News Eric and Lottie’s blue battle

MUCH is in the hands of the COVID-19 gods in 2021, but should the county council elections proceed in May, an intriguing battleground has been drawn in the most unlikely setting.

The staunchly Conservative Maidstone rural south division will see a blue on blue fight like no other before. Cllr Eric Hotson, (left), who was recently de- selected as candidate by the local Tory association, will face Lottie Parfitt-Reid (right), a borough coun- cillor for Coxheath and Hunton. It will be a stiff task to remove Cllr Hotson, who has decades of experi- ence and a big personal following in the villages and parishes. With a 68% share of the vote in

2017, Cllr Parfitt-Reid is undaunted but not unaware of the task ahead. She said: ”I don't do dirty politics.

There’ll be no mudslinging or per- sonal attacks from my side and I am sure that Eric will be the same. “He has a wealth of experience.

But I have a track record, too, and I am my own woman and I can fight for the residents of the division

Bin days set to change as

routes grow BE PREPARED for a change of day for collection of household refuse.

Contractors Biffa are working

on a complete re-route of waste and recycling collections now they have invested in 16 new ve- hicles, and they expect more effi- cient and balanced rounds to be introduced in early summer. The current rounds were de- signed when Biffa’s council con- tract started in 2013, and since then the number of properties served has risen from 67,000 to 73,000 – an increase of 8.7%. Biffa’s workload will continue

to grow as the population in- creases, due to the council’s mas- sive house-building programme in the coming decade. In August 2019, Maidstone Bor-

ough Council was forced to con- cede late collections and severe disruption to services were caused by their private contrac- tor’s bin lorries breaking down Garden waste collections, a bin service now paid for by house- holders, continue to increase in popularity (up 15% in a year). These have already benefited from new rounds affecting about 11,000 households.

with energy.” Cllr Hotson said: “I have had a

strong majority for 20 years and held the seat with great support of many residents and parishes in the area, which gives me a great deal of confi- dence I can do well.”

Chairman of Maidstone and The

Weald Conservative Association, Andrea Thorpe, said: “The panel of seven had to make difficult choices on quality of interviews on the day. I would like to thank Eric for his massive and very significant contri-

butions to the community over so many years.” In 2017, the Liberal Democrats

fielded Derek Mortimer, a well-re- spected borough councillor, and polled just 14% of the vote. But local observers speculate that

if Labour and the Greens (9% and 8% respectively) stepped aside, there could be enough votes to create an upset, should the blue vote split down the middle. Housing, infrastructure and the proposed chicken farm at Chain- hurst are likely to feature in the cam- paign. With the latest lockdown, all the

candidates fighting for places at bor- ough and county level will be faced with being unable to campaign in person or deliver leaflets until the Government gives the all-clear to do so. l See Comment, page 45

Lounge gives NHS staff a break

A NEW touring lounge to give NHS staff a break before, during and after their shifts made its first stop at Maidstone Hospital last month. The Project Wingman double-

decker, which is run by airline work- ers, spent eight days outside the Peggy Wood Breast Care Centre. The bus is staffed by local fur- loughed and grounded cabin crew volunteers and provides an informal space outside the hospital for staff to enjoy a break from work and re- ceive food and refreshments. Project Wingman has launched a

fundraising initiative to pay for the acquisition, modifications and branding needed to recreate the

first-class lounges in mobile form. The Wingman Wheels Appeal hopes to raise £100,000. For further

Cabin crew Lauren Weatherstone and Sam Watson offer a warm welcome for NHS staff in the Project Wingman double decker bus

details and to make a donation, go to manwheels.

Appeal after cabbie reports threats

A TAXI driver says he was threat- ened by two men after a dispute outside a hotel in Lenham. Police were called to the scene

in Boughton Road at about 10pm on September 27. The victim was reportedly ap- proached by two men who were carrying alcohol. After being told they could not

enter the vehicle with drinks, the suspects are alleged to have shouted racial abuse at the victim and repeatedly kicked the car. Officers investigating the alle- gations have been exploring sev-

eral lines of enquiry and are now able to issue images of two men who they would like to speak to. Anyone with information is asked to contact Kent Police on

Police are looking for these men after reports that a taxi driver was threatened outside a hotel

01622 604100, quoting reference 46/175578/20. You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111, or by using the on- line form.


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