New Village Green Status for Cottenham Orchard

Local East Malling councillors have launched a call for ‘witness statements’ to help create a new Village Green at Cottenham Orchard near the heart of the village. 

Michelle Tatton local Parish Councillor said “ To get the new Village Green we need to hear from anyone who has enjoyed activities like rambling, dog walking, picnics and games in the orchard for last 20 years. We are happy to help any residents needing assistance in completing the forms which will be sent to KCC who are responsible for creating new Village Greens.We need lots of forms and the faster we get them the sooner we can protect this special place. “ 

Local County Councillor Trudy Dean explained “Creating a new Village Green would give us the fastest and one of the best protection against the development of the orchard forever.”  

Trudy is also giving £2,000 of her KCC Councillors Fund to pay for an ecological study of the site. The study will be completed over the next six months into birds, reptiles, insects and plant life. Trudy explained “ The survey will start this month managed by the Medway Valley Countryside Partnership who are experienced in protecting old orchard sites like this for wildlife. If it proves a good enough site, they will be applying for Local Nature Reserve status for the orchard which will give it even more protection.”

Roger Roud, Borough Councillor and local resident said  “This site has fantastic bird life including doves, cuckoos, fieldfares and we think nightingales. Occasional deer have also been seen in the orchard. My kids played here and my family will be completing some of these forms to make sure other kids can enjoy it in future.” 

The East Malling and Larkfield Parish Council Chairman David Thornewell said “ The Parish Council has been very successful in East Malling in creating new village greens at the King and Queen corner, Rocks Close, and most recently supporting residents in Four Acres in getting their new green. Two other greens have been created at Whimbrel Green and Willow Road in Larkfield.  Getting the orchard designated as a Village Green will also strengthen our fight to get the Green Belt extended in the new Local Plan, to protect land between East and West Malling, of which the orchard is part.

If you can help by providing a witness statement contact Michelle Tatton for the necessary form,  at or ring 01732 521889

Bus Services

Kent County Council is considering the issue of the support they give to some bus services in Kent as part of its efforts to reduce the county council budget. One of the services that might be affected is Service 58 that serves East Malling and goes via Maidstone Hospital. The Parish Council continues to press for the return of service 71 along the northern section of Lunsford Lane. A consultation is promised if KCC makes a budget reduction.

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A list of the bus subsidies that the Conservatives propose axing is here

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Winterfield Farm, East Malling

Plans have been submitted for the conversion of the barn at this site to a house. This follows the planning rules being relaxed to allow in some cases barns to be converted without the need for planning permission. The parish council felt the conversion met the rules but it will be for borough planning officers to legally decide.

Local Plan Review

East Malling Larkfield parish council has lobbied the area’s two MPs about Government plans to change the way the number of houses each district must provide which borough officers say would mean finding land for another 2,000 homes on top of the 6,500 that has already been estimated. This would mean pressure to release even more greenfield sites in the eastern end of the borough including East Malling and Larkfield as the rest of the district is in the Green Belt.

The Government’s decision is awaited.....

Leybourne Lakes Country Park

Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council, as part of its efforts to reduce overall spending, has been looking at the future management arrangements for the country park which despite its name is mostly in Larkfield with the rest in Snodland parish.

The park currently costs about £120,000 net to run. The borough also holds around £700,000 from the funds deposited by the former developers Berkley Homes towards a possible visitor centre, education room and cafe. These funds have been held since the park opened in 2003.

TMBC has obtained reports on the possible provision of a visitor centre and also on the possible business potential of the park, including the income potential of such a centre. Ideally, the Borough would like to eliminate the cost of running the site but recognises its status as a country park.

Just before Christmas parish councillors Pam Ayrton and David Thornewell met borough representatives to discuss the position. They have stressed they would like to see a well-designed cafe and visitor centre to replace the current cabins by the Ocean Lake and mobile snack bar. Such a facility if well run could reduce the overall costs. But they also stressed they would not wish to see the commercialisation of the site and that its wildlife and quiet recreational use should be kept. This includes the fishing lakes. They would oppose for example power boats on the lake. The borough promised further consultations with the parish.


FOUR local volunteer groups received Environmental Awards from the Borough Council!

Environmental Champion “Love Where You Live” awards, sponsored by Veolia, were awarded by the Mayor at a Tonbridge Castle ceremony.

Anita Oakley’s work organising (and feeding) Larkfield Litter Pickers, and East Malling volunteer Linda Bailey’s work in East Malling litter clearing group were recognised with awards.

Michelle Tatton also received an award for her work organising Clare Lake volunteers.

Michelle made a short presentation to the audience of photographs illustrating the transformation of the lake over the last few years.

Councillor Trudy Dean increases her allowance to aid advertising for community events

COUNTY Councillor Trudy Dean has decided to use her increased allowance to pay for advertising in Downs Mail.

Mrs Dean has been given a 15% increase in her allowance, which she opposed, and she has decided to use that money to advertise community events in her county division of East and West Malling and Larkfield.

She said: “I opposed the increase in Councillors allowances but do not want to see residents I represent disadvantaged. So I have decided to use it instead of advertising of main local community events.

“Social events like East Malling ‘Picnic in the Park’, West Malling Music@malling Festival and Larkfield Martin Square lighting up event bring people together, enrich our lives and often provide an opportunity for local voluntary groups to fundraise for their activities.

“I have chosen Downs Mail as it circulates my entire area free of charge, making sure everyone is able to get involved in supporting local community life.”

New Police online Crime Reporting

The public can now report crimes and incidents as well as non-injury road traffic collisions ONLINE directly through their website (  The user will receive a unique reference number and a return email confirming receipt.  This is a test run, and you can provide feedback on how user-friendly you found it.  The long waits to report non-urgent crime by phone on 111 should mean this an attractive alternative. 

West Malling Surgery Up for Sale

The West Malling GP High Street Surgery is being sold. Doctors say the property is no longer fit for purpose, and NHS cuts mean they must reduce costs. They intend to “retain a presence” in West Malling, possibly using part of the existing building, but this depends on the wishes of the buyer.  Patients will need to travel increasingly to Kings Hill and cuts in local bus services are making this difficult for those without a car. 

Trudy Dean as Chairman of the Parish Council said “ We are keen to work with the practice to help ensure doctor appointments continue to be available in West Malling and Leybourne.  However, we are dismayed about the lack of communication with residents. This surgery has existed for over 70 years, and people can combine medical appointments with shopping or visits to the Library, Post Office and other services.  We have a high number of retired people and feel it is vital to retain a surgery for the elderly, people with mobility problems, and young families.”

Another great week in Council by-elections

Fresh off of our fantastic November, with no less than SEVEN council by-election gains, we've had a great final week of by-elections for the year - holding both of the seats we were defending and gaining another seat in Waveney from nowhere!

Those fantastic results mean that at the end of 2017, we're the ONLY major political party to make net gains in Council by-elections - racking up a tally of +15!

The Liberal Democrats, under Vince Cable, are winning seats up and down the country and against all opposition parties.

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Our local campaigning is second to none, and the hard work of Lib Dem councillors and activists is being recognised in surges of support in by-elections across the country. So, without any further ado, onto the results!

💪 A stunning win from nowhere

Godalming Central & Ockford (Waveney) result:

LDEM: 37.8% (+37.8)
CON: 35.0% (-6.5)
LAB: 21.5% (-4.6)
GRN: 5.7% (+5.7)

No 'Something New' party (-17.0) and UKIP (-15.4) as prev.

📈 Holding AND increasing our vote

Watcombe (Torbay) result:

LDEM: 57.5% (+14.4)
CON: 31.1% (+7.9)
LAB: 10.6% (-8.4)
GRN: 0.8% (-5.3)

Liberal Democrat HOLD.

No UKIP (-8.6) as prev.

🌠 A brilliant hold

Handside (Welwyn Hatfield) result:

LDEM: 52.4% (+16.7)
CON: 32.8% (-9.3)
LAB: 12.3% (-3.5)
GRN: 2.4% (-3.9)

Liberal Democrat HOLD.