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downsmail.co.uk a


Come the Maidstone revolution MailMarks a


I WELCOME the revolution signposted by the new Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) administration on how the borough is to be run. With their stunning victory in the May elections, the Tories quickly dictated to officers that elected councillors would be at the heart of all major decision making. They hope to ensure this partly by returning to the cabinet governing system, rather than cross-party council committees. This brings cabinet member control and much greater speed of member decision-making. I was disappointed when the Lib Dems


went back to the old committee system. I never liked the drive towards town centre “modal shift” (public transport, cycling and walking), when most need to drive their cars, especially in villages. The Tories are banning that phrase. They do not see it as a solution to over- development or a substitute for better roads. Would they ever have approved the suddenly-built cycle lane in King Street, now removed at great expense? We will also see an improvement in the Maidstone street scene, with more investment in cleaning and battling y- tipping, graffiti and littering. Other targets are street drinking, antisocial behaviour and loitering in the town centre and Brenchley Gardens. How the council communicates with us will also come under the spotlight, and I am pleased to see the end of the expensive council magazine delivered to homes by Royal Mail. It is just one way the Tories want to spend our money better, hopefully controlling growth in council tax. It seems we are in for a very lively and interesting year.


Roads to anger IN THE face of powerful local opposition, the Maidstone Integrated Transport Package of about six road schemes is set to go ahead. Woe betide Kent County Council (KCC) if residents’


r Danger roads no surprise


I WAS interested to read the article Rural Maidstone road on UK “danger” listing (edition 296).


It did not surprise me to learn that the A229 and A249 were in the country’s top 10 most “hazardous highways”. I was just surprised that the A274 was not there right alongside them. On June 3, around mid-morning, I


attempted to travel about three miles from my home in Kingswood to Langley, to walk with a friend.


The road through Leeds (B2163) was closed and barricaded. I tried to get to Langley rst via Horseshoes Lane, but that was blocked by two large vehicles that could not get past each other, and then via New Road by Rumwood Garden Centre,


Pedal power


DENNIS FOWLE President dennisfowle28@gmail.com


grim fears expressed in a public consultation are correct.


The balance of Maidstone opinion was against every scheme ,with views they would not achieve purpose, would add to dangers rather than diminish or add to inconvenience of road users and residents. The Kent and Maidstone Joint Transportation Board was not enthusiastic, but the lead officer said he would be putting decisions before the KCC cabinet member for highways. One driving force was that KCC has a multi-million pound funding pot that could disappear if not used. Seems it will now be used – for good or bad. KCC has come in for massive criticism as the highways authority for lack of investment on Maidstone roads network over the years and this was probably another factor in latest decisions. Now the Tories control MBCas well as KCC, perhaps harmonious liaison and decision-making will improve. Highest prole of the schemes involves demolishing the Wheatsheaf pub and creating a system at the junction of Sutton Road and Loose Road, closing Cranborne Avenue. Other parts of the package include enlarging the Coldharbour M20 J5 roundabout and removing traffic lights; changes at the Loose Road/Cripple Street junction; the Loose Road junction with Armstrong Road down to Sheals Crescent; Ashford Road/Willington Street, Bearsted; and Sutton Road/Willington Street junction. We must hope KCC highways specialists have got it right. Maidstone needs to see traffic owing much more smoothly .


which was blocked by another huge lorry. I turned round and made my way back to Chartway Street where I spent another 20 minutes stuck behind a lorry trying to get past an equally large tractor. Eventually, I just went home and we had to abandon our walk. We have recently heard that Warmlake Garden Centre is going to close and they want to build yet more houses. We, in Kingswood, are increasingly being cut off from getting anywhere due to blocked roads. When we do get out, we take our lives in our hands at junctions such as the crossroads at Warmlake and then a bit further down at Five Wents (or by large lorries in Broomeld or Chegworth roads trying to get to the A274). Yet we hear constant news of even more homes in the planning that will need to


.THE new proposals to provide hire bicycles for the last mile or so to and from Maidstone town centre and separately to establish a range of cycle parks across the borough are exciting and hopefully practical. They appear to have support from the cycling community. Initially, Maidstone Borough Council included hire of power scooters in the reports, but this is on hold while the Government considers safety issues. Having seen lm of crazy use of these scooters, at times among endangered pedestrians, I cannot see them getting a Government tick. I welcome the wider use of bicycles, but


believe planners must aim to keep pedestrians and cyclists well apart. They are not a safe mix. We had a worrying experience when walking two young grandchildren along the river path between East Farleigh and the town centre. Fortunately, we were at the rear with the children in front. A mature lady was, unbeknown to us, cycling behind us at some speed and had to brake hard to avoid us. She was offended when I said she should at least have had a cycle bell to warn pedestrians and slowed right down with obstructions she faced. I have watched many scenes like this in the town centre.


a


Thanks, Clive COUNCILLOR Clive English


(LibDem) seems to have been chairman of Maidstone Borough Council Planning Committee for ever. It’s a tough and very busy role requiring much knowledge of planning law and niceties – and powerful chairmanship skills to make sure meetings do not go on for ever. We owe him our thanks for a job which has come to an end now Conservatives have taken over council control from the LibDems. So, it is best wishes to his successor – Cllr Denis Spooner (Con, Bearsted).


use this already inadequate road. Furthermore, we have the ever- expanding farming industries using increasingly bigger tractors that thunder along and do not care if they run cars into hedgerows and potholes. When is sanity going to prevail and some understanding of how the infrastructure in this area is not t for purpose? How many lives have to be lost, cars damaged, people isolated before steps are taken to nd solutions? Kay Kilgallon, via email


Killing is hostel warning


THE appalling unprovoked killing of an innocent Maidstone man (Downs Mail, June 3) must serve as a severe lesson for


45


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