tive on site for help on getting in and out of your property. There will be street parking re- strictions at times.


bon will need to be cut in the next 10 years. However, concerns have been


raised about how realistic the aspi- rations are, given commitments to potentially air-polluting schemes, such as a new Kent and Essex link via the Lower Thames Crossing and the resumption of flights at


Manston Airport in Thanet. Car and air travel ground to a


halt when the Coronavirus pan- demic first struck the UK in March and people were told to stay in their homes during a national lock- down. This resulted in carbon emis-


sions plummeting on KCC’s estate from March to June, the biggest drop in nearly two years, as more people worked from home. Despite this, Cllr Carey told her


nine Conservative executive col- leagues: “We are still on track, even if it had not been for lockdown.” Opposition councillors last week questioned the council’s aspira- tions, given commitments to a se- ries of large-scale air and road infrastructure projects. They include the creation of sev-


eral Brexit lorry parks in Ashford, Ebbsfleet, Thanet and Dover and


the £8.2billion Lower Thames Crossing, which would see 14 miles of tunnel roads linking Gravesend to Thurrock in Essex. KCC Green Party leader, Cllr Martin Whybrow, called for an ur- gent review to be carried out by County Hall during a full council meeting five days ago. The Folkestone and Hythe mem-


ber said: “KCC should do a screeching U-turn on its support for the carbon-guzzling, air-pollut- ing, habitat-destroying Lower Thames Crossing. “We need to categorically op-


pose new and expanding airports everywhere, not just at Gatwick.” KCC economic development di-


rector, David Smith, said plans were underway to replace gas sys- tems in houses by 2030, while the production of petrol and diesel ve- hicles could also be banned.


Beating loneliness during lockdown


INSPIRED Friendships, the be- friending service, has launched a telephone service to help combat lockdown loneliness amongst older people in Kent. A building company behind lux-


ury retirement homes in Leeds vil- lage says it recognised the need for the helpline. Led by “friendship managers”


Wendy Pfeiffer and Diane Bromley (pictured), Inspired Friendships co- ordinates a team of volunteers to carry out vital work to ensure older people do not feel isolated during the third national lockdown.


Fence damage Job scheme boost for young in Kent


RESIDENTS in Leeds have been surprised to find a fence erected to prevent walkers using a path through woods has been partially destroyed. Villagers have been walking through private woodland for decades but may have been shut out by tenants of landowners, the Rochester Bridge Trust. But before Christmas, wire cut-


ters appear to have been used to snip through the wire fence. Since being fenced off the area near the playing field has been a target for repeated fly-tipping.


30


ABOUT 1,200 young people have secured job placements across the county, despite youth unemploy- ment being “hit hard” by the coronavirus crisis. Jo James, the chief executive of


Kent Invicta Chamber of Com- merce, said it was “tremendous” that hundreds of 16- to 24-year- olds have enrolled on the Gov- ernment’s job creation scheme. About 700 youngsters are ex-


pected to start work over the next three to four weeks. The type of jobs include marketing assistants and admin support workers. The news comes after Kent


County Council’s (KCC) Conser- vative cabinet was told that the number of youngsters claiming benefits rose to 14,450 in October, which marks around 10% of the county’s youth population. This is more than double the number of young people who sought benefits when COVID-19 struck the UK in March 2020 (6,895). Fears have been expressed


about the “worsening” situation after November’s lockdown. Those concerns are rising now that the country has been plunged into a third enforced shutdown.


Mrs James said: “The youths


are the ones that will be the hard- est hit, but there has been much positive progress recently.” In July, chancellor Rishi Sunak


unveiled a £2billion package to boost the UK economy and pro- tect youngsters missing out on employment opportunities, such as school leavers and those who lost work in hospitality and retail. The Government’s “kickstart” scheme aims to subsidise people aged 16 to 25, who are at risk of long-term unemployment, in six- month work placements.


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