King Street’s pop-up path

‘was chaotic’ “DID you not hear in Maidstone the cheer from Bearsted?” Cllr Val Springett (Bearsted) asked KCC Highways, when they announced the removal of the pop-up cycle route in King Street. She was one of several members of Kent/Maidstone Joint Transport Board who welcomed the removal and warned that any future King Street scheme must avoid pitfalls. “It caused chaos for east Maid- stone,” she added and said she would not support narrowing to a single lane the property build-out area and traffic lights. Cllr Gary Cooke expressed con- cerns of the disabled, who lost parking bays in both the Earl Street and King Street pop-up schemes. Cllr Rob Bird supported him and

called for an equalities impact as- sessment, notably for the blind, in any future such projects. He also wanted to know who was ques- tioned in the new KCC King Street public survey.

Cllr Dan Daley said bicycles

were rarely seen in the town cen- tre. He said changing habits to cy- cling and walking “is not going to happen”.

Russell Boorman, Kent High-

ways officer, promised proper rig- orous consultation in future and said they should have been more mindful of disabled bays. Cllr Clive English called for a site meeting with Kent Highways to consider the Earl Street scheme.

Youth awards TWO young people from Maid-

stone have been awarded the British Citizen Youth Award for community work.

Michael Prentice (8) and Hollie- Grace Gough (11) were recognised for encouraging others to do good deeds. The pair ran cake stalls, sold plants and ran a gardening club. They received their awards by courier but will be invited to a re- ception at the House of Lords when it is safe.

Hygiene fail

A FAST-FOOD takeaway in Maid- stone has been given a zero rating by the Food Standards Agency. Fantastic Chicken, in Sandling Road, failed a health inspection on November 20. The inspector said the cleanliness and condition of the building needed urgent im- provement. Officers are due to revisit shortly.

22 Lambs herald the spring

YOU know spring is not so far away when the snowdrops have just gone and the first lambs are born. All over the borough, farmers are getting ready for the busy lambing season, and at Kent Life, the popular heritage charity, three baby ewes were welcomed in as many days in January. Kent Life, currently shut because of lockdown restrictions, is still a work-

ing farm. A spokesman said: “The animals have to be cared for, no matter what. And after all the tough times, it's lovely to see our new lambs.” Picture: Mollie Gamble, Kent Life

Traveller site plans ‘not handled consistently’

A PLANNING application for a gypsy site turned into a debate about Maidstone Borough Council’s “lack of consistency”, writes Jade Schopman.

Councillors argued the authority

failed to enforce its own rules sur- rounding gypsy caravan parks. The discussion was prompted by

an application to change the use of land at The Three Sons in Park Wood Lane, Staplehurst. Local borough and parish coun- cillor John Perry, pictured, said pitch targets had already been more than met.

He told the MBC planning com- mittee: “We have supposedly clear policies and yet they do not seem to count for anything. It just gets overridden and we see this time and time again in this area. We are paying a very bad price for it. “Words fail me how these keep slipping through. We turned a site which was an open site into a gypsy and traveller site. I accept we need pitches, but we have more than met our pitch target.

“We are not forced to accept this. I cannot support this.” Cllr Eddie Powell said: “It is about consistency. “Gypsy and traveller sites have

been turned down and let’s be hon- est, they are very similar in their ap- proach and style, pushing things slightly to the edge. “All the time they are allowed to

get away with it, they will continue to do so. My issue is that we either start having a policy whereby we start treating all of them exactly the same, or you don’t do anything. “But at the moment it’s very much on an ad hoc basis. One wins, one loses. I don’t think that’s fair to the traveller community and I don’t think it’s fair to the com- munity of Staplehurst.” Staplehurst Parish Council said it felt frustrated that the policies of the local plan and Staplehurst Neighbourhood Plan could be overturned in one year. A statement read: “This does not make sense and undermines our confidence in the planning sys- tem.”

Councillors decided to approve the application for The Three Sons use of land with conditions of com- pliance.

Plan to raise

lorry weight COUNCILLORS have criticised government plans to allow heav- ier, but fewer, vehicles on the roads.

Ministers propose to increase

the maximum amount of goods a lorry can carry from 44 tonnes to 48 tonnes in a four-year trial. This would be restricted to HGVs whose cargo will also need to be transported by boat or rail. The Department for Transport said freight travel within the UK would become more efficient with fewer lorries on the roads. It would also support the move- ment of goods by ferry and rail. But it is bad news for commu- nities, such as Leeds and Langley villages, plagued by lorries defy- ing a ban locals say the police “are totally disinterested in enforc- ing”.

A trial for Kent has not been

ruled out. If approved, this would cover a route of up to 50 miles. Lo- cals authorities could receive up to £500,000 of grant cash. Kent County Council’s trans- port committee opposed the move, describing it as a “Trojan Horse”.

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