orderForm.noItems The West Kent ICP has not yet been set

up. We require in West Kent a strong voice to project our needs and concerns. There is no shortage of them, especially relating to the pressure on GPs and the need for new surgeries for a fast-expanding population. It was a relief to read the comment of the CCG chairman that it must prioritise needs of the population via its engagement and listening processes.

A recent report before the CCG acknowledged there was not a framework for capturing patient experience and, at times, there had been a reactive approach to concerns.

It has been a very tough year for the NHS and many patients. The existence of the care partnership in West Kent with its own budget, working with the local primary care networks of GP practices, would have helped in Maidstone and Malling. Peter Davidson, Maidstone

Victory for Brexiteers

FOR more than four years, Brexiteers have suffered insults from Remainers, many believing themselves to be intellectually superior. They saw the biased BBC as one of their leaders and mouthpieces. We did not waiver after twice voting decisively across our nation to be freed from the confines of the EU and to regain our sovereignty. Now we rejoice in achieving Brexit and ensuring control over our money, laws, borders, seas. At the general election we gave Boris Johnson a huge majority to “Get Brexit Done”. Now he has overcome massive difficulties and appalling political criticism and has about four years (potentially many more) to restore the prosperity and worldwide standing of all Great Britain. He well deserves our further support. Remainers now know they have met defeat – and I gently smile as they lick their wounds.

Brian Gough, Maidstone

Freedom from the EU AS Maidstone voted so decisively for Brexit, I am sure many fellow Downs Mail readers will join me in anticipating our freedom both from the EU and also the awful COVID-19. I wish you all a very happy and interesting new year. Belinda Gibbs, Bearsted

Unhappy New Year

IN SENDING a new year greeting, I also issue a blunt warning of dire times ahead following the latest news from Government which supposedly announces various ways in which goods transport will be dealt with post January 1. Setting aside the problems associated with customs clearance arrangements and the possible delays to otherwise normal distribution systems, the arrangements for holding laden vehicles in lorry parks will not in any way stop the inevitable clogging


of the main arterial roads, particularly the M20.

Traffic will percolate on to the next tier of road space, which will include all those towns along the main routes. This will mean gridlock in Maidstone, Ashford and Canterbury and many others. All of this will call upon the resources of the Kent Police to manage the chaos. We know police capability is already stretched, so the prospects for any ease of movement and maintenance of distribution to daily needs of supermarkets etc. will inevitably be disrupted or badly distorted.

These forecasts are not exaggerated but real. Inevitable results of shortages will mean price escalation, in the first instance. There will need to be serious control of stockpiling.

It is to be hoped that all of these factors

have been noted, but previous history suggests otherwise. A “Unhappy New Year” is therefore

now very much in prospect. Dan Daley, Liberal Democrat borough councillor for Allington

Listen to the locals

THE unbelievable stupidity of ignoring locals who know their area is evident in the horrendous mess in trying to build on a flood plain and water meadow at Roundwell, in Bearsted. This was first instigated in October 2014 to build 50 homes, comprising 30 plus 20 affordable homes. Not a brick has been laid and we have had at least 18 months of frantic work, including pile-driving, and now an ugly retaining wall is being put in the ground to keep it all stable, I presume. A huge load-bearing bridge will have to be built to exit the site into Cross Keys, which has a single entrance/exit into the village road as Sutton Road is partly private and single lane. Also, the site is on a blind bend.

The new residents will have great difficulty in insuring their homes, as they are on a flood plain with at least two streams flowing into the development site. They will also be responsible for the maintenance of the bridge on the estate. The piece de resistance is that throughout Bearsted there are sand caves underground. When I have mentioned these to planners in the past, they knew nothing about them.

It is just another example of

development at all costs. There is a building frenzy going on in Maidstone and we have lost about 50 fields from Ditton to Charing, but the only piece of infrastucture built around Maidstone in the past 100 years or so has been the M20. Up the road at Woodcut Farm, I raise the possibility of an industrial estate on a huge amount of archaeological remains. There are two barrows in the fields opposite and possibly on this site too. This area was rich with Iron Age settlements and there is evidence of Roman activity. Rosemary Harlow, Bearsted

Let’s hear it for teachers

AS A worker in education, I am constantly shocked and disappointed by the ignorance of the teaching profession among MPs and the public.

The bile directed at the profession is also difficult to accept. Although it is partly driven by the consistent “no can do” attitude of the teaching unions, it is also implicitly accepted by politicians. Yes, there are teachers who “clock off” at 3.20pm and moan, whinge and do the bare minimum between “long holidays”, just as there are MPs who moan, whinge and do the bare minimum between long holidays. The majority of teachers and teaching assistants, however, are motivated first and foremost by the young people in their care. So did Gavin Williamson consider how schools would get messages to the hundreds and thousands of children on the last week of term, when all they can think about is Christmas?

Did he consider the fear and mental health of children struggling to cope with the sudden change of plans? Did he consider how schools would effectively deliver a clear and calm message to all students about returning to school? Did he consider the working parents who would have to organise childcare in that week beginning January 4 or ask for time off? I suspect not. In not one of his announcements has Mr

Williamson acknowledged the difficulties faced by teachers during this period. Teachers have to plan their lessons even more carefully when teaching online; they have to be even more energetic, kind and supportive. That is not a whinge. It’s a fact. Teachers have changed their whole practice to support COVID-safe rules in school since we came back in September. We have allayed fears; supported children who suffered terribly during lockdown; we have put in place reading interventions, catch-up classes and extra work for children who do not have the confidence, or support at home, to work independently.

It is high time the narrative around teachers changed.

The unions speak for a minority of teachers because most teachers just want to get on with their jobs.

But the more teachers are subject to sudden, ill-considered policies, the louder the unions’ voices become. And the more bile gets directed at all teachers. So what am I asking for? An acknowledgement that teachers have been almost as heroic as NHS workers at playing a major part in keeping the country going. That they care deeply about the whole child, not just the side that comes to their lessons. And that their role in a society should be valued and praised. May I suggest you ignore what the unions say and speak to any one of the teachers you know? You will then hear the real story about what motivates them and what their job is really like. And then, only then, will the narrative start to change. Allison MacFarlane, via email


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48